Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

April 2014 Lab Meeting

We held another online lab meeting yesterday, which covered a fairly wide range of topics. The notes are below; comments about what we missed, and suggestions for the next lab meeting, are very welcome.

  • Mozilla Science Lab one year on (Kaitlin T.)
    • Hoping to bring a couple more people onto the team in the next couple of months
    • Two sessions of office hours (first right after this call) on the "DOI for Code" project
    • Badging for contributions to papers
  • Governance (Kaitlin T.)
    • Software Carpentry has grown too big for one person to keep track of all the changes being made to all the lesson material. This is good news, but it does mean that the way we do things has to grow as well. We'd therefore like to try the following:
      1. Small changes and additions will be merged when and as they're ready.
      2. Large changes and additions will be voted on at lab meetings; every instructor will get to vote.
      3. Any proposed changes to the Code of Conduct and/or requirements for calling a workshop "Software Carpentry" will also be voted on at lab meetings; again, every instructor will get to vote.
      4. We will vote at the September 2014 lab meeting on whether to keep these rules or try something else.
    • Q: who gets to decide what's big or not?
      • For now, Greg will, but will err on the side of caution (when in doubt, put it up for a vote).
    • Q: what about the really big things being done by small teams (e.g., the R module being put together by half a dozen people)? If the changes all had to be voted on, it would never happen.
      • Agreed; in that case, a vote up front (as we did for the MATLAB material) may work better.
      • As with the previous Q, we'll try a few things for the next few months and figure out what we should have done.
    • Q: any type of "owner(s)" of each module to approve small changes?
      • Good idea - we can certainly try that.
  • Launching the Mozilla Science Lab forum http://forum.mozillascience.org/ (Kaitlin T.)
    • Looking for a few volunteers to curate specific sections: please contact Kaitlin.
  • Sprint July 22-23 (Greg W.)
    • Modeled on Random Hacks of Kindness
    • Simultaneous work sprints in many cities, connected by web video
      • As Australia goes to sleep, Europe's coming online; by the time Europe wraps up, the Americas are online, etc.
    • We'll use Mozilla offices where we have them, and ask people to find/use other space where we don't
    • Lesson content, extended examples, tools, related open science projects...
    • Details soon
  • Location of supplementary lesson material (John B.)
    • Resolution: vote at the next lab meeting about where to put "extra" and/or "beta" lessons.
    • Proposals will be posted well in advance.
  • Data Carpentry (Tracy T.)
    • Came out of a NSF Bio Center technical meeting where we saw the need for biologists in particular to learn more about working with and managing data
    • The workshop is designed to be at a novice level with four modules. Working with one biology based dataset from start to finish.
    • Curriculum:
      • starting with Excel and beyond Excel
      • R
      • SQL
      • sharing data, using web resources
    • At NESCent May 8-9 for the first bootcamp being taught by Hilmar Lapp (NESCent), Ethan White (awesome), Karen Cranston (NESCent) and Tracy Teal (BEACON)
    • Helpers: Mike Smorul (SESYNC), Deb Paul (iDigBio)
    • Will run these workshops at other Bio Centers, esp one in June at BEACON at MSU
    • Material being developed and will eventually be in SWC repo under 'data'
    • http://nescent.github.io/2014-05-08-datacarpentry/
    • https://github.com/NESCent/2014-05-08-datacarpentry
  • Recap of PyCon, WiSE, and other bootcamps (Arliss C.)
  • Upcoming events (Amy B.)
    • Bootcamps at Spelman, Cornell, Scripps (San Diego), Delaware, UC Davis, Stanford and Notre Dame need instructors
    • Bootcamp at HHMI's Janelia Farm Research Campus in May/June needs instructors
    • Bootcamps for bioinformaticians in Toronto and Vancouver need helpers - May 12-13
    • 1st Bootcamp in Brazil at University of Rio Grande (http://r-gaia-cs.github.io/2014-05-12-furg/ ) if you know someone that can help please send a email to raniere@ime.unicamp.br
    • Upcoming bootcamps that don't need anything! \o/ GWU, Bergen (today), Cold Spring Harbor Lab, SciLifeLab in Stockholm, and more!
  • Instructor Training (Greg W.)
    • June-August 2014 class is now full, but spaces available in Sept 2014
  • Assessment data + Questions (Jory S.)
    • Insights from interviews with bootcamp alumni about what they find useful
    • Blog post coming soon
Short Items / Non-Verbal Updates

Assessment Quick Summary (interviews 3 months after workshop)

  • Notable Profiles
    • 16 /23 explicitly indicated data carpentry was important to their work.
    • 14 /23 explicitly indicated the command line was important to their work.
  • Wishes
    • 11 /23 wanted more data carpentry covered (import,convert,clean, etc.)
    • 8 /23 wanted more practice / problem time during the workshop.
  • Length & Content
    • 5 /23 wanted a more advanced workshop.
    • 6 /23 thought it was too short.
  • Overall Thoughts
    • 3 /23 thought the expectations / advertising of the workshop was wrong.
    • 18 /23 explicitly expressed positive experience.

Dialogue & Discussion

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