Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

Online Instructor Training Revisited

We have now run instructor training in three formats:

  • an in-person two- or three-day class,
  • a multi-week online class, and
  • a hybrid version in which the trainees are co-located, but the trainer comes in via the web.

We've also gathered a lot of feedback on what people want from instructor training and what its prerequisites should be. Based on all of that, we're going to try to combine the best features of everything we've done so far.

On June 8-9, we're going to run instructor training for 18 people at three sites: one in South Africa, one in the United Kingdom, and one in the United States. Three days later, on June 12-13, we're going to do it again for about 15 people at another three sites that belong to one of our partner organizations. Aleksandra Pawlik from the Software Sustainability Institute, Warren Code from the UBC Science Centre for Learning and Teaching, and I will give these trainees the same lessons and exercises as participants in the live course. There will be a bit more structure—the first day will mostly be about generic pedagogy, while the second will cover Software Carpentry-specific things— and they will then do the same graduation exercise as our online trainees (i.e., submit a change to one of our lessons and teach online for five minutes).

If this goes well, we will then decide what to do about instructor training in future. People enjoy the multi-week course, but it's been a growing drain on scarce resources, and the drop-out rate for the two-day classes is much lower than that of the multi-week class. If we can achieve the same results in a more compressed format, we may run one extended course and several intensive ones each year instead of having an extended course going all the time. (I think we'll still need the extended course to reach people who can't get together in groups for intensive courses.) We should know in four weeks—we'll let you know when we do.

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