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Students learn coding basics in nationwide Hour of Code event

Programming in Processing in 50 Minutes

In today’s data-driven society many online news and feature stories are supported by interactive graphics. Typically journalists supply the content and programmers write the code. But what if journalists could supply the content and write the code?

On December 11, the WVU P.I. Reed School of Journalism hosted “Programming in Processing in 50 Minutes” – a one-hour introduction to computer science designed to demystify ‘code’ and build code literacy among non-computer scientists.

School of Journalism Assistant Professor Dana Coester and computer science professor Frances Van Scoy, an associate professor in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, collaborated to host the event for School of Journalism students and faculty.

“Code literacy is a critical skill for journalists working in a field dominated by big data and interactivity across platforms,” said School of Journalism Assistant Professor Dana Coester.

Coester has long been an advocate of collaborating at the intersection of technology and journalism. In 2012, she launched Mobile Main Street, a technology transfer project aimed at creating new economic models for media through a networked, hyper-local, mobile-based publishing system. Coester believes that even if a student has no desire to code, it is helpful to know the language in today’s data-driven society.

The event was part of Hour of Code, a national program and part of Computer Science Education Week that is observed annually during the week of December 9 to mark the birthday of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, who developed the first compiler-based computer programming language.

More than 20 School of Journalism students and faculty attended Van Scoy’s lecture. Participants learned how to write basic programs in the processing programming language to generate simple animations.

Public relations sophomore Mary Lemine saw a lot of value in the session.

“I think [learning to code] will be a very useful tool for me,” said Lemine. “I have taken more visual journalism classes than I had anticipated, so learning how to do animation will help me take my designs to a new level.”