As one of three new outreach directors, I wanted to give a quick overview of the initiatives that outreach is working on this semester! As a general principle, CodeHaven’s outreach team is in charge of the outwards facing tasks of Code Haven, managing our public appearance, as well as expanding our outreach with research and further opportunities. This semester, we decided to focus on four separate initiatives: teacher research, newsletter, website management, and social media. In this blog post, we will go through each of these umbrella initiatives and describe the various tasks associated with each one.
Our first task this semester was to correspond with teachers and determine the new initiatives that our teachers would like to see in our classroom. We went into the interviews proposing the idea of a self-paced learning application based on Code Haven’s curriculum. We wanted to discuss if this would be a useful initiative that teachers would utilize in the classroom. Additionally, we wanted input into the specifics of this application, whether a self-paced learning application would be more or less beneficial than an application designed for teachers. Lastly, we wanted feedback on newsletters, and whether teachers’ enjoyed our current structure of newsletters or what they most want to see in a Code Haven newsletter.
After interviewing five of our regular classroom teachers, we determined that while most teachers said that a self-paced learning application would be helpful, there was a sentiment that only the more motivated students would benefit from such a learning platform. Additionally, they emphasized that Code Haven’s curriculum seemed heavily based on college mentors in the classroom helping students, and they wondered whether that would translate well to a self-paced learning platform without mentors.
During Code Haven board meetings and as an outreach team, we continue to have discussions on the viability of an application to assist the learning that occurs in the Code Haven classroom.
Our teacher research also gave us valuable insight into the structure of our newsletters. We received an overwhelming response that teachers wanted access to resources most all. We also received feedback that teachers wanted student-friendly reading level material to hand out in class.
As an outreach team, we devised a new structure for our newsletter that will stay consistent throughout each month, with sections including a five-minute classroom activity, a blog, a review, a spotlight, and words of the day for teachers and students.
In addition to regular maintenance of the website, this semester we wanted to improve the look of our open-sourced curriculum. During our teacher interviews, we learned that many teachers either didn’t realize that we had an open-sourced curriculum or knew but had never used it. Additionally, after examining our curriculum ourselves, we realized that we wanted to improve ease of access to our curriculum. Given that most teachers are familiar with Google Docs, but less familiar with using GitHub to edit markdown files, we decided to convert our curriculum into embedded Google Docs on our website.
Lastly, we wanted to continue the work started by previous outreach directors in monitoring website traffic with Google Analytics, as well as improving the SEO of our website.