Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

Feedback from Newcastle

This week the Digital Institute at Newcastle University with The Software Sustainability Institute ran a second bootcamp at Newcastle University. This bootcamp was run for attendees from the North East of England, from whom there was demand after the first Newcastle bootcamp, back in May.

Feedback from the attendees was good though some wanted more time or detail on specific subjects. The most popular comment was the desire to have the slides and instructor scripts available so that attendees could catch up if they fell behind the instructor. The other major challenge, again, was Cygwin. We may want to provide a VM for attendees who typically use Linux but have a Windows laptop.

Here are the comments from the attendees, helpers and instructors, good and bad...

Good
  • Wide range of languages.
  • More confidence in using shell.
  • Could follow along with everything.
  • Good to be introduced to Cygwin.
  • Really liked the post-it notes.
  • Automated testing could be really useful.
  • Useful to have Python and sqlite.
  • Learned a lot about version control and sqlite.
  • Can now keep track of how my thesis is progressing using Mercurial.
  • Liked sqlite. Will use in my research.
  • Demonstrators were extremely helpful.
  • bootcamp overall has a nice "plot".
Bad
  • Helpful to have been given the slides to go through.
  • Useful to put the code and the slides online before the bootcamp.
  • Could have done with a crib sheet.
  • A handout in case you are delayed so you can follow that.
  • Difficult to keep up with the pace of the exercises. Had not always completed one before the next started.
  • Sometimes the exercise did not have a progression in difficulty, e.g. the square overlap could be broken up more.
  • Suggest the overlapping lines solution before the attendees implement the function so they come away thinking about TDD and not the solution to the problem (Instructor).
  • Python was a bit elementary.
  • Hoping for more Python.
  • Would liked a bit longer in revision control.
  • More shell examples, less shell commands.
  • Instructor should pause before pressing RETURN when entering a command as sometimes the command disappears off screen.
  • Crib sheets are a bit long - need to shorten (Instructor)
  • Provide a VM for attendees who typically use Linux but have a Windows laptop.

Dialogue & Discussion

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