Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

2016 Post-Workshop Instructor Debriefing, Round 01

On January 11, 2016 we ran the 1st round of post-workshop instructor debriefing of the calendar year! The mentoring committee ran 22 debriefing session in 2015, and we are exciting about continuing to host and improve these sessions this year.

Interestingly, all instructors present participated in 3-day format Software Carpentry workshops. Read on to find out more about the changes made, what worked well, and what didn’t.

Worked well

Both of these Nordic workshops were spearheaded by newly minted instructors. Greg Wilson had approached them in the past about becoming instructors and hosting workshops, and this effort has come to fruition. Both workshops were well attended and received, and everyone is looking forward to continuing learning, coding, and networking.

The Stockholm group created an exercise/challenge that combined testing and pull requests. Students were given a broken python function; after fixing the errors, the student’s submitted their changes via pull requests. View the exercise here.

The Helsinki group incorporated afternoon work sessions where the students could apply the newly-learned tools to their own data or get more help of the morning’s topics.

What could have gone better

The Helsinki group gave a lecture using the Software Carpentry Best Practices in Scientific Computing slideshow. The material is excellent, but the lecture style delivery was a stark constrast to the hands-on style of teaching the day before.

We wonder if there isn’t a way to add the “rules” to various lesson where appropriate. This way, instructors can weave these best practices into the workshop, without needing a separate block of time to cover the slides independently. Thoughts?

Other comments

Roman Valls Guimera, an instructor with the SciLifeLab, wrote about about their workshop. You can read it and look at some great photos here


We are grateful to the instructors who attended debriefing sessions this round:

Dialogue & Discussion

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