First Python Notebook goes viral

Join more than 2,800 others and learn how to use Python to investigate campaign cash.

The California Civic Data Coalition’s open-source class “First Python Notebook” is expanding to become a massive open online course (often known as a “MOOC”) hosted by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas.

The class starts June 12. It will guide students through an investigation of money in politics using data from this site. Registration is free and open to anyone.

If you’ve tried Python once or twice, have a good attitude and know how to take a few code crashes in stride, you are qualified to join more than 2,800 students around the world who have already registered.

What you will learn

If you take the class, you will learn just enough of the Python computer programming language to work with the pandas library, a popular open-source tool for analyzing data. The course will teach you how to use pandas to read, filter, join, group, aggregate and rank structured data.

You will also learn how to record, remix and republish your analysis using the Jupyter Notebook, a browser-based application for writing code that is emerging as the standard for sharing reproducible research in the sciences.

In addition to Python instruction, we’re also inviting California based journalists, academics, students and others to join a special section within the class to get more familiar with our project on the role of money in California politics. If you register you’ll find a chance to sign up for that once the course begins.

Where it all started

The MOOC marks the next step for a couse we started developing to popularize our work last year. Earlier versions have been taught at a professional workshop in San Diego, a class of Stanford graduate students and at the world’s leading data journalism conference.

The evolving script for the class is available for anyone to teach themselves at The document itself is open source and available for remixing and reuse on GitHub.

This post was updated on August 20, 2017, with the latest enrollment total.