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Ada Initiative's Ally Skills Workshop

By Greg Wilson / 2015-04-25

The Ada Initiative ran their Ally Skills workshop at PyCon 2015, and by all accounts it was useful and thought-provoking. They don't do an online version, but you can watch this video of a workshop at the Wikimedia Foundation. Recommended.

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Van Lindberg's Keynote: Say Thanks

By Greg Wilson / 2015-04-25

Van Lindberg, the chair of the Python Software Foundation, gave a really insightful keynote at PyCon 2015 last week. In a nutshell:

  • The PSF's greatest challenge is that it's short of time: it has one full-time and three part-time employees.

  • What can you do to help?

    • Say thanks to people for what they're doing.
    • Raise up and mentor others.
    • Persevere when trying something new. (Bonus points if you help someone out who doesn't look like you.)

  • How can a new organization grow up to be the PSF?

    • Don't rush it. (In particular, don't put too much process in place too soon.)
    • Default to openness.
    • Build a culture of service.

There's lots more, and you should watch the whole thing, but I think these are good guidelines for Software Carpentry (and most other things, too).

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The Paradox of Learning Objects

By Greg Wilson / 2015-04-22

Warren Code recently forwarded this post by David Wiley, a serial innovator in open education and educational reform. In it, he recapitulates the history of "learning objects" and the paradox at the core of the idea of remixing and reusing teaching material. Since Software Carpentry is (sort of) trying to do exactly that, I think everyone who's currently teaching for us or helping us meet our first publication deadline should look it over.

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April 13 - 20, 2015: A DOI for Software Carpentry Lessons, Good Enough Scientific Computing Practices, Code Reviews, and Library Carpentry

By Anelda van der Walt / 2015-04-21

Highlights

Conversations

Events

  • Library Carpentry is a new program piloted by James Baker. The first Library Carpentry event will be hosted in London in November 2015.
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Learning in Both Directions

By Greg Wilson / 2015-04-21

We have spent a lot of time thinking about how to assess the impact that Software Carpentry is having. We've done some small studies and collected a few testimonials, but it's been small potatoes compared to the 5000 people we taught last year alone.

After some back and forth with a colleague whose work I have admired for years, though, I realize that I've been trying to do this the wrong way. My training as an engineer taught me that only controlled, quantitative experiments were "real" science—that as Ernest Rutherford said, it's either physics or stamp collecting. I now understand that there are other rigorous ways to generate actionable insights, some of which are better suited to our needs than something like randomized control trials. More than that, I finally understand what one of my first teachers told me:

Teaching only works well when the teacher is also learning.

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AAS Reflections

By Azalee Bostroem / 2015-04-18

We just finished* a workshop at the American Astronomical Society. I was lucky to recruit 3 instructors (in addition to myself) - Matt Davis, Erik Bray, and Phil Rosenfield. We also had Pauline Barmby volunteer as a helper (and on the fly instructor). While I wrote this blog post, you will see comments inserted by the instructors.

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Library Carpentry

By Greg Wilson / 2015-04-17

We wrote about the digital skills classes at the British Library last October. We were therefore very pleased to see that James Baker, a Software Sustainability Institute Fellow, is piloting a new program called Library Carpentry. The first run will take place in November 2015 at the Centre for Information Science at City University London; the program will consist of four three-hour sessions, each for 40-50 participants. The announcement has more details, including a call for participants and another for volunteers. Please check them out, and lend a hand if you can.

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Close Enough Redux

By Greg Wilson / 2015-04-17

Back in October, we explained why we don't teach testing in Software Carpentry workshops. In response, Ian Hawke has put together a really nice series of articles about how he would test a small numerical program. It's great content, and it also shows yet again how Jupyter (formerly the IPython Notebook) is changing the way scientists create and share ideas.

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Invitation to Millions of Compute Hours: Announcing the Open Science Grid User School

By Christina Koch / 2015-04-17

If you could access thousands or even millions of hours of computing, how would it transform your research? What discoveries might you make?

Each year the NSF-funded Open Science Grid (OSG) selects a group of 25-30 students to attend the OSG User School, a week-long dive into high-throughput computing approaches, technologies, and skills, within a larger context of computational research design that students can take into their future careers as researchers. Students across the country from nearly any research discipline are invited to apply, and selected applicants will obtain direct access to the OSG beyond the duration of the school.

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Publishing Our Lessons

By Greg Wilson / 2015-04-17

Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are one of the building blocks of academic bibliography systems. It's now possible to get a DOI for a GitHub repository (or more accurately, for the state of a GitHub repository at a particular point in time). We are going to use this to publish a citable version of our core lessons.

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