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Alternative Teaching Models

Posted 2013-03-01 by Greg Wilson in Education.

Our two-day bootcamps are working well, but that doesn't mean they're the best—or only—way to teach basic computing skills to scientists. We've been kicking around other ideas recently, and we'd welcome your input as well.

Become part of a regular university course.

We have experimented at Columbia with running a two-day bootcamp at the start of a regular course, followed by 2 hours/week for the remainder of the semester—we should be able to report back on how well it works by April or May.

Offer a two-week residential course.

Variations on this idea include:

How to keep people engaged after bootcamps?

  1. Offer a robust set of links to online communities by domain.
  2. Show people where and how to get help online: "how to ask a question online so that you'll get the answer you need.".
  3. Point people to hackerspaces: many professional software developers, people are motivated to share and learn, and love scientists.
  4. Online office hours.

We've also thought about creating an online community using Facebook, Piazza, Stack Exchange, or a combination of mailing lists and Google groups. However:

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