I've been using and teaching Python for a long time now, but I'm always interested in increasing my knowledge about this practical and useful programming language. That's why I've been trying to expand my Python personal learning network (PLN), a concept that describes informal and mutually beneficial networks for sharing information.
Educators Kelly Paredes and Sean Tibor recently talked about how to build your Python PLN on their podcast, Teaching Python, which I subscribed to after meeting them at PyCon 2019 in Cleveland (and adding them to my Python PLN). This podcast inspired me to think more about the people in my Python PLN, including those I met recently at PyCon.
I'll share some of the places I've met members of my PLN; maybe they can become part of your Python PLN, too.
Young Coders mentors
Betsy Waliszewski, the event coordinator for the Python Foundation, is a member of my Python PLN. When we ran into each other at PyCon2019, because I'm a teacher, she recommended I check out the Young Coders workshop for kids ages 12 and up. There, I met Katie Cunningham, who was running the program, which taught participants how to set up and configure a Raspberry Pi and use Python. The young students also received two books: Python for Kids by Jason Briggs and Learn to Program with Minecraft by Craig Richardson. I'm always looking for new ways to improve my teaching, so I quickly picked up two copies of the Minecraft book at NoStarch Press' booth at the conference. Katie is a great teacher and a prolific author with a wonderful YouTube channel full of Python training videos.
I added Katie to my PLN, along with two other people I met at the Young Coders workshop: Nat Dunn and Sean Valentine. Like Katie, they were volunteering their time to introduce young programmers to Python. Nat is the president of Webucator, an IT training company that has been a sponsor of the Python Software Foundation for several years and sponsored the PyCon 2018 Education Summit. He decided to teach at Young Coders after teaching Python to his 13-year-old son and 14-year-old nephew. Sean is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at The Hidden Genius Project, a technology and leadership mentoring program for black male youth. Sean said many Hidden Genius participants "built projects using Python, so we saw [Young Coders] as a great opportunity to partner." Learning about the Hidden Genius Project has inspired me to think deeper about the implications of coding and its power to change lives.
Open Spaces meetups
I found PyCon's Open Spaces, self-organizing, impromptu hour-long meetups, just as useful as the official programmed events. One of my favorites was about the Circuit Playground Express device, which was part of our conference swag bags. I am fascinated by this device, and the Open Space provided an avenue to learn more. The organizers offered a worksheet and a GitHub repo with all the tools we needed to be successful, as well as an opportunity for hands-on learning and direction to explore this unique hardware.
This meetup whetted my appetite to learn even more about programming the Circuit Playground Express, so after PyCon, I reached out on Twitter to Nina Zakharenko, who presented a keynote at the conference about programming the device. Nina has been in my Python PLN since last fall when I heard her talk at All Things Open, and I recently signed up for her Python Fundamentals class to add to my learning. Nina recommended I add Kattni Rembor, whose code examples are helping me learn to program with CircuitPython, to my Python PLN.
Other resources from my PLN
I also met fellow Opensource.com Community Moderator Moshe Zadka at PyCon2019 and talked with him at length. He shared several new Python resources, including How to Think Like a Computer Scientist. Community Moderator Seth Kenlon is another member of my PLN; he has published many great Python articles, and I recommend you follow him, too.
My Python personal learning network continues to grow each day. Besides the folks I have already mentioned, I recommend you follow Al Sweigart, Eric Matthes, and Adafruit because they share great content. I also recommend the book Make: Getting Started with Adafruit Circuit Playground Express and Podcast.__init__, a podcast all about the Python community, both of which I learned about from my PLN.
Who is in your Python PLN? Please share your favorites in the comments.