Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

Software Carpentry workshop at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

At the end of this week Alex Viana and I taught a Software Carpentry workshop at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul. We had around 30 learners of very different experience (from high school students to seniors professors of the university) and took them through Bash, Git and Python over the course of two days.

First of all I want to thank everyone who helped organize and run this workshop, especially Rafael Pezzi and Lucas Leal. We held the workshop in a university computer lab, so we used the lab's desktops with a virtual machine setup by our host.

At the morning of the first day, I taught shell. Most of the students used it before, at least once, but they like to discovery some new commands (e.g. `find`) and that they can create shell scripts. At the afternoon, Alex taught the introduction to Python covering variables, loops, conditions and functions.

At the morning of the second day, I taught Git. This was the session that most of the students were waiting and they like it. (Instead of GitHub we used GitLab as requested by our host.) At the afternoon, Alex taught the basic of the Python scientific libraries (Numpy and Matplotlib) and Pandas by rewriting the same example with all this libraries. Students were amazing by how easy is to use Pandas for data analysis (we used the data file provided by our host).

Although the good feedbacks that we had (e.g. "Thought the lessons well organized and the instructors well prepared and worried so we learn the knowledge.") students complained about:

  • small time available for the lessons,
  • lack of the last command typed due the output of it be larger than the screen,
  • need of more exercises.

Alex and I will try to address this complains in our two workshop at University of São Paulo next week.

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