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April 21 - 27, 2015: The People Behind Software Carpentry, Debating Scientific Software, Learning Objects, and Ally Skills Workshops.

By Anelda van der Walt / 2015-04-27


  • Get to know the people behind Software Carpentry. First up: Matt Davis.


  • A lively conversation about scientific software has been taking place on Titus Brown's blog, culminating (for now) in this post on popping the open source/open science bubble.

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Getting to Know: Matt Davis

By Amy Brown / 2015-04-27

The subject of the first of our "Getting to Know" series of contributor profiles is Matt Davis, a long-time Software Carpentry team member. Matt is the vice-chair of our Steering Committee, and the Software Carpentry Foundation liason for the Lesson Organization and Development subcommittee. more

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. more

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). more

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. more

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




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

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. more

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. more

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. more

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. more

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