Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

The Spring 2011 Course Begins

The spring (or, if you'd rather, winter) run of the Software Carpentry course has started. We have 86 students currently registered. Here is the welcome email we sent out to the students late last week:

Hello,

Welcome to Software Carpentry. I'm Jon, one of the teaching assistants for this course, and I'm joined by TAs Orion Buske, Tommy Guy, Luis Zarrabeitia, and the course creator, Greg Wilson. In this email I'll tell you a bit about how the course is organised.

First off, the course starts next Monday, Jan 10th and runs for 10 weeks. It is both a self-paced course and a guided course. Most all of the core course content is already up on the course website, and we are continuing to create lectures or revise existing ones based on feedback we get from you and others. We encourage you to explore the online material in whatever order suits you and to ask the TAs and other students for help when you need it. As well, each week will be covering a particular topic according to our lecture schedule[1]. Our schedule is designed to lead you sensibly through the online content. Each week we will send you an email notifying you of the week's topic, and we will prepare exercises for you to work on. We may also prepare the occasional quiz that covers several lectures at once, or other assignments.

Being an online course, we are going to use a few different ways of communicating with one another. This mailing list is for course announcements from us. The course forums[2] are where you can ask and answer questions of each other and of the TAs. We also have a course blog and twitter account[3] where we discuss new ideas for course material or reflect on how the course is going. If you are interested in contributing to this project or giving your feedback as we develop it you should tune in there. You can always send us questions about course content or feedback privately. As well, each month we will be asking that you check in with us over skype, phone, chat or email to let us know how you are progressing and to give us feedback on the course so far.

Running this course in an online format is quite new for us — this is only our second time doing it. Because of this we will be looking to you for feedback about what works and what doesn't[4]. Be mean if you have to, we can take it! We will also be expecting and encouraging you to interact with the other students taking this course. You each have a lot of great real-world experience to share with one another but the online format can be unfamiliar and maybe a bit daunting, so please just jump in.

I look forward to working with you all,

Jon.

[1] http://software-carpentry.org/spring-2011

[2] http://software-carpentry.org/forums

[3] http://software-carpentry.org/blog/ and @swcarpentry

[4] We wrote a blog post to summarise own description of what went right and what went wrong last semester

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