Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

April 2015 Lab Meeting

We held our second lab meeting of 2015 on April 1st, and had near-record turnout. Notes from the Etherpad are included below; the highlights are:

  • We hope to have a first-quarter financial report by the end of this month. The good news is that there's lots of interest in partnerships and affiliations; the bad is that we're not collecting admin fees from nearly as many workshops as we need to.
  • We will charge for-profit organizations four times as much for organizing workshops as we charge universities and other non-profits; the extra money will be used to underwrite workshops for places that otherwise might not be able to afford to host them.
  • We have created a LinkedIn group for Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry instructors — if you're a LinkedIn user, you're welcome to join. Leigh Sheneman and Lynne Williams have volunteered to moderate the group.
  • Peter van Heusden and Gabriel Devenyi have volunteered to help with system administration — our thanks to Jon Pipitone and David Rio for all their help over the past couple of years.
  • Noam Ross is putting together a lesson on how to get unstuck, and Christina Koch is managing work on some extra Unix shell material.
  • We hope to have the current lessons tidied up by the end of April so that we can give them DOIs, and thereby make it easier for everyone who has contributed to them to get proper credit for their work.

Agenda

10:00 Eastern

  • Greg Wilson (Software Carpentry Foundation)
  • Tiffany Timbers (Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada)
  • Luiz Irber (Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA)
  • Jonah Duckles (University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, USA)
  • Timothée Poisot (université de Montréal)
  • Raniere Silva
  • Noam Ross (UC Davis)
  • Amy Brown (unaffiliated, Toronto)
  • Karin Lagesen (University of Oslo)
  • Anelda van der Walt (Talarify)
  • Emily Davenport (Cornell University)
  • John Blischak (University of Chicago)
  • Ashwin Srinath (Clemson University)
  • Arliss Collins (Mozilla Science Lab)
  • Frank Willmore (Independent research professional)
  • Victor Kwangchun Lee (xwMOOC, Korea)
  • Piotr Banaszkiewicz (AGH-UST, Kraków, Poland)
  • Olav Vahtras (KTH Sweden)
  • François Michonneau (University of Florida)
  • Klemens Noga (ACC Cyfronet AGH, Kraków, Poland)
  • Kate Hertweck (U Texas Tyler)
  • Denis Haine (U of Montreal)
  • Neal Davis (U of Illinois)
  • Sarah Stevens (U of Wisconsin - Madison)
  • Daniel Turek (UC Berkeley)
  • Logan Cox (University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, USA)
  • Camille Avestruz (Yale University)
  • Abigail Cabunoc Mayes (Mozilla Science Lab)
  • Mark Wilber (University of California, Santa Barbara)
  • Isabelle Laforest-L. (Université du Québec a Montréal)
  • Aleksandra Pawlik (SSI, University of Manchester)
  • Laurent Gatto (University of Cambridge, UK)
  • Sue McClatchy (The Jackson Laboratory)
  • Kai Blin (DTU, Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Ethan White (University of Florida / Utah State University)
  • Chris Kotfila (University at Albany, SUNY)
  • Jason Williams (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)
  • Jeramia Ory (King's College, PA)
  • Pauline Barmby (Northern Harvard University, London Canada)
  • Peter van Heusden (SANBI, University of the Western Cape, South Africa)
  • Caroline Li
  • Matthew Aiello-Lammens (UConn)
  • Easton White (UC- Davis)
  • Billy Rowell (HHMI Janelia Farm Campus) (listening only)
  • Leigh Sheneman (MSU)
  • Adina Howe (ISU)
  • Giacomo Peru (SSI, Edinburgh)
  • Katy Huff (ucberkeley)

19:00 Eastern

  • Greg Wilson (Software Carpentry Foundation)
  • Matt Davis
  • Damien Irving (University of Melbourne)
  • Nichole Bennett (University of Texas at Austin)
  • Joshua Ainsley (Fino Consulting)
  • Lauren Michael (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
  • Sheldon McKay
  • Lynne Williams (Child and Family Research Imaging Facility)
  • Gabriel Devenyi (Douglas Institute)
  • Tom Kelly (University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ)
  • Christina Koch (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
  • Gayathri Swaminathan
  • Dominic Barraclough
  • Zhuo Fu (UVA)
  • Hamid Mokhtarzadeh (U of MN)
  • Julia Gustavsen (University of British Columbia)
  • Fan Yang (Iowa State University)
  • Chris Friedline (Virginia Commonwealth University)
  • Ivan Gonzalez
  • Bill Mills (Mozilla Science Lab)
  • Noam Ross (UC Davis, @noamross)
  • Daniel Chen (Virginia Tech)
  • Steve Haddock (MBARI, practicalcomputing.org)
  • Adam Thomas (National Institutes of Health)
  • Bernhard Konrad (UBC)
  • François Michonneau (University of Florida)
  • John Corless (Dallas, TX)

Notes:

  • Jason: SCF is starting to bring in workshop fees ($8200 for January?)
    • uncollected fees ~2x collected fees right now
    • working on long-term followup & articulation of expectations
  • Karin/Matt: Following up on the discussion about workshops for commercial companies the steering committee has decided to run a pilot program
    • For profit companies charged $5000 for 1st workshop, $3000 for subsequent
      • i.e., 4X what we charge non-profit orgs
    • Instructors will work like normal (not be paid, travel covered)
    • A portion of extra fees will be used to run workshops for institutions that can't afford fees
    • After pilot will seek additional feedback
  • Karin: Notes from Steering Committee meetings are now openly available in the repo
  • Greg: LinkedIn group for instructors
    • https://www.linkedin.com/grp/home?gid=8279689
    • Looking for a volunteer to help manage this, please get in touch
    • Leigh Sheneman volunteers to help
    • Lynne Williams volunteers to help <williams.lynne99@gmail.com>
    • (Aleksandra: Leigh, let us know if you'd like support from one more person; basically, feel free to send a note on Discuss)
  • Managing the flood of email
    • One solution is change the way that we manage the groups. All instructors are in one group that have read/write access to all the lessons. We are going to split this into small groups (one for lesson) so that people don't get all email notification by default.
      • Gabriel Devenyi volunteers for GitHub group testing
  • Need a new sys admin volunteer
    • Peter van Heusden <pvh@sanbi.ac.za>
    • Gabriel Devenyi <gdevenyi@gmail.com>
  • Noam Ross is working on a few improvements for the R lesson like: where learners can get help after the workshop, how they can solve their own problem, ... Started a repo, https://github.com/noamross/zero-dependency-problems, where he is gathering examples from various fora and workshops of the types of things that typical students run into. Interested in contributions from people -- directly from student questions -- also for feedback on lessons, in terms of what material has already been covered, minimal reproducible examples. A question is how much this should be independent material versus being exercises/materials incorporated into Novice Lessons. Short term hope: people contribute example of questions/problems. Where do beginners hit a wall? How beginners should ask the questions? Everything is R: would be nice to have Python, Shell, SQL, ... as well. Some of the material might end up being good examples/exercises.
    • Greg: SWC and Data Carpentry exists also to have these non-technical questions answered.
  • Christina Koch revive the idea of extra material for our lessons. This is a experimental. This week we had a email thread about the need to drop some things from our lessons and move it to extra or something similar.
  • We want to have our novice lessons stable at the end of April to have a DOI.
    • On NEON http://neondataskills.org
    • DOI is for a particular version of a repository. You decide when you need a new DOI -- when there are enough changes to need one. People have been asking for a DOI so they can cite lessons.
    • If anyone has time to help clean up lessons in advance of getting the DOI, that would be great!
    • Tom: In R lesson we have one section called supplementary material.
    • Greg: You can add material into R lesson but people believe that they need to cover what are in the lesson so maybe keep it in another location is better.
      • using smaller chunks for lessons: 10 min instead of 15-20 sections? could try with select repo
  • Titus's ideas: http://ivory.idyll.org/blog/2015-some-workshop-or-unconference-ideas.html
  • Pauline: Q: What works for convincing orgs that its' worthwhile to bring groups in from the outside?
    • Aleksandra: One option is to offer to train up internal instructors. First couple of workshops can help with this training and fill the gap in the meantime.
    • Offloading administrative work -- university wants host to do all administration to "save" the cost of the SWC administration fee.
    • Path to affiliate status (better where its easier to have a budget item rather than ad-hoc)
    • Several thousand hours are invested in our lessons (but this only sways a few people)
    • Workshops are always over-subscribed
    • Satisfies the 'training' obligation you agreed to on your grant last year
  • Lesson sprint for summer:
    • Potential co-organizers (invite leaders and participants, ...)
      • Neal Davis
      • Tiffany Timbers (maybe)
      • Sheldon McKay
  • How to consult the Software Carpentry community about changes/ideas
    • Mail the discuss list for medium-large changes
    • Move detailed discussion to GH issue/repo
    • Small, lesson-specific questions in GH repo

Dialogue & Discussion

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