Teaching to Learn: LaTeX#

One thing I really wish I had been exposed to in undergrad that I was unfortunately slow to adopt in graduate school is \(latex LaTeX\).  In my second year, I forced myself to start learning it, during a take home midterm.  I continued learning with some other homeworks and my finals that semester.  During my qualifying exam, I may have learned almost as much \(latex LaTeX\) as signal processing.  I’ve even started using beamer for presentations and using TikZ for drawings.

I was really slow and stubborn to adopt \(latex LaTeX\) though.  I’m a very visual person and getting used to writing without seeing the final formatting was hard.  I still struggle to read and edit my writing for content/ grammar issues in the code view, I end up marking up the pdf somewhere else and then going back to the code.   However, despite this challenge, I ‘ve become a huge proponent of its use, it does so much more than other word processing tools and it’s not really that hard to learn.

Over the summer, I was a mentor for Summer Bridge, while working on my MS thesis (that’s a story yet to come.  One of the other mentors (also one of my mentees from the last time I was a summer bridge mentor) knew I was supposed to be writing and saw code on my screen and asked what I was doing.  I explained, and she said she wished she had had \(latex LaTeX\) for lab reports.  So, we coordinated a workshop for me to teach it to her and other members of the Northeastern NSBE chapter as a Retention Program Skill Development workshop.

We used ShareLaTeX for the tutorial, so that we wouldn’t have to deal with getting an environment setup.  It went pretty well, I think, there were some stumbling blocks but they all said they got something out of it and started figuring things out.  I set up a template public project that they could all clone into their accounts to work in and put up demo code ans talked through what different elements would do.  Then they got to play with and try things out.  I didn’t get to try out timing of the activity part very well, so we ended up breezing through the last topics and didn’t get to the demo of advanced features, but everyone who filled out the survey before leaving said they would be interested in another workshop on more advanced topics.

I’m not an expert in \(latex LaTeX\) for sure, but I did know enough to handle their questions and get through the topics.  Teaching is the best way to learn, so I figured I’d try.  Hopefully there’s enough interest to try it again.

Update: here are the [](http://www.sarahmbrown.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/latex_workshop.pdf”>slides

Here’s an annotated version: [](http://www.sarahmbrown.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/latex_workshop_notes.pdf”>LaTeX_Workshop_notes