Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

Blog Archive

The Software Carpentry blog is no longer updated regularly. You can find more information about what's happening in our community through The Carpentries blog, a great resource that collates posts from Data Carpentry, Library Carpentry, and Software Carpentry, and publishes updates of general interest to the community.

This page contains a list of posts from the legacy Software Carpentry blog for archival purposes.

Git lesson using worksheets
Pariksheet Nanda / 2018-05-26
I attended my first Software Carpentry workshop in 2015 as a helper and was mesmerized by how Ivan Gonzalez taught the Git lesson using an easel pad and different colored markers. He had separate boxes for the working directory, stage and history and went back and forth between the terminal and drawing on the pad to recap his last set of commands. Ever since, Git has been one of my favorite lessons to teach, because the material has depth and is challenging to explain, but it can be taught well with the help of Ivan’s drawings and the well maintained lesson materials. The Git drawings seemed to work well until last year when I taught in a room with afternoon sunlight and a difficult to see blackboard. I was scheduled to teach in the same room at a workshop earlier this month, and to remedy the hard-to-see blackboard, I used a document camera and drew on a worksheet instead. Herein was a nice opportunity: why not have the learners also draw long? During my PhD studies, I’ve had two classes, biochemistry and phylogenetics, where the instructor had us draw along and I found I enjoyed drawing things in the classroom. How often does one get to draw as an adult? I was instantly transported back to kindergarden. In addition to the Git drawing section at the top of the worksheet, I added a cheatsheet of the Git commands we would be covering that afternoon with little checkboxes next to the commands. That way, learners can get the visceral feeling of checking off a command when it is covered and understood (or have an opportunity to protest if it wasn’t understood). Drawing along can have educational value in addition to feeling good. In Chapters 4 and 5 of “How to Teach Programming (and Other Things)” Greg Wilson discusses combining words with visuals (dual coding) and of the need to slowly present a diagram in pieces to later help trigger recall of what was said by pointing at the diagram. Here is the cheetsheet clean and filled-in: The reason to use arrows of the history items pointing back to their immediate previous items is to make the “detached HEAD” error state more clear. When we create the detached HEAD state in the classroom, we don’t see recent commits because the history items are only aware of their previous commits; or at least that’s a good enough mental model of Git’s true behavior. Learner sticky note feedback from that section of the workshop is slightly clouded by some confusion during the collaboration section in the late afternoon, and because Git was taught without teaching the Shell first. I will use the worksheets again at a more traditional workshop in 2 months and hope you will also try using Git worksheets! Read More ›

Meet the Members of the Software Carpentry CAC
Erin Becker, Belinda Weaver / 2018-05-07
New Curriculum Advisory Committee for Software Carpentry Lessons Read More ›

Launching The Carpentries Website
Tracy Teal, Belinda Weaver / 2018-04-25
Website Launch We are excited to announce that The Carpentries website is now live! The new website celebrates our merged identity as The Carpentries. The new website will give you access to all things ‘Carpentries’, in other words, it will give you easy access to what is common information across the merged organization. The sorts of things you will find there include our Code of Conduct, information about instructor training and assessment, a range of shared policies, including our privacy policy, details of staffing and project governance, and a whole lot more. The existing Data and Software Carpentry sites will remain in place alongside the new site. Since Data and Software Carpentry are ongoing lesson organizations, information related to lessons belongs on those individual sites. We will gradually take down material that is now more logically based on The Carpentries website. You may notice that a lot of the links on The Carpentries transfer you directly to The Carpentries Handbook that we launched last week. The Handbook has been enthusiastically received by our community. For those who haven’t seen it yet, find it here. The aim of the Handbook is to provide a one-stop shop for people wanting all kinds of Carpentries-related information. Information is being added and updated all the time so please let us know if there is something missing. The Handbook and the website will complement each other to cover all things Carpentries. Please let us know if there are errors or omissions on our new website. You can raise an issue about the website at this link, or about the Handbook at this link. The launch of the new website completes our transition to a new, merged, online identity as The Carpentries. Increasingly we will blog as The Carpentries, rather than as Software or Data Carpentry, so be sure to check out our new blog. We also have our new merged Twitter feed. Follow The Carpentries on Twitter. Read More ›

Running workshops on limited budgets
Belinda Weaver, Toby Hodges, Anelda van der Walt / 2018-04-13
Anelda van der Walt and co-host Toby Hodges ran the first themed discussion session in March to brainstorm ideas about running workshops with little to no funding. Attendees from Australia, the US, the UK, and Canada joined to hear and contribute ideas. Existing Funding Models The Brisbane model is to use Eventbrite to charge a low fee (around AUD $60) for attendance at workshops. This has a few benefits - waitlists can be managed, the booking widget appears in the workshop website, fees can be easily refunded up to a week before the workshop, and attendance is generally good because people have paid out of their own pockets or have been sponsored by their school to come. The fee covers the costs of room hire and the fairly lavish morning and afternoon teas that keep people from wandering off in search of sustenance during breaks. The Brisbane instructor pool is fairly large so there is no need to fly people in, which means we don’t have to factor in those costs. One drawback is having to pay the catering and room hire costs up-front by personal credit card as the Eventbrite payout comes only after the workshop. This is a break-even charge - we could charge more and return some money to The Carpentries, but our main interest is in keeping costs low. Another model we have used is to charge a small fee of, say, $20 to get people to commit to coming, but return the value to them as a $10 lunch voucher each day. This only works when we don’t have to pay for room hire, and people do wander off in the breaks in search of coffee instead of sticking around as they do at the catered workshops. The South Africa model was to charge 500 Rand (around USD $42) per person, but this was not feasible outside metropolitan areas, where it dropped as low as 50 Rand (USD $4). Many workshops are now externally funded which removes the need for having to charge a fee and as local instructor pools grow, the costs of running workshops are also decreasing considerably. We have also found that it is often easier for research groups or funders to sponsor smaller amounts or specific items, such as flight tickets or catering. By pooling resources, we’ve been able to run many workshops at very low cost per sponsor rather than trying to source one lump sum of money from one sponsor. Online services to manage the admin side can be problematical as the payout only comes afterwards whereas costs may be up-front. Luckily, no-shows are rare. In Canada, there can be a problem with tax collection and reporting when running on-campus events. That means finding some university person willing to use their account in the system to ‘sponsor’ the workshop for the tax side of things. If fees are charged for catering, universities generally then charge for the room hire, so this starts to make workshops more expensive. Currently room hire has been free thanks to personal lobbying and favours, but may become more of a problem as workshop numbers ramp up. Another model that can work well is tying a workshop in with a conference or other big event happening locally at your institution. Generally you can get funding for the workshop from the conference, or charge a small fee that will cover any costs you have. Where can allies on campus be found? Libraries are good places to ask for support, and they may also have teaching rooms that can be used. Also any people involved in IT, especially research IT, HPC, student support or graduate schools are potential allies, as are postgraduate student societies of all kinds. Off-campus allies can also help. Meetup can help you find local coding groups. If you make connections and raise awareness through those, it helps spread the word. People from local tech companies or organizations may be willing to act as workshop helpers because they need to learn how to teach people. How do people advertise workshops? Twitter seems to be the main avenue for getting the word out. Facebook, especially posting to a university-related student page, can be a good place to post an event. It is worth trying email lists within a university, posters on bulletin boards, and asking people to spread the word through their contacts. Consider using a workshop title like “Data Analysis with R” if awareness of Software and Data Carpentry is low to non-existent where you are based. Use the poster or email to say what people will learn rather than assuming they will know. Something like “Start using computation in your research” or “Start using R to analyse and visualise your data” tells people what to expect. Read More ›

Launching our New Handbook
Tracy Teal, Maneesha Sane, Belinda Weaver / 2018-04-11
Find new pathways to a range of Carpentries' materials Read More ›

Building Library Carpentry Community and Development
Tracy Teal, John Chodacki, Chris Erdmann / 2018-04-11
We are excited to announce that Chris Erdmann has been hired as the Library Carpentry Community and Development Director starting May 4, 2018. Chris has worked in libraries for more than 21 years to integrate data management and workflows in database and library systems. Through training, consulting and tool development to build programs, he has tried to empower people in research and library communities to work effectively with data. Chris received his MLIS at the University of Washington iSchool while working at the University’s Technology Transfer Office, where he helped automate workflows and develop the unit’s web presence and analytics. He spent roughly ten years working alongside astronomers at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics to advance library data-mining and linking services, e.g. ESO Telescope Bibliography. Also during this time, he led an experimental training series called Data Scientist Training for Librarians (DST4L) geared towards teaching librarians data-savvy skills to help transform their library services to meet the needs of their research communities. He recently joined the Library Carpentry governance group. He is a co-author with Matt Burton, Liz Lyon, and Bonnie Tijerina on the recent report Shifting to Data Savvy: The Future of Data Science In Libraries, where Library Carpentry and The Carpentries are highlighted as a necessary next step for libraries to advance their research services. Chris will be working with the Library Carpentry community and The Carpentries to start mapping out the infrastructure for growing the community, formalizing lesson development processes, expanding its pool of instructors, and inspiring more instructor trainers to meet the demand for Library Carpentry workshops around the globe and thus reach new regions and communities. This new position is funded by IMLS and hosted by the University of California Curation Center (UC3), the digital curation program of the California Digital Library (CDL). It is intended to support the work of the Library Carpentry governance committee on streamlining operations with The Carpentries, determining standard curriculum, growing instructor training for librarians and planning for community events like the upcoming Mozilla Sprint to update Library Carpentry materials. Chris will be helping to manage the sprint work in the northern hemisphere. Chris is excited about advancing the profession and sees the Library Carpentry and The Carpentries communities as the perfect catalyst to do that. He is on Twitter as @libcce, on GitHub and on LinkedIn, and we’re very excited to welcome Chris to this role! For more information on Library Carpentry, see https://librarycarpentry.github.io. Follow @libcarpentry on Twitter. For more information on UC3 and California Digital Library, see http://uc3.cdlib.org. Follow @caldiglib and @UC3CDL on Twitter. Read More ›

Developing GitHub labels for The Carpentries lessons
François Michonneau / 2018-04-05
The process of developing GitHub labels for our lessons. Read More ›

Mentoring Groups Open for Multiple Timezones
Kari L. Jordan / 2018-04-04
Did you miss the deadline to join a mentoring group? Do not fear, there are still openings for mentees to join groups in the following timezones: UTC+2 UTC+1 UTC+8 UTC+11 To join, fill out this application. Mentoring groups are beneficial to participants because group members are able to focus on specific goals, including teaching their first workshop and developing new lesson contribution material. Being a part of a group that addresses something important to you is both powerful and enjoyable. You do not want to miss out on the Carpentries mentoring opportunities. Join a mentoring group today! Read More ›

What can I do during the Bug BBQ? › How to be involved in the Bug BBQ?
François Michonneau / 2018-04-03
A short guide on how to contribute and be involved during The Carpentries Bug BBQ. Read More ›

Who Belongs at CarpentryCon 2018? You Do!
Belinda Weaver / 2018-03-23
CarpentryCon 2018 will be the key community building event in the Carpentries’ annual calendar. To be held in Dublin from 30 May - 1 June, 2018, CarpentryCon will be three action-packed days of skill ups, breakout sessions, talks, social events (there will be a conference dinner), and workshops. Who do we want to see there? YOU! Grad student? Tick. Post-doc? Tick. Working in industry? Tick. Project or lab leader? Tick. Research Software Engineer? Tick. Librarian supporting researchers? Tick. The list could go on, but what it boils down to is there’ll be something for everyone. Maybe you are very new to the Carpentries community. Maybe you have attended a workshop, helped at a workshop, or just heard that the Carpentries do amazing things to help researchers. Come to CarpentryCon and find out more about what we do, how you can get involved, and how being part of this great community can change your skill levels, your career trajectory, and maybe even your life. Lots of people have changed careers after attending our workshops, after finding that the coding and data skills they thought were unattainable were actually well within their grasp. So don’t let being new to our community be a barrier - we have all kinds of plans to help even the newest members of our community feel that they belong with us. Maybe you are based somewhere that has no Carpentries community. If so, then joining our community - our global community - is one way to end that isolation. Find people working in the same discipline, or with the same tools, and make connections to help you feel less alone once you go back home again. Who knows? Maybe you will be inspired to kick start your own community. If so, we have lots of ways we can help. Perhaps you’re already a Carpentries Instructor, Trainer, or Lesson Maintainer? (Did you hear that rhyme?) CarpentryCon will provide lots of opportunities for those groups both to network and cross-network. Older hands - people who have been in the community for a while - we want you at CarpentryCon to show new people the ropes and help them develop the skills to drive their careers forward. From sessions on leading projects or research labs to breakouts on mentoring and diversity, our community has so much to offer new people just starting out. We plan to offer professional development sessions that will augment your Master’s or PhD qualifications so that your career can really go places. (Have a look at what skills volunteering as an Instructor, Trainer, or Lesson Maintainer in the Carpentries can add to your CV.) And did I mention that the contacts you will make at CarpentryCon will be invaluable? We also have some fantastic keynote speakers. Valerie Aurora, a diversity and inclusion consultant who co-founded the Ada Initiative, will not only speak, but will run her fantastic Ally Skills Workshop on the final day. Anelda van der Walt - and who better? - will talk about community building throughout Africa. Desmond Higgins, who developed Clustal, will keynote about that groundbreaking work. And Software Carpentry co-founder Greg Wilson will speak about how we all got here in the first place. We will have plenty of Library Carpentry content - not least an onboarding workshop for existing Instructors who want to teach the material. We will have Next Steps in R and a session on using Carpentry methods in university courses. We have also slotted in some Open Mic ‘unconference’-style sessions so good ideas on the day can have a chance to be voted on to the program. And it’s Dublin in May! Where else would you rather be? Check out the program, submit an abstract for a poster or lightning talk, but most of all … GET YOUR TICKET TODAY! Early Bird sales end in just a few hours! Read More ›

Software Carpentry: Considering the Future
Christina Koch / 2018-03-23
When Software Carpentry became part of the merged Carpentries this January, outgoing Software Carpentry steering committee members Rayna Harris and Christina Koch were tasked with continuing the work of the steering committee. For the past several weeks, we’ve been working together with a small group to determine what Software Carpentry needs as a sub-community to grow and thrive in the future, and we have identified two primary goals. One first goal is a restatement of Software Carpentry’s mission. The Carpentries are growing by leaps and bounds, so this seems like a timely moment to stop and think about what Software Carpentry is doing as a branch of the Carpentries and why. This exploration of mission and identity isn’t just so we can have a nice tagline, but to provide direction and a reference point for future decisions that impact the community. Our second main goal is to improve the support for maintaining and curating the lessons we already have. But we can’t do these things alone! We’re looking to the community to help us achieve our goals. This has already been happening for our second goal, as Erin Becker (even before the Carpentries merged) has been building up the community of lesson maintainers and recruiting new lesson maintainers. Most recently she opened applications for a Software Carpentry curriculum advisory committee that will be a resource for individual lesson maintainers (see the blog post here for more information). We’d like to now take action to make our first goal happen. Moving forward, over the next 6-8 weeks, we’d like to invite all members of the Software Carpentry community to join us in thinking about our identity and what we are hoping to accomplish as Software Carpentry lesson developers, maintainers, instructors, workshop organizers, learners, and champions. Whether you’re a newly trained instructor, have commented on the lessons many times, or are just organizing your first workshop – we want to hear from you; all are welcome. Ideas, suggestions and concerns from the community will be gathered in two ways. The first way is to talk with us “in person” by joining one of the hour-long calls that we’ll be scheduling. If you don’t have the time for a call, we will also have a form with suggested questions to fill out. We know that this is a bit of an ask – everyone is busy (who wants another meeting or form to fill out?). However, based on my past experience in workshops, trainings, and the mentoring-hosted discussion sessions, I always leave a conversation with fellow “carpenters” with new ideas, new connections and a lot of hope about the world. This is an invitation to give that to yourself by joining the conversation, with the added bonus of helping us craft a summary of this community’s mission and values that truly reflects its members. Action Item Sign up on the agenda to attend a call or fill out the form. We look forward to hearing from you! We plan to be receiving community feedback from now until the end of April. We will review these community contributions and present them to the community some time in May. Read More ›

Webinar with Rochelle Tractenberg: Debrief
Marianne Corvellec, Karen Word / 2018-03-20
On February 2, the Assessment Network held a well-attended webinar with Rochelle Tractenberg. Dr. Tractenberg holds two PhDs, one in Cognitive Sciences and the other in Statistics, and directs the Collaborative for Research on Outcomes and Metrics at Georgetown University, where she is a tenured professor in the Department of Neurology. It was a great privilege for our community to be able to engage in a conversation with her and to learn from her expertise. Our starting point was the controversy about short-format training which arose last year, following the publication of a PNAS paper titled “Null effects of boot camps and short-format training for PhD students in life sciences.” The Carpentries design and deliver short-format training for working with software and data; trainees are researchers from various fields. The Carpentries’ initial response to that paper discussed many ways in which we have been successful with respect to our goals for Software and Data Carpentry workshops. However, given that short-format training is a known challenge for generating sustainable content learning, we hoped that Dr. Tractenberg’s expertise might shed some light on areas with room for improvement. Dr. Tractenberg identified two of our strategies (i.e., “meet learners where they are” and “explicitly address motivation and self-efficacy”) as areas which could benefit from our leveraging of tools and concepts from educational psychology. So,Dr. Tractenberg introduced us to Bloom’s taxonomy (1956) and Messick’s criteria (1989). Bloom’s taxonomy comes with six levels of learning objectives, corresponding to increasing and accumulating complexity in thinking. These are: Remember/Reiterate Understand/Summarize Apply/Illustrate Analyze/Predict Create/Synthesize Evaluate/Compare/Judge Messick’s criteria ask three questions to be used for instructional design and evaluation: What are the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) desired for learners? What actions/behaviors will reveal that those KSAs are present? What tasks will elicit those actions/behaviors? To “meet learners where they are,” we could identify which Bloom’s level they are at and which higher Bloom’s level we are planning on taking them to. We would then use Messick’s KSAs to design, evaluate, and educate learners about where they are in the learning process. For example, when teaching programming with Python, we may start from the understanding of a for loop (B2) and get to applying it to solve a specific problem (B3). However, if learners don’t know what a for loop is when they enter (B1), it might be better to constrain our short-term objectives to achieving understanding (B2). Setting our goals in terms of “growing a level” means our target outcomes might not match the level at which trainees need to operate once on their own. In their work, researchers typically operate at the highest levels of complexity, evaluating (B5) and creating (B6). The fact that researchers do habitually operate at these higher levels is helpful insofar as they know what it’s like to think in these ways. To help them be successful in meeting these post-workshop (real-world) goals, we should educate our learners about what they have achieved, but also about what the next steps of advancing in the Bloom’s hierarchy might look like. This not only gives them next steps to plan on, it also fosters metacognition – the process of thinking analytically about the process of learning, which is key to sustainability. To “explicitly address motivation and self-efficacy,” metacognition is particularly key. Articulating expectations with regard to learning growth will also be helpful here, to help learners perceive their accomplishments within the workshop setting. However, to set the stage for sustainable learning, we should aim to educate learners about the road ahead of them and offer guidance about the kind of learning they should expect to be doing after they leave the workshop. Anticipating the steps that lie between them and the ability to actually apply their new skills to their research is key to both taking those steps and appropriately evaluating success as that learning continues. While the Carpentries haven’t explicitly taught Messick, Bloom’s taxonomy has been present in the instructor curriculum up to its most recent iteration, and remains in spirit as we guide instructors through interpretation of our learning objectives. Its recent removal is owed to the fact that instructors are not typically the ones defining those learning objectives in the first place, so this is something we may wish to consider as we go about creating on-boarding procedures for curriculum designers and maintainers. While learning objectives are present throughout our curriculum and have been crafted with Bloom’s in mind, they are not necessarily specific in targeting a goal of “growing a level.” Furthermore, most of the education that we offer with regard to future learning occurs peripherally, e.g. as instructors model and describe their own learning process. There is clearly room for these ideas to grow within our community, and we will be keeping these suggestions firmly in mind as we move ahead. We will also be keeping in touch with Dr. Tractenberg, as she will be joining us for our next meeting of the Virtual Assessment Network on March 23rd! Click here for your timezone. All are welcome to attend – please sign up via this Etherpad. Contact Kari Jordan (email) with questions or requests to join the Assessment Network list. If you missed the webinar or want a refresher, check out the Etherpad, the annotated slides, the video recording, or the audio-only recording. Read More ›

Welcome to New Trainers
Karen Word, Erin Becker / 2018-03-14
We are excited to welcome seventeen newly badged Trainers to our community. The group recently finished their program with Karen Word and are now certified to teach new Carpentry Instructors. Join us in welcoming Tania Allard, Anne C. Axel, Mik Black, Murray Cadzow, Mesfin Diro, Caroline Fadeke Ajilogba, Anne Fouilloux, Alejandra Gonzalez-Beltran, Claire Hardgrove, Toby Hodges, SherAaron Hurt, Senzo Mpungose, David Perez-Suarez, Juliane Schneider, Nicholas Tierney, Jessica Upani, Elizabeth Williams. This was a very widely distributed group, so congratulations to the group and to Karen for making the training work across a challenging number of time zones. Instructor training in New Zealand will get a boost with the addition of Mik and Murray. Adding Claire and Nicholas has doubled Trainer numbers in Australia. Expansion of Carpentries activity throughout Africa will accelerate with the addition of new Trainers Caroline, Senzo, Mesfin, and Jessica. Senzo and Caroline have already co-instructed with Erin Becker and Martin Dreyer at this workshop. The revival of the African Task Force should also spark an uptick in activity across the African continent. Alejandra, David, and Tania will also help build our Spanish language representation as we expand into Central and South America. We look forward to many upcoming opportunities to teach with our new Trainer cohort! Read More ›

Revival of the African Task Force
Caroline Ajilogba, Mesfin Diro, Erika Mias, Lactatia Motsuku, Kayleigh Lino, Juan Steyn, Katrin Tirok, Anelda van der Walt / 2018-03-13
Over the past five years, the Carpentries have gained considerable traction in Africa. Since the first online instructor training in 2015, more than 100 African-based instructors have been trained of which more than 40 had qualified. An estimated 50 workshops have taken place on the continent in countries including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mauritius, Kenya, Ghana, Gabon, and Ethiopia. More than 15 instructors from other continents have visited the continent to join local instructors in building community and teaching workshops. These include instructors from the UK, several states in the USA, Canada, the Netherlands, and New Zealand. After the first in-person instructor training in South Africa, an African Task Force was established to help mentor trained instructors and support them throughout the instructor checkout process. This task force consisted of volunteers from Australia (Belinda Weaver), the UK (David Perez-Suarez), and the USA (Matthew Collins, Deb Paul, and Henry Senyondo). Each task force member was assigned a group of trainees and worked with them in their own way - including online meetings, online demo sessions, and support via email. At the time, connectivity (thus communication with the African instructors) as well as isolation, and lack of local community, were some of the challenges experienced by both mentors and mentees. To date, 11 out of 23 trainees from the first in-person instructor training in Africa had qualified. The low turnover rate from trainee to a qualified instructor, and the lack of opportunity for new instructors to teach have been a concern of the local instructor community for some time and in December 2017 the African Task Force was brought to life again to address these issues. The new task force consists of eight African-based instructors based in South Africa and Ethiopia. The task force members represent a variety of disciplines including the libraries, digital humanities, bioinformatics, public health, ecology/engineering, life sciences, and computer science. Members include: Caroline Ajilogba Mesfin Diro Erika Mias Lactatia Motsuku Kayleigh Lino Juan Steyn Katrin Tirok Anelda van der Walt The task force will focus on assisting trained instructors to qualify, mentoring instructors and helpers before teaching a workshop, and generally nurturing a healthy African Carpentry community of instructors. We will also provide clearer communication about the process for running workshops in Africa, and for volunteering o teach at workshops. We will work closely with the African Workshop Administrators and the Mentoring Subcommittee. Some of the activities of the African Task Force (specifically the South African-focused activities) are funded through the Rural Campuses Connection Project II (RCCPII). Funding for activities elsewhere in Africa is currently mostly on an ad hoc basis and the task force hope to provide resources to those who would like to apply for larger grants to run Carpentry activities in their other countries on the continent. The task force will meet in person twice per year and members will serve until March 2019. The activities of the task force will be re-evaluated throughout early 2019 to make recommendations about the way forward and to recruit new members should it be viable. In our next post, we will share more information about where to start if you want to run a local workshop. Please join the African Carpentries Google Group if you would like to be informed of local activities, opportunities, and more. We are looking forward to working with our local and international community over the next 12 months and thank everyone for their enthusiastic suppor Read More ›

Carpentries para Latinoamerica
Paula Andrea Martinez, Alejandra Gonzalez-Beltran / 2018-03-12
La idea de traducir las lecciones de Carpentry al español y otros lenguajes no es nueva [1, 2, 3]. A finales del 2017, un grupo de voluntarios (ver Grupo inicial) nos embarcamos en la meta de hacer las traducciones al español una realidad. Estamos muy felices de que muchas más voluntarias y voluntarios se nos han unido en este esfuerzo y hoy podemos dar a conocer el fruto de estos meses de trabajo a toda la comunidad. ¡Lo logramos! La experiencia: La experiencia de traducir las lecciones de The Carpentries ha sido muy valiosa. “¡Para mi esta experiencia ha sido increíble! gracias por poner todo su esfuerzo en este proyecto. Y por otro lado, la respuesta de mucha gente con ganas de colaborar, que desbordaron entusiasmo en participar en las distintas facetas de este proyecto. Un placer trabajar con ustedes.” - H.S. “Estoy muy feliz de participar (y al mismo tiempo de aprender) en este proyecto” - I.L. “¡Gracias a todos! Todas sus contribuciones son un gran paso para realizar una meta de mucho tiempo, que es traducir las lecciones de @swcarpentry del Inglés al Español!” - R.H. “Fue una gran experiencia. Me encantó el ambiente de trabajo y entusiasmo del grupo. La retroalimentación y análisis, me enriqueció mucho.” - V.J.J. Los logros: Guía para los colaboradores (Glosario y lineamientos) Lección de la terminal de shell traducida Lección de control de versiones con Git traducida Traducción del template de estilos Construcción de una comunidad de habla hispana en las Carpentries, permitiendo la difusión de las nociones de programación y mejores prácticas para hacer la investigación reproducible El proceso de traducción: Las traducciones se organizaron eligiendo las lecciones a traducir y asignando un traductor encargado de cada episodio. Posteriormente, cada traductor se hizo cargo de revisar otro de los episodios ya traducidos (el proceso de revisión se hizo en dos rondas). Durante todo este proceso, los traductores intercambiaron sugerencias y produjeron una serie de lineamientos a seguir para futuras traducciones (ver logros). La mayor parte del trabajo se realizó en línea, de manera remota, pero también a través de algunas ‘hackathons’ o ‘do-a-thons’, en donde los grupos de voluntarios trabajaron en conjunto estando geográficamente en el mismo lugar. Planes para el futuro Siempre hay oportunidades para seguir mejorando las lecciones, y esperamos sus contribuciones. Empieza por leer y usar las lecciones y si tienes alguna sugerencia puedes abrir un nuevo “issue” en cualquiera de los repositorios para realizar tu colaboración. Las versiones en inglés y español comenzarán a diferir sustancialmente según las contribuciones de la comunidad; por lo tanto, antes del próximo lanzamiento (en ~ 6 meses) trabajaremos con un coordinador de traducción para incorporar cambios bidireccionales en las lecciones de inglés y español. Los voluntarios: Todo este trabajo ha sido posible gracias al esfuerzo y tiempo de muchos voluntarios de varios países incluyendo Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Cuba, España, Estados Unidos, Guatemala, México, Perú, Uruguay, Venezuela. Agradecemos especialmente: El grupo inicial: Heladia (Hely) Salgado y todo su grupo de trabajo en México (Shirley Alquicira, Leticia Vega, Verónica Jiménez Jacinto, Irma Martínez-Flores, Kevin Alquicira, Romualdo Zayas-Lagunas, Daniela Ledezma, Laura Gómez Romero y Juan M. Barrios). Francisco Palm que desde Venezuela nos apoya en temas de infraestructura. Paula Andrea Martinez, comunicandome con toda la gente que nos quiere ayudar. Selene Fernandez por compartir su versión traducida de la lección de Git. Voluntarios de Software Carpentry y Data Carpentry Sue McClatchy por ayudarnos en el inicio a hacer la convocatoria abierta para interesados en traducir las lecciones. Raniere Silva que nos ayudó mucho con el template de estilo Paula Andrea Martinez y Rayna Harris co-organizando las Hackathons Voluntarios que se unieron a través de la invitación abierta: Silvana Pereyra, Hugo Guillen, Otoniel Maya, Javier Forment, Matias Andina, Olemis Lang, Laura Angelone, Alejandra Gonzalez-Beltran, Ana Beatriz Villaseñor Altamirano, Kevin Martinez-Folgar, Nohemi Huanca Voluntarios de la Do-a-Thon de OpenCon 2017 Rayna Harris, Paula Andrea Martinez, Guillermina Actis, Julieta (Juli) Arancio, Eunice Mercado, Ivonne Lujano Organizadores del Hackathon y taller planificado en Buenos Aires Rayna Harris, Juli Arancio, and Marceline Abadeer Empleados The Carpentries: Erin Becker y François Michonneau, por mover el tren de la publicación. Registros de publicación Heladia Saldago (ed), 48 authors: “Software Carpentry: La Terminal de Unix”, The Carpentries, Version 2018.04.1, March 2018, 10.5281/zenodo.1198732 Rayna Harris (ed), 49 authors: “Software Carpentry: Control de Versiones con Git”, The Carpentries, Version v2018.04.3, March 2018, 10.5281/zenodo.1197332 Read More ›

Mentoring Groups are Back!
Kari L. Jordan / 2018-03-12
In February, we held our mentoring groups virtual showcase, and community members engaged with mentors and mentees virtually to hear about the accomplishments they made over the course of their mentoring experience. Not only were mentees able to finish their instructor checkout tasks and contribute to the CarpentryCon taskforce, mentors started local communities and reconnected with community members globally. You’ve expressed to us and each other the benefits these mentoring groups have had on your growth in and outside of the Carpentries. You are building powerful, and meaningful connections by developing peer communities. Because of that, we want to continue to support these groups, and give more community members the opportunity to join, either as a mentor, or a mentee. The next round of mentoring groups will run from April 9th to August 13th. Get a head start on joining a mentoring group by attending one of two upcoming information sessions (to suit different time zones). Sessions will be held on March 15th at 11:30 UTC and 20:30 UTC. Sign up to attend either session on this etherpad. Applications for both mentors and mentees are now open, and due by March 23rd. Mentor applications are open to instructors who have taught at least two workshops. Mentee applications are open to instructors who have taught less than two workshops. If you’d like to serve as a mentor, please complete the mentor application. If you’d like to be a mentee, please complete the mentee application. Many mentor/mentee relationships extend well beyond the program time. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to connect, learn, and grow with community members. Join a mentoring group! Tweet us your thoughts (@datacarpentry, @swcarpentry, @thecarpentries, @drkariljordan) using the hashtag #carpentriesmentoring. Read More ›

Carpentries for Latin America
Paula Andrea Martinez, Alejandra Gonzalez-Beltran, Rayna Harris / 2018-03-12
The idea of translating Carpentries’ lessons into Spanish and other languages is not new [1, 2, 3]. At the end of 2017, a group of volunteers (see Initial Group members below) embarked on the goal of making Spanish translations a reality. We are very happy that many more volunteers joined us in this effort. We did it, and today we can make the fruit of these months of work known to the entire community! The experience: The experience of translating The Carpentries lessons of has been very valuable. “For me this experience has been incredible! Thank you for putting all your effort into this project. Many people responded with overflowing enthusiasm to participate and collaborate in the different facets of this project. It was a pleasure to work with all of you.” - H.S. “I’m very happy to participate (at the same time learn) in this project!” - I.L. “Thanks everyone! Your contribution is a giant step toward realizing a long-time goal of translating @swcarpentry lessons from English into Spanish!” - R.H. “It was a great experience. I loved the work environment and enthusiasm of the group. The feedback and analysis were very enriching for me.” - VJJ The achievements: A glossary and guidelines document for collaborators A translation of the Unix Shell lesson A translation of the Version Control with Git lesson A styles template for translated lessons Building a Spanish-speaking community in the Carpentries to further disseminate the best practices of programming and reproducible research The translation process: The translations were organized by choosing the lessons to be translated and assigning a translator in charge of each episode. Subsequently, each translated lesson was reviewed by two other translators. Throughout this process, the translators exchanged suggestions and produced a series of guidelines to follow for future translations (see achievements). The majority of the work was done asynchronously, but some volunteer groups worked together geographically in the same place during ‘hackathons’ and ‘do-a-thons’. Future plans There are always opportunities to keep improving the lessons, and we look forward to your contributions. To contribute, start by reading and using the lessons, and open a new issue or submit a pull request to collaborate. The English and Spanish versions of lessons will began to differ following contributions of the community; therefore, before the next release (in ~ 6 months) we will work with a translation coordinator to introduce bidirectional changes to the English and Spanish versions. The volunteers: All this work has been possible thanks to the effort and time of many volunteers from several countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Spain, United States, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela. We especially appreciate: The initial group: Heladia (Hely) Salgado and her entire working group in Mexico (Shirley Alquicira, Leticia Vega, Veronica Jimenez Jacinto, Irma Martinez-Flores, Kevin Alquicira, Romualdo Zayas-Lagunas, Daniela Ledezma, Laura Gomez Romero and Juan M. Barrios). Francisco Palm, who supported the infrastructure. Paula Andrea Martínez, communicated with all the volunteers. Selene Fernández, who shared her translated version of Git. Volunteers of Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry Sue McClatchy for helping us in the beginning with the open call for participation in the translation of the lessons. Raniere Silva who helped us a lot with the style template Paula Andrea Martínez and Rayna Harris co-organizing the Hackathons Volunteers who joined through the open invitation: Silvana Pereyra, Hugo Guillén, Otoniel Maya, Javier Forment, Matías Andina, Olemis Lang, Laura Angelone, Alejandra González-Beltrán, Ana Beatriz Villaseñor Altamirano, Kevin Martínez-Folgar, Nohemi Huanca Volunteers of Open-Con 2017’s Do-a-Thon Rayna Harris, Paula Andrea Martinez, Guillermina Actis, Julieta (Juli) Arancio, Eunice Mercado, Ivonne Lujano Organizers of a Hackathon and a planned workshop in Buenos Aires Rayna Harris, Juli Arancio and Marceline Abadeer Employees The Carpentries: Erin Becker and François Michonneau, for the push to publish. Publication Records Heladia Saldago (ed), 48 authors: “Software Carpentry: La Terminal de Unix”, The Carpentries, Version 2018.04.1, March 2018, 10.5281/zenodo.1198732 Rayna Harris (ed), 49 authors: “Software Carpentry: Control de Versiones con Git”, The Carpentries, Version v2018.04.3, March 2018, 10.5281/zenodo.1197332 Read More ›

Call for Code of Conduct Committee Volunteers
Kari L. Jordan, Tracy Teal, Erin Becker / 2018-03-08
The Carpentries are dedicated to developing and empowering a diverse community of enthusiasts around computational methods for research and data science. Whether you are an Instructor, learner, Maintainer, Mentor, Trainer, Executive Council member, Champion, or member of our Staff, you belong to this community. We are committed to creating avenues for you to contribute that are welcoming and inclusive, whether in-person or online. Our Code of Conduct (CoC) serves a vital role in this commitment, as it outlines our commitment to provide a welcoming and supportive environment to all people regardless of who you are, or where you come from. Our CoC outlines very detailed reporting guidelines and an enforcement policy, so that, should violations occur, members of our community can rest assured that their concerns are being handled appropriately and in a timely manner. The CoC was last updated in 2016. To read more about how these documents were developed, see this blog post. In a recent review however, we realized that we needed to increase the transparency of how the Code of Conduct Committee handles Code of Conduct incident reports, update wording that would discourage reporting incidents and update how we handle urgent situations. We’re consulting with Sage Sharp of Otter Tech Diversity and Inclusion Consulting to address these issues and make appropriate updates. In revisiting the CoC, we now also have openings for the Code of Conduct Committee, and are looking for committee members who are passionate about equity and inclusion to serve on this committee. The Carpentries Code of Conduct Committee manages all responses to reports of conduct violations, and advises the Executive Council on the need to alter any of the policies under its purview. As this committee deals with complex issues including ethics, confidentiality, and conflict resolution, upon appointment, members of the committee will receive incident response training from Otter Tech. Be a part of a committee that ensures that our community continues to thrive on diversity of thought and perspective. Complete this application to apply to serve. The deadline for applications is Monday, March 19 at 1100 UTC. Should you have questions about the Code of Conduct, or want clarification on the roles and responsibilities of this committee, please contact the CoC committee. Read More ›

Announcing the first joint Carpentries Bug BBQ
François Michonneau, Erin Becker / 2018-03-08
The Bug BBQ is a Carpentry-wide event to improve all our lessons – both existing Software and Data Carpentry lessons, and new releases. We welcome contributions from the Community on all of our lessons. If you want to contribute, but you are not sure where to start, head over to the Bug BBQ website where we will highlight how to get involved. The Carpentries are preparing to publish the Social Sciences and the Geospatial Data Carpentry curricula on Zenodo. The Social Science Lessons will be published in April, and the Geospatial Lessons in June. This will be the first publication for these lessons. We regularly publish our lessons (SWC, DC) to provide stable identifiers for polished versions of the lessons. This enables referenced discussions of the lesson materials and gives contributors a verifiable product to cite on their CVs or resumes. This release will include the following lessons: Geospatial Curriculum Introduction to Geospatial analysis Geospatial analysis in R Social Science Curriculum Spreadsheet organization SQL Python OpenRefine R Get involved! If you’ve made a contribution to one of these lessons, you’re already an author. Help make sure the final product is polished and complete by getting involved in the lesson release. We are organizing a Bug BBQ to prepare these lessons for release. The main goal for the Bug BBQ is to get the Geospatial and Social Science lessons ready for release. However, if you are a Maintainer for another lesson, and you are available and interested in getting some extra eyes on your lessons, let François know and we’ll include your repository on the Bug BBQ website. Bug BBQ details The Bug BBQ will start on April 12th, 2018 at 9am Eastern Time USA (1pm UTC) and end on April 13th, 2018 at 5pm Pacific Time USA (midnight on April 14th UTC). (Click on the links to see these times for your time zones) Join with the community in a hacky-day to submit Issues and PRs to identify and fix problems and get us ready to publish. We’ll provide communication channels for you to work with other community members and guidelines for how to get started. Keep an eye open for more information about the Bug BBQ! We’re excited to work with the community to release these lessons. Put these dates on your calendar, and we’ll send out reminders and updates too. These lessons belong to the community - help keep them great! What’s a Bug BBQ? During a Bug BBQ, the community gathers online to squash and grill as many bugs as possible to make our lessons polished and ready to be officially released. This is a distributed event, so you don’t have to go anywhere. We’ll use GitHub, Slack, and a website to get organized. If you are part of a local Carpentries community with several people interested in taking part in the Bug BBQ, feel free to organize a real BBQ to feed the crowd. If you plan on getting together, let us know by opening an issue! We’ll add you to the website so other people can join you. How long should I attend? The Bug BBQ lasts almost 36 hours to accommodate working hours across the globe. We are a global community and we want everyone to have a chance to participate. Feel free to participate for as little or as long as you want. However, note that contributions made when sleep deprived are rarely the best ones. If you are a Maintainer, please coordinate with the other Maintainers for your lesson to be ready to review, and provide feedback on the issues and pull requests that you will receive during the Bug BBQ. Who is the Bug BBQ for? Everyone is welcome to participate even if you are not familiar with the content of the lessons. We need your help to find typos, issues with formatting, help new contributors submit pull requests, answer general questions, review suggested changes, and more! If you have questions, please contact François. Read More ›

First African Carpentries Instructor Training of 2018.
Martin Dreyer / 2018-03-06
On 21-23 February 2018, the fourth South African Carpentries instructor training for African based Instructors took place in Kleinmond, Western Cape. The workshop was funded through the Rural Campuses Connection Project Phase II (RCCPII) Tertiary. The lead Trainer, Erin Becker, is the Associate Director of The Carpentries and currently based near San Francisco, California. Other Trainers included Senzo Mpungose, Scientific Data Center and Infrastructure Manager for Mathematical Sciences at WITS, Caroline Ajilogba, a Postdoctoral Researcher from the Microbial Biotechnology group, NWU Mafikeng Campus, and Martin Dreyer, an eResearch support consultant at NWU IT. The workshop was the first of its kind in South Africa in the sense that it was the very first instructor training event in which new instructors would check-out and qualify as Carpentry Instructors by the time the workshop ended. Day 1 started with welcoming and introductions, it was also at this time that we learned that three of the four Trainers would teach Carpentry Instructor training for the first time, which had everyone a little nervous for a short while. But as soon as everything started, and with the guidance of Erin and Anelda, the first day went well with the exception of internet issues here and there along with some outside noises that sometimes made it difficult to hear. During day 2 the newly trained Instructors would already tick off one of the three things they needed to do to qualify as Carpentry Instructors by participating in the African Carpentries Instructor Monthly meetup and discussion session. On the evening of day 2 we had a networking function and dinner in order to get to know each other better in a “less formal” setup, and there Erin had everyone move a few times so that we could mingle. This provided the workshop participants and Trainers with a good platform to get to know each other. It also provided some well-deserved entertainment. Day 3 started with a quick demonstration on setting up your own workshop website and using GitHub. The participants also had an opportunity to tick the second item off of the check-out list by contributing to lessons. By the afternoon, everyone who wanted to teach their five-minute demo session were divided into smaller groups and each group had a Trainer assigned to it and the new Instructors could teach their chosen lesson. By mid-afternoon the Trainers announced that everyone who did the demo session passed and we had 12 new South African-based Carpentry Instructors. Some of the instructor trainees decided to observe the teaching demos and opted to check out on a later date. Read More ›

Call for Contributions: Data Carpentry Ecology and Software Carpentry Curriculum Advisory Committees
Erin Becker, Christina Koch / 2018-03-06
In mid-2017, Data Carpentry piloted a Curriculum Advisory Committee (CAC) for the Genomics curriculum. The goals for this committee were to provide general oversight, vision, and leadership for the full Genomics lesson stack, to ensure that the lessons stay up-to-date with existing best practices in the field, and to continue to serve the needs of genomics practitioners attending our workshops. Genomics Curriculum Advisors met after the initial Genomics lesson publication in November to discuss proposed structural and major topical changes to the lessons and will be helping the Genomics Maintainer team to make decisions about these changes as we prepare for a second release this year. Since first piloting the idea of a CAC, we’ve learned from our Maintainer community that this type of overall guidance is strongly desired by Maintainers for other lessons! Maintainers often face challenges trying to decide whether proposed large-scale changes are appropriate for their lessons. As Maintainers are usually not deeply familiar with other lessons in their curricular stack (and aren’t expected to be!), they often wonder how changes to their lesson will affect other lessons taught in the same workshop. Curriculum Advisors help to provide this higher-level oversight and take some of this burden away from the lesson Maintainers. Due to overwhelming enthusiasm from the Maintainer community, we are now recruiting for Curriculum Advisors for the Data Carpentry Ecology lessons and the Software Carpentry full lesson stack. Applications are open to all Carpentry community members. We strongly encourage applications from community members with current classroom teaching experience, university or college faculty and staff, and Maintainers for these lessons. Read more about the role of Curriculum Advisors. Apply to join the Data Carpentry Ecology Curriculum Advisory Committee Apply to join the Software Carpentry Curriculum Advisory Committee. Applications will be open through March 16th, 2018. Please contact Erin Becker (ebecker@carpentries.org) with any questions. Read More ›

Lesson Infrastructure Subcommittee 2018 February meeting
Raniere Silva / 2018-02-28
On 14 February 2018 at 18:00 UTC+0, the Lesson Infrastructure Subcommittee had their 2018 February meeting. This post will cover the topics discussed and their resolutions. Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry merge Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry have merged. Their Executive Council was elected, they have a new fiscal sponsor and a new logo. Also, they have hired Dr. François Michonneau to lead curriculum development efforts. This is all very exciting news. And February isn’t over yet. Windows Installer We will proceed to adopt Git for Windows v2.15.1, which includes nano, and drop our Windows installer. This should simplify our installation instructions and provide a better experience for our learners during workshops. All the details of these changes are covered in this document which summarises many pull requests and issues over the last 6 months. Workshop Installation Instructions In January, a blog post was published with a proposal to enhance the process of customizing the installation instructions on the workshop page. After an initial round of feedback, Raniere Silva, François Michonneau and Rémi Emonet will move the proof of concept included in the proposal forward to a feasibility prototype. The plan is to have the prototype ready in April and, if we decide to go forward, to made it available to instructors in July so workshops in August could benefit from this. Lesson Release 2018/01 Christina Koch (for Software Carpentry) and Erin Becker (for Data Carpentry) will coordinate the next Lesson Release, planned for the middle of the year. Maintainer survey on template As announced on the Maintainers mailing list, François Michonneau is running a survey around our lesson template. We should hear the results soon. Labels and Lessons If you don’t know, GitHub rolled out some improvements to labels. These changes couldn’t have come at a better time. Erin Becker and François Michonneau are working to revamp the labels used in the Git repositories that host the lessons. The new set of labels will facilitate navigation around issues and pull requests for maintainers and contributors. Next steps The subcommittee will meet again in April to provide an update on some of the topics covered by this post and discuss new requests from the community. Acknowledgement Thanks to Erin Becker, Rémi Emonet, Christina Koch, Geoff LaFlair, François Michonneau, Tracy Teal and Naupaka Zimmerman for the valuable contribution during the meeting. Special thanks to Christina Koch for the great notes. Read More ›

CarpentryCon - Hotel Accommodation Options
Belinda Weaver, Fotis Psomopoulos / 2018-02-28
Hotel Accommodation for CarpentryCon 2018 We have two hotel options for you for CarpentryCon 2018. Both hotels are offering us a special CarpentryCon rate. The special rates will be valid for the period of the event and available until the cut-off date; anyone looking to book after that date will be offered the best available rate at the time. So please book before 18 April if you want to lock in the cheaper rate. Clayton Hotel, Ballsbridge See it on the Dublin map. Book online or by calling the hotel +353 1 668 1111. Reservation Code: CARP300518. Cutoff date for booking: April 18th. Talbot Hotel, Stillorgan See it on the Dublin map. Availability: 29/05/2018 to 01/06/2018 (latest checkout on June 1st) Book online or by calling the hotel +353 1 200 1800. Reservation Code: CARPCON18 Cutoff date for booking: April 18th. We also hope to offer on campus lodging at UCD itself. Stay tuned for details. Read More ›

State of the State: Instructor Checkout
Erin Becker / 2018-02-27
This blog post is the second in a series examining the roles and contributions of the different parts of the Carpentry community. In case you missed it - read the first post in this series, about Maintainers. Carpentry Instructors are the core of our community. Without Instructors, there would be no workshops. Because of the vital role that Instructors play in advancing the Carpentry mission, we as a community take preparing Instructors very seriously. Before becoming certified Instructors, trainees must show familiarity with our curriculum, demonstrate their teaching skills (with a focus on the Carpentry pedagogical model), and interact with the broader Carpentry community. Software Carpentry Instructors also need to demonstrate familiarity with Git and GitHub. Since 2015, these goals have been served by a three-part checkout mechanism: Submitting a lesson contribution, Participating in an instructor discussion session, and Presenting a short teaching demonstration. These steps are estimated to take a total of 8-10 hours and are overseen by the Maintainers group, the Mentoring Subcommittee, and the Trainers group, respectively. These groups frequently discuss how to ensure that our checkout process is continuing to meet the needs of new Instructors as our community grows and changes. Recently, staff facilitated a set of discussions with the Mentoring Subcommittee, Maintainers, and Trainers, to understand whether there were reasons to remove one or more of the steps of the checkout process, and more broadly, to understand how members of these groups feel these steps are meeting Instructor’s needs. Getting input from each of these groups proved to be vital, as different parts of the community had different perspectives about these steps and how they affect Instructor preparation. Although the decision at this time was to maintain the current checkout process, there were many ideas raised about how we can change this process in the future to better align with the needs of new Instructors. The three topics raised for discussion were: Removing the requirement for trainees to submit a lesson contribution. This was brought to the Maintainers and Trainers groups for discussion. Many voiced concerns that, without this requirement, new Instructors would not be prepared to contribute to lessons in the future. Other options to require trainees to use GitHub without increasing Maintainer workload were discussed. The decision was to make no changes to this requirement at this time, but to clearly communicate to trainees that rather than creating new issues or putting in unsolicited PRs, they can help by contributing to existing issues, reviewing existing PRs, and putting in PRs for requested issues. The Trainers group will work to better communicate this with new trainees. On the Maintainers side, there is work ongoing to update issue labels to help guide contributions. Removing the requirement for trainees to participate in an instructor discussion before becoming Certified. This was brought to the Mentoring Subcommittee and the Trainers group for discussion. In both groups, people expressed concern that these discussions were necessary to prepare new Instructors to teach. The decision was not to change this requirement at this time, but to continue exploring other opportunities to provide mentorship for new Instructors. Removing the requirement that trainees must complete their teaching demo with a Trainer who did not teach their instructor training. This policy was intended to avoid conflicts of interest by requiring that new Instructors were approved by Trainers outside of their institutions, however, it inadvertently disadvantaged new Instructors in geographic areas with fewer Trainers. The Trainers group passed this change with a vote of 22:1 with 1 abstaining. Trainers are still encouraged to identify any potential conflicts of interest. To summarize, although all three steps of the checkout process will remain the same for the time being (with the minor change that trainees will now be able to schedule their teaching demonstration with any Trainer), there have been many good ideas generated during this discussion process that will help us as we plan future revisions to continue to meet the needs of our community. If you’re interested in learning more about these conversations, read: minutes of the Trainer meeting minutes from the Mentoring Subcommittee meeting discussion on the Maintainers list discussion on the Trainers list vote summary Preparing new Instructors is an important job that is shared across our community. There are many ways you can be involved! Sign up to lead discussions (If you’re not sure how, see this handy checklist. Apply to become a Maintainer If you’re not ready to commit to being a Maintainer, help out informally by reviewing PRs and commenting on issues for lessons that you teach. Your help is definitely appreciated! Read More ›

Library Carpentry Governance - An Update
Belinda Weaver / 2018-02-20
Eight of us from Australia, the UK, the US, Canada, and South Africa met last week via zoom to discuss taking the Library Carpentry project forward. We discussed the creation of a new website to replace this one, talked about what constitutes a Library Carpentry workshop, discussed who can teach the material, and and started thinking about what kind of governance structure we need to lead the work from now on. There was an update on the status of the IMLS-funded Library Carpentry Coordinator role to be based at CDL. The website Richard Vankoningsveld has done a great draft of a new website. Can people please have a look at it and raise issues that need fixing on the repo? We would be very grateful for comments and feedback - please file as many issues as you need to address any problems or omissions. If you are interested in working on the repo or having rights to edit, please ask there by raising an issue. One day or two day workshops? While Software and Data Carpentry workshops run for two days, this can be problematic for librarians. Many librarians struggle to be granted time out for training, so two consecutive days off might be too big an ask. Accordingly, a one-day format might be the best way forward for now. If people want a two-day format, then the workshop could be split, e.g. over four mornings, or single days in separate weeks. What is a workshop? For a workshop to be badged Library Carpentry, the community needs to establish what the core curriculum is. There is a statement to that effect under What is a workshop? on the old website. This group will revisit that in the coming weeks. Belinda suggested that the core curriculum could be Intro to Data (which includes regular expressions), Shell and OpenRefine. That material can be taught within a (fairly intense) day. People can then add extras from the other modules under development if they want to have a two-day format, or they can stretch the core curriculum to be taught over two days, which would give more time for people to practise and embed what they have learned. Who is an instructor? The question of Who is an instructor? has been addressed on the old website, with general agreement that instructors should have completed the Carpentries instructor training program. Since we eventually plan to merge with the Carpentries, this makes sense for the long-term sustainability of Library Carpentry. However, we do not want to mandate that certification for now as we do not have enough trained instructors. Through the IMLS-funded project with the California Digital Libraries, The Carpentries have already committed to running two open instructor trainings for librarians this year. Though this was not raised at the meeting, we are now developing an onboarding process for certified Data and Software Carpentry instructors who would like to teach Library Carpentry. Have your say in what we should include. Governance Belinda suggested that at the minimum we need a chair, a co-chair, and a secretary, and suggested she could be the liaison between the eventual governance group and the Carpentries. Tim Dennis and Juliane Schneidler have put together this document for discussion about the role of a governance group. Greg Wilson proposed we review that document between now and May, with a view to electing an interim governance group when we meet at CarpentryCon 2018 in Dublin. Please add your thoughts by raising an issue on the repo. Workshop requests The Carpentries are now taking responsibility for organising Library Carpentry workshops. Use this form to request a Library Carpentry workshop. Library Carpentry Position based at CDL Interviews are ongoing for this position. It was readvertised when no appointment was made from the first round. We hope that there will be an appointment soon. The person in the role will work jointly with CDL and the Carpentries, and will look at finalising lessons, and building a network to grow workshop and instructor numbers in the US and more globally. Summing Up All in all, this was a very productive meeting. This group plans to meet monthly to discuss business as we move forward to a merger with the Carpentries. Post-Dublin, we should have a governance group that, with the help of the CDL-based position, can take forward the work of finalising lessons, defining core curriculum, extending workshops, and boosting instructor numbers. Having that group will also put us in a position to seek additional funding from library associations and related groups who might be interested in supporting our work. It is an exciting time to be involved with Library Carpentry! Come and say hi in the chatroom and start your Library Carpentry journey. You can watch our Twitter feed for news too. Greg Wilson suggested we all get hold of Building Powerful Community Organizations by Michael Jacoby Brown and discuss it over the coming months. Read More ›

Mentoring Groups Showcase their Accomplishments
Kari L. Jordan / 2018-02-19
We just finished our second round of mentoring groups and had an amazing showcase of their work and ideas. In this round, we were more specific and focused on multiple topic areas. There were groups on community building, lesson maintenance, and preparing for instructor checkout. The feedback and outcomes were great! Participants were able to focus on specific goals, including teaching their first workshop and developing new lesson contribution material. Being part of a group that addressed something important to them, (e.g. developing new communities in Japan and Singapore), made the mentoring groups powerful and enjoyable. Read about what community members have accomplished in these mentoring groups, find out how to get involved, or give feedback on how mentoring would be useful to you! The second round of the Carpentries mentoring groups began on 25 October, 2017. Goals of the revised mentoring groups were to offer curriculum-specific mentoring, and encourage groups to focus their efforts on lesson maintenance, teaching, organizing workshops, or building local communities. If you missed the wrap-up of the first round of mentoring, check out this blog post. Over a period of four months, 20 mentors and 39 mentees (a total 14 groups) representing eight time zones met either in-person or virtually to accomplish specific goals. Kari Jordan hosted a training session on 9 November, 2017 to help mentors prepare for their first meeting, and to discuss goal setting. On 28 November, 2017, mentors participated in a “power check-in” to discuss issues and any concerns they were having with their groups. These were mostly scheduling-related as we were nearing the holiday season. Results from the mid-program survey showed that several groups were working on projects to build local communities, and several group members were preparing to teach specific Carpentries lessons. Participants identified several resources that would improve their experience, such as a dedicated Slack channel, and more time to work with their groups. A mentoring Slack channel was created, and the program was extended from 10 January, 2018 to 6 February, 2018. The culmination of this mentoring period was the mentoring groups’ virtual showcase, which took place on 6 February, 2018. Two showcases to accommodate multiple time zones hosted a total of 25 attendees. During this time, mentoring group representatives presented slides showcasing either what they learned, or something cool they developed during their mentoring period. A lively discussion took place on the etherpad, and several resources were added to the mentoring-groups repo on GitHub. Here are a few highlights from the showcase: Kayleigh taught her first workshop as a qualified instructor at the first ever Library Carpentry workshop in Ethiopia. Katrin completed the check-out process and onboarded as an r-novice-inflammation lesson Maintainer. One of the African mentoring groups emphasized the value of community in helping to get workshops organized. Saran was able to connect with some regional Carpentries advocates in North Texas, and he will be attending his first workshop as a learner in the next few months! This allowed Saran’s mentor, Jamie, to reconnect with the North Texas instructors she had previously co-instructed a workshop with. They opened a discussion about their burgeoning Carpentries efforts at their respective institutions. A local data science community was started at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Robin got to live-demo an R lesson. Blake’s workshop ran in January and got snowed in! One group developed a program plan for the mentees in the group based on their goals and interests. Check out this sample plan. Chris was able to sign up for instructor training and reconnect with a community of Carpentries folk at Vanderbilt. Simon found out who to get in touch with, and will be an instructor at a Stanford workshop in March. Toby contributed improvements to mentoring material on GitHub. One group drafted step-by-step instructions for beginners to contribute to lessons using the terminal or a web browser. Malvika contributed to the CarpentryCon taskforce and shared ideas with Kari for the next mentoring round. One group used the evolving community ‘cookbook’ to plan activities in Japan and Singapore. Did you miss the showcase? Check out the recording from the second showcase! Why should you participate in mentoring? Both mentors and mentees received certificates for participating in their groups, and several group members plan to continue working together beyond this round of mentoring. Mentoring group participants were asked to tell the community why they should participate in mentoring. Here is what they said: It gives you a direct and personal channel for questions and support. You get to know other Carpentries colleagues from across the world at differing levels of experience. You accomplish goals you probably wouldn’t have accomplished otherwise. You learn new things and gain new perspectives. You meet more community members. It speeds up instructor checkout, and brings forward the first teaching experience at a workshop. You become more confident contributors and practice PRs on lessons before submitting them to the main repo. It’s very rewarding to help people with SWC material in an in-depth, one-on-one setting. You never know what connections you will make! You gain community connections and support to grow our collective abilities. You get advice on organising workshops. You get help when starting a community from scratch. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about Carpentries programs and to make connections with current instructors. You receive positive feedback for running a workshop. Mentoring group meetup in Germany. Photo credit: G Zeller (EMBL Bio-IT) Where do we go from here? The post-mentoring survey results showed that the major concerns during this period of mentoring were finding a schedule that suited everyone. Additionally, several participants suggested that a longer duration would be useful. Lastly, there were recommendations for open selection of mentoring groups. As a result of the feedback from this round of mentoring, and discussions among the mentoring sub-committee, we are in the process of developing the instructor discussion sessions so that they include ongoing mentoring for new instructors and experienced community members. Look for the next round of mentoring to begin this April! In the meantime, get involved with mentoring by requesting to join the mentoring Slack channel and/or attending the next Mentoring Sub-committee meeting. Are these things that would help you, or keep you engaged with the Carpentries? Tweet us your thoughts (@datacarpentry, @swcarpentry, @thecarpentries, @drkariljordan) using the hashtag #carpentriesmentoring. Read More ›

My Favorite Tool - Docker
Mark Woodbridge / 2018-02-15
What kind of tool is it? Docker is a virtualization tool. Why I like it I use Docker every day - it’s the one piece of software that has changed the way I work in recent years. There are many other approaches to virtualisation but its versatility and ubiquity is compelling. I use it for many purposes - for rapidly obtaining and executing other open source software, for providing a predictable environment in which to test code that I’ve written, and for building and deploying my own and third-party applications. We use it in the RSE team at Imperial College to ensure that others can rapidly install and evaluate our work. How does the tool help you in your work? It makes the implicit explicit. Software provided with a Dockerfile is self-describing in the sense that you know the environment in which it expects to be run, i.e. the operating system and dependencies. Alongside versioned code and data this provides reproducibility - which is vital for research software. The ephemeral nature of containers also encourages immutability, simplifying deployment and maintenance. For further information, I recommend the article “An introduction to Docker for reproducible research” https://doi.org/10.1145/2723872.2723882. What do you wish someone had told you when you first started learning how to use this tool? Containers, as provided by Docker (or Singularity), shouldn’t be confused with virtual machines. Both can help with portability but containers should have a single purpose and package a discrete tool or application. This ensures that they can be independently versioned and re-used. – Mark Woodbridge, Research Software Engineering Team Lead, Imperial College, London Have you got a favourite tool you would like to tell us about? Please use this form to add a bit of detail and we will do the rest. You can read the background to these posts here. Read More ›

Valerie Aurora to Keynote at CarpentryCon 2018
Belinda Weaver / 2018-02-14
The Carpentries are excited to announce that Valerie Aurora will be one of four keynote speakers at this May’s CarpentryCon in Dublin. Valerie is a software engineer turned diversity and inclusion consultant. We want CarpentryCon 2018 to be a truly global, diverse and inclusive event, which is why we are so happy that Valerie has accepted our offer to speak there. Valerie founded Frame Shift Consulting, which helps technology organizations build in-house expertise and leadership in diversity and inclusion. Members of our community may know her as the creator and facilitator of Ally Skills Workshops, which teach simple, everyday ways for people who have more power and influence to support people with less. Valerie has taught thousands of people these skills. In addition to keynoting, Valerie has offered to teach an Ally Skills Workshop at CarpentryCon. I am sure many of our community will scramble to attend that. She was a co-founder of the Ada Initiative, which, between 2011 and 2015, supported women in open technology and culture by producing codes of conduct and anti-harassment policies, advocating for gender diversity and teaching ally skills. Valerie also helped establish Double Union a non-profit which supports women and non-binary people in technology and the arts. She previously worked for more than 10 years as a Linux kernel and file systems developer at Red Hat, IBM, Intel, and other technology companies. Valerie is on Twitter. You can register here for CarpentryCon 2018. Read More ›

Making the Case for CarpentryCon
Belinda Weaver / 2018-02-08
Getting a PhD is, was or will be a major career milestone for many in our community. Yet getting a PhD, momentous as that achievement is, is really just the first step on the career ladder. Employers increasingly want other skills as well. In all kinds of surveys, the same key skills keep popping up: Communication skills. Teamwork. Problem solving. Ethical and intercultural understanding. Leadership. Critical thinking. The wording in job ads may vary but what it boils down to is this: employers want people who can lead, and they want people who can collaborate. Yet few academic conferences focus on building those kinds of skills, concentrating instead on advances within a discipline. Attending conferences may help people develop skills in, say, speaking and presenting, but that is generally a by-product. What CarpentryCon will offer CarpentryCon will be different. Its main aim is to help people develop professional skills to drive their careers forward. We want to teach the next generation of research leaders not just technical skills – though these are becoming increasingly important – but skills such as promoting diversity and inclusion, project and lab leadership, working ‘open’, and speaking effectively, as our program demonstrates. And don’t forget teaching! CarpentryCon will have a strong focus on teaching. Whether you eventually work in academia or industry, teaching experience is a very desirable attribute. CarpentryCon will provide opportunities for Instructors and Trainers, both current and aspiring, to discuss and learn more about teaching practices, and to connect with people interested in improving the way computational and data wrangling skills are taught. Many universities claim to turn out graduates with a desirable set of attributes, yet few offer concrete opportunities for students to acquire those skills. CarpentryCon will. Find out if your university is really serious about equipping you for your future career. Ask them to send you to CarpentryCon. Registrations are open now. Can we help you get to CarpentryCon? For those whose pleas fall on unsympathetic ears, we hope to be able to offer some level of travel subsidy. However, we have not yet finalised the budget for that. If you buy a ticket and then find you are unable to afford to come, you can get a refund. If you buy a ticket now, that will not disqualify you from later applying for travel assistance once we open applications for subsidies. We will post more information on all this once we finalise our arrangements. Read More ›

Unveiling Our New Logo
Belinda Weaver / 2018-02-07
It must be the worst-kept secret in cyberspace - that the Carpentries have a new logo. Now that Software and Data Carpentry have merged, we wanted a new logo to celebrate our coming together as the Carpentries, and to give that project its own distinct identity. The new logo retains a ‘Carpentry’ feel - at the basic level, it represents a wrench around a hexagonal bolt. Yet it also conveys a sense of exhilaration and celebration - that magic moment when you ‘get’ something and your arms shoot up in celebration. There are many such ‘aha!’ moments in Carpentries’ workshops, so it is fitting that our logo represent not just the hard work of learning (the wrench) but the satisfaction of achievement and mastery that we gain (the ‘Yay!’). The same, but different While we have a new logo, and one that we like very much, as far as our community goes, much of what we do will seem unchanged. As The Carpentries, we will continue to teach foundational computational and data skills to researchers. We will continue to observe and evolve our Code of Conduct. We will continue to grow our memberships, and we will continue to mint new instructors through our Instructor Training program. The individual ‘Carpentries’ will remain as distinct lesson organizations, and we plan to communicate more as the year goes on about how these projects are evolving. The Software and Data Carpentry logos will remain the same, with The Carpentries an umbrella under which they come together. Some things are different. Tracy Teal is now our Executive Director, our two staffs have merged with some reshuffling of roles, and we are working as The Carpentries with a new fiscal sponsor, Community Initiatives. Our governance has merged - from having two separate Steering Committees, we now have a brand new Executive Council. These changes should only enhance what we do by streamlining communications and making our working practices more efficient. We will still support the growth and spread of our community - that will never change. CarpentryCon 2018 in Dublin will be a celebration of just how far we have come as a community. We hope to see you there. Keep an eye out for our new website soon! Read More ›

Carpentry Champions Call
Jonah Duckles / 2018-02-07
At the 14 February Carpentry Champions call we’ll be talking about the development of a new resource called the Carpentries Cookbook. This is an open contribution, community-developed document to help members and supporters share strategies to build local Carpentries communities. We’ve begun this work here. The Champions call is scheduled for 8pm UTC, 14 February, 2018. The meeting agenda, connection details (via Zoom) and sign up are on the etherpad, and you can check the local time and date for you. In preparation I’ve created a few issues to help us gather some feedback about what tools, events, and practices have helped you grow your local community. I’d appreciate contributions and feedback in advance of the meeting to the prompts I’ve created here. If you have other prompts or suggested chapters, please add them as new Issues on the repo. The repo will feed the website which we hope will become the go-to source for learning about building communities of practice around digital skills. As always, we’re an open community and we’re always keen to have new participants and contributors. So please invite anyone you think would be interested along. This quarterly meeting will focus on building tools and resources for supporting new community members. I look forward to seeing you there! Read More ›

Carpentries Transition From Fiscally Sponsored Project to NumFOCUS Community Alliance Member
Tracy Teal, Gina Helfrich / 2018-01-30
Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry have combined their separate projects into a new project, now known as The Carpentries. As part of this transition, Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry are moving from Fiscally Sponsored Projects with NumFOCUS to The Carpentries with Community Initiatives, whose fiscal sponsorship administration services are better aligned with our emerging needs. The Carpentries looks forward to new opportunities with NumFOCUS and will continue to participate in the NumFOCUS Community as a new member of the NumFOCUS Community Alliance. As a Community Alliance member, we will be one of the organizations whose mission intersects with that of NumFOCUS and reflects support for open source scientific computing. NumFOCUS cross-promotes activities and events held by members of their Community Alliance in a reciprocal, supportive relationship. In particular, both organizations share a commitment to increasing diversity and inclusion in the data community. Software Carpentry joined NumFOCUS as a fiscally sponsored project in 2014, and Data Carpentry joined NumFOCUS as a fiscally sponsored project in 2015. Over the ensuing years both Carpentries worked closely together and in early 2017 began discussions about a merger. The merger was approved last summer, and this January marks the milestone of a fully merged project, The Carpentries, with a newly-elected Executive Council. We are very grateful for the support of NumFOCUS through the initiation, development and growth of Software and Data Carpentry, and for their continued support through this transition to The Carpentries with Community Initiatives. We look forward to continuing to work closely with NumFOCUS as a member of their Community Alliance, to promote the growth and development of the open source scientific computing community. Read More ›

Be our Advocate
Belinda Weaver / 2018-01-24
Dear members of our community, we need your help. Most of you probably know that our inaugural CarpentryCon will take place from 30 May - 1 June, 2018 at University College Dublin. We would now like to ask for your help in helping us find sponsors to support this event. We have written blog posts that lay out the case for support from commercial enterprises as well as from support from foundations and other grant-making bodies. If you work for an organization, please consider advocating for CarpentryCon 2018 sponsorship within that organization. We have laid out the arguments for you in the two linked posts above. If you would prefer us to make the approach, that is fine. Please just email me the contact details of the person I should approach and I will do the rest. The more sponsorship money we have, the more we can open the event up: we can provide travel scholarships to facilitate attendance by people who live a long way away we can rebate registrations for people suffering financial hardship we can offer greater support for people travelling with their families we can offer a broader range of workshops We want CarpentryCon 2018 to be a really diverse and inclusive event that fosters a sense of belonging to a wide global community. Help us make CarpentryCon 2018 a fantastic event! – Belinda Weaver, Community Development Lead Read More ›

Foundations and Funders: Why Should You Sponsor CarpentryCon 2018?
Belinda Weaver / 2018-01-23
CarpentryCon 2018 planning is now well underway. We have chosen a venue and a date, identified keynote speakers, and roughed out a program, but we are still missing one vital piece: SPONSORS! Why sponsor CarpentryCon? CarpentryCon 2018 will teach the practical skills people need to lead 21st century research within academia and industry. By supporting us, you will help develop that next generation of research leaders, people who will attend CarpentryCon to develop the skills needed to take research forward. Without the generosity of sponsors who share our vision, we will not be able to deliver the event our research community needs. Your support can help us keep registration costs low so people aren’t priced out of attending maximise participation by people from diverse geographies and communities, including the global south provide travel scholarships to allow as wide an audience as possible to attend These are the outcomes your support can help us deliver: Improving researchers’ knowledge and skills so as to enhance the quality and practice of scientific computing and data science Helping develop the diverse and skilled workforce research and industry need to innovate Fostering networking so researchers can collaboratively find solutions to the problems they need to solve Providing networking opportunities for our Instructor pool to learn from each other and extend our reach Extending the Carpentries’ community to new countries and disciplines Fostering best practice around open, reproducible science, which benefits everyone Diversifying the range of voices heard there by supporting attendance from underserved communities What is CarpentryCon all about? CarpentryCon 2018 aims to skill up the next generation of research leaders. This might mean learning advanced R or Python, skilling up on High Performance Computing, or figuring out how to lead a research lab or a big project. Sessions will be hands-on, and attendees will leave with practical skills they can immediately use in their research or careers. By running this event, we hope to improve people’s knowledge and skills so as to enhance research, research outcomes and research productivity across the board. We also want to do more. We want to widen the number of voices who can be heard there. We want to provide opportunities for people to attend from diverse geographies and communities, including the global south. We plan to hold workshops and skill-ups not just on tools and skills but on fostering attitudes of openness, diversity, inclusivity and reproducibility, because those are just as essential as technical skills ato research success. We hope your organisation will see the worth of this landmark event in the history of a rapidly growing project dedicated to skilling up a diverse and inclusive global research community If this has convinced you to find out more about this first-time event, you can express interest or start a conversation here. Who or what are the Carpentries? CarpentryCon 2018 is a joint initiative of Software and Data Carpentry (The Carpentries), a non-profit project that teaches foundational computational and data science skills to researchers. Within the worldwide research community, the Carpentries have great ‘brand’ recognition and many supporters, including a large number of member organisations, both in academia and industry, who underpin our work financially. Read More ›

Why Should You Sponsor CarpentryCon 2018?
Belinda Weaver / 2018-01-18
The inaugural CarpentryCon 2018 will take place on 30 May-1 June at University College Dublin. Planning is now well underway. We have chosen a venue and a date, identified keynote speakers, and roughed out a program, but we are still missing one vital piece: SPONSORS! Why sponsor CarpentryCon? CarpentryCon 2018 will teach the practical skills people need to lead 21st century research within academia and industry. Without the generosity of sponsors who support and share our vision, we will not be able to deliver the event our community needs, one that can deliver real benefits to your industry. Help us keep registration costs low so people aren’t priced out of attending Help us maximise participation by people from diverse geographies and communities, including the global South Help us provide travel scholarships to allow as wide an audience as possible to attend. By supporting us, you will help skill up the next generation of research leaders, people who will attend CarpentryCon to develop the skills needed to lead 21st century research, whether that be in academia or industry. In return for your support, we can promise you a number of benefits. See the full listing of sponsorship opportunities or Express interest/start a conversation through this form What benefits can we offer you? Marketing Your name, your product, your service can all be part of our event marketing. Get your logo on our website, our T-shirt, our poster, our conference slides, and on all our promotional materials, including social media and email channels. Leading sponsors will get conference time to air their messages, and will be able to send emails to delegates. Expo We will provide exhibition space to allow you to showcase your offerings and network with delegates during the three days of CarpentryCon. You can demo products or services, give away swag, and start some great conversations. Our audience CarpentryCon’s diverse audience will include graduate students, early career researchers, senior academics, lab and project leaders, software engineers, people in tech and other industries, and more. We expect people to come from all round the world to attend this signature event. Finding people to join your company Many graduate students and early career researchers make the jump from academia to industry. What better place to find your next staffer than at CarpentryCon where people have come along to grow and sharpen a diverse range of skills? Meeting your needs Not sure any of our packages work for you? We will tailor a sponsorship package that exactly fits your needs. All you have to do is ask! Contact Belinda Weaver or SherAaron Hurt to discuss your options. What is CarpentryCon all about? CarpentryCon 2018 will skill up the next generation of research leaders. This might mean learning advanced R or Python, skilling up on High Performance Computing, or figuring out how to lead a lab or a big research project. Sessions will be hands-on, and attendees will leave with practical skills they can immediately use in their research or careers. The Carpentries teach introductory material - enough to get people started with coding and data science tools. But to innovate, researchers need more. Our people want to hear about tools or services that can take their research to the next level. Who or what are the Carpentries? CarpentryCon 2018 is a joint initiative of The Carpentries, the joint project of Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry. A non-profit project that teaches researchers foundational computational and data science skills, The Carpentries have taught more than 34,000 researchers worldwide. Within the worldwide research community, The Carpentries have great ‘brand’ recognition and many supporters, including a large number of member organisations, both in academia and industry, who underpin our work financially. We hope CarpentryCon 2018 will spread our message further and wider than ever before. Be part of that message. Read More ›

Workshop Template Enhancement Proposal
Raniere Silva / 2018-01-16
Over the last couple of years, many emails and issues on GitHub requested moving the setup instructions in the Workshop Template to a separate page for valid reasons. To provide some reference, see swcarpentry/DEPRECATED-bc#415, swcarpentry/DEPRECATED-bc#729, swcarpentry/workshop-template#194 and swcarpentry/workshop-template#408. What did we discover during those years and trials? Finding the balance to accommodate long time and advanced instructors, novice or intermediate instructors and learners is as hard as carrying a watermelon with a tea spoon. So why are we having this discussion again? Last year, we changed the Workshop Template by adding some ‘if-clauses’ so that Software Carpentry, Data Carpentry and Library Carpentry instructors could share the same template, see workshop-template#393. In part because of minor differences in how Software Carpentry, Data Carpentry and Library Carpentry lessons and workshops are structured, the ‘if-clauses’ weren’t enough for Data Carpentry and Library Carpentry to use the Workshop Template. With plans to create more lessons in the short future under the umbrella called “The Carpentries”, the urge to move the setup instructions has reappeared and we need to nail it. I put a prototype in place, see swcarpentry/workshop-template#459, that demonstrates how we can require the lead instructor to only list within the Workshop Template index.html’s YAML header the lessons that will be used during the workshop and let some Javascript code fetch the latest installation instructions for those lessons. The proposal idea has as advantages: reduction in the number of lines that need to be edited in the workshop page, that is, 3-5 lines in the YAML header instead of many open/close comments; reduction of confusion where the files with instructions to install a given software can be found, as all instructions are in the lesson that will be taught; avoid the ugly and hard to deal with <iframe> element, <iframe> size can’t be responsive; reduction in the amount of time to propagate some important changes, e.g. that learners can’t use Firefox Quantum because the SQLite3 add-on isn’t compatible. Some drawbacks will happen: one-time customizations will require more work, basically to clone a repository to customize the installation instructions; instability due to client-side Javascript code, it might not work in 5-years from now; and increase of page load/rendering time (I’m talking about much less than 1 second). The drawbacks are minimal compared with the advantages. By “forcing” instructors to clone the lessons they will teach, we will reduce the problem of instructors and learners being surprised with some changes in the lesson during their pre-workshop night of sleep. And the installation instructions will be out of date in less than 5 years so Javascript stopping working can even be something positive because the reader will do another search for more updated instructions. For this to work, all lessons will need to improve the Setup page that they already have by mainly copying and pasting part of the current content in the Workshop Template page, for example, see this change to the Git lesson and this change to the Python lesson. This change offers the opportunity to require learners to install any specific package or to download any set of files that will be used. In addition to it, some things can be improved in the Javascript code to provide a better user experience. This post is only the start of the conversation. All comments are welcome in swcarpentry/workshop-template#459. No change will be made without a technical and rolling plan consensus. Read More ›

My Favorite Tool - Midnight Commander
Colin Sauze / 2018-01-14
What kind of tool is it? A text editor and file manager. Why I like it My favourite tool is Midnight Commander and its text editor (which also works as a standalone tool) Mcedit. These two utilities are powerful yet easy to use. They both run on the command line in Unix operating systems, but instead of typing commands, they work mostly by using menus and selecting things with arrow keys or a mouse. This makes them a kind of halfway house between a traditional command line and a GUI utility and in my opinion they bring together the best of both worlds. Mcedit I’ve always hated the Vi vs Emacs holy war that many Unix users like to wage and I find that both editors have serious shortcomings and definitely aren’t something I’d recommend a beginner use. Pico and Nano are certainly easier to use, but they always a feel a bit lacking in features and clunky to me. Mcedit runs from the command line but has a colourful GUI-like interface, you can use the mouse if you want, but I generally don’t. If you’re old enough to have used DOS, then it’s very reminiscent of the “edit” text editor that was built into MS-DOS 5 and 6, except it’s full of powerful features that still make it a good choice in 2018. It has a nice intuitive interface based around the F keys on the keyboard and a pull-down menu which can be accessed by pressing F9. It’s really easy to use and you’re told about all the most important key combinations on screen and the rest can all be discovered from the menus. I find this far nicer than Vi or Emacs where I have to constantly look up key combinations or press a key by mistake and then have the dreaded “what did I just press and what did it do?” thought. Underneath it’s got lots of powerful features like syntax highlighting, bracket matching, regular expression search and replace, and spell checking. I use Mcedit for most of my day-to-day text editing, although I do switch to heavier weight GUI-based editors when I need to edit lots of files at once. I just wish more people knew about it and then it might be installed by default on more of the shared systems and HPCs that I have to use! Midnight Commander (MC) The Midnight Commander or MC file manager is usually bundled with Mcedit and it makes navigating through filesystems very easy. It’s based on an old DOS utility called Norton Commander. Like Mcedit, it runs on the command line but presents a GUI-like interface. You get shown two panes with two directory listings, one on the left and one of the right side of the screen, you can set these to be any directory on your system. Anyone who uses the Filezilla or WinSCP utilities to copy files will find this layout very familiar. Using a set of F keys, you can copy files, move/rename files, make directories or delete files very easily. But it also lets you type in any Unix command you like and have it executed in the directory you’ve selected. In addition to showing local files, it can also connect to a remote file server, FTP server or SFTP server and show you the files on there or open a .tar archive, zip file or compressed .tar file. Mcedit can be brought up to edit any file quickly by pressing the F4 key or a simpler file viewer can be launched by pressing F3. External file viewers such as image viewers can be spawned just by pressing Enter when a file is selected. I find Midnight Commander makes looking around directories on my system much quicker and easier, it’s great for trying to clean up a disk when you’re running out of space and it’s often just quicker and easier than using the Unix command line. One particular use case I find it shines at is copying a subset of files from one directory to another. This is because it lets you select a few files by a given pattern and then select a few more with another pattern and add them to the list of files to copy. I’ll often make 5+ selections using this and then copy (or delete) all the files at once. The file copying screen is great too as it shows an accurate progress bar, time estimate and data rate, this is especially useful for copying large data files or copying stuff over a network. How does the tool help you in your work? It lets me work faster, it gives me features often only found in GUI tools on the command line and combines the best of working on a command line and in a GUI. This is especially useful when logging into remote systems with SSH where only a command line is readily available. What do you wish someone had told you when you first started learning how to use this tool? I’m not really sure there was anything, I found it really intuitive from the moment I started using it and figured out most of the features pretty quickly. – Colin Sauze, Research Software Engineer, Aberystwyth, Wales, UK Have you got a favourite tool you would like to tell us about? Please use this form to add a bit of detail and we will do the rest. You can read the background to these posts here. Read More ›

How do instructors get placed at workshops?
Maneesha Sane / 2018-01-14
If you are a badged Carpentries Instructor, you have most likely received emails about upcoming workshops that need Instructors. After the emails go out, we sometimes get questions about how Instructors are actually chosen and placed, so we want to share our methods with you. First, it is not first come, first served. That would not be fair, as that just shows who was lucky enough to be online and able to check their calendars at the moment my email went out. Rather, we give it a few days, or sometimes even a couple of weeks, depending on how quickly the workshop may be coming up. Once we have a number of Instructors expressing interest, we look at a few things: What other workshops have you signed up for in that time period? If you’ve volunteered to teach three workshops over the next few months, we likely won’t place you at all of them. However, we will take advantage of your flexibility to get you in on at least one. How much experience do you have with the Carpentries? All our workshops are taught by two Instructors. We look over the list of participants and match up an experienced Instructor with a newer Instructor. As our Instructor pool grows, we want to make sure everyone has the chance to teach with us. We have many Instructors whose workshop tally is well into the double digits. As excited as we are to see that level of dedication, we also want to make sure other Instructors have a chance to get real teaching experience. So we may ask our most experienced Instructors to step aside so others can reach that point. What Carpentries’ lessons are you comfortable teaching? In the call for Instructors, we always note the workshop content. While the two Instructors will divide up teaching responsibilities for the different lesson modules, we do want to make sure each Instructor is comfortable enough with all the content to be a helper while their co-Instructor is leading a lesson. Even better is when Instructors can fill in for each other in case of an emergency, like illness or a missed flight. What is your own academic background? The Carpentries’ model is one of practicing scientists and researchers teaching other practicing scientists and researchers. Regardless of your field of research, your passion for the tools we teach will always come through. When possible, however, we try to match up the research fields of Instructors and the sites hosting the workshop. That way, Instructors get opportunities to network in their fields, and learners get to hear from people working in those same fields. How close are you geographically to the host site? We know that many workshops offer a chance for Instructors to travel and make connections in new places. However, there are times we prioritize local Instructors. This is partly to be sensitive to host sites’ budgets but also because it helps build local communities as the hosts and Instructors get to know each other. We cannot guarantee that host sites can get local Instructors but we do take this into consideration. Read More ›

The Centrality of the Code of Conduct
Belinda Weaver / 2018-01-10
This is the first in a series of posts about Carpentries’ teaching practices. Subsequent posts will cover the other practices - live coding, sticky notes, helpers, challenges, etherpads - that make Carpentries’ workshops the success that they are. I gave a talk recently for the Australian National Data Service on ‘teaching the Carpentries way’. Originally I planned to cover six reasons why our workshops are effective, but ended up covering thirteen, with the thirteenth being the Carpentries’ Code of Conduct. I left the Code till last because it is probably the most important. Unless people observe the Code of Conduct at workshops, all our other positive teaching practices can count for nothing. Among other things, the Code of Conduct states: We are committed to creating a friendly and respectful place for learning, teaching and contributing. All participants in our events and communications are expected to show respect and courtesy to others. Instructors introduce the Code of Conduct at the start of workshops for a reason. As a community that values diversity and inclusivity, a community dedicated to providing a welcoming and supportive environment for all people regardless of background or identity, the Code sits at the very heart of everything we do. If someone breaches the Code in a workshop, the Instructor is empowered to warn that person and, if need be, to have that person removed from the workshop. We also encourage Instructors to report the behaviour to us. We have developed a manual on how to enforce the Code. Harassment is unacceptable, as the Code clearly states: Harassment is any form of behaviour intended to exclude, intimidate, or cause discomfort. Because we are a diverse community, we may have different ways of communicating and of understanding the intent behind actions. Therefore we have chosen to prohibit certain forms of behaviour in our community, regardless of intent. Read more. The Code helps people feel safe, which assists their learning. It also makes our workshops accessible to people who might otherwise be marginalised. While not as serious as religious, sexual or racial vilification, or the other behaviours we prohibit, there are still many off-putting things that people at workshops can do. If learners are worried about being mocked, talked over, treated with sarcasm, condescended to, or made to feel small or stupid for any reason, their enjoyment of the workshop will be diminished, if not extinguished altogether. In those situations, rather than take the offending person on, some people simply prefer to give up on the workshop, thus losing their opportunity to pick up vital skills. If they choose to stay, the offence will still take up valuable room in their minds, leaving much less space for learning. It is therefore up to the Instructors to set the workshop tone. If someone is endlessly parading their knowledge, or hogging workshop time to show off, then the Instructors must try to rein that person in. Your learners will be grateful, and they will also feel you are ‘walking the talk’, not just paying lip service to an ideal. An attendee at a workshop I taught last year wrote on a feedback sticky: “Nice that there are talking rules”. The sticky included a smiley face. A meaningful Code of Conduct makes the workshop better for everyone. However, it is not only in our workshops that the Code of Conduct applies. We want all interactions within our community to be underpinned by the Code, whether it be contributions to email lists such as Discuss (info on joining all our lists appears on this page), responses to tweets or Facebook postings, discussions about issues raised on GitHub repositories, or contributions to our Slack channel. As we move forward to the merged Carpentries, it is timely to remind people why we value our the Code of Conduct. The Code is central to our efforts to build a welcoming, diverse, inclusive global community. Read More ›

Teaching Statistics in the 21st Century
Greg Wilson / 2018-01-09
The late 1980s saw a wave of new undergraduate programs launched in computational physics, as the advent of affordable workstations and PCs made the power to compute and simulate more accessible. A decade later, though, many of those programs had drastically scaled back their ambitions or quietly wound down. The problem wasn’t the programming: the problem was that whenever a curriculum is designed as “X plus some Y”, it’s the Y that gets cut when time runs short, budgets are squeezed, or tough hiring decisions need to be made. “Computational physics” became “the physics we’ve always taught, but with assignments on computers” and then just “the physics we’ve always taught”. That experience is part of why I’m so excited by things like Daniel Kaplan’s 2017 paper “Teaching stats for data science”, which is a great example of how some faculty are re-thinking pedagogical approaches from the ground up. Kaplan argues that much of what we currently teach in introductory stats courses is left over from a time when data was scarce and calculation was hard. In its place, he advocates a ten-step calculation-first approach: Data tables Data graphics Model functions Model training Effect size and covariates Displays of distributions Bootstrap replication Prediction error Comparing models Generalization and causality UBC’s Stat 545 course is another great example of how people are not just putting old wine in new bottles, but approaching their subject from an entirely new angles. If you have any favorite examples, please add them to the comments–I’m sure our community would enjoy hearing about them. Update: several people have pointed us at the following: as other examples of curriculum being re-thought from the ground up: Ruth Anderson, Michael Ernst, Robert Ordóñez, Paul Pham, and Ben Tribelhorn: A Data Programming CS1 Course. George Cobb: The Introductory Statistics Course: a Ptolemaic Curriculum? William Wood: Innovations in Teaching Undergraduate Biology and Why We Need Them Please keep them coming. Read More ›

My Favorite Tool - Twitter
Belinda Weaver / 2018-01-08
Why do I like Twitter? At the risk of sounding like a shallow person with a short attention span, Twitter really is a favourite of mine. I tweet as cloudaus. It’s not really Twitter’s fault that people use it for shameless self-promotion, for marketing, or for fighting culture wars. That side of it has probably turned many people off, which is a shame because Twitter has so many practical uses. Amplification and reach Twitter is a messaging tool. Put your message out and Twitter can amplify it many, many times. You can put up a poster up around your campus but Twitter will extend your reach exponentially. I used it to advertise Software Carpentry and Library Carpentry workshops, ResBaz events, Library Carpentry sprints, and many other things. The workshops fill up within days, sometimes within hours. Other Tweeters help spread the word. Job done. Early career researchers generally struggle to be seen and known as they start to build their careers. Using Twitter to establish a social media profile is a step into the light. Once you have a following, you can spread the word about your research and and start to get known within your field. Being ‘social’ is a key part of academic careers now and Twitter makes it easy. Just be sure to avoid the pitfalls that have sunk many people on Twitter. Remember, careless tweets, or tweets that can be taken the wrong way, will be amplified too. Find your tribe Twitter is a great place to find people interested in the same things as you. Follow people who share your interests, whatever they might be, and you will find more people through scanning the networks of the people you initially followed. Pretty soon, you will have a feed that helps you stay on top of everything new and exciting in your field. Think you don’t have time for Twitter? Think again. Twitter saves you time by filtering information that matches your interests. Finding work People post job openings on Twitter all the time. If you are hunting for a job in your field, Twitter is where you’ll hear about it first because your network will tell you. Ditto for grant opportunities, PhD scholarships and placements and all kinds of interesting opportunities. Getting and giving help People ask questions on Twitter all the time. Chances are someone, somewhere can answer that curly question you have. Some organisations provide help services through Twitter, for example, people can get nVivo help by tweeting to QSR. If you have a beef with a service industry, tweet about it - you will be surprised how quickly that issue will be fixed. I like to share what I know or have found useful, so I use Twitter to point to interesting reports, or to highlight issues that I think people in my network will care about. Providing a link to something useful is a great way to contribute to your network on Twitter. Direct messaging I use Twitter direct messaging all the time. It is much more accessible to someone than email if that person is teaching a class or travelling or at a conference where they are tweeting from their phone. Response is usually immediate. DMs can be great for meeting up with people at conferences, especially if you don’t have their email address or phone number. If they follow you, DMs can put you in touch. Following thought leaders By following people or organisations working in areas that interest me, I have learned a huge amount and met great people. Some I only know through Twitter, but I can still talk to them there and find out what is going on. Using their Twitter handle, I can address a tweet directly to them. Are there people you admire? Follow them and be part of their conversation. Hashtags I can’t get to every conference or event I am interested in. But I can follow the event hashtag and keep an eye on what is happening. I can do that while the event is live or catch up on it later. Either way, I can plug into the event, and possibly find new people to follow from some of the interesting or informative tweets that have come out of it. I can even tweet to the event hashtag myself, and possibly get a question asked. It’s all part of extending your reach. When momentous events happen, following a hashtag is a fantastic way of keeping up with the latest. Twitter has been a great early warning system for natural disasters, for example, as well as a place to see footage of extraordinary events like floods or cyclones or snowstorms. It’s often the most efficient way to keep up with political events that are unfolding very quickly. Widen your world I first heard about Software Carpentry on Twitter. Now I work for them. A whole range of amazing initiatives and communities - rOpenSci, the Dat project, csv,conf - first caught my eye on Twitter. It’s the tool that connects me to my world. What’s not to love about that? How does the tool help me in my work? My work is all about this community. Twitter keeps me in touch with people in the community and the issues that matter to them, so it is invaluable. What do you wish someone had told you when you first started learning how to use this tool? That they would switch up to 280-character tweets and ruin it! Limiting tweets to 140 characters forced people to be concise. It takes a lot longer to scan the feed now and extract the nuggets. Bring back 140-character tweets! Belinda Weaver, Community Development Lead, Software and Data Carpentry Have you got a favourite tool you would like to tell us about? Please use this form to add a bit of detail and we will do the rest. You can read the background to these posts here. Read More ›

Fourteen and Counting - People's Favorite Tools
Belinda Weaver / 2018-01-08
Thank you to all the people who have sent in short posts about their favourite tools. We are up to fourteen now, and the variety of tools is great to see. Finding out what other people use - and possibly more importantly - why they use it, and for what, is a great shortcut for researchers. There are a bewildering number of research tools around. Getting a tip from someone in your discipline, or from someone who is doing a similar task to you, can really help. So why not tell us about yours? All it takes is a few short sentences in a form. So far we have had Paula Martinez on R, with Bianca Peterson enthusiastically seconding, Jeff Oliver sharing his love of Git and GitHub, Kellie Ottoboni talking up IPython, and Thomas Arildsen on how the Jupyter Notebook facilitates his teaching. Juliane Schneider weighed in on the wonders of OpenRefine. Clifton Franklund likes RStudio, while Francesco Montanari is a fan of emacs. Rayna Harris nominated videoconferencing as her most useful research tool, while Greg Wilson talks up the benefits of asking for help. Robert Sare has posted on the benefits of using rasterio in earth sciences research. Since then, we have had Richard Vankoningsveld on why he uses a coding sandbox, and Auriel Fournier telling us how she uses Todoist to stay on track. QGIS just got a big tick from Simon Waldman. Expect more posts as people contribute further favourites. Even if your tool has already been mentioned, we would still welcome a post about it, as your use of the tool may be different. Have you got a favourite tool you would like to tell us about? Please use this form to add a bit of detail and we will do the rest. You can read the background to these posts here. Read More ›

A Successful 2nd RSE Conference
Tania Sanchez / 2018-01-03
The second RSE conference took place on the 7th and 8th of September 2017 at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI). There were over 200 attendees, 40 talks, 15 workshops, 3 keynote talks, one of which was given by our very own head honcho Mike Croucher (slides here), and geeky chats galore. RSE team members Mozghan and Tania were involved in the organising committee as talks co-chairs and diversity chair (disclose: they had nothing to do with Mike’s keynote). Also, all of the RSE Sheffield team members made it to the conference, which seems to be a first due to the diverse commitments and project involvement of all of us. Once again, the event was a huge success thanks to the efforts of the committee and volunteers as well as the amazing RSE community that made this an engaging and welcoming event. Conference highlights With so many parallel sessions, workshops, and chats happening all at the same time it is quite complicated to keep a track of every single thing going on. And it seems rather unlikely that this will change over time as it was evident that the RSE community has outgrown the current conference size. So we decided to highlight our favourites of the event: The talk on ‘Imposter syndrome’ by Vijay Sharma: Who in the scientific community has not ever experienced this? Exactly! So when given the chance everyone jumped into this talk full of relatable stories and handy tips on how to get over it. Another talk that seemed to have gathered loads of interest was that of Toby Hodges from EMBL on community building. This came as no surprise (at least to me) as RSEs often act as community builders or as a bridge between collaborating communities. Opposed to just being focused on developing software and pushing it into production. During the first day the RSEs had the chance to have a go at interacting with the Microsoft Hololens. There was a considerable queue to have a go at this, and unfortunately, we were not among the chosen ones to play with this. Maybe in the future. My hands-on workshop on ‘Jupyter notebooks for reproducible research’. I was ecstatic to know the community found this workshop interesting and had to run this twice!!! Also, I’d like to casually throw in here that I have been elected as a committee member for the UK RSE association, so expect to read more about this in this blog. For obvious reasons I missed most of the workshops but Kenji Takeda’s workshop on ‘Learn how to become an AI Super-RSE’ was another favourite of the delegates as this was run twice too! Our workshop on Jupyter notebooks for reproducible research Being a RSE means that I serve as an advocate of sustainable software development. Also, as I have discussed here before: I am greatly concerned about reproducibility and replicability in science. Which, I might add, is not an easy task to embark onto. Thankfully, there are loads of tools and practices that we can adopt as part of our workflows to ensure that the code we develop is done by following the best practices possible, and as a consequence, can support science accordingly. Naturally, as members of the community come up with more refined and powerful tools in the realm of scientific computing we (the users and other developers) adopt some of those tools meaning that we often end up modifying our workflows. Such is the case of Jupyter notebooks. They brought up to life a whole new era of literate programming: where scientist, students, data scientist, and aficionados can share their scripts in a human readable format. What is more important, they transform scripts into a conveying scientific narrative where functions and loops are followed by their graphical outputs or allow the user to interact via widgets. This ability to openly share whole analysis pipelines is for sure, a step in the right direction. However, the adoption of tools like this brings not only a number of advantages but also presents a number of challenges and integration issues with previously developed tools. For example, the traditional version control tools (including diff and merge tools) do not play nicely with the notebooks. Also, the notebooks have to be tested as any other piece of code. During the workshop, I introduced two tools: nbdime and nbval, which were developed as part of the European funded project: OpenDreamKit. Such tools introduce very much needed version control and validation capabilities to the Jupyter notebooks, addressing some of the issues mentioned before. So in order to cover these tools as well as how you would integrate them within your workflow I divided the workshop in three parts: diffing and merging of the notebooks, notebooks validation, and a brief 101 on reproducibility practices. Notebooks diffing and merging During the first part of the workshop the attendees shared their experiences using traditional version control tools with Jupyter notebooks… unsurprisingly everyone had had terrible experiences. Then all of them had some hands-on time on how to use nbdime for diffing and merging from the command line as well as from their rich html rendered version (completely offline). As we progressed with the tutorial I could see some happy faces around the room and they all agreed that this was much needed. Need more convincing? This tweet showed up in my feed just this week. And just earlier this week this tweet showed up on my feed: Notebooks validation The second part of the workshop focused on the validation of the notebooks. And here I would like to ask this first: ‘How many of you have found an amazing notebook somewhere in the web just to clone it and find out that it just does not work: dependencies are broken, functions are deprecated, can’t tell if the results are reproducible? I can tell you, we have all been there. And in such cases nbval is your best friend. It is a py.test plugin to determine whether execution of the stored inputs match the stored outputs of the .ipynb file. Whilst also ensuring that the notebooks are running without errors. This lead to an incredible discussion on its place within conventional testing approaches. Certainly, it does not replace unit testing or integration testing, but it could be seen as a form of regression testing for the notebooks. Want to make sure that your awesome documentation formed by Jupyter notebooks is still working in a few months time? Why not use CI and nbval? Wrapping up The closing to the workshop was a 101 on working towards reproducible scientific computing. We shared some of our approaches for reproducible workflows and encouraged the delegates to share theirs. We covered topics such as valuing your digital assets, licensing, automation, version control and continuous integration, among others. The perfect close to a great RSE conference! Just a few more things Let me highlight that all the materials for the workshop can be found at https://github.com/trallard/JNB_reproducible and that all of it is completely self contained in the form of a Docker container. If you missed out on the conference and would like to see the videos and slides of the various talks do not forget to visit the RSE conference website. This post originally appeared here. Reposted with permission. Read More ›

My Favorite Tool - QGIS
Simon Waldman / 2018-01-02
QGIS (formerly Quantum GIS) is an open source Geographic Information System. QGIS is capable of advanced analysis and cartography, but I don’t use it for that. In my research in hydrodynamic modelling, I deal with a lot of spatial data - coastlines, bathymetry, and the like - and this will eventually be processed and plotted using R, MATLAB or Python. But if I’ve received a file and simply want to take a quick look at it, or if I want to quickly compare two files that use different coordinate systems and see if things line up, most of the time I can throw the file at QGIS and it will show it to me with a few clicks. This approach lacks the reproducibility of a coded solution, but it’s an awful lot quicker for a throwaway visualisation. – Simon Waldman, Postdoc, Aberdeen, Scotland Have you got a favorite tool you would like to tell us about? Please use this form to add a bit of detail and we will do the rest to create a blog post about it. You can read the background to these posts here, or see what other tools people have written about. Read More ›

My Favorite tool - A Coding Sandbox
Richard Vankoningsveld / 2017-12-21
My favorite tool is repl.it, a ‘sandbox’ tool to help me test and refine Python code. Why do I like it? It is an online tool for testing/running code. It allows you to write and run code in a number of different languages, and see the results. No R support I’m afraid, but it does have Python (2 and 3), Ruby, Haskell, Go, JavaScript and many more. I use it to both test small bits of Python code to ensure they work as expected, but also to act as a virtual Python shell and run scripts that take input (text I paste in) and print results to stdout. I can then copy these results to paste into wherever I need to put them (Word, Excel, etc). For Python fans like me, it also boasts every PyPI package available, although for packages that need Internet access (e.g., requests) you need to sign up for a paid account. I like repl.it for many reasons. For one, it means I have Python (and other languages I might need) available at a workplace where I otherwise would not. It is free for a basic account, you can save your work, it’s pretty fast and responsive. It is also very actively developed so new features get added all the time. For a quick playground to test scripts, I can’t fault it. How does the tool help me in my work? I work somewhere that doesn’t have Python available natively, so now I can use Python to help do my work without the hassle of trying to get it installed, which would be hard. What do you wish someone had told you when you first started learning how to use this tool? It would have been good to know that it doesn’t include Internet access with the free account - it took me a while to figure out why I couldn’t get requests to work (even though what I wanted was available as a Python package). – Richard Vankoningsveld, Technology & Support Librarian, Queensland Supreme Court Library, Brisbane Have you got a favorite tool you would like to tell us about? Please use this form to add a bit of detail and we will do the rest to create a blog post about it. You can read the background to these posts here, or see what other tools people have written about. Read More ›

Green Stickies for 2017: Report from the Happy Holidays Green Sticky Party Calls
Belinda Weaver / 2017-12-14
When Carpentries’ staff score a win, we call it a #greensticky. So for our final community calls for 2017, we hosted two Happy Holidays Green Sticky Parties to celebrate wins we have had this year. The calls highlighted successes, both personal ones, and wins for the wider community. Among the pluses reported were: The upcoming Data and Software Carpentry merger Plans to bring Library Carpentry into the fold Planning for our 2018 CarpentryCon event Starting bi-lingual (English/Spanish) teaching demos Getting ideas for starting a community from the Community Champions calls Teaching a Software Carpentry workshop for the first time Successfully using Carpentry-style teaching in an undergraduate programming course Getting to meet community members in person Tracy Teal said that calls like these are the #greensticky, and no-one disagreed. Red stickies got less air time (this was a party, after all!) but both calls discussed their biggest (Carpentry-related) fear for These included: Leaving people behind Different world views in Data and Software Carpentry - can we sound like ‘one band’? Keeping our brand strong as we grow (and other scaling issues) Keeping our community engaged and informed Community renewal so the same people aren’t always volunteering For those who couldn’t make either call, sorry we missed you! You can see the conversations on the etherpad. Happy Holidays and see you in 2018. Read More ›

Our 2017 Community Service Award winner: Anelda van der Walt
Christina Koch, Kate Hertweck / 2017-12-13
The Carpentries are happy to honor Anelda van der Walt as our 2017 Community Service Award winner. We received seven independent nominations for Anelda this year, which is a testament to her commitment to both individual people and the broader community. Starting from scratch, Anelda planted the tiny seed that has now become the phenomenal growth of Software and Data Carpentry in South Africa, not to mention its spread to an ever-growing list of other African countries, such as Namibia, Botswana, Ghana, Gabon, Mauritius, and Ethiopia. With great determination and persistence, she secured funding to enable a range of workshops and Instructor trainings to be run, such as this first workshop in 2016 and this one in 2017. Funding meant many participants could travel to and attend training which would normally have been far beyond their reach. She also secured the first ever Software and Data Carpentry membership in South Africa. Through her passion for the Carpentries, she has inspired many people to acquire the command line, HPC and other skills that many thought were beyond their capacity to learn. Since then, she has successfully grown a pool of qualified instructors and has helped hundreds of researchers in South Africa and other African countries develop foundational computational and data skills to drive their research forward. Instructor numbers are now above 22. Community and capacity building on this scale are much more challenging in southern Africa. Differing research sector priorities, cultural issues, and the availability (or otherwise) of reliable networked infrastructure mean that funding alone is not the only challenge workshop organizers face. Given this, it is commendable that Anelda has worked so hard to foster and support diversity, reaching out to researchers in rural areas and actively working to include groups hitherto under-represented in STEM. In addition to capacity building, she has taught at more than 10 workshops and has both organized and taught at three instructor training events within the past 18 months. Post-training, she has followed up with trainees to encourage them to complete their check-out, and has helped many begin planning and running their own workshops, oftentimes helping them source extra instructors and helpers. She encourages Instructors across Africa to interact with each other via African-centred calls like this, both to foster collaboration and to ensure new Instructors feel valued and welcomed into the community. She also contributes to the global Carpentries community by participating in regular Trainer discussions and meetings and by taking her turn at hosting instructor discussion sessions and teaching demos. Congratulations Anelda and thank you very much for everything you have done – we honor and value the work you do for the Carpentries. Read More ›

Announcing the 2018 Executive Council for the Carpentries
Kate Hertweck / 2017-12-12
Voting in the election for community governance of the Carpentries (Executive Council, formerly named Steering Committee or Board of Directors) closed last week. Out of the 501 members eligible for voting, 147 ballots were cast (29% turnout). We are pleased to announce the four newly elected members of the Executive Council: Raniere Silva Lex Nederbragt Amy Hodge Elizabeth Wickes Raniere and Lex received the highest number of votes and will serve two year terms; Amy and Elizabeth will serve one year terms. These four elected members will join the five appointed Council members selected from the current leadership of Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry: Karen Cranston is a computational biologist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada working on digitisation and integration of biodiversity data. She was the lead PI of the Open Tree of Life phylogeny synthesis project, and serves on the board of the Open Bioinformatics Foundation (OBF). She has been involved with Software Carpentry since 2012, was a founding board member of Data Carpentry, and is a certified instructor trainer. Kate Hertweck is an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Tyler. Her research and teaching focuses on bioinformatics and genomics. She completed Instructor Training in fall 2014, served on the Mentoring Subcommittee in 2015, and was elected to the Software Carpentry Steering Committee in 2016 and 2017, also serving as Chair in 2017. Mateusz Kuzak is Scientific Community Manager at the Dutch Tech Center for Life Sciences. He has background in bioinformatics live cell imaging and research software engineering, and is passionate about Open Source, Open Science and Reproducible Research. He is currently working on training activities and coordinating life science data and technology projects in the Netherlands. Mateusz is an Instructor Trainer and was elected to the 2017 Software Carpentry Steering Committee. Sue McClatchy is a bioinformatician and research program manager at the Jackson Laboratory. She provides research training at all academic levels from high school to faculty. She mentors students and develops training materials for analysis of quantitative and high-throughput data. Her expertise in curriculum design and instruction stems from an eight-year science teaching career in schools in the U.S. and Latin America. Sue is an Instructor Trainer and was elected to the 2017 Software Carpentry Steering Committee. Ethan White is an Associate Professor at the University of Florida working on computational and data-intensive ecology. He is a Moore Foundation Investigator in Data Driven Discovery and serves on the board of directors of Impactstory. He has been involved in Software Carpentry since 2009, was a founding member of the Data Carpentry steering committee, wrote the first version of the Data Carpentry Ecology SQL material, and leads the development of the semester long Data Carpentry course for biologists. Many thanks to all candidates who chose to stand for election. The voting was very close, which reflects the commitment you all show towards service to our community. We are fortunate to have such awesome leaders representing diverse education, careers, and geography. We look forward to continuing to work with you in the Carpentries community, and hope you will consider pursuing other opportunities for leadership. Also thanks to the outgoing steering committee members: Software Carpentry: Rayna Harris, Christina Koch, Karin Lagesen Data Carpentry: Hilmar Lapp, Aleksandra Pawlik, Karthik Ram Finally, thanks to all of you across the Carpentries for your continued participation and engagement! Read More ›

When Do Workshops Work? A Response to the 'Null Effects' paper from Feldon et al.
Karen Word / 2017-12-11
Author: Karen R. Word Contributors: Kari Jordan, Erin Becker, Jason Williams, Pamela Reynolds, Amy Hodge, Maxim Belkin, Ben Marwick, and Tracy Teal. “Null effects of boot camps and short-format training for PhD students in life sciences” is the provocative title of a recent article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Those of us who enthusiastically design and deliver short-format training promptly took note, then scratched our heads a bit. We waited a little for a response, wondering if one or more of the programs that participated in the study might step up to their own defense. Nothing happened. We thought about letting it go - we’ve got our own programs, with distinct goals, and our own assessment data, so maybe this broad-brush study isn’t so important. But … it keeps being raised. Someone will bring it up here and there, asking what we think about it. Whenever this paper comes up in conversation, its title certainly throws some weight around. So, do workshops work? However certain we may be about the value of our own programs, it seems important to have a little sit-down with this paper and talk about what it means to us, what it doesn’t mean and, most importantly, what it does not address at all: the question of what you can do with a short course [1] when a short course is all you’ve got. The premise: Spacing instruction over time is better for learning When given a choice between teaching a two-day short course versus stretching those same hours and content across several weeks of repeated meetings, you can expect to get a lot more learning out of the longer course. This point, described as a core premise for the PNAS study, is essentially irreproachable. There is abundant evidence that distributing instruction over time maximizes learning in comparison with the “massed practice” that occurs when teaching is concentrated into an intensive short-format course. The problem: Spacing instruction over time is often impractical Traditional courses match students and faculty on a spaced schedule over a quarter or semester time period. When this format is possible, it should be pursued and optimized, not replaced with short courses. But when isn’t it possible? When there aren’t enough instructors. If expertise in an area is scarce, the time demand for distributed training often exceeds the FTEs available to meet that need. Until that shortage can be remedied, a large number of people are left to self-teach or go without. Under these circumstances, short-format workshops are often the only practical way to deliver training to the many more who need it. This is currently the situation with regard to training in data management and analysis, and in many cases, with foundational computing skills as well. When learners don’t have time. A similar scenario emerges when those in need of training are fully committed to jobs or research or are otherwise unavailable for a time-distributed course. This is the case for most professional-development training. Even within academia, researchers may need training right away and can’t wait for the next semester-long course offering. When opportunity knocks. Even within graduate school, where long-format courses are the norm, some opportunities are concentrated in time. For example, a short course may be able to attract many faculty simultaneously, allowing students to observe them engaging with and learning from each other. Some research experiences or team-building activities may also be possible only on a concentrated schedule. Also where traditional course curricula can be slow to change, short-courses can permit rapid inclusion of new and needed skills before they can be added elsewhere. For those of us who work within the short course mandate, then, the question becomes: how can we optimize that format to best meet learners’ needs? When setting goals for impact, we tend to think in terms of how much and what type of impact we can have, and to focus our efforts accordingly. One reason why the paper by Feldon et al. raises concern within our community is because it frames the question as “whether”. And if the answer to “whether” we can have an impact with a short course is “no”, then we’ve clearly got a problem on our hands. However, in our experience, that simply is not the case. To the contrary, our evidence suggests that there is quite a lot you can accomplish with a workshop when you accept its constraints, focus on specific goals, and leverage the strengths of this format. In the next section, we’ll take a look at the study described in the paper, evaluate its claims, and examine its relevance to the kind of training we provide. Then we’ll circle back around to our goals, our strategies, and the kind of data that we collect to assess and inform the development of our workshops. The study There is a lot to love in this work! This was not a simple survey study. They graded papers – multiple times, with validation, for 294 students from 53 institutions. They also repeatedly administered tests and surveys over the course of two years. The dataset must be impressive; we assume there is a LOT of other interesting stuff there that relates to graduate student development and correlates of early success. However, it is hard to know since the data are not publicly available or displayed in the paper. We’re eager to see more publications and perhaps more extensively summarized data come out of this project in the future. That being said, in discussion with our community members, several persistent questions and concerns emerged. These are a few of the most pertinent questions: 1. How diverse are the program goals? This study lumps together an unknown number of programs administered at the outset of life-science PhD programs as a single treatment. We know only that 53 institutions were sampled and that, of the 294 students in the study, 48 were short-course “participants”. According to Feldon et al., the unifying goal of these programs is to “accelerate the development of doctoral students’ research skills and acculturation”, with emphasis on research design, statistics, writing, and socialization. However, specific emphasis seems likely to vary, and herein lies the concern most frequently voiced in our community: any given program might focus its efforts on any or all of the components identified (research, statistics, writing, or socialization). Indeed, the more astutely a program identifies and engages with short-format limitations, the more focused their program may be. By surveying students across 53 different institutions, it seems highly likely that the specific aims of different programs are heading in different directions. If some programs are particularly good at socializing students and preparing them to cope with the hurdles ahead, while others emphasize grant writing, otherwise ‘significant’ impacts within a sub-group of similar programs are likely to be lost when combined and assessed with the group overall. This is particularly clear if we consider the sample size of 48 students as being further split (e.g. 10, 10, 15, 13) by distinct program emphases. Lumping together successful programs with different aims is likely to show that all are ineffective in each category. 2. How generalizable is this context? The public reading of these findings seems to be, “Too bad short courses don’t work”. However, pre-PhD short-courses are a highly specific and unusual context for a short course. In most other cases, short courses arise out of necessity or unique opportunity, such that there is no subsequent distributed content that re-teaches or even remotely overlaps with the content taught in the short course. In pre-PhD programs, specifically, any effects are potentially in direct competition with gains made via traditional course content. The extent to which the same or overlapping content is otherwise available in each program is also unclear. The authors of this paper might not have intended their work to generalize to other contexts, but the tendency of readers to generalize makes this question a vital one. Benefits of a short course are easily lost in a sea of positive outcomes resulting from graduate training, but that has little bearing on the impact such courses may have when they stand alone. 3. Is this the right experiment to test graduate student outcomes? While we found the methods to be impressive and worthwhile in many respects, several people expressed concern about the two-year assessment regime. This included questions as to whether a graduate student is likely to have matured and, particularly, to have written substantively in their content area within the first two years of study, as well as whether a regime of continuous surveys might itself have a sizeable impact on student development. As with any study that takes volunteers, willingness to participate – both in the short course programs and in the study itself – may bias toward more motivated or engaged students overall, and this could have an impact on the interpretation of the results. These are the sorts of problems that plague any effort at assessing students at scale, and are worth noting only as a standard “grain of salt” with which any study should be (but is not always) considered when it stands alone. 4. How do we go about making short courses more successful? This paper provides no means of evaluating variation between programs, which is really where our interests lie. This is not a criticism: it is simply not the purpose of the paper. It is the next question, the natural response to such results: if these programs really aren’t making a difference, how might we capture the opportunity, with existing funded and institutionally invested programs, to change that? Is it that short course workshops have no impact on anything, or that we need to better understand and plan for what they can accomplish? We have a few suggestions. What We Do Software and Data Carpentry offer short-course training for academics and professional researchers in software and data management skills. Many of our affiliates, who have also contributed to this response, offer other short courses in related subjects. We are all driven to the short-course format out of necessity. We recognize that this format places severe constraints on the quantity of information that can successfully be conveyed, but we design our curriculum and train our instructors specifically to maximize our effectiveness in this format. Here’s how we do it: Streamline content. We aim to teach only the most immediately useful skills that can be taught and learned quickly. We teach our instructors to resist the urge to “get through everything” or pack extra details into their explanations. Teach strategically. We keep learners active by using live coding (in which learners work through lessons along with the instructor) and frequent formative assessment. We teach instructors to be mindful of the limitations of short-term memory and to focus instruction and assessments to minimize cognitive load. Meet learners where they are. Our workshops attract a diverse population of learners, from novices to experienced IT personnel. Our learners use colored sticky notes to indicate when they are stuck. We teach instructors how to use this to adjust their pacing. We also recruit workshop “helpers” who can directly coach learners who may be struggling. The absence of performance-based grades gives us added flexibility to meet diverse needs by generating diverse learning outcomes. Some may learn about the “big picture” of a new programming language by completing a lesson, while others may come away having added “tips and tricks” to their existing skills. This is one area in which workshops may have an advantage over traditional courses, particularly when it comes to confidence- and motivation-based outcomes. Normalize error and demonstrate recovery. We know and expect that our learners will acquire the bulk of their skill independently. Willingness to make mistakes and awareness of problem-solving strategies are far more crucial to their success than any particular content. We coach our instructors to embrace and even delight in their own errors as an opportunity to model healthy and effective responses. Explicitly address motivation and self efficacy. One substantial advantage that we have is that our learners attend our workshops because they are motivated to learn precisely what we teach. However, preserving and nurturing that motivation is crucial. Perseverance results not only from embracing error as normal, but also from learners’ personal belief in their ability to succeed. Creating a workshop in which learners can be successful in both learning and in demonstrating to themselves that they have learned is one piece of this. We spend a good deal of time discussing motivation with our instructors. We explain why saying “it’s easy, anyone can do it” is often demotivating. We explore the differences between novice and expert perspectives and coach instructors to be mindful of and to respect the novice experience. We teach instructors to foster a growth mindset in their language and learner interactions. We emphasize that a relaxed, welcoming, and positive workshop experience is one of the most important things we can provide. Build community. The more people at all levels are able to share what they know, the more efficiently we can distribute knowledge. As a volunteer organization, we have a strong community of instructors, lesson maintainers, and others. As learners progress, they often become involved in this community. In the long range, we hope to create a community that can provide widespread support directly to learners. What we know about our impact We have conducted both short-term and long-term follow-up assessments of learners. Data Carpentry post-workshop survey results have always been positive and 85% of learners report that they agree that they would recommend our workshops to a colleague. The Carpentries’ Long-Term Impact survey (n = 530) is designed to determine whether this positive experience and self-reported increase in confidence affects long term outcomes. This survey (full report here) measured self-reported behaviors around good data management practices, change in confidence in open source tools, and other specific program goals. It also explored other ways the workshop may have impacted learners, such as improved research productivity. While Feldon et al. rightly critique self-assessment with regard to performance metrics, many of our target outcomes are more conducive to self-evaluation, e.g. confidence, motivation, and daily work habits. Researchers report increased daily programming usage after attending our two-day coding workshops, and sixty-five percent of respondents report higher confidence in working with data and open source tools as a result of completing the workshop. Our long-term assessment data shows a decline in the percentage of respondents that ‘have not been using these tools’ (-11.1%), and an increase in the percentage of those who now use the tools on daily basis (14.5%). Additional highlights from our long-term survey report include: 77% of respondents reported being more confident in the tools that were covered during their workshop compared to before the workshop. 54% of respondents have made their analyses more reproducible as a result of completing a workshop. 65% of respondents have gained confidence in working with data as a result of completing a workshop. 74% of respondents have recommended our workshops to a friend or colleague. We see that short-format workshops can be effective at increasing researchers’ confidence, use of coding skills, and adoption of reproducible research perspectives. As a part of the Open Source community, we make all of our survey data and analysis code available in our assessment repository. We welcome people to work with our survey data and ask new questions. Understanding impact is important, and we will continue to keep our community informed with regular releases of survey data and reports. We also have a virtual assessment network which newcomers are welcome to be part of. Please join here if you are interested in discussing assessment efforts in the area of training in research computing. In Closing … Our data suggest that we are having a positive impact, and we expect that other short-format programs can be similarly effective. However, this likely requires a focused effort on optimizing within the limitations of a short course, along with clear goals and targeted assessment to demonstrate such efficacy. It is not clear that this was the case for any of the programs surveyed by Feldon et al. , and if it was, it is not clear to us that any such specific and variable successes would be discernable in their study. We agree, however, that under most circumstances, particularly where a large quantity of content needs to be taught, a short-format course should not be favored over any available time-distributed alternative. We applaud, encourage, and endeavor to support those who have the access and opportunity to conduct long-format training in the subjects we teach. Many members of our community are actively involved in traditional undergraduate and graduate instruction of this kind. Traditional training opportunities will begin to catch up with demand for training in data science generally, but there will always be limitations - concepts or tools that don’t clearly fit into curriculum or new approaches that haven’t yet had a chance to be incorporated. We work on training in these gaps through short courses. It is necessary for us to be as effective as possible to achieve that mission. So far, we feel comfortable declaring that effort a success. [1] While the paper refers to programs as either “boot camps”, “bridge programs”, or “short-format training”, it has been brought to our attention that this usage of “boot camp” can cause some consternation for those with military training or under military regimes. We will therefore use the less-vivid but more-accurate “short course” label for this piece. Read More ›

My Favorite Tool - Todoist
Auriel Fournier / 2017-12-11
My favorite tool is Todoist, a task manager. Why do I like it? Todoist is a cross-platform ‘to-do’ tool. I went through many different ones before settling on Todoist a few years ago and I now use it to organize everything from my household chores, grocery shopping and gift ideas for family members to my many work projects and non-work projects (things I do that are work-related but not apart of my actual job). Todoist can also work really well in a team. Right now at work I’m the only one who uses it, but my husband and I use it for household communication about shopping and other tasks that need to be completed, we can assign each other tasks, with time-triggered reminders and it really helps us stay on top of things. Everyone works differently, and I hope you have a system that works well so you can get work done - I just wanted to share what has become a crucial part of my system. How does the tool help me in my work? The ability to have recurring tasks that I can easily input such as ‘second Thursday of every month at 2pm’ and the ability to add emails as tasks, with a link that opens up the email, have changed everything about the way I work. It allows me to clean out my inbox more effectively by assigning emails as tasks so I can answer them at the appropriate time, or have the email at hand for an important meeting in a few weeks, and it easily allows me to break down tasks into their component parts and keep track of them. What do you wish someone had told you when you first started learning how to use this tool? If you use Gmail, the integration with Todoist and Gmail is fantastic. Todoist also has integration with many other platforms, few of which I personally find useful but I have a few friends who think that is where the true power of Todoist lies. – Auriel Fournier, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Ocean Springs, Mississippi, USA. Have you got a favourite tool you would like to tell us about? Please use this form to add a bit of detail and we will do the rest to create a blog post about it. You can read the background to these posts here, or see what other tools people have written about. Read More ›

Poster Competition Now Open
Belinda Weaver / 2017-12-11
Design a Promotional Poster for CarpentryCon 2018 The Carpentries are excited to announce our poster design competition where some lucky member of our community will win a free registration for CarpentryCon 2018. Are there any artists out there who could design a fantastic poster? If so, we want to see your design! The winning designer will take home some fantastic Carpentries swag and gain free registration to CarpentryCon 2018. This includes registration for the conference only. It does not include travel to and from Dublin. Information for the Poster CarpentryCon 2018 will take place in Dublin from 30 May - 1 June, 2018 at University College Dublin with the overarching theme of Building Locally, Connecting Globally. The three-day event will focus on professional development, community building and networking, as we aim to help skill up the next generation of research leaders. Find out more from the CarpentryCon 2018 website. About the Competition What will the poster be used for? The winning poster will be used for promotional and advertising purposes and featured in all CarpentryCon 2018 advertising across a range of social media, including Twitter and Facebook. When can you submit a design? Entries can be submitted now. What is the closing date for entries? 5pm UTC on 31 January, 2018. We will announce the winner on 10 February, 2018. Who can enter? Anyone may enter, though entrants must be over the age of 18. Can I submit more than one design? Yes, competition entrants are welcome to submit as many designs as they like. What does the poster need to include? Posters should reflect the conference theme of Building Locally, Connecting Globally, and should also include the venue and dates (see above) and a link to the CarpentryCon website. How will the judging be done? Entries in the poster competition will be assessed by the members of the CarpentryCon task force who will choose the poster that best embodies the conference theme of Building Locally, Connecting Globally. The winner will be notified by email once the decision has been reached, and unsuccessful entrants will also be notified by email of the result. How to submit your design Submit your design as an A4-sized PDF email attachment by 31 January, 2018 to team AT carpentries.org, with the words CarpentryCon Poster Competition in the subject line. Please include your name in your entry. Submitting a poster indicates your acceptance of the Terms and Conditions stated below. Competition Terms and Conditions: Entry to this competition means that the entrant warrants that he or she meets the entry requirements and accepts these terms and conditions. Entrants are responsible for any and all expenses that they incur in creating their poster and submitting it to the competition. No costs incurred by competition entrants will be reimbursed. Entrants to the competition will retain the full copyright of their design. Entrants to the competition warrant that any image(s) used in their design is free for use and does not infringe any organization’s or person’s copyright. Entrants to the competition warrant that they have all necessary rights to provide the intellectual property within their poster to the Carpentries for promotional and advertising purposes. Entrants to the competition warrant that they license the Carpentries to use the winning design at no cost to promote CarpentryCon 2018. The Carpentries retain the right to disqualify any entrants or entries where we reasonably suspect any unlawful or improper conduct, such as infringing a third party’s intellectual property rights, or otherwise breaching the competition’s terms and conditions. All personal information collected during this competition will be handled in accordance with our privacy policy. Read More ›

Challenges Assessing Data Science
Marianne Corvellec, Kari L. Jordan / 2017-12-11
The Assessment Network was established as a space for those working on assessment within the open source/research computing community to collaborate and share resources. During our quarterly meeting in November, we engaged one another in a conversation revolving around data science education. This meeting was organized and hosted online by Kari Jordan, and six community members attended. First, we discussed the definitions of data scientist, data analyst, and data engineer; second, we worked in pairs on a set of questions about assessing data science education. The session was exciting and fruitful, as it combined two topical efforts: on one hand, our organization’s focus on assessment and, on the other hand, our contribution to the global effort in defining, understanding, and shaping the rising field of data science. Kari Jordan attended a meeting of collaborators from industry, academia, and the non-profit sector to brainstorm the challenges and vision for keeping data science broad. During that meeting, a brainstorming session took place where attendees were asked to come up with core competencies for data science. This was difficult, as each sector identified competencies important for their particular interest. Kari thought it would be a good idea to talk about it with the assessment network. What is Data Science? So, what is data science? What are the core competencies? For a positive definition, we turn to the seminal “Data Science Venn Diagram” by Drew Conway, as reproduced by Jake VanderPlas in the preface of his Python Data Science Handbook. Data science lies at the intersection of statistics, computer science, and domain expertise (in industry-friendly terms, or traditional research, in academic terms). Data science is cross-disciplinary by definition. Hardly anyone gets formal training in all three areas. Most working data scientists are self-taught to a certain extent. Basically, it takes a growth mindset to be a data scientist! For a negative definition (in logician’s terms, i.e., what data science is not), we turn to industry job descriptions. It turns out that Marianne Corvellec served on a panel dedicated to the definition of these emerging occupations. This panel was held in 2016 with Québec’s Sectoral Committee for the ICT Workforce. It brought together industry professionals and HR specialists who would frame the discussion, and resulted in this report (in French; note that “architecte de(s) données” == data engineer and “scientifique de(s) données” == data scientist). This report is in line with academic sources (e.g., data science curricula at U.S. universities), insofar as a data scientist is not a data engineer. A data engineer takes care of data storage and warehousing; s/he builds, tests, and maintains a data pipeline, which integrates diverse data, transforms, cleans, and structures them. S/he masters big data technologies, such as Apache Hadoop, Apache Spark, and Amazon S3. Data engineers ensure the data are available (and in good shape) for data scientists to work with. What is a Data Scientist? More subtly, a data scientist is more than a data analyst. It takes an aptitude for collecting, organizing, and curating data, as well as for thinking analytically. A strong quantitative background is useful but not necessary. Principles and practices from the social sciences or digital humanities are valuable assets; data scientists should be good writers, good storytellers, and good communicators. Perhaps surprisingly, attention to detail is not a key item to include in a data scientist’s skillset; ability to grasp the big picture is much more key, as data scientists will find themselves working at the interface of very different departments or fields (in an industry context, these could be engineering, marketing, or business intelligence). A data scientist does not master any specific technology to perfection, since s/he dabbles in everything! Unlike the traditional data (or business intelligence) analyst, s/he resorts to several different frameworks and programming languages (as opposed to a given domain-specific platform) in order to leverage data. Plus, the data scientist typically works with datasets coming from multiple sources (as opposed to the traditional data analyst who usually works with a single data source already populated by an ETL solution). Data scientists are flexible with their tools and approaches. Challenges Assessing Data Science Education In the second part of the meeting, we split into breakout pairs to discuss the challenges of assessing data science education with respect to Carpentries’ workshops. Brainstorming in parallel lets us cover more ground (breadth), while interacting one-on-one lets us explore different avenues (depth). One pair focused on the industry perspective, another on the education system, and the third on assessment practices. Kari offered a list of questions to frame the discussion. Working groups identified challenges for assessing data science education at the object level (i.e., what should this assessment consist of?) and at the meta level (i.e., what favors or hinders the application of assessment?). At the meta level, the following prompts were discussed (pulled from South Big Data Hub’s Data Divide workshop): Vision for Assessing Data Science Education Stakeholders for Data Science Education What specific skills or resources are most important/lacking to address this challenge? How do our challenges fit into the national landscape? What is the broader impact of addressing our challenges? Check out the notes from our working groups to see what we came up with! Now is your chance to tell us what you think. We opened several issues on the Carpentries assessment repo. We’d love to engage you in a rich discussion around this topic. Comment on an issue, and tweet us your thoughts using the hashtag #carpentriesassessment. Read More ›

CarpentryCon 2018 - Website is Live!
Belinda Weaver / 2017-12-07
We are excited to announce that our website for CarpentryCon 2018 is live. CarpentryCon 2018 will take place at University College Dublin from 30 May - 1 June, 2018, with the overarching theme of “Building Globally, Connecting Locally”. The three-day event will focus on professional development, community building and networking, as we aim to help skill up the next generation of research leaders through a combination of talks, workshops and breakout sessions. We are currently developing our program of speakers and workshops and hope to have a preliminary draft up on the website early in the new year. In order to be able to keep registration costs low and to provide travel scholarships, we are seeking sponsorship for CarpentryCon 2018. Please feel free to share this call for sponsorship widely. Filling in the form does not commit organizations to anything beyond a conversation with us at this point - but we want to get those conversations started as soon as we can. Feel free to ping us with suggestions of potential CarpentryCon 2018 sponsors by emailing team AT carpentries.org with the details. We will take it from there. We will shortly be announcing a competition to design a promotional poster for the event. The winner will get free registration for CarpentryCon 2018. Stay on top of CarpentryCon 2018 news and announcements by signing up for our email list. Read More ›

Celebrate the Wins of 2017: Join the year's final community call
Belinda Weaver / 2017-12-05
When Carpentries staff get a win, we call it a #greensticky. These are things to celebrate with a resounding ‘Yay!’ So we decided to turn our regular December community call (our last for the year) into a Happy Holidays GreenSticky Party. 2017 has been a BIG year for our community. We negotiated the Carpentries merger, got planning underway for 2018’s CarpentryCon, trained a whole bunch of new instructors and trainers, and restarted our mentoring groups - and of course a ton of workshops were taught all round the globe. As we wind down for the holidays, it is worth taking time out to think over the great moments of the year. Perhaps you got a paper accepted, or you attended a fantastic conference. Maybe you snared a new dream job or taught your first workshop. Perhaps you finally finished your instructor checkout or got your institution to join the Carpentries. Or maybe you finally submitted your PhD! Whatever your good news story of 2017, we want to hear about it at our December community call. Come along and tell us about YOUR #greensticky for 2017. There will be two call times on 14 December - 2pm UTC and 11pm UTC. See the date and time for the first call and the second call in your time zone. Come along and share your good news with other members of the Carpentries community. Party hats optional … Read More ›

Upcoming Membership Webinar
Belinda Weaver / 2017-12-04
Organizational memberships are a great way to build your local Carpentries’ instructor community. Members organizations can run Software and Data Carpentry workshops more often, and can organize workshops for specific communities within their institution. As part of our membership services, we provide members with instructor training and mentorship, and give you easy access to pre- and post-workshop assessment surveys. As your organization leverages their membership to grow your pool of experienced instructors, we seek to find opportunities to connect common needs across our membership. Learn how this works, and how you can help us bring impactful Carpentries workshops to your organization at our upcoming membership webinar. Led by Executive Director Jonah Duckles, thwe webinar will take place at 7pm UTC on 5 December. See local date and time in your zone. The format will be a short presentation on what membership is, and how your organization can benefit. There will then be plenty of time for Q&A. Connection details (via Zoom) and sign up are on this etherpad. Read More ›

Lesson Infrastructure Subcommittee 2017 November meeting
Raniere Silva / 2017-12-04
On 16 November 2017 at 15:00 UTC+0, the Lesson Infrastructure Subcommittee had their 2017 November meeting. This post will cover the topics discussed and their resolutions. Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry merger With the merger in 2018, some Git repositories will be owned by a new GitHub organization. The Instructor Training course material has already been moved, you can now find it at http://carpentries.github.io/instructor-training/. Date for the migration will be announced in 2018. Instructions for migrating the repository can be find here. Syntax Highlight Thanks to naught101, the next release of our lesson will offer syntax highlighting to our readers. Lesson maintainers might need help to change ~~~ print("Hello World") ~~~ {: .foobar} to ~~~ print("Hello World") ~~~ {: .language-foobar} for example. If you want to help, send a pull request to us. Exercises Throughout the Episodes After a small discussion, we reached the consensus that it will be better to have exercises throughout the episodes instead of all the exercises at the end of the episode. Lessons will migrate to the new format in a slow pace because this change requires a good amount of work. Non-English Lessons If you are involved with us since 2014, you might remember this post about the attempt to translate the lesson to Spanish and this other post announcing the lessons in Korean. During the meeting, we had a conversation about the workflow to translate lessons to other languages, and there is now interest and work on a translation. Some of the conversation was archived as issues here. If you want to get involved with the translation join the Latinoamerica email list or see the updates. Windows Installer In March 2018, a discussion about our recommended text editor created a lot of buzz on the mailing list. The email thread started because sometimes nano wasn’t installed on the learners’ machines. The new version of Git Bash will include nano by default and we have a pull request, thanks to Oliver Stueker, to adopt the new version in our workshop instructions. The pull request will be merged at the end of this year or beginning of 2018. Next steps Version 9.3.x lesson template and lesson documentation was released. Maintainers are working to release the new version of the lessons before the end of the year. The subcommittee will meet again in February to provide an update on some of the topics covered by this post and discuss new requests from the community. Acknowledgement Thanks to Alejandra Gonzalez Beltran, Christina Koch, David Pérez-Suárez, Erin Becker, Naupaka Zimmerman and Tracy Teal. Read More ›

satRday Cape Town 2018
Jon Calder / 2017-12-03
satRdays are community-led, regional conferences to support collaboration, networking and innovation within the R community. satRdays are the brainchild of Stephanie Locke, and were inspired to a large extent by the success of SQLSaturdays. SQLSaturdays focus on developing technical knowledge around SQL Server and related technologies. The first SQLSaturday was held in 2007, and there are now well over 100 events across the globe. The idea behind holding the conferences on a Saturday, is that rather than limiting access to those who are able to get buy-in from their employers to attend a conference during the week, this makes them accessible for anyone who wishes to attend on their own time. Ticket prices are also kept as low as possible to try to keep these conferences accessible to students. A proposal was drafted and put before the R Consortium in early 2016, and with their approval and financial backing to help get the first few satRday events up and running around the world, some early momentum was quickly established. The first satRday, organized by Gergely Daróczi, was held in Budapest, Hungary on the 3rd September 2016, with a little under 200 people from 19 countries in attendance. There were presentations from 25 speakers, with keynotes from Gabor Csardi and Jeroen Ooms, and the event was a huge success. You can find out more about the event at the conference website or by reading some of the follow up posts on the conference here and here. The second satRday, organized by Andrew Collier was held in Cape Town on the 18th February 2017. Just over 200 tickets were issued for the event and again the venue was packed. With 29 speakers in total, including keynote speakers Jenny Bryan, Julia Silge and Steph Locke, the schedule was also packed - with tutorials, standard and lightning talks, along with a visualization competition to round out the day’s proceedings. There were also three workshops held by the keynote speakers on the two days prior to the conference which were very well attended. Again, there is plenty more about the event at the conference website, and in the follow up posts here and here. A second satRday in Cape Town is now planned for 17 March 2018, with two exciting keynote speakers: Maëlle Salmon and Stephanie Kovalchik. They will be presenting workshops on R package development and sports analytics with R on the day prior to the conference. Next year’s conference will be held at a bigger venue on the campus of the University of Cape Town in order to accommodate more attendees. Tickets are on sale and the Call for Papers is open. More details for the event can be found at the conference website. Another exciting development for next year’s conference is that plans are being put in place to run a Data Carpentry workshop before the event. Software and Data Carpentry have been involved in enabling and developing R capacity in Africa since 2015. Two-day workshops teach researchers and postgraduate students fundamental skills to assist with better research software development and data analysis. The Carpentries are global non-profit volunteer organisations that not only teach tools like R, Python, SQL, and Git/GitHub, but also run a two-day instructor training workshop to help technical experts teach more effectively. More than 30 Carpentry workshops have been run in African countries over the past three years, including South Africa, Mauritius, Ghana, Gabon, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, and Ethiopia . These workshops have reached hundreds of researchers and students who mostly had limited or no prior exposure to programming. If you’d like to get involved in Carpentries in Africa, please join our Google Group or request a workshop by completing this form. Read More ›

Jessica Upani: Nomination for 2018 Steering Committee
Jessica Upani / 2017-12-01
2018 Election : Jessica Upani Who am I? My name is Jessica Upani. I am Namibian and I am a high school teacher. I am also a 4th year Mathematics and Computer Science undergraduate student at the University of Namibia. I am an executive of the Python Namibia society. We run Python workshops, meetups and Conferences all over the country. Previous involvement. My involvement with the carpentries started in April 2016 when I was one the instructors that were trained by Aleksandra Pawlik in Potchefstroom, South Africa. I then continued with my training and became a certified Software Carpentry instructor on 7th July 2016. My final checkout was done by Greg Wilson. He gave me my qualification. I did not do this alone. I was mentored by David Perez-Suarez. Since then, I hosted and taught two workshops locally. We paired our first workshop with Bertie Seyffert from South Africa. I also had a chance to meet the new instructors that were trained in Cape Town, May 2017. I am currently training to be an instructor of instructors and I will be maintaining the Python lesson in 2018. Very exciting! What can I offer? I am a teacher, in every sense of the word. I enjoy doing it and the Carpentries gives me one more opportunity to give back to my community. Our community in Namibia is small and the Carpentries give me an opportunity to see a change for the better in that regard. I enjoy making life for others better and I enjoy sharing what I know with others. Through the Carpentries, I get to do just that. I have helped several scientists conduct their research with ease, and I intend to help many more. The way forward. The have noticed a lot of growth in the Carpentries over the past two years (especially in Africa) and it is all very exciting. And now with the merge, I think that that is a great move and I would like to help get work done. I would like to help reach out to more communities both locally and remotely. One of the strongest points of the Carpentries is bringing together people from all disciplines. I have never seen any other platform that does such a thing. Which is more of the reason why I want to be more involved in this community. Read More ›

OpenCon in Berlin - Impressions
Belinda Weaver / 2017-11-30
Along with fellow Software Carpenters Rayna Harris and Paula Martinez, I attended OpenCon 2017 held over the weekend of 11-13 November, 2017 in Berlin. The conference was held in the Harnack Haus in Dahlem, the home of the Max Planck Society, where the friendly ghosts of Einstein, Heisenberg and other stellar scientists smiled on our endeavours to promote open access, open education and open data. This was a conference with a difference. Most conference goers were very new to this area of work so there was a strong learning aspect to all that unfolded over the three days. Many of the speakers had eye-opening stories to tell about education’s role in transforming lives, whether it be Kholoud Ajarma’s experiences of growing up in a Palestinian refugee camp or Aliya Ibraimova’s work with remote grazing communities in the Kyrgyz mountains. While the largest cohort (50) were from the US, 47 different countries were represented at OpenCon. Of the 186 listed in the attendance sheet, 132 attendees had GitHub accounts and even more used Twitter (160). Sessions were a mixture of plenary sessions and small group work. As an early icebreaker, we were put into groups called Story Circles, in which everyone had eight (uninterrupted) minutes to explain what had led them to apply for and attend OpenCon. The sheer diversity of backgrounds and experiences unearthed by this kind of session was astounding. Hearing Thomas Mboa describe teaching Nigerian students without having access to electricity certainly put some of my own workshop issues into perspective. Another eye-opener was the Diversity and Inclusion panel where uncomfortable questions about ‘whose knowledge?’, ‘who has access?’, and ‘who is missing from the discussion?’ put paid to the idea that ‘open’ is a universal, unquestionable good. Speakers from the global south stressed that making knowledge open can seem like a replay of having that knowledge stolen from them during the colonial period. And if ‘open’ does not welcome people of all genders, sexual orientation, color and other forms of diversity, then how ‘open’ it is really? The quality and clarity of OpenCon recordings mean that these sessions can easily be watched by anyone with an interest in what was said. Footage of the Diversity and Inclusion panel also includes the post-panel discussion. To help build more local action post-conference, people could opt to work with groups from their own region. Since I was the only Australian there, I chose to work with an Asian group, and helped people from Armenia and Taiwan create ‘empathy maps’ to try to understand the concerns of researchers in their region who might want to work ‘open’ but who face formidable barriers, not least the kinds of behaviours outlined by Laurent Gatto’s and Corina Logan’s ‘Bullied by Bad Science’ campaign. The final day of OpenCon was a Do-a-Thon - what I would call a sprint or hackathon. For this day, Rayna and Paula marshalled a team from Chile, Argentina and other Spanish-speaking countries to work on the Spanish translations of Carpentry lessons. This was certainly a one-of-a-kind conference and for those who missed it, session recordings are available online, courtesy of the Right to Research Coalition. The conference was phenomenally well-organised, with terrific food, and people could opt to join Dine-Arounds to ensure that no one had to eat dinner all alone in a strange city. I was very interested in the organization of the conference as I was hoping to get many tips I could use to make next year’s CarpentryCon in Dublin a similar success. The conference’s leading sponsor was the Max Planck Gesellschaft (Max Planck Society), and the conference was jointly organised by SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, and the Right to Research Coalition. A number of other organisations and foundations were supporting sponsors. A floor tile at Harnack Haus was inset with Einstein’s signature - you don’t see that every day. Read More ›

Community Building Catchup
Jonah Duckles, Belinda Weaver / 2017-11-30
The last Carpentries’ Champions call led by Jonah Duckles was well attended, with representatives from Australia, South Africa, Ethiopia, the US, the UK, New Zealand and Norway. After the introductions and a review of the last call, attendees were divided up into four breakout rooms to discuss (while keeping the following three questions in mind) an event that promoted a sense of excitement about new research tools. What made the event engaging and exciting? What could have made it even better? What didn’t you like? Room 1 pluses were the variety of tools taught, the great diversity both in cultures and careers of the people attending, and ample opportunities for networking. One caveat was the mixed positive and not so positive effects of following an ‘unconference’ structure. Room 2 looked at workshops and what makes them run well or not so well, and also talked about study groups, with this useful post from Sarah Stevens providing useful advice on issues around setting one up. Room 3 listed some ‘must haves’ for an event to work well - a feeling of ‘OK’ culture, covering everything from coffee to atmosphere, and the attitude of host and participants plus having a visible result right away and/or some kind of immediate collective action. The question of whether domain-specific or more generalist groups worked better was brought back for discussion in the wider group. Room 4 reported that some people don’t like to engage with smaller groups and therefore we need ways to encourage them to open up. This might involve asking them a specific question to encourage their feedback or giving them ‘permission’ to explicitly contribute, since not everyone will just ‘jump in’. Reasons people do not / will not participate Group too large - people feel intimidated Group has no common background or interest so group feels unwelcoming People’s worries about seeming ‘stupid’ Fixes? Attendees put questions in a hat - they get the questions they want answered Mix experienced and new instructors as a way of mentoring Do something concrete and get an immediate outcome Put people in pairs to work together Make sure you have advanced tasks for people in mixed level workshops Recruit from people who teach at events like ResBaz to invite them to be Carpentries instructors Plan activities that allow some attendees to apply more advanced / more interesting skills Cautionary tales Always have a backup plan in case wifi is not working or available. Be mindful of different people’s learning styles - this can be overlooked in a group setting. Have a clear statement of workshop goals and objectives - very important when levels of knowledge are mixed. Feeback on using smaller groups in breakout rooms for these calls: Loved it! It was really nice to talk in a small group. It can be overwhelming to be on a big call, nice idea Less intimidating to share stories in a small group - +1 from me Worked very well! Nice way to be able to discuss and having a conversation without worrying about a large group getting a chance to talk +1 to all the above! Further resources Amanda Miotto’s HackyHour is an informal drop-in session at Griffith University in Brisbane. Held usually in a coffee shop or bar, HackyHours are gatherings where people can ask research and research-IT-related questions in a safe environment. Other similar outreach events are PhTea, Programming & Pizza, or study groups. Use whatever name works best in your setting and consider inviting 5-minute talks to get the meetup started if people don’t bring any problems that week. Amanda has now compiled a HackyHour Handbook. Bianca Peterson reported on Study Groups at North West University in South Africa. These took off in 2016. People enrolled in modules on Coursera as a group, and met for two hours every week to work on things together. The groups functioned well as post-workshop support after Software and Data Carpentry workshops since they reinforced workshop learning. The Mozilla Study Group Handbook is a helpful tool for people who want to start a study group and this guide helps you decide what is the best type of event for you to build your local community. Next steps If you’re interested in participating in the Carpentries champion community and our quarterly meetings, you can join our announcement mailing list. We’ll be holding our next meeting in February and will be focusing on a draft Carpentry Community Building playbook. This will be a document that serves as a guide to help community champions to develop their own local communities, and will share tips, tricks and ideas about how to build local community. To get involved, get on the list! Favorite events At the beginning of the call, as an icebreaker activity, we asked them to describe the most amazing event/conference/workshop/meetup they had ever attended. The following were singled out: Kiwi foo, an ‘unconference’ bringing together creatives, government, policy wonks and technologists to think about making a better world. Bayesian Models in Ecology Workshop at SESYNC, a great combination of lecture/theory and working in small groups, with an emphasis on peer learning. Fosdem, the Free and Open Source Developers European Meeting, run by volunteers, with a wide range of topics. While it had a very Self-Organised vibe, everything pretty much worked. useR 2017, a first time of connecting with the R community in person. Open, welcoming, attendees of diverse backgrounds, amazing food - I learned so much! Midwest Data Librarian Symposium, a form of un-conference, but in a active learning and participating environment. CODATA-RDA Research Data Science Summer School, Trieste, Italy - Most of the instructors are from the Carpentries and the quality of lessons is great - a variety of tools/skills taught over 2 weeks (from Unix to Machine Learning in R). Read More ›

People's Favorite Tools
Belinda Weaver / 2017-11-29
A big thank you to everyone who has responded so far to the call for short posts about their favourite tools. So far we have had Paula Martinez on R, with Bianca Peterson enthusiastically seconding, Jeff Oliver sharing his love of Git and GitHub, Kellie Ottoboni talking up IPython, and Thomas Arildsen on how the Jupyter Notebook facilitates his teaching. Juliane Schneider weighed in on the wonders of OpenRefine. Clifton Franklund likes RStudio, while Francesco Montanari is a fan of emacs. Rayna Harris nominated videoconferencing as her most useful research tool, while Greg Wilson talks up the benefits of asking for help. Robert Sare has posted on the benefits of using rasterio in earth sciences research. Expect more posts as people contribute further favourites. Even if your tool has already been mentioned, we would still welcome a post about it, as your use of the tool may be different. Have you got a favourite tool you would like to tell us about? Please use this form to add a bit of detail and we will do the rest. You can read the background to these posts here. Read More ›

My Favorite Tool - Asking for Help
Greg Wilson / 2017-11-28
My favorite tool is asking for help. You may not think of it as a tool, but it’s something I use frequently to solve a wide range of problems, so I think it qualifies. Whether it’s saying, “I don’t know what to do next – does anyone have any ideas?” when teaching, or cold-calling people to see if they’ll host a workshop, asking for help has probably done more for me than Emacs and version control combined. Have you got a favourite tool you would like to tell us about? Please use this form to add a bit of detail and we will do the rest. You can read the background to these posts here, or see what other tools people have written about. Read More ›

Our Steering Committee Candidates
Belinda Weaver / 2017-11-26
Eight people have nominated to serve on the 2018 Steering Committee of the new, merged Carpentries. The nominees so far are: Samantha Ahern (UK) Martin Callaghan (UK) Auriel Fournier (US) Amy Hodge (US) Lex Nederbragt (Norway) Raniere Silva (Brazil, but currently in the UK) Juan Steyn (South Africa) Jessica Upani (Namibia) Elizabeth Wickes (US) There is still time to put your name forward. Nominations will close on 1 December. If you are not sure whether you are eligible to stand for election, or if you can vote in the election, please check out this blog post which has all the logistics. This was edited on December 1, 2017 to reflect the complete list of candidates. Read More ›

Call for Applicants: Mentoring Subcommittee Co-Chair
Marian Schmidt, Jamie Hadwin / 2017-11-21
Dear Carpentries Community, How would you like to work first-hand on developing our ever growing instructor pool? A Mentoring Subcommittee Co-Chair position has just opened! The leader serving in this year-long position (December 2017- December 2018) will share duties with the co-chair of the mentoring subcommittee, with a workload averaging 1.5 hours/week. The expectations of the mentoring co-chairs are to host the monthly mentoring subcommittee meetings, facilitate opportunities for building connections across our community to better serve our instructors, and to manage the weekly instructor discussion sessions hosted on this etherpad. If you would like to be considered, please fill out this short form by December 4th. The current mentoring subcommittee co-chairs will select a new co-chair from the applicant pool, with input from the Carpentries staff liaison, and other members of the Carpentries community. Please be welcome to email Marian at marschmi AT umich.edu with any questions regarding the position. Sincerely, The Mentoring Co-Chairs, Jamie & Marian Apply Here: https://goo.gl/forms/aSzm8Gg7Y4tIboWy2 Expectations: Host one of the two monthly mentoring committee meetings (The co-chair will host the other.) One debriefing meeting per month with co-chair (usually soon after monthly meeting). An average of ~1.5 hours per week (usually ~2 hours/week during the week of hosting the mentoring committee meetings). When possible, help host or co-host instructor discussions. Communicate challenges and opportunities with Carpentries staff liaison. Timeline: 1 year position December 2017 - December 2018 Mentored by both co-chairs of the subcommittee (Jamie & Marian) for the first month. Until February 2018, work closely with other co-chair (Marian). In February, there will be another co-chair application. Benefits: Collaborate with dedicated members of our community to better help mentor and create a network within our amazing community of instructor. Assist with improving and creating new resources for our instructor and mentoring communities. Meet many other amazing Software and Data Carpentry instructors and instructors-in-training. Gain and practice skills in community organization. Learn more about how the Carpentries function as an organization. Read More ›

Samantha Ahern: Steering Committee Nomination
Samantha Ahern / 2017-11-20
Samantha Ahern: Steering Committee Nomination How am I involved with the Carpentries? I have been involved with Software Carpentry for four years. I participated in a Bootcamp back in 2013 and since then have been a helper for a number of Bootcamps and have taught in three in total - two in the last year. I am a very newly qualified Instructor, literally completing the sign-off tasks in the last few weeks, but have been involved in Education and this type of learning in particular for a long time. Who am I? I am an Educator and Digital Social Scientist, passionate about accessibility - this was noted in the feedback for my HEA Fellowship application. My Fellowship portfolio can be viewed here. I have produced software for my own research and taught others how to do so. I am member of the Digital Education team at University College London focusing on learner/learning analytics but also work with Research IT Services on learning design and online learning creation. Learning analytics refers to the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about the progress of learners and the contexts in which learning takes place. I have been identifying potential data sources for a learner analytics project and identifying what the issues may be with the data re: matching across systems and some exploratory analysis of relationships between these sources and student success. I am also looking at how data can be used to review learning designs and /or their pedagogic intent. Additionally, I am in the current cohort of the Mozilla Open Leaders Program, and am trying to build a community for the Digital Literacy Playground project, an Open Education Resource (OER) aimed at 16-24 year olds. The playground zone Data and the Academy will focus on research data management, sharing data and using open data. This overlaps with some of the learning focus in Data Carpentry. The Mozilla Open Leaders Program is a 12-week program where you develop skills in building a community around and leading open projects. What can I offer? A different perspective. Although my academic background is computing (BSc Comp Sci, MSc Intelligent Systems) I am first and foremost an educator, I can bring a wealth of pedagogic knowledge and learning design expertise from across sectors to the committee. This has included teaching ICT at secondary schools for eight and a half years from Year 7 students to Year 13 A-Level. I was an IT Trainer for two years and was the Senior Information Security Officer - Awareness for one year. In addition to being a qualified teacher, PGCE Secondary ICT, I also hold PGDip ICT in Education. This would provide a learning/learner focus to decision making. It is also important that our materials are accessible to all who may need to benefit from them: to paraphrase Maha Bali - We do not want to be giving apples to people with no teeth. I am able to advise on accessible design and testing of tools for the creation of learning materials. Read More ›

Work first-hand on developing our ever growing instructor community
Marian Schmidt, Jamie Hadwin / 2017-11-20
How would you like to work first-hand on developing our ever growing instructor community? A Mentoring Subcommittee Co-Chair position has just opened! The leader serving in this year-long position (December 2017- December 2018) will share duties with the co-chair of the mentoring subcommittee, with a commitment averaging 1.5 hours/week. The expectations of the mentoring subcommittee co-chairs are to host the monthly mentoring subcommittee meetings, facilitate opportunities for building connections across our community to better serve our instructors, and to manage the weekly instructor discussion sessions hosted on this etherpad. If you would like to be considered, please fill out this short google form by December 4th. The current mentoring subcommittee co-chairs will select a new co-chair from the applicants with input from the Carpentries staff liaison, and other members of the Carpentries community. Apply Here Expectations: Host one of the two monthly mentoring subcommittee meetings (The co-chair will host the other.) Attend one debriefing meeting per month with the co-chair (usually soon after the monthly meeting). Commit to an average of 1.5 hours per week (usually ~2 hours/week during the week of hosting the mentoring subcommittee meetings). When possible, help host or co-host instructor discussions. Communicate challenges and opportunities with Carpentries staff liaison. Transition Timeline: 1 year position (December 2017 - December 2018) Mentored by both co-chairs of the subcommittee (Jamie & Marian) for the first month. Until February 2018, work closely with the co-chair (Marian). Benefits: Collaborate with dedicated members of our community to mentor instructors and create a strong network. Assist with improving and creating new resources for our instructor and mentoring communities. Meet many other amazing Software and Data Carpentry instructors and instructors-in-training. Gain and practice skills in community organization. Learn more about how the Carpentries function as an organization. Read More ›

Amy Hodge: Nomination for 2018 Steering Committee
Amy Hodge / 2017-11-20
2018 Election : Amy Hodge A Little About Me Hi all! My name is Amy Hodge, and I work for Stanford University Libraries. I have a PhD from Yale in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, and spent about 10 years working at science database companies, where I discovered the elegance of SQL and the perfect role for me in enabling people to do better science. Since my undergraduate days I’ve been involved in teaching, mentoring, and software training, and my involvement with the Carpentries is a natural extension of these activities and my desire to enable people to do better science. My Involvement with the Carpentries I got my start with the Carpentries by hosting a Software Carpentry workshop in January 2014. The response from learners was so positive that I hosted three more workshops that summer. The next January I became a certified instructor so that I could increase our capacity to offer these workshops on campus. After teaching my first Data Carpentry workshop at Stanford in April 2015, I quickly realized teaching and hosting simultaneously was not very practical, so I have been teaching versions of the SQL and OpenRefine lessons as stand-alone workshops as my schedule allows. In late 2015 and early 2016, I organized and helped at one workshop for the Libraries and served as a helper at two other campus workshops. From July 2016 to June 2017, I served as an advisor to a Stanford professor who had been awarded an NIH training grant addendum to develop curriculum for reproducibility and rigor. She was incorporating the Carpentries as a major component and sought my advice on doing this. I helped with one workshop, planned/hosted an instructor training, and hosted/helped at another workshop for postdocs. This past summer I helped at an instructor training at Davis and earned my certification as an Instructor Trainer. I also successfully campaigned for Stanford Libraries to sign on as a Carpentries Partner, for which I am the contact. I recently taught at Data Carpentry workshops at two universities in South Africa as well as my first instructor training. Carpentries Future and Growth As someone who has been working on her own to provide these workshops at my institution, I’m interested in how we build local communities. How can we draw in more campus organizations to fund these workshops? How can we get more people interested in contributing once they become instructors? How can we get study groups going after the workshops are over? My recent experiences with teaching in Africa have taught me much about how workshops are run at different institutions and for different groups of learners. I’d like to see us implement more ways that instructors and hosts can learn from each other about how to have a successful workshop. I’m interested in becoming more involved in lesson development and maintenance and discussing ways to get more of our instructors involved in these activities as well. I’d like to see the Data Carpentry curriculum in particular provide more options for the use of data sets in different fields, because I can see the benefits to the learners of having materials that are more accessible for them. Read More ›

Raniere Silva: Nomination for 2018 Steering Committee
Raniere Silva / 2017-11-16
Who am I? My name is Raniere Silva. I’m a Brazilian who currently lives in Manchester, UK, where I work for the Software Sustainability Institute as a Community Officer and help run the Institute’s Fellowship Programme. The programme supports, among other activities, Carpentry workshops and this incredible community in the UK and beyond. Previous Involvement I discovered Software Carpentry in 2013 after reading this blog post, being redirected to it by this announcement. Months later, I joined the 6th round of instructor training along side Leszek Tarkowski, Michael Crusoe, Christina Koch, Mark Laufersweiler, Jonah Duckles and many other fabulous instructors that I would only meet in person years later. In 2014, Fernando Mayer and I taught the first Software Carpentry workshop in Brazil and South America. Later that year, I had an opportunity to teach more Software Carpentry workshops in Brazil with some international visitors: Alex Viana and Diego Barneche. In 2015 and 2016 I served 2 years at the Software Carpentry Steering Committee. During that time, I got especially involved with the mentoring activities, now being lead by Marian Schmidt and Jamie Hadwin, and pushed, in some form, the culture to have more than one session to help volunteers to attend those independent of where they live and their personal commitments. At the end of 2016, I decided that was time to let others contribute to the project as members of the Steering Committee. Kate Hertweck contacted me asking to help with the lesson styles and most of my contributions to the project this year has been on the technical side. Last week, a friend delivered a Carpentry-inspired workshop in Brazil with a very positive feedback from the learners and with requests for more similar events. I was part of the Steering Committee of that workshop and it motivated me to apply to serve on the Steering Committee once again. Strengths In the five years that I have been involved with the Carpentries, the top 3 strengths of the Carpentry programme that I see are: The Carpentries’ name/brand, which is now recognised in many places worldwide. Transparency in all Carpentries’ activities, which is very hard to do but is always on the priority list. Community, that is passionate about the project and sharing their experiences and lessons learnt on a daily basis (for this week examples, see this email and this pull request). Weaknesses Of course, there is always room for improvement. My top 3 items for us to be careful in the next 2 years is: Procedures, which need to be documented in a public place, as they are extremely important for the on-boarding process of new members of staff and community, but registering this knowledge takes time and in some cases slides down on our priority list. Communication, with the recent increase on numbers of our staff and volunteers we need to share the information with more people on various channels and still keep the number of emails, chat messages, meetings to a minimum, which is almost contradictory, we need to review our communication strategy. Diversity, we are very proud to be an inclusive community but, as Greg Wilson mentioned here, we need to review our definitions and work to improve our inclusivity numbers. Two Years From Now My metrics of success for the Carpentries in two years time are: At least 5 teams of staff located in at least the following time zones: UTC-8, UTC-5/UTC-3, UTC+1, UTC+8 and UTC+12 to secure easier reach and support for our worldwide community, 30% of partners from the United States and Canada, 30% from Europe, 30% from Oceania, East Asia and Southeast Asia and 10% from other places. I would love to see more partners from South America, Africa and Asia but I know is unrealistic at the moment. Clarification of the ways in which volunteers could engage with the community. Although teaching workshops will continue to be the primary way to contribute followed by lesson development, volunteers can contribute in other forms but they need a clear path to do so. Conduct two studies, one in 2018 and another in 2019, about the retention rate of instructors and other volunteers without duplicating the work being done by the Community Health Analytics Open Source Software (CHAOSS) project. A repeated CarpentryCon in 2019 (the one for 2018 is already planned). Conclusion Thanks very much for your consideration to have me again as a member of the Steering Committee. If I’m elected, I will put community, diversity and sustainability as top priorities. I’m happy to answer any questions by email or your preferred form of contact (see here how to reach me). Read More ›

Martin Callaghan: Nomination for 2018 Steering Committee
Martin Callaghan / 2017-11-16
2018 Election: Martin Callaghan So, who are you? I’m Martin Callaghan and I’m a Research Computing Consultant (part research software engineer, part trainer, part consultant and part outreach) at the University of Leeds in the UK, where I provide programming and software development consultancy across a diverse research community, including the Arts and Social Sciences, for Cloud and High Performance Computing. It’s an exciting job where I get to work with researchers to understand their research questions and support them in developing and selecting computational platforms, tools and applications to help them answer those questions. Tell me how you’ve been involved with the Carpentries? I discovered the Carpentries in late 2013, just after I joined Leeds. I became an instructor and since then I’ve taught on around 20 Software Carpentry, Data Carpentry and Library Carpentry workshops at Leeds and elsewhere. I’ve had the privilege to work with many of you over the past few years and I want to continue to enable and support you. I’ve been a co-applicant and lead instructor on four successful grant awards to run bespoke three-day Software Carpentry workshops to support PhD students and early career researchers to improve their programming skills. We’ve been an organisational member at Leeds almost from when they became available. Watching the Carpentries grow and develop has been a great opportunity and it’s been amazing to have been a part of this. Recently, I’ve become an instructor trainer. It’s been a great experience to work with two groups of prospective trainers and hear from them how excited they are about becoming trainers and running their own workshops. How would you help develop the Carpentries if elected? Constituency building: I would like to help develop further the organisational membership model. I’ve seen at first hand how the Carpentries teaching model and the lesson materials have made a real difference to people’s research. I would like to extend this impact to smaller and less research focussed institutions so that they are able to benefit from the Carpentries approach. Community building: Over the past few years, I have seen both Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry evolve and now move into the future as a merged organisation. We’ve seen fantastic developments with Library Carpentry and now HPC Carpentry. I want to support and encourage other research communities to work with the Carpentries family. I’m particularly interested in exploring how we can use the Carpentries approach in undergraduate teaching, Business Schools and in the Fine, Applied and Performing Arts. Serving our diverse communities: I’ve seen how the Carpentries have been a force for good. There’s been some amazing work in developing Carpentries in Africa and South America and I want to continue to support this work and help to reach out to new communities both locally and further afield. Continuous pedagogical improvement: In a previous career, I was a high school teacher and teacher trainer. I know the importance of good teaching & learning and rigorous evaluation. If elected, I want to make sure that our ever improving teaching model stays at the heart of the Carpentries approach. Read More ›

Lex Nederbragt: Nomination for 2018 Steering Committee
Lex Nederbragt / 2017-11-14
2018 Election: Nomination by Lex Nederbragt Who am I? My name is Lex Nederbragt. I am a bioinformatician (senior engineer) at the Institute of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Norway. I also have a 20% associate professor position at the Institute of Informatics at the University of Oslo. My research and teaching involve genomics, bioinformatics and programming for biologists. Previous involvement with The Carpentries I hosted the first Software Carpentry workshop at our university in 2012 (we were very fortunate to have Greg Wilson, one of the founders of Software Carpentry, teach the workshop himself!). I became a Software Carpentry instructor in 2013 and a Data Carpentry instructor in 2016. I have taught at numerous Software and Data Carpentry workshops, both in Oslo, in Norway and abroad. In 2016, I also became an Instructor Trainer and I have co-taught a couple of Instructor Training workshops since then. Together with Karen Lagesen, I started a ‘Carpentry’ initiative at the University of Oslo which now has grown to a dozen local instructors, and another dozen helpers, and many workshops, some full two-day, standard Software or Data Carpentry workshops, but increasingly half to one-day workshops teaching just one lesson of the Carpentries material. I have contributed to the unix, git, python and make lesson, and this year, I became one of the maintainers of the Data Carpentry ‘Wrangling Genomics Data’ lesson. Finally, I am very proud of having been one of the authors of the ‘Good Enough Practices in Scientific Computing’ paper that was published earlier this year. What I would do as a member of the Steering Committee to contribute to the growth and success of the community If elected, I would focus on these areas: communication: I am a strong believer in transparency and I would strive for members of the new organisation to have easy access to relevant information on what is going on ‘behind the scenes’, both directly (spreading information on the blog/email lists) and by making documents easily available online feeling of belonging: a community is stronger if more people feel they belong to it, and although I have no clear answers, I’d like to pose the question as to how we can ensure all our members feel at home in the new organisation branding: we need to find a strategy on how to ‘sell’ the new organisation (and by what name), or whether it is better to keep the focus on the existing brands of “Software Carpentry’ and “Data Carpentry” lesson material: Software Carpentries lessons are often more polished than the Data Carpentry ones. There is currently a big push to improve the Data Carpentry lessons and release new versions of them, and I would like to see how we as an organisation can further these developments. Additionally, I think the time is ripe to consider starting (or reviving) the development of intermediate Software Carpentry lesson materials - for those with enough experience using what they learned in a workshop to take their skills to the next level teaching beyond the Carpentries: many instructors, not least myself, use what they have learned and experienced through the Carpentries to further develop their own teaching in university courses or elsewhere. I would be interested in trying to build a community of Carpentry-inspired teachers, teachers interested in sharing what they have learned with regard to teaching (under)graduate courses Software and Data Carpentry have been an incredible force for many people’s careers, including mine, and it is very rewarding and satisfying to be able to give back to the community. Given the opportunity, I am looking forward to helping shape the new merged organisation in 2018 as a member of the Steering Committee. Read More ›

Nominating for 2018 Steering Committee
Belinda Weaver / 2017-11-13
Three nominations have come in so far for the new 2018 Steering Committee of the merged Carpentries. The nominations received are from Juan Steyn (South Africa), Auriel Fournier (US) and Elizabeth Wickes (US). There is still time to put yours in - nominations close on 1 December. Here is all the information you need to nominate. There will be a Meet the Candidates opportunity on our upcoming community calls on 16/17 November (date and time will vary, depending on time zones). Call 1: November 16 2pm UTC see local date and time in your zone. Call 2: November 16 11pm UTC see local date and time in your zone. Don’t miss out! Read More ›

My Favourite Tool - Videoconferencing
Rayna Harris / 2017-11-13
My favorite tool: Videoconferencing I know most of the blog posts so far in this series have been about the tools people use to enable them to conduct research. However, I feel quite strongly that the video conference systems that allow me to speak to other people have had the most profound impact on my development as a researcher and educator over the past three years. Google Hangouts was the tool of choice for the Software Carpentry Mentoring Subcommittee when we started hosting post-workshop debriefing sessions in 2015. These virtual meetings gave instructors around the globe the opportunity to share their challenges and successes from recent workshops. Even though the discussion focus was on teaching, I always learned something new about the tools we teach - R, Python, SQL, UNIX, and Git/GitHub - through these discussions. BlueJeans was the tool of choice for monthly meetings when I joined the Software Carpentry Steering Committee in 2016. As the most junior person on the Steering Committee, I felt that it was a great privilege to be a part of a global group of people trying to make the world a better place through best practices for computing and teaching. It wasn’t always easy to pick a time of day that accommodated the timezones of all committee members, but we made it work. Finally, Zoom has given me the capacity to spread Carpentry teaching practices to Latin America without leaving the comfort of my living room! Okay, of course, I would prefer to actually travel to teach in person, but that isn’t always logistically or economically feasible. Additionally, I’ve been hosting bi-lingual teaching demo sessions where these instructors can practise teaching with live coding in their native language. It is a beautiful thing to listen to someone teach Python, R, UNIX, Git, or UNIX while speaking in a foreign language. In summary, those are just a few of the reasons why my favorite tools are video conferencing systems that connect me to like-minded people around the globe so that I can learn more about technology or practices that I can use in my research and teaching. – Rayna Harris, Scientist & Educator / Graduate Student / Behavioral Neuroscience and Genomics, Austin TX Have you got a favourite tool you would like to tell us about? Please use this form to add a bit of detail and we will do the rest. You can read the background to these posts here, or see what other tools people have written about. Read More ›

Elizabeth Wickes: Nomination for 2018 Steering Committee
Elizabeth Wickes / 2017-11-12
2018 Election: Nomination by Elizabeth Wickes Who am I? I’m Elizabeth Wickes and I work as a Lecturer with the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I began this position in mid-2017, and previously worked as a Data Curation Specialist for the University Library at UIUC for 2 years. I have my MSLIS, and worked for 5 years at Wolfram|Alpha before beginning my master’s program. While I enjoy teaching and working with a variety of domains, I am primarily experienced in teaching for digital humanities researchers, librarians, and other non-STEM fields. I constantly challenge myself to make computational and digital tool training interesting, accessible, and valuable to all research domains. My Previous Involvement I have been active within the Carpentries since 2015 when I went through my instructor training, completing my certification in Summer 2015. Since then I have been active with our local workshop runs, as an instructor for 7 and a helper for several more. I have also been a lead instructor at several digital humanities workshops that have remixed Carpentries materials, and I have adapted several of the core SWC lessons for use in my classes. In January 2017 I had the opportunity to work for several days at BIDS as part of a reproducible research in Jupyter hackathon. I was excited to meet many of my fellow Carpentry members in person and have a chance to learn from them in a hackathon environment. During summer of 2017 I completed my Carpentry Training certification in August this year. This training was a fantastic opportunity to revisit the content of my own training and reflect on how that has influenced my teaching. Looking Forward UIUC’s local Carpentries community has grown over the previous two years, allowing my role to shift from instructing 2-3 times a semester to being a mentor to new instructors and focusing my instruction efforts on Instruction Training events, both remote and local. Our community’s strength is in the diversity of roles, domains, and backgrounds of our instructors. The strength of these combined factors shines in our lesson maintenance and creation, consistent growth in learners and instructors, and how everyone can find a home within the work we do. Working with the 2017 global Library Carpentry sprint was a powerful experience to observe our core values in action. A community can accomplish so much when newcomers are supported by all and many voices come together toward a common goal. I am keen to continue expanding our training opportunities into research domains that have a clear need for digital research training, but don’t have it as part of their standard educational pathway. My hopes for becoming a board member are to continue representing non-STEM domains, working with the assessment group to understand what we are doing well and where we are needed most, and helping the joint mission of Software and Data Carpentry find its voice as a merged group. Our community is a powerful one, and together we can continue to accomplish great things! Read More ›

CAB-Alliance Bioinformatics Workshop in Franceville, Gabon
Nicola Anthony, Katy Morgan, Courtney Miller, Anelda van der Walt / 2017-11-09
Over the past five years, researchers from the University of New Orleans (UNO) in the USA and the Université des Sciences et Techniques de Masuku (USTM), Franceville, Gabon and University of Buea (UB) - have been working closely together as part of a larger collaborative initiative to map patterns of genomic and phenotypic variation in rainforest species across central Africa. This international partnership known as the Central African Biodiversity (CAB) Alliance is made up of a number of institutions in the US, Africa and Europe and is primarily funded through the National Science Foundation’s Partnership in International Research and Education program. The project’s main goal is to identify areas across central Africa where turnover in genomic and phenotypic diversity in rainforest species is greatest since these are the areas where we expect the capacity for rainforest species to adapt to climate change to be the greatest. Working with project partners at the University of California Los Angeles and Drexel University, the group began using next generation sequencing (NGS) to understand some of the environmental drivers of genomic variation within species and how these relationships might change under future climate projections. Once the data analysis workflow was finalized, researchers wanted to find a way for all project partner organizations to engage in the processing and analysis of the genomic data together. The natural next step was to run a bioinformatics workshop introducing NGS technology and data analysis to researchers and students at USTM as well as the scientists at the Research Institute for Tropical Ecology (IRET) and the International Centre for Medical Research in Franceville (CIRMF). The datasets that were used came from two of the three focal species that the team had based their work on: namely the African puddle frog Phrynobatrachus auritus and the soft-furred mouse Praomys missonei. The UNO team (Nicola Anthony, Katy Morgan, Courtney Miller) along with colleagues at USTM (Patrick Mickala, Stephan Ntie, Jean-Francois Mboumba) and UB (Eric Fokam, Geraud Tasse) set out to develop a week long course that would introduce students to working in a linux environment and aid in building regional capacity in bioinformatics. In March 2017 Jason Williams introduced Nicola Anthony to the South African Carpentry community to share some lessons learned about running computing workshops in Africa. During preliminary conversations we introduced the UNO/USTM teams to principles of the Software and Data Carpentry workshops such as live coding, sticky notes for getting help or indicating progress, and a variety of other practical things. The workshop ran from 3 - 8 July 2017 and it was a great privilege that one of our South African instructors, Samar Elsheikh, was able to join the team in Franceville for the entire event. Topics that we covered included: data organization and spreadsheets, working in the command line, data visualization in R, next generation sequencing methods, processing restriction site associated DNA (RAD) sequencing, detecting loci under selection and geospatial modeling of genomic variation. A more detailed copy of the program is available here: . There were approximately 25 participants including both instructors and students. Participants were a mixture of faculty, research scientists and graduate students from several institutions in Gabon (USTM, Centre National de Recherche Scientifique et Technologique and the Centre International de Recherche Médicale de Franceville), Cameroon (UB), South Africa (University of Cape Town) and the US (UNO). A survey was distributed to all participants after the workshop ended to get feedback on the structure and content of the workshop itself. Most of the participants used their own laptops, however, ten laptops were provided by CAB-Alliance with software and programs installed within VirtualBox. We also took a tour of the CyVerse platform including genomic data processing and cloud computing in the Discovery Environment and through ATMOSPHERE. Unfortunately, USTM does not currently have the infrastructure for Internet access, so four 4G mobile wifi hotspots were provided. Connectivity was still a challenge, but students were able to access cloud computing sites and other resources online. One or two things that worked really well VirtualBox Application - A virtual machine that included a linux operating system, all of the softwares and programs, as well as all of the data and results files was used to streamline the workshop. Feedback from our participants indicated that, in addition to learning new techniques, taking time for interpretation of data and results was very helpful. One or two things that you would do differently Reducing the amount of material or sections of the workshop would have been beneficial. It is always a challenge to balance presentations and explanations of concepts with hands-on practical exercises so it might be better in the future to reduce the amount of material and any unnecessary presentations. Feedback from our participants indicated that they would have preferred less lecture-based information and more time to practice the new methods they had just learned. Many participants had difficulty creating an account on Cyverse and registering for an account in ATMOSPHERE. Finding a way to greatly simplify the registration process would be very beneficial. What happens next in Gabon? One way to move forward would be to create an on-line learning community for participants to continue working together and developing their UNIX skills. The Moodle site could be used for this but perhaps there are better ways to facilitate continued exchange between instructors and participants. Read More ›

Auriel Fournier: Nomination for 2018 Steering Committee
Auriel Fournier / 2017-11-09
2018 Election: Auriel Fournier I am excited for the opportunity to stand for election for the 2018 Steering Committee of The Carpentries. About Me I am currently a postdoctoral research associate at Mississippi State University, based out of the Coastal Research and Extension Office in Biloxi, MS on the Gulf Coast. I am part of the leadership of a large (>45 partner, 200 person) cooperative network which is using structured decision making to inform decision making about bird conservation in response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. I received my PhD in Biology from the University of Arkansas in May 2017 and before that received a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Management from Michigan Technological University. I’m an avid gardener, crochet/knitter and lover of dogs. Previous Experience With The Carpentries certified Software Carpentry instructor since Spring 2015 certified Data Carpentry instructor since Spring 2016 I’ve hosted one workshop I’ve taught four workshops, with another coming up in December 2017 I’ve been a maintainer for the Data Carpentry R Ecology Lessons for about a year. I started to be involved with the Carpentries as a graduate student, seeking a community that could help me grow in my reproducible science and programming skills, and I have been amazed again and again how this community has welcomed and supported me and I am excited for a chance to take a more formal role in its leadership. Looking forward for The Carpentries I’m excited about The Carpentries merger and the opportunity it brings us. We have a strong community, and a large part of my goal on the board would be continuing community efforts to make our membership and our work more accessible and diverse to everyone. Accessibility would include making our lessons and materials accessible to those with disabilities, including those who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Blind. In addition I hope to help make being part of the instructor community more accessible to those without large financial resources to either bring a workshop to their group, or to be a instructor, which often requires being able to front several hundred to a thousand dollars a workshop waiting for reimbursements. This is a large burden on many members of our community, especially those who are students or early career scientists. I want to work to ensure that this is not a barrier to anyone’s participation in our community I am also eager to bring the perspective of a recent student and still early career scientist to the committee, with the hopes of growing the student membership in the community. I know what a powerful force the community support can be for a student, and I want that to be available to all interested students. In short I am passionate about making open reproducible science truly accessible to all. I love The Carpentry community and would work to ensure that the entire membership of that community is heard, respected and included. Read More ›

Juan Steyn: Nomination for 2018 Steering Committee
Juan Steyn / 2017-11-09
2018 Election: Juan Steyn Hi! I’m Juan Steyn, currently employed at the South African Centre for Digital Language Resources as project manager. I’m an enabler at heart and I want to contribute and give back to the African and international Carpentry community. I especially want to help ensure that the core values of the Carpentries get transferred and integrated into how our workshops are conducted within new loci. Africa has A LOT of potential and I would like to play my part to enable and catalyze this potential into action. My involvement with the Carpentries The first Software Carpentry workshop I attended was organised by Anelda van der Walt towards the end of 2015. This workshop provided me with a foundation to try new things when it came to programming and working with data. In 2016, I completed my instructor training and during my instructor checkout demo session the “penny dropped”. During this session at 1 AM in the morning, it was an inspiring experience to see how people connecting from four different continents shared similar approaches and cared about the same thing. At that point, I started to appreciate the potential of the Carpentries’ approach to enable and grow communities from the bottom up. You do not need to be a tenured professor or a manager or anybody “important”. You only need to be yourself and volunteer a bit of your time to make a difference and get a wealth of experience and life lessons in return. During 2017, I got more involved with workshop organisation. I also joined the mentoring sub-committee and completed my Trainer training in September. To date, I’ve been involved with more than seven carpentry instructor events as instructor, host, helper, co-planner, mentor and trainer trainer. I’m also an advocate for the Carpentries approach, especially in growing computation capacity within the commons of Digital Humanities in Southern Africa as well as its potential to be a vehicle to introduce the workshop participant to digital scholarship and e-research. I am also involved in the second round of Carpentry mentorship groups in order to contribute back to the community and further grow initiatives and support structures for Africa. Going forward With the Carpentries expanding into new under-represented environments, cultures and languages, I believe it is important to emphasize the role of mentorship to transfer core values and approaches. In the African context, it is our experience that firstly a context-specific understanding is required to host successful workshops. Secondly, it is important to share knowledge and especially the “ways of doing” through hands-on mentorship. I believe this is essential to successfully expand the Carpentries community further into new territories. As Bruce Becker recently tweeted: “What did we learn from @aneldavdw at #UC2017? Get up and do something. Your ripple might raise a tide.” So let’s get up and start our ripples … Read More ›

Running effective online meetings with Zoom (or Google Hangouts, or ...)
Belinda Weaver / 2017-11-08
Online meetings are a fact of life for most of us in the Carpentries and other distributed projects. So how do we make them as effective as we can? This post came about after the Twitter discussion generated by this tweet from Titus Brown. Here are some points I have thought of to make things work more smoothly. Feel free to comment. Before the meeting: Familiarize yourself with the agenda for the meeting. Are there things you need to prepare or figure out beforehand? Are there things you are wondering about? If there is no agenda, ask the chair to send one out. Always use a headset. You will hear and be heard much better. The headphones from a smartphone are sufficient. Anything is better than using the in-built microphone from your computer as it will pick up a lot of noise and distract other people in the meeting. Prepare for the meeting by testing your audio and video set up well before the meeting starts. Can you hear? Be heard? Be seen? Do you know how to mute yourself? This is important as people can make a lot of distracting noise if they are typing during the meeting. Mute your cell phone in case it rings or pings during the meeting. Move to a quiet place if you can so outside noise does not intrude on others. Please don’t be the person who comes in late, without a headset, and makes a lot of noise from screechy feedback! In the meeting: The chair sets the tone of an online meeting so it is important if you are chairing that you be on time (or, even better, online a little early) and that you are prepared for the meeting ahead. Once people join the meeting, the chair introduces him or herself, explains how the meeting will be conducted, how long it will run, and what expectations there are of attendees. The chair greets each person as that person joins the meeting. Once the meeting starts, the chair calls on each person in turn to say their name, where they are from, and why they are attending, e.g. for a Carpentries discussion session, this might be for instructor checkout, or a workshop debrief. For other meetings, the motivation for attendance might be quite different, e.g. brainstorming ideas, problem solving, planning or team meetings. We highly recommend that there is a designated notetaker to record discussions and any decisions taken. After the introductory round, we recommend that the chair asks the notetaker to introduce him or herself, and to explain how and where notes from the meeting will be stored and distributed. Notes are recorded on an etherpad or a similar shared medium, e.g., a Google Doc. Any notes posted to the chat window during the meeting should be transferred to the shared medium before the meeting ends so they are not lost when the video conference is closed. To ensure that the meetings runs well, and that everyone gets their turn to speak, the chair asks people who wish to contribute to type the word hand in the chat window. The chair then calls on those speakers in turn. Some video conferencing applications such as Zoom have a Raise Hand feature that can also be used, but using hand is usually sufficient. Zoom also offers several views of participants. If you are chairing, Gallery View is probably best so you can see all your participants. Speaker View generally features the current speaker but can also be triggered by ambient noise, which can be distracting. Free tools Google Hangouts and Jitsi Meet are two free tools for online meetings. Jitsi Meet works well for very low bandwidth connections and comes with a built-in etherpad, and a Raise Hand feature. Three rules to make for better online meetings Be on time - it is very disruptive when people join an online meeting after it has started. Mute yourself when you are not speaking so that you do not disturb others. Use a headset to minimise noise from your location and to provide clearer sound for attendees. Read More ›

My Favourite Tool - RStudio
Clifton Franklund / 2017-11-07
My favorite tool is RStudio. This integrated development environment (IDE) is really a force multiplier for data analysis and reporting. RStudio provides an excellent interface to the R programming language (that much should be obvious). However, it is much more than that. This application affords me easy workflows and shortcuts to interact with most of the other tools that I regularly use. These include: GitHub/git - for keeping all of my projects under version control and public-facing. make - for automating project builds and updates. bash shell - for when the GUI just isn’t cutting it. pandoc - to create beautiful reports as .pdf, .html, .docx, or .epub files. Like Jupyter notebooks, RStudio fully supports literary programming and its own implementation of the markdown language. With packages like blogdown or bookdown, RStudio can easily be used to support the construction of static websites as well. Even better, I can also use RStudio to build presentation slides. I tend to use revealjs, but there are several other choices as well. When coupled with Shiny, I can create free, reproducible, and interactive presentations that are available to anyone with a web browser. I rely upon many different tools to get my work done, and all of them can be used without the help of RStudio. But, when they work in concert with RStudio, my work gets done in a fraction of the time. – Clifton Franklund, Professor of Microbiology, Big Rapids, MI, USA. Have you got a favourite tool you would like to tell us about? Please use this form to add a bit of detail and we will do the rest. You can read the background to these posts here, or see what other tools people have written about. Read More ›

Apply to Become a Carpentry Maintainer
Erin Becker / 2017-11-07
Software and Data Carpentry are currently accepting applications to join the lesson Maintainer team. Carpentry Maintainers work with the community to make sure that lessons stay up-to-date, accurate, functional and cohesive. Maintainers monitor their lesson repository, make sure that PRs and Issues are addressed in a timely manner, and participate in the lesson development cycle including lesson releases. They endeavor to be welcoming and supportive of contributions from all members of the community. More detailed information about what Maintainers do can be found here. Please review this document, paying attention to the time commitment involved, before submitting your application. New Maintainers will be invited to join the existing Maintainer group as we develop formal guidelines and training documentation for onboarding new Maintainers. You can apply to become a Maintainer here. New Maintainers will be mentored in the maintenance process to help them understand the current structure of the lessons, how that structure has arisen, any open topics of discussion around major changes to the lessons, and Git and GitHub mechanics. Applications will be open through Wednesday, November 22, 2017 at 6am UTC. Use this link to see the deadline in your local time. Please get in touch with Erin Becker (ebecker@carpentries.org) if you have any questions. Thank you for your interest in joining the Maintainer team! Read More ›

Skills Training for Librarians: Expanding Library Carpentry
John Chodacki / 2017-11-06
Post from the University of California Curation Center of the California Digital Library In today’s data-driven, online and highly interconnected world, librarians are key to supporting diverse information needs and leading best practices to work with and manage data. For librarians to be effective in a rapidly evolving information landscape, training and professional development opportunities in both computational and data skills must be available and accessible. Over the past couple years, an international Library Carpentry (LC) movement has begun that seeks to emulate the success of the Carpentries — both the Data Carpentry and Software Carpentry initiatives — in providing librarians with the critical computational and data skills they need to serve their stakeholders and user communities, as well as streamline repetitive workflows and use best data practices within the library. This Library Carpentry community has already developed initial curriculum and taught more than 40 workshops around the world. We are excited to announce that California Digital Library (CDL) has been awarded project grant funds from IMLS to further advance the scope, adoption, and impact of Library Carpentry across the US. CDL’s 2-year project will be conducted by their digital curation team, University of California Curation Center (UC3), and will focus on these main activities: development and updates of core training modules optimized for the librarian community and based on Carpentries pedagogy regionally-organized training opportunities for librarians, leading to an expanding cohort of certified instructors available to train fellow librarians in critical skills and tools, such as the command line, OpenRefine, Python, R, SQL, and research data management community outreach to raise awareness of Library Carpentry and promote the development of a broad, engaged community of support to sustain the movement and to advance LC integration within the newly forming Carpentries organization Why Library Carpentry? Library Carpentry leverages the success of the Carpentries pedagogy, which is based on providing a goal-oriented, hands-on, trial-and-error approach to learning computational skills, and extends it to meet the specific needs of librarians. It is often difficult to figure out what skills to learn or how to get started learning them. In Library Carpentry, we identify the fundamental skills needed for librarians and develop and teach these skills in hands-on, interactive workshops. Workshops are designed for people with little to no prior computational experience, and they work with data relevant to librarians (so that librarians are working with data most applicable to their own work). Workshops are also friendly learning environments with the sole aim of empowering people to use computational skills effectively and with more confidence. How does this relate to the Carpentries? Two sister organizations, Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry, have focused on teaching computational best practices. The ‘separate but collaborative’ organizational structure allowed both groups to build a shared community of instructors with more than 1000 certified instructors and 47 current Member Organizations around the world. However, as Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry grew and developed, this ‘separate but collaborative’ organizational structure did not scale. As a result, the governing committees of both Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry recognized that as more mature organizations they can be most effective under a unified governance model. On August 30, 2017, the Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry Steering Committees met jointly and approved the following two motions, which together form a strong commitment to continue moving forward with a merger. As part of this merger, the new “Carpentries” organization will look to increase its reach into additional sectors and communities. The nascent Library Carpentry community has recently met to decide they aim to join as a full-fledged ‘Carpentry’ in the coming year. This grant will help LC solidify approaches to learning and community building, while also bringing resources to the table as we embark on future integration of LC within the merged Carpentries organization. How does the Carpentries model work? In the Carpentries model, instructors are trained and certified in the Carpentries way of teaching, using educational pedagogy, and are asked to commit to offering workshops in their regions and reworking/improving and maintaining lessons. These instructors teach two-day, hands-on workshops on the foundational skills to manage and work effectively with data. The goal is to become practitioners while in the workshop and then continue learning through online and in-person community interaction outside the classroom. With the “train-the-trainer” model, the Carpentries are built to create learning networks and capacity for training through active communities and shared, collaborative lessons. They have used this model to scale with parallel approaches of developing lessons, offering workshops, and expanding the community. The LC community has also used this model and our grant project aims to extend this further. Next Steps As an immediate next step, CDL has begun recruiting for a Library Carpentry Project Coordinator. This will be a 2-year and grant funded position. You can apply at the UC Office of the President website. Due date is November 31, 2017. While this position will report to CDL’s Director of University of California Curation Center (UC3), this position will focus on extending LC activities in the USA and working globally to gain capacity and reach for the Library Carpentry community and Carpentries staff. For more information on this project, please feel free to contact CDL’s UC3 team at uc3@ucop.edu. You can also follow UC3 on Twitter at @UC3CDL). To learn more about Library Carpentry, you can visit https://librarycarpentry.github.io and follow on Twitter at @LibCarpentry. We look forward to these next steps for Library Carpentry and a growing network of data savvy librarians. Read More ›

My Favourite Tool - R
Bianca Peterson / 2017-11-06
R can do anything - from making presentations, analyzing and plotting data to version control (Git). I use it for absolutely everything! It’s not difficult to use and it’s free! – Bianca Peterson, Temporary lecturer (Microbiology) & Project Coordinator (IT), South Africa Have you got a favourite tool you would like to tell us about? Please use this form to add a bit of detail and we will do the rest. You can read the background to these posts here, or see what other tools people have written about. Read More ›

My Favorite Tool - Emacs
Francesco Montanari / 2017-11-03
My favorite tool is Emacs. Emacs provides an extensible and unified framework to access nice interfaces to several other tools. For instance, it allows you to: Keep notes, maintain TODO lists, plan projects, edit and automatically export documents to many formats (Org-mode). Conveniently edit Python source code and, at the same time, send code regions to a Python shell, permitting a piece-by-piece interactive programming (Python mode). Make the GDB debugger a user-friendly and effective tool when programming in C++ (GUD mode). Use Git through a beautiful interface (Magit). Edit LaTeX files through sophisticated packages that synchronize the text buffer with a PDF viewer, pretty-print mathematical expressions directly in the text buffer, automatically handle references and much more (Auctex). Access a handy but powerful LISP interpreter anytime from any text buffer. – Francesco Montanari, Postdoctoral researcher, cosmology, Helsinki. Have you got a favourite tool you would like to tell us about? Please use this form to add a bit of detail and we will do the rest. You can read the background to these posts here, or see what other tools people have written about. Read More ›

Pack Your Bags for Dublin!
Fotis Psomopoulos, Belinda Weaver / 2017-11-02
The Carpentries are excited to announce that the 2018 CarpentryCon will take place from 30 May - 1 June, 2018 at University College Dublin (UCD). Yes, we are going to Ireland for the inaugural CarpentryCon! A huge thank you to UCD for their bid - we are confident that this will be a fantastic venue. We are also grateful to all the other community members who proposed bids to host CarpentryCon. All were compelling, and it was very hard to select one from so many fantastic options. However, Dublin is a great fit for all the things we want: It is a busy travel hub, which should offer lots of easy connections and opportunities for cheap fares. It is a mid-point between Europe and the USA and Canada, and easy to connect to from the southern hemisphere too. As a popular tourism destination, it is well-placed to offer a wide range of budget-priced accommodation options. Lots of tech companies operate there - we will tap them for sponsorship. The host has great experience running this kind of event. What we hope to do for attendees It is important that this be an inclusive event, so we aim to keep registration costs low. We will announce price ranges for registration soon. We also hope to be able to provide travel scholarships to facilitate attendance from those who might not otherwise be able to come. Stay tuned for announcements. To help attendees who need to provide evidence of speaking or presenting in order to get funding for travel, we will offer at least one session where attendees can share how they have incorporated Carpentry techniques into their own research and teaching, and/or how they have grown their local Carpentry community. Contributions may be either talks or posters. Details soon. We would like to get some rough estimate of how many people might want to attend. Please fill in this short, anonymous form that will help us gauge the level of community interest in CarpentryCon2018. What can you expect from CarpentryCon? CarpentryCon will focus on three main themes: Community Building We will bring members of the Carpentry community together with people sharing similar interests from around the globe. Unlike most conferences, our format will be “come and learn”. Sharing Knowledge Community leaders will offer sessions on teaching methods, curriculum development, community organization, and leadership skills so we can grow our next generation of community leaders and champions. Networking Participants will be able to come together informally to meet peers and community leaders and to share stories about challenges and successes. What else? Planning will now ramp up in earnest. Keep an eye on our blog, Twitter and Facebook channels for announcements and updates. The CarpentryCon repo also has a lot of information. Want to tweet about it? Use the hashtag #CarpentryCon2018. Read More ›

My Favourite Tool: OpenRefine
Juliane Schneider / 2017-10-30
My favorite tool is OpenRefine. OpenRefine all the way, baby! I’m the curator of eagle-i, an RDF open access repository of stem cells, viruses, mice, core facilities, lab equipment and people. I use OpenRefine to facet by URI, by date, by label, to clean the data up, search for anomalies and export in csv, Excel or whatever format is needed for my purpose. I use OpenRefine’s General Refine Expression Language functionality (GREL) to perform complex search and replace, to transform the data, to break up and combine strings. OpenRefine is the gateway to my deeper understanding of eagle-i, and has led the way to new uses of the data for assessment of facility use and resource discoverability. – Juliane Schneider, Lead Data Curator, Harvard Catalyst, based in Chicago. Have a favorite tool of your own? Please tell us about it! Read More ›

My Favourite Tool: Jupyter Notebook
Thomas Arildsen / 2017-10-28
My favorite tool is … the Jupyter Notebook. One of my favourite tools is the Jupyter notebook. I use it for teaching my students scientific computing with Python. Why I like it: Using Jupyter with the plugin RISE, I can create presentations including code cells that I can edit and execute live during the presentation to demonstrate the various aspects of Python that I introduce. It is a very good compromise between running scripts and typing in the command prompt on the projector screen vs. just showing static slides with code. – Thomas Arildsen, Associate Professor, Aalborg Have a favorite tool of your own? Please tell us about it! Read More ›

My Favourite Tool: IPython
Kellie Ottoboni / 2017-10-27
My favorite tool is … IPython. IPython is a Python interpreter with added features that make it an invaluable tool for interactive coding and data exploration. IPython is most commonly taught via the Jupyter notebook, an interactive web-based tool for evaluating code, but IPython can be used on its own directly in the terminal as a replacement for the standard Python interpreter. Why I like it You can run Unix commands directly in IPython. For instance, if you want to load a file from another directory, it is convenient to cd into the directory from within the IPython window. IPython has an extensive tab autocomplete for function names, function arguments, file paths, and object names. It comes equipped with “magic” commands: functions that assist in programming and that can be called with a single word starting with %. %paste takes whatever is on your clipboard and formats it nicely so IPython can read it – useful for pasting in large blocks of code. %timeit runs time tests and %lprun runs line profiling automatically. The interpreter saves your command history across sessions. In case you close the window before you’re done, you can fire IPython back up and search through the history. IPython makes it easy to test my code interactively, piece by piece. – Kellie Ottoboni, PhD Candidate in Statistics, Berkeley Have a favorite tool of your own? Please tell us about it! Read More ›

My Favourite Tool: Git/GitHub
Jeff Oliver / 2017-10-25
My favorite tool is … I love Git and GitHub. I only use them for work I care about. Examples include lesson development for R workshops, my recent performance review packet, and collaborative projects on species distribution modeling. Oh, and Software Carpentry workshop websites (obviously). Why I like Git: The version control system and the companion remote host system (GitHub or Bitbucket or CloudForge, etc.) provide a great versioning and collaboration platform, the highlights of which have been enumerated many times over and in such depth that I won’t talk about them here. The reason I like this dynamic duo is that it reinforces best practices. I should say that using version control won’t necessarily make you 100% compliant with everyone’s idea of best practices, but with a little consideration of a workflow, it can go a long way. Here is why: Reproducibility: By ignoring my output folder in pretty much all my Git repositories, it forces all figures & analyses to be completely reproducible from materials that are in the folders that are tracked. Offsite backup: Rather than lugging my aging laptop to and fro, pull-add-commit-push allows me to preserve my work in a location accessible from any internet-enabled terminal. This has the added benefit of protecting against natural disasters and the inevitable bricked hard drive (mark my words, death, taxes, and a failed HD are the only certainties in life now). Sharing: Sure, some of what I currently work on is not ready to be released, so I use the private repository option. But when I am ready to share my code and data, it’s literally one to two mouseclicks and my work is open for re-use by the community. The visibility of platforms like GitHub and Bitbucket make work that much more discoverable. Documentation: Everybody’s favorite part of software development is … not likely writing documentation (granted there are some of you out there). Because good documentation is imperative for re-use and evaluation, the little reminders from GitHub (“Help people interested in this repository understand your project by adding a README”) further encourage best practices for open research. The support for markdown rendering on GitHub makes it especially nice for writing professional-looking documentation of your work. Sure, I struggled struggle sometimes with Git syntax and concepts, but 98% of the time I only use four commands (pull-add-commit-push, remember?) and the Git/GitHub combo reduces the time I spend developing, preserving, and sharing the work I do. – Jeff Oliver, Data Science Specialist, Tucson, Arizona Have a favorite tool of your own? Please tell us about it! Read More ›

Our long-term assessment results are in!
Kari L. Jordan, Tracy Teal, Erin Becker, Karen Word / 2017-10-18
A discussion of learner outcomes more than six months after attending a Carpentries workshop What concrete changes are people implementing in their computational research practices as a result of completing a Carpentries workshop? Our long term survey report shows that two-day Software or Data Carpentry workshops are effective for increasing skills and confidence, and the adoption of reproducible research perspectives. We see gains in our survey measures for learners’ motivation to continue their learning, change in reproducible research behavior, and frequency of use of computational skills and tools. We find this very exciting, especially since a recent general survey of bootcamps and short-format trainings reports no measurable impact on skill development or research productivity. Software and Data Carpentry have taught workshops to over 27,000 learners in 35 countries around the world. Post-workshop survey reports for Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry have consistently shown that people like the workshops, that they know more about importing data sets into R and Python to work with data, write functions, and initialize repositories in git, and that they think they can apply skills immediately to their work. Our focus has always been on long term change, including: Improving learners’ confidence and motivation to use computational tools, Changing behaviors around reproducible research and effective computational work, and Increasing the frequency and types of computing skills used. Therefore, we launched our first long-term assessment survey in March 2017 to gather quantitative evidence about specific behaviors our learners have adopted and continue to embody six months or more after completing a Carpentries workshop. Assessment specialists on staff and in the community developed an instrument, based on existing instruments, for collecting information regarding learners confidence and motivation to use the tools they learned, and behaviors they adopted after attending a Carpentries workshop. Rather than focusing on learners’ skills in particular tools, we focused on assessing learner confidence, motivation and adoption of good research practices, as these elements represent the primary goals of our workshops. Confidence and motivation are important factors for learners to have to continue their learning. They also promote community building, a significant focus area of the Carpentries. The final survey instrument included items for self-reported behaviors around good data management practices, change in confidence in the tools they learned, and other ways the workshop may have impacted learners (ex. Improved research productivity). Over 530 people who took a Software or Data Carpentry workshop 6 months or more ago responded to our long-term survey. These results show that workshop respondents had a positive impression of the workshop and the majority felt their skills and perspectives have changed as a result of attending the workshop. Results also show that these two-day impactful workshops are effective for increasing skills and confidence. The impact of these workshops is apparent in respondents’ coding practices. The majority of respondents (70%) reported having improved their coding practices by using programing languages like R or Python or the command line to automate repetitive tasks, by reusing code for other purposes, or by using databases to manage large data sets. Respondents have continued their learning and incorporated use of these tools into their weekly or daily work. Additionally, sixty-nine percent of respondents have made their analyses more reproducible as a result of completing a Carpentries workshop by reusing code and making their data and analyses available on public repositories. Not only do these two-day coding workshops increase respondent’s daily programming usage, eighty-five percent of respondents have gained confidence in working with data and open source tools as a result of completing the workshop. The long-term assessment data showed a decline in the percentage of respondents that ‘have not been using these tools’ (-11.1%), and an increase in the percentage of those who now use the tools on daily basis (14.5%). Highlights from our long-term survey The majority of our respondents: Gained confidence in the tools that were covered during their workshop (85.3%). Improved their coding practices (63.1%). Received professional recognition for their work as a result of using the tools they learned (64.7%). Respondents also substantially increased their frequency of use of programing languages (R, Python, etc.), databases (Access, SQL, etc.), version control software and/or the Unix shell, incorporating these tools into their regular workflows. Nineteen percent of respondents transitioned from using these tools once a month or less to weekly or daily use per the figure below. Respondents perceive the workshop had an impact on their confidence, as well as their productivity, reproducibility and coding practices. Interestingly, respondents also felt that the workshops had a positive impact on their career as a whole, and some received recognition for their work. The figure below shows what impact survey respondents felt for several factors including career, confidence, and continuous learning. Respondents were asked to rate their level of agreement (1-Strongly disagree to 5-Strongly agree) with the statements below. The x-axis labels for the figure are in italics, and correspond to the statement following. Reproducible: I have made my analyses more reproducible as a result of completing the workshop. Recognition: I have received professional recognition for my work as a result of using the tools I learned at the workshop. Productivity: My research productivity has improved as a result of completing the workshop. Motivation: I have been motivated to seek more knowledge about the tools I learned at the workshop. Confidence: I have gained confidence in working with data as a result of completing the workshop. Coding: I have improved my coding practices as a result of completing the workshop. Career: I have used skills I learned at the workshop to advance my career. The figure shows that respondents agree or strongly agree that they gained confidence in working with data (85.3%), made their analyses more reproducible (69.4%), and receiving professional recognition for their work (64.7%) all as a result of attending a Software or Data Carpentry workshop. From this figure we also see that there are opportunities to improve. Motivation to seek more knowledge seems unchanging, likely because learners who attend our workshops are already motivated. Perhaps these learners remain enthusiastic, having high pre-workshop motivation scores, rather than a decrease in motivation post-workshop. We’d also like to see a shift in positive trend for learners using the skills they learned to advance their career, which is why we are implementing round two of the Carpentries Mentoring Program this fall. Interested in reading more? The full report is available, and it provides more detailed information about the motivation behind this survey, respondent demographics, and growth opportunities. Take a look at the report. We will continue to conduct this assessment at 6 month intervals to capture feedback from people who took workshops 6 months or more ago. Additionally, assessment will be the focus of our October community call. Bring your thoughts to the community call October 19th! The surveys used in this work, anonmyized data, and R scripts for generating the figures are available in our assessment repository. This report was made possible by community input from Ben Marwick, Belinda Weaver, Naupaka Zimmerman, Jason Williams, Tracy Teal, Erin Becker, Jonah Duckles, Beth Duckles, and Elizabeth Wickes. We thank you all so much for your contributions to the code in this report and development of our long-term survey! If you have other questions about the data or results, please use the data, re-analyze the results or ask your own questions! What strikes you? Comment below, and tweet us your thoughts at @datacarpentry @swcarpentry and @drkariljordan using the hashtag #carpentriesassessment. Thanks to the Gordon and Betty Moore Data Driven Discovery initiative for support of Data Carpentry and these assessment efforts. Read More ›

Call for Nominations to Joint Board
Karen Cranston / 2017-10-18
EDITED 2017-11-07: Board of Directors is a legal term and can’t be used for a sponsored project. Changed to “Steering Committee” Call for Joint Carpentries Leadership: Stand for election to the joint Steering Committee of the merged Carpentries organization As most of you know, Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry are merging into a new organization, provisionally called “The Carpentries”. This new organization will officially begin on January 1, 2018, with a hugely talented staff and dedicated community already in place. This is an exciting time, and we are looking for people who want to help direct the new organization by being an elected member of the Steering Committee of The Carpentries. The Steering Committee will include both appointed and elected members in order to balance community engagement with needed expertise in leading a growing non-profit organization. For more information about the responsibilities and composition of the committee, see this issue, part of the merger RFC. Who can run and vote? Following current SCF bylaws current Carpentries members may vote and serve on the Steering Committee. Election or appointment to the Steering Committee is currently limited to members. The membership is made up of: Every qualified instructor who has taught at least two Software or Data Carpentry workshops in the past two calendar years. Anyone who has done 30 days or more work for the Carpentries in the past calendar year. Anyone who has, in the opinion of the Steering Committee, made a significant contribution in the past year. The signatory for a Silver, Gold or Platinum Member Organization If you’re not sure if you’re a member, log in to AMY and see if records show that you have taught in the last two years. If you need records updated or have any questions, please email team@carpentries.org. If you have taught workshops that aren’t registered, please include a link to those workshops. We’ll also be sending out an email to each instructor with their status. How do I stand for election? In order to stand for election we request that you write a blog post that introduces yourself to the community. The post: must be about 500 words and can be written in any format (question and answer, paragraph etc.) must be titled “2018 Election: Your Name” must be submitted by December 1, 2017 You can submit your post as a pull request to either the SWC website repository, the DC website repository or by email. In the post, you should explain: your previous involvement with The Carpentries what you would do as a member of the Steering Committee to contribute to the growth and success of the community The post from last year’s SWC elections contains examples. Candidates will be given the opportunity to share their thoughts with our community, including ideas for continued involvement, at our two community meetings on November 16, 2017. Timeline for election: October 23: nominations open November 16: nominees can introduce themselves on community calls December 1: nominations close December 4-8: community votes on candidates Read More ›

RFCs and lessons learned
Kate Hertweck, Karen Cranston / 2017-10-17
Thanks to everyone for sharing questions and comments on our recent Request for Comments regarding the upcoming merger of Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry. Now that the official response period for the RFCs has ended, the GitHub issues specific to the RFCs will be closed. We received comments from individuals across our community representing multiple stakeholders, including the Software Carpentry Advisory Council (representing member organizations) and the community at large (through the GitHub repository, private comments via the Google Form, and personal communication). Those of us working on the merger have been actively considering and discussing this valuable feedback and have been identifying areas requiring additional attention and clarification. We will be publishing blog posts over the next few weeks summarizing our thoughts and identifying future actions for each of the RFCs. You are welcome to continue communicating your questions or concerns to us through new issues in the GitHub repo. Below we describe the context behind a few themes and issues emerging from the RFC discussions which may not be immediately apparent but have factored heavily into our approach. Compromise. This restructuring has involved months of discussion and planning involving the existing leadership for Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry. While both groups share related visions and have begun to implement joint policies, the origins and governance of each group are quite different. As a result, our approach to the merger is based on compromise and an understanding that no solution will be the perfect fit for everyone. Scalability. Merging two organizations requires thinking carefully about the scalability of our current policies and processes. This includes the potential addition of other lesson organizations following the union of Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry, as well as continuing to reach more learners, train more instructors, and expand into new geographic areas. Staff. As our organizations have grown, we have continued to hire staff to support the community in achieving our mission. With this increase in staff comes an obligation to these employees to provide job security and the ability to make longer-term plans related to their role in the organization. Moreover, the role of community governance (e.g., Board of Directors) can now shift focus from policy establishment/implementation to strategic planning. Financial obligations. Both organizations (and the future merged organization) are non-profit agencies supported by a fiscal sponsor. Additionally, support of our staff and other infrastructure comes largely from institutional memberships, for which we are obligated to provide associated services. Community involvement. The role of the community in leadership and governance varies between Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry, in part because Software Carpentry is a more mature organization and in part due to differences in how the groups were formed. This reorganization is an opportunity to combine the best parts of each organization’s approach to leadership and governance. Specific decisions about governance have been based on previous experiences from both organizations, successful leadership models in other large volunteer projects, and the priorities described above. All of these issues represent perspectives that we have considered during planning, and which we continue to weigh as we incorporate your feedback. We understand that this process is resulting in incongruity with existing Software Carpentry governance procedures. We also recognize there are many decisions to be made that the original documents did not anticipate. Therefore, we are endeavoring to uphold the mindset of these guidelines and are using them as the foundation for the new organization’s bylaws. If you have questions or concerns about this process, please feel free to contact Kate Hertweck, the Software Carpentry Steering Committee chair. Please watch for the upcoming summaries of feedback from the RFCs, as well as the call for nominations for the four elected members of the first Board of Directors of the merged organization. Read More ›

My Favourite Tool: R
Paula Andrea Martinez / 2017-10-16
My favorite tool for data analysis is R. I have used it for a few years now, I feel at ease when I need to work with tabular data. Using R makes my work enjoyable. I can clean my data in one place - RStudio - and then work with it creating new graphics. I also enjoy learning new things in R. Its constant development gives you the chance to learn a bit more every day. This is thanks to a huge collaborative community that supports you, with quick answers, with examples, and with new packages. – Paula Andrea Martinez, Data scientist / Postdoc / Data Analysis and Bioinformatics. @orchid00 Have you got a favourite tool you would like to tell us about? Please use this form and we will do the rest. You can read the background to these posts here. Read More ›

Blogging for the Carpentries - We Want to Hear From You
Belinda Weaver / 2017-10-16
This is an open invitation to our community members to share their knowledge. We have a global community working in many different disciplines using a vast range of tools. On our blog, we would like to tap into that community experience and then share that hard-won knowledge. This kind of information could help people new to a discipline, or might inspire others to try out a tool they have never used before. Time wasted or time saved? As with all learning, there is an opportunity cost; time spent learning new tools is time stolen from essential research. So the first decision might be whether you can spare the time to learn something new, though that might not be the hardest decision. After all, if a tool pays off in increased efficiency and time savings down the track, then that time is definitely well spent. But which tool should you pick? For what purpose? This is where experience in a discipline is so valuable. After all, anyone working with statistics can probably make a great case for R. We would like to hear from community members willing to share their experiences. Posts on My Workflow from senior researchers in a discipline would be a fantastic resource for newcomers. Posts about My Favorite Tool and Why I Love it would help others decide whether to put in the time to master it. You may be thinking “I am way, way too busy” to do this so we want to make it easy for you. We have a form with some prompts for you to fill in. Just a few short lines are all we need, and we will do the rest. Worried you have made errors in the form after submitting it? Anxious you have omitted something important? We will let you review the post before it goes out. So what are you waiting for? Please tell us your story today! Read More ›

Carpentries Mentorship Program - 2.0
Erin Becker, Kari L. Jordan, Tracy Teal, Christina Koch / 2017-10-12
We’re starting a new round of mentoring groups, centered on specific lessons Mentorship is an important part of the Carpentry experience. As Instructors, we both teach and mentor our Learners. We also mentor each other as Instructors, learning something new from each other every time we teach and interact with one another. The Mentoring Subcommittee offers guidance to new and continuing Instructors through weekly discussion sessions, where Instructors from the global Carpentry community gather to share their experiences and learn from each other. This is a fantastic opportunity to interact with other Carpentry Instructors from around the world. Many in the Carpentry community have expressed interest in having more extensive and longer-lasting opportunities for mentorship. Based on this, we ran a pilot version of a new Mentorship Program, starting in January 2017. Nearly 100 Carpentry Instructors participated in the program, with 58 Mentees and 34 Mentors in 18 small groups. Groups were put together based on a variety of factors, including common teaching interests and geographies. These groups met once a month to discuss topics of interest to the group members and to help Mentees prepare for their first workshop. In June 2017, we asked participants in the pilot program for their feedback. Participants said that they enjoyed the opportunity to share and learn from each others’ experiences and expertise. They also reported that the experience enabled them to get involved with the Carpentry community and to network with Carpentry Instructors at other institutions. When asked about negative aspects of the program, many participants reported difficulty scheduling meetings with their groups as well as a lack of focus and difficulty in deciding topics to discuss within their groups. Many participants offered concrete suggestions on how the program could be improved, including: offering more guidance to mentorship groups on what to do during the program assigning groups specifically around common interests and goals enabling more integration and communication among groups. As with any pilot program, one of the goals of this program was to identify aspects that could be improved, based on the shared experiences of the participants, so we are very grateful for the feedback we received. We listened to your feedback and have made changes to the program. We are now offering curriculum-specific mentoring: both mentors and mentees can choose which tools they are most interested in discussing from the following list: Git Shell Python R SQL Additionally, groups will focus on either lesson maintenance, teaching workshops, organizing workshops, or community building. This program will run from October 25th to January 10th, 2018, and will culminate in a Virtual Showcase, in which groups will share their work with the broader Carpentry community. So far, 18 people have signed up to participate in this round of mentoring groups. Applications close October 18th, so don’t wait to apply to either be a mentor or mentee. Get involved by attending one of the information sessions being held October 12th at 06:00 UTC and 21:00 UTC. Sign up to attend on the etherpad. You can also join the conversation by tweeting @datacarpentry and @swcarpentry using the hashtag #carpentriesmentoring. Read More ›

All about Membership
Belinda Weaver / 2017-10-08
We are fortunate in the Carpentries to have many member organizations who support our work. However, if we are to continue reaching out to new disciplines and to build communities in under-served countries, we need a broader and more diverse membership base. What are the benefits of membership? Members receive priority access to instructor training and guidance about capacity building at their organization. Once institutions have a pool of local instructors, they can readily run low-cost local workshops that teach foundational computational and data skills to their staff and students. Memberships give Software and Data Carpentry revenue to ensure the ongoing development and maintenance of the lessons demanded by research communities. We work to give your local instructors support, ongoing mentorship and a forum for community lesson development. In addition, we have just launched round two of a targeted mentorship program to help new instructors develop their skills. Want the Carpentries at your organization but not sure how to do that? To help answer any questions you might have, Software Carpentry Executive Director Jonah Duckles is hosting a series of short webinars on membership. We hope to see you there. The next is at noon UTC on Tuesday, 10 October. (check local time/date.) If you can’t make that one, the next will be held at 9 pm UTC on Tuesday 31 October. Check your local date and time here. Further webinars will be announced on the webinars etherpad. Our membership page is here. Read More ›

Mentoring is Back! Round Two of the Carpentries Mentoring Program begins October 25th
Kari L. Jordan, Belinda Weaver / 2017-10-05
Mentoring groups provide experienced instructors with the chance to help small groups develop confidence in teaching, lesson maintenance and community building The inaugural Carpentries mentoring program was a great success, and we have used the feedback we received from both mentors and mentees to craft a new and improved mentoring experience in round two. The next round will run October 25th - January 10th. According to round one participants, the benefits of mentoring included greater understanding of the challenges new instructors face, more clarity about why we teach what we teach, getting timely responses to questions, and community engagement. Participants felt the program could be improved if mentoring groups had specific goals, and if we gave mentors more guidance on how to run mentoring sessions. We listened to that feedback and have made changes to the program. We are now offering curriculum-specific mentoring: both mentors and mentees can choose which tools they are most interested in discussing from the following list: Git Shell Python R SQL Once a topic has been selected, participants can choose what aspect of mentoring they want for their chosen tool: Lesson Maintenance Contributing to current lesson development Contributing to lesson maintenance Teaching Workshops Developing confidence and skill in teaching Preparing to teach a specific lesson (e.g., Python) Additionally, we plan to offer mentoring on two big issues: Organizing Workshops Logistics of organizing a workshop (e.g. marketing, registration) Logistics of running a workshop (e.g. recruiting instructors, distributing tasks) Community Building Strategies to create and build local communities Tried-and-true events that help foster local community development To help groups get organized we have provided sample mentoring program outlines to help groups use their time together productively. Interested in mentoring? We will hold two information sessions on Thursday, October 12th at 06:00 UTC and 21:00 UTC. Sign up to attend either information session on the etherpad. Applications for both mentors and mentees are open. The deadline to apply to participate in the program is October 18th. Share your excitement about mentoring via Twitter (@datacarpentry @swcarpentry @drkariljordan @cloudaus) with the hashtag #carpentriesmentoring. Read More ›

Trainer Training Announcement
Karen Word / 2017-10-03
As the Carpentry community continues to grow, our instructor training is increasingly in demand! In September, we welcomed 13 new Instructor Trainers who will help us to meet that need. We are now accepting applications for the next group of new Trainers. In this round, we welcome all applicants, but are particularly keen to recruit trainers who can work in Latin America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. We would also like to recruit new Trainers who are fluent in Spanish. Carpentry Instructor Trainers run instructor training workshops, lead online teaching demonstrations, and engage with the community to discuss and guide the continuing development of the instructor training curriculum, the instructor checkout process, and downstream instructor support. We meet regularly to discuss our teaching experiences and to stay up to date on policies, procedures, and curriculum updates. The Trainers are an eclectic group. Some of us have formal training in pedagogy, some are experienced Carpentry instructors. Some run trainings as part of their jobs, and others pitch in during their own free time. We all share a commitment to propagating evidence-based practices in teaching and to helping new instructor trainees become familiar and comfortable with Carpentry practices and principles. Our Trainer agreement explains what is involved. It describes our expectations for anyone who aspires to become a Carpentry Instructor Trainer. The trainer training process consists of eight one-hour weekly virtual meetings (with a break for the December holidays). In these meetings we will discuss readings on pedagogy, largely drawn from our ‘textbook’, How Learning Works. We will also review the Carpentry Instructor Training curriculum, and discuss ways in which we can both teach and apply best practices to create a welcoming and effective class. After completing the meeting series, new Trainers will shadow part of an online instructor training event and a teaching demonstration session. Trainers-in-training also attend the regular monthly meetings of the Trainer community. This group of Trainers will start meeting in November. They will be eligible to teach instructor trainings by February, 2018. If you are interested in joining the Trainer community, please apply here! Applications will be open until October 17. If you have previously applied and are still interested, you may either re-apply (especially if anything relevant has changed) or just let us know that you are still interested. If you have any questions about the training process or the expectations for being a Trainer, please get in touch with Karen Word. Read More ›

Maintaining Lessons - Community Perspectives
Christina Koch / 2017-10-03
Our September community call on lesson maintenance brought up many good ideas around the lesson maintenance process for Software and Data Carpentry lessons. If you weren’t able to make the call, below is a summary of our discussion and potential avenues for growth. Our discussion focused around two major questions: what do the lesson maintainers do, and what are some of the reasons to be a lesson maintainer? What do lesson maintainers do? Managing Issues and Pull Requests (PRs) A big piece of a lesson maintainer’s job is to respond to the issues and pull requests that are submitted to their lesson repository. Depending on the extent of the suggested change, or the number of submissions, this process can be brief or time-consuming per week. There have been more and more contributions over the past few months as future Software and Data Carpentry instructors are required to submit a change or suggestion as part of their checkout process. Room to grow: General guidelines for the maintainers; how quickly to respond to PRs, when to close them, etc. In instructor training, emphasize the equal importance of review, not necessarily submitting new issues/PRs, as lesson contribution Coordinate with maintainers when there may be “bursts” of work (lots of instructor training, Bug BBQs) Curriculum Decisions and Feedback An extension of managing a lesson’s changes (via issues and pull requests) is making larger decisions about the lesson as a whole. More significant issues can come up as the lesson grows (for example: in an R lesson, whether to emphasize tidyverse or base R), requiring a decision from the maintainers about which direction to go. In addition to these larger changes, there isn’t always a good way to provide centralized feedback from the lessons after they’re taught. We have discussion sessions, but that information isn’t always communicated back to the maintainers. Room to grow: Possibly provide some kind of “advisory” structure to the individual lesson maintainers for more big-picture decisions; currently being tested by the Data Carpentry genomics maintainers Communicate clear channels for providing feedback (both good and bad!) about the lessons. Have a process for working on larger changes (possibly separating the lessons into a “stable” and “development” release, one version of this described here). What are the benefits of being a maintainer? In our discussion, several benefits for being a maintainer arose: Professional credit: We publish the lessons at least once a year and these can be listed as publications on a CV. Maintainers are equivalent to editors of a volume. Maintainership can be an item on a job or tenure application. Improving your git skills, especially for managing a collaborative project. These are skills that can translate to other areas, including software development and teaching. Interacting with a wide variety of community members (via issues and pull requests) Being able to support something you believe in (teaching data or computing skills) by maintaining the lesson material. Seeing different perspectives on a particular lesson; understanding why it is the way it is. Room to grow: Address some of the previous challenges in order to make maintaining lessons more accessible. Create some standard descriptive wording for use in applications for jobs, tenure, and grants that maintainers can use to highlight their contributions. Publicize our lesson publication information more widely. We hope to address some of the growth areas in the next few months; contact Erin Becker or Christina Koch if you have questions or feedback about the future of lesson maintenance. Read More ›

1 - 30 September, 2017: Future of the Carpentries, New Staff Members, Community Service Awards, CarpentryCon
Martin Dreyer / 2017-10-02
Highlights All the details on the joint future of the Carpentries explained. Please feel free to ask any questions that you need answered. The very first ever Data Carpentry in Ethiopia was held and it was an extraordinary experience. The Lesson Infrastructure Subcommittee had their 2017 September meeting and have come up with some resolutions. We are pleased to anounce we have three new staff members who will be working for the Carpentries part time: SherAaron Hurt is the new Workshop Adminstrator for the Carpentries, Elizabeth Williams has joined as a part-time Business Administrator, and Karen Word has joined the Carpentries and will be the Deputy Director of Instructor training. If you feel there is a community member who is working extra hard to help our organization, please consider nominating them for a Community Service Award. Tweets Why is Python growing so quickly? Carpentry instructors - some great advice here on making workshops better for people with Dyslexia. Want to submit a Carpentries blog post but nervous about GitHub? You can use a form. Know an unsung hero of the Carpentries? Nominate them for a Community Service Award. Want to report on a workshop? Write a Software Carpentry blog post. Read our newsletter, Carpentry Clippings, to keep tabs on our community. Want more Carpentries? Support our growth by becoming a member organization. Report of recent in-person staff meeting for both Carpentries - what we discussed. We now have a discussion group just for #assessment, led by @DrKariLJordan. Our newsletter will appear on Tuesday. Not a subscriber yet? Sign up here. General Everything you need to know about CarpentryCon. Brian’s Poetical notes on the unix shell is availabel on his google drive. The University of Mauritius along with other sponsors hosted an HPC workshop in July and had attendees from various backgrounds. University of Namibia held the second Software Carpentry workshop in Namibia and learned some valuable lessons. Plese share your thoughts on the future of the Carpentries. Share your ideas and exerience on the Software Carpentry lessons. The Carpentries, the National Node of Bioinformatics Mexico (NNB) and the Ibero-American Society of Bioinformatics (SoIBio) invite you all to participate in the project Carpentry for Latin America. Stencila was used to teach SQL and R at a UBC workshop in Canada. 16 workshops were run over the past 30 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workshops: October The University of Washington eScience Institute, Lawrence Livermore Labs, The River Club, Aarhus University, The Francis Crick Institute, Oxford University, University of Nebraska Omaha , Karolinska Institutet,UCLA, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Boston University, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, University of Otago & NeSI, Institute for Theoretical Physics UAM-CSIC, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Rutgers University, Camden , Harvard Medical School. November University of Manchester, University of Missouri - Columbia. Read More ›

Toads in Vancouver: using Stencila to teach SQL and R at UBC
Danielle Robinson / 2017-09-29
One of Stencila’s goals is to create an easy way for people who don’t yet code to learn data science and statistics skills, and to feel comfortable trying out powerful scientific computing languages like R, Python and Julia. We’re doing that by providing interfaces that are similar to the word processors and spreadsheets that they already use. It’s a way for people to “dip their toe” into code - without having to dive into the daunting ocean of IDEs, text editors, packages, version control etc. Earlier this year, we connected with Giulio Valentino Dalla Riva (@gvdr, @ipnosimmia) a data scientist based at the Master of Data Science programme at the University of British Columbia. Giulio is a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow who teaches courses in statistics and data science for a broad range of students, many with no prior exposure to programming. More about Giulio here. Giulio was interested in piloting Stencila in one of his fall courses on Data Management for Business Analytics: a course for Master’s level business students at the UBC’s Sauder School of Business. These students need to develop data science skills, but many had never used languages like R and SQL before. The intuitive Word- and Excel-like visual interfaces in Stencila are a powerful tool for data science education for students familiar with those environments. So we jumped at this opportunity to beta-test Stencila and get the feedback we need to improve the platform for this use case. Over the last two weeks, we watched from afar as Giulio introduced his students to data analysis concepts, R, SQL, and even delivered homework assignments and quizzes with the help of Stencila. Stencila can be used in a number of ways but our initial focus has been on providing beta-testers with the downloadable Stencila Desktop. But Giulio knew from previous experience that when students are required to download a new program, debugging installation issues can take up half the class time. So he was keen to try out our experimental, cloud deployment which runs Stencila inside Docker containers on a Kubernetes cluster. For this course, Giulio summoned the toads! They’re our new favorite thing - Tiny Open Access Data Samples! These small samples, available on Github, bundle awesome open datasets with tutorial style Stencila notebooks written in Markdown. With the cloud version, students were able to use Giulio’s TOADS to learn how to write SQL queries and plot the results in R, all in the browser, just by clicking a link. Students were able to focus on learning data analysis methods and code and not worry about how to clone repositories, connect to databases or pass data between languages. “Being able to get right to the code, thinking about the logic behind a query or the way in which data is organised is great!” - Giulio Valentino Dalla Riva This was a definitely an early beta test for us and we had a few hiccups! But we learned how to handle 40 people all working on reproducible documents at once! (Thank you to the students for being our beta testers.) The UBC students also tested our new RStudio integration. This integration makes it possible to view, edit, and save Markdown-based documents using Stencila locally in the browser. Giulio used this to assign homework. Students were able to open .md files in the browser, and edit them, and save the changes. “For students without a prior exposition to programming, it is important to reduce the cognitive overhead as much as possible. RStudio is wonderful, but it may scare some. Being able to work in a browser, in a slick clean interface, and interface smoothly SQLite and R boosted the students confidence.” - Giulio Valentino Dalla Riva, PhD We are happy to report a successful test case of Stencila as a basic data science educational tool for students with no coding experience. We learned that students without coding experience were able to jump right into R with the Stencila interface. We also learned that the cloud deployment is a valuable tool for beginners, there’s nothing to install (though it’s not quite ready for wide use now). “There were some hiccups, and students did find some bugs. But they were aware of operating on a bleeding edge technology, and that was part of the experience. Overall, I think they were very excited.” - Giulio Valentino Dalla Riva, PhD As with any good beta test, new feature requests came up and we uncovered a few bugs. For example, some students were confused about the syntax for inserting code cells in external languages like R and SQL (e.g. sql()) and said they would prefer a drop-down menu to choose the language. Do you want to make a toad? Tiny Open Access Data Samples are fun for all. We are happy to help you work with Giulio’s toads or check out one you’ve created! Join the conversation and share your thoughts on Stencila’s features, toads, and reproducible documents on our community forum community.stenci.la/. Read More ›

Invitación a Participar / Invitation to Participate
Heladia Salgado, Paula Andrea Martinez, Sue McClatchy / 2017-09-25
Invitación a participar Las Carpentries, el Nodo Nacional de Bioinformática México (NNB), y la Sociedad Iberoamericana de Bioinformática (SoIBio) les invitan a participar en el proyecto Carpentry para América Latina. Las Carpentries han generado material para enseñar a investigadores y estudiantes, las habilidades computacionales necesarias para realizar su trabajo de manera eficiente. Actualmente, las carpentries cuentan con más de una docena de lecciones creadas con técnicas de pedagogía actual. Estas lecciones se han promovido en talleres en más de 37 países. Carpentry para América Latina tiene la intención de promover este movimiento con la comunidad hispana. Tenemos varias actividades en pie en las que todos están bienvenidos a participar: Traducción al español de las lecciones de Software Carpentry y Data Carpentry Revisión del material traducido Mantenimiento de las lecciones traducidas Si eres instructor de Carpentry, participa como instructor en los talleres Carpentry en español en Latino América. Si no eres instructor Carpentry, hablas español y quieres enseñar, participa para certificarte como instructor. Si eres trainer y hablas español, participa de las sesiones de demostración en español. Si quieres escribir un post en español sobre tu experiencia con las Carpentries, comunícate con nosotros. Si tienes otras sugerencias, todas son bienvenidas! ¡Únete a este esfuerzo! Escríbenos a latinoamerica@carpentries.org y participa junto con nosotros. Para unirse a la lista de correo electrónico, visita https://groups.google.com/a/carpentries.org/forum/#!forum/latinoamerica Si estás interesado en mas información sobre los avances, visita https://github.com/carpentries/latinoamerica Team latinoamerica@carpentries.org Escrito por Heladia Salgado. Editador por Sue McClatchy and Paula Andrea Martinez Invitation to participate The Carpentries, the National Node of Bioinformatics Mexico (NNB) and the Ibero-American Society of Bioinformatics (SoIBio) invite you all to participate in the project Carpentry for Latin America. The Carpentries have lesson materials to teach researchers and students the computational skills necessary to perform their work. Currently, the Carpentries have more than a dozen lessons created with current pedagogy techniques. These lessons have promoted workshops in more than 37 countries. The project Carpentry for Latin America has the intention to promote this movement with the Spanish community. We have several current activities, including the following, where you are welcome to take part: Translating Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry lessons into Spanish Reviewing translated lessons Maintaining translated lessons Participating as an instructor in the Carpentry workshops in Spanish in Latin America if you are already a Carpentry instructor. Certifying yourself as an instructor if you are not a Carpentry instructor and you speak Spanish fluently. If you are a trainer and speak fluent Spanish, join the demo sessions in Spanish. If you would like to write a blog post about your experience with the Carpentries, get in touch with us. If you have any other suggestions, those are also welcome! Join in this effort! Write to latinoamerica@carpentries.org and participate with us. To join the mailing list, visit https://groups.google.com/a/carpentries.org/forum/#!forum/latinoamerica If you are interested to learn about the updates, visit https://github.com/carpentries/latinoamerica Team latinoamerica@carpentries.org Written by Heladia Salgado. Edited by Sue McClatchy and Paula Andrea Martinez. Read More ›

Software Carpentry Lesson Maintenance: Be Part of the Conversation!
Christina Koch / 2017-09-19
Come share your experience and ideas about maintaining the Software Carpentry lessons We invite all members of the Software Carpentry community to participate in two upcoming events centered around maintaining our lessons: Community Call this week on Thursday, September 21 Task Force for the future of the Software Carpentry lesson organization Community Call We will be discussing lesson maintenance on this week’s community call, happening on Thursday. On the call, we’ll gather community aspirations and concerns about the current lessons and their maintenance. We also will ask for everyone’s input on how we can best support and recognize the valuable work of our maintainers and contributors. See the etherpad for times, agenda and to sign up. Anyone from the community is welcome to join. Task Force As the plans for creating an umbrella “Carpentries” organization continue, it’s time to start thinking about what the Software Carpentry lesson organization will look like moving forward. To that end, I’m organizing a community task force to discuss the future of the Software Carpentry lessons and their oversight as we transition into a lesson organization of the future merged Carpentries. Have you wanted to be more involved with some of the decision-making around Software Carpentry lessons and the merger process? This is an excellent way to do so! It’s only a two-month commitment, so this is also a great opportunity to take on some community leadership responsibility and see what it’s like. Sign up on this etherpad to join us! Read More ›

Request for Comment: Share your thoughts on the future of The Carpentries
Kate Hertweck / 2017-09-19
We are now requesting comments on plans related to The Carpentries! A blog post last week provided history and some context behind the planning still in progress for the eventual merger of Data Carpentry and Software Carpentry into a unified organization, tentatively called The Carpentries. An outline of the planned structure, roles, and responsibilities of The Carpentries is now available, and we request your feedback through a series of Requests for Comment and related GitHub issues by October 6, 2017. Requests for Comment (RFCs, also called Requests for Public Comment) are a tool used by government groups and other organizations to solicit feedback on planned actions which may affect a broad community. So far we have attempted to keep you apprised of the planning process, but want to incorporate community input into the unified vision and plan presented in the following topics: RFC1 Organization and responsibilities of The Carpentries RFC2 Board of Directors RFC3 Membership Council (transition from current Software Carpentry Advisory Council) RFC4 Staff RCF5 Financial organisation RFC6 Subcommittees and task forces RFC7 Lesson Organizations Please head over to the GitHub repository and add your comments to relevant issues by October 6, 2017. If you prefer not to respond on GitHub, or would like to remain anonymous, you may respond to the RFCs using this Google Form. Read More ›

Introducing Elizabeth Williams and Karen Word
Tracy Teal, Elizabeth Williams, Karen Word / 2017-09-19
At our recent in-person staff meeting in Davis, California, we introduced three new members to the team, SherAaron Hurt, Elizabeth Williams and Karen Word. All will be working with the Carpentries part-time. Elizabeth has joined Software and Data Carpentry in a part time role as Business Administrator to assist with onboarding and supporting Member organizations and general business and financial operations. Here’s what Elizabeth has to say about herself: “After earning a B.S. in Cultural Anthropology at UC Davis, I have worked as a small business manager, a tutor, a bookkeeper, and an organization consultant. I am currently managing the Personality and Self-Knowledge Lab at UC Davis, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to dedicate my (rather eclectic) skills and passions to the exciting and worthy mission of the Carpentries community.” Elizabeth has recently joined Twitter where she tweets as @ecwilliams8. We are delighted to have Elizabeth join the team and look forward to working with her. Karen Word is a post-doctoral researcher in Titus Brown’s lab at UC Davis. As a part of her work in the lab, she is working with the Carpentries on Instructor Training and will be the Deputy Director of Instructor Training. Karen will be involved with many aspects of the instructor training program, including training a new cohort of Trainers (watch for a call for applications soon!). As co-Maintainer of the Instructor Training curriculum (with Christina Koch), Karen will continue to improve and update those materials. She will also be actively involved in other curricular development efforts, including ongoing work on Data Carpentry Genomics and Data Carpentry Social Sciences curricula. Welcome to the team, Karen! Karen writes: “I have built a career on roughly equal parts teaching and research, with happy periods of exclusive focus on each. As an educator, I’ve taught high school and community college, at museums and outreach programs, and have served at the university level as both a TA and Associate Instructor. My scientific research has focused on ways in which organisms respond to environmental change, with emphasis on hormone signaling and metabolism. Most recently I have served (and continue to do so) as a postdoc in the Lab for Data Intensive Biology at UC Davis, where I am working on program assessment for our in-house bioinformatics workshops. I am delighted to be able to bring what I’ve learned through all of these experiences to bear on the Carpentries’ mission.” Instructor training is a huge part of our outreach effort, and we are delighted to have Karen assisting us with this important work. Read More ›

Community Service Awards - 2017 Edition
Christina Koch / 2017-09-18
Is there a Software Carpentry community member you’ve noticed working extra hard to help our organization? If so, consider nominating this person for a Community Service Award! The Community Service Award was inaugurated last year to recognize the crucial role of volunteer contributions to the work of the Software Carpentry Foundation. This award acknowledges individuals whose work, in the Steering Committee’s opinion, significantly improves the Foundation’s fulfillment of its mission and benefits the broader community. For full details, including how to nominate someone and a link to previous awardees, see this page. We especially welcome nominations in the next two months, as the Steering Committee will choose and announce awards in December. Read More ›

New Staff Member
Tracy Teal / 2017-09-13
We are delighted to announce that SherAaron Hurt has accepted the job of Workshop Administrator with the Carpentries. SherAaron is joining our team of workshop coordinators who manage workshop logistics, communicate with hosts and instructors, and respond to general workshop inquiries. SherAaron lives in Detroit, Michigan, USA. She has been very active in the National Society of Black Engineers, and has a strong background in logistics, marketing, and training and managing both staff and volunteers. Not only has she planned and run events both large and small, but she has a Masters in hospitality management to back up her experience. She is passionate about Software and Data Carpentry’s mission of teaching foundational computational and data skills to researchers, and is keen to help ‘lighten the load’ for instructors and workshop hosts. You’ll be seeing emails from her soon, and you can contact SherAaron at team@carpentries.org. Welcome SherAaron! Read More ›

Lesson Infrastructure Subcommittee 2017 September meeting
Raniere Silva / 2017-09-12
On 5 September 2017 at 14:00UTC+0, the Lesson Infrastructure Subcommittee had their 2017 September meeting. This post will cover the topics discussed and their resolutions. Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry merge With the upcoming merge, this subcommittee needs to start thinking about streamlining the thinking process and disconnect from the organisations that maintain the lessons. The responsibilities for this subcommittee will stay unchanged: maintain lesson template maintain lesson documentation maintain workshop template overview of what features the lessons will continue to have stay in contact with maintainers of lesson stay in contact with staff Lesson template, lesson documentation and workshop template will have a new home in 2018. If you have questions or want to help with this migration, Christina Koch is the person you should contact. During the migration, we will solve the divergences between the Software Carpentry workshop template and Data Carpentry workshop template. If you have questions or want to help with this migration, Tracy Teal is the person you should contact. Keyboard key visual look To improve the look and feel of the lesson and the learners’ ability to use them, we will make the keyboard keys that need to be pressed by the learner, look different from the other components of the text, so they are highlighted more effectively. We expect to merge the new CSS and documentation in the next few weeks and that release, 2018.6, will contain all of lessons with this new look. More information about this new feature is available at this pull request. Thanks to Brandon Curtis for proposing this idea. Jekyll/Liquid include for images/figures To improve readability by providing a more uniform image rendering, we will pursue the proposal on GitHub issue styles#161 after we review lessons unit test suite and its use by a continuous integration platform. Citing the templates If you are using the lesson template and you want to credit us, please use Software Carpentry: Example Lesson at Zenodo. Lesson release and hosting scheme For years, we have wanted to point learners to the latest release of our lessons but due to technical limitations of GitHub Pages and the challenges of multiple branches for contributors new to Git (for example, the current branch isn’t obvious when you visit the lesson homepage in GitHub, and maintainers can’t change the target branch of a pull request) we stayed with a single gh-pages branch in the Git repository. Jonah Duckles opened an issue to discuss possible solutions to this issue. If you want to contribute to the discussion please leave your comments on the GitHub issue. Fully-offline-capable functionality in lesson navigation vuw-ecs-kevin GitHub user requested that we improve the readers experience, if people come to our lesson from Zenodo, i.e. from one of our releases. Changes on the line of vuw-ecs-kevin’s pull request or Raniere’s pull request will be included in the next release of our lessons. Managing workshop websites and install instructions This is another old request [1, 2, 3, 4]. Edit only one line of index.html and have the correct setup instructions for the workshop. Jonah Duckles opened a new issue to discuss ideas to resolve our old request. Kate Hertweck, Christina Koch, Raniere Silva and Tracy Teal are going to work on strategic plan to address taking into consideration this request taking in consideration the comments on the GitHub issue. Next steps We will freeze lesson template and lesson documentation in October so maintainers have time to work on the next release. The subcommittee will meet again in November to provide an update on some of the topics covered by this post and discuss new requests from the community. Acknowledgement Thanks to Kate Hertweck, Maneesha Sane, Mark Laufersweiler, Naupaka Zimmerman, Person Paula Andrea Martinez, SherAaron Nicole Hurt and Tracy Teal. Special thanks to Christina Koch for the great notes. Read More ›

Reporting on the Second Software Carpentry Workshop in Namibia
Jessica Upani, Gabriel Nhinda / 2017-09-10
Background After attending this year’s African Instructors Meetup in Cape Town South Africa, Jessica Upani and Gabriel Nhinda from Namibia started laying the groundwork for another Software Carpentry workshop for Namibia. The previous workshop took place about a year ago as part of a 12-month programme to build computing capacity in Africa. This year however, the workshop was initiated, organised and taught by exclusively local instructors and helpers, Gabriel and Jessica with assistance from Ruber. The workshop ran on 18 – 19 August 2017 at the University of Namibia, at the Main Campus in Windhoek, Namibia. About four days before the workshop, 30 people (including instructors and helper) had signed up and we closed the online registration form. The Associate Dean of the School of Computing at UNAM provided support by making a venue available for the event and catering was sponsored by Talarify. Pre-workshop We held an installation party the day before the workshop started and three people showed up. Here we installed all the required tools and software. Compared to the last time we had a SWC Workshop in 2016, this step was faster and we were more ready to handle different errors and scenarios. Additionally, to try and reduce the number of participants who would show up at the installation party, we e-mailed the download links to all installation instructions as well as all the necessary data files, for all the participants to download. This meant that the people that showed up were ready for the workshop to begin. Day 1 The instructors and helpers made the final preparations to the venue before the attendees showed up. However the attendees were delayed and most did not show up at all. This was partly because there was a festival going on and day 1 fell on the same day, this was also the due date for all university examination scripts. In the end fifteen people showed up for day one. Gabriel introduced the workshop, and the aims and objectives of Software Carpentry to the participants and the helper (Due to work commitments, Jessica joined us two hours after the workshop started). Gabriel commenced the workshop with the UNIX Shell for the morning session. We had two people that were also at the 2016 workshop attend the 2017 workshop. This time we had attendees from Chemistry and Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Physics and School of Computing. The lesson was interactive and we went as far as pipes and redirects for day 1 (We continued with “The UNIX Shell” at the end of Day 2 after the git lesson). The second half of the day was for Python led by Jessica, it was an awesome class since people also had specific questions that relates to their research work. Some of the participants asked that the instructors and helper remain behind during the break to have a look at their actual work and code they were working on. The day ended at around 17:30, one hour after the schedule, however considering that we started late, it balanced out. Day 2 Day two was reserved for Python and Version Control with Git (VCG). Jessica started off the day with the python lesson picking up from the previous day. Jessica did a marvellous job of explaining the content of the lesson and also keeping the participants aching for more. Some examples from how to use lists and declare variables came from the audience. The version control (VCG) lesson was led by a local developer, Paulus Shituna. Surprisingly, this lesson went faster than expected, it could be because of the fewer number of participants. Being that the VCG lesson finished ahead of schedule, the participants requested that we go as far as possible with the UNIX shell lesson. We worked all the way through Loops but could not complete the shell scripts. Lessons Learned Sometimes after setting your dates for the Carpentry workshop, other events and due dates might affect the attendance of the workshop. People tend to assume “African Time”. So be prepared to start your workshop an hour late. Before starting the workshop scope for those that are using different Operating Systems compared to the one you are using and make sure to cater to all participants. Charging a small fee might actually encourage commitment from attendees. Just because you have reached your maximum number of participants, don’t close your registration process. Rather screen those that registered, maybe by asking a few questions during the registration process. Have another instructor or helper time the lessons to avoid going over the time limit or deviating from the lessons too much. This eats time and results in not completing the lessons. Observations Some peer instruction was also observed as the attendees tried to help their colleagues when they saw a red sticky note. For the major part they managed to solve the issue, often it was syntax, indentation on Python or Case sensitivity, which caused most of the errors. A question was raised as we went through the Python Lesson with regards to the examples that were used in one of the chapters. We had attendees whose first language was not English/ not fluent and as such we often had to use alternative explanations to get concepts across. In our case we had one attendee who spoke Portuguese and one of our instructors was able to provide assistance albeit their Portuguese not being fluent. Some images from Namibia, a country with vast spaces (total land area of 825,615 km2 with a population of around 2.5 million people) and incredibly beautiful and diverse landscapes. (Coulage images from https://pixabay.com, created in https://www.befunky.com). Conclusions Although the workshop was poorly attended, we think it was successful. This is mainly because the people that showed up really wanted and needed the knowledge they acquired during this workshop for both their studies and research work. To this end, we are planning on having a study group to discuss Python, UNIX, and any other topics related to applying computing to research. We would like to thank Anelda from Talarify for the sponsorship, mentorship and overall doing an awesome job of making sure we had all that we needed for this workshop. Another thank you goes to our helper and participants for making this workshop a success. Read More ›

Software Carpentry Introduces Mauritian HPC Users to Tools for Data Analysis
Anelda van der Walt, Bryan Johnston / 2017-09-10
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) has been branded as one of the biggest scientific projects to date and spans not only country borders but also continents. Although the SKA’s primary aim is to address many of the questions around our universe, the spin-offs of this project will touch people from all research disciplines as well as communities around the SKA sites. One of the spin-offs is expanded human and infrastructure capacity in terms of High Performance Computing (HPC) in other African countries. The South African Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) is involved in a programme named the HPC Ecosystems Project. The Ecosystems Project focuses on the distribution of decommissioned HPC equipment to be used as mid-tier systems at various sites across Africa. This is followed with training of the system administrators to run the equipment. Over the past few years the CHPC has been working with countries in Africa to: develop an African Framework on HPC that has been adopted by the SADC Ministerial Committee on Science and Technology; facilitate access for African researchers and students to HPC training programmes in South Africa; providing access to HPC facilities for researchers on the continent; and through the partnership with the Texas Advanced Computing Center and the University of Cambridge, parts of the HPC systems have been provided to African sites to develop computing capabilities. The first country to host a Software Carpentry workshop in conjunction with the deployment of the donated HPC infrastructure is Mauritius. The event was sponsored by the CHPC, Talarify, and the University of Mauritius. From 19 - 21 July this year, we ran a Software Carpentry workshop to potential users of the new, and first HPC system, at the University of Mauritius. Participants hailed from disciplines such as Bioinformatics, Computational Chemistry, Mathematics, Life Sciences, Engineering, Business, Medicine, and more. A total of 27 participants, mostly postgraduate students and faculty from the University of Mauritius, learned about the Linux Shell, Python, and version control with git and Github. The feedback in general was good (90% of the participants said they will recommend this workshop to colleagues) and several people indicated that they would be interested to become instructors. 50% of participants were females. Mauritius is a fascinating country with total area around 2,040 km2 and a population of around 1,348,242. Over the past few years it has evolved from mostly an agricultural community to a knowledge economy with information and communication technology, seafood, hospitality and property development, healthcare, renewable energy, and education and training fast becoming large drivers of the economy. People mostly speak English and French with the local language, Creole also in the mix. The country has six universities and many other educational institutions. It was a great opportunity to work with our host, Roshan Halkhoree (Director, Centre for Information Technology and Systems) and colleagues from the University of Mauritius and we look forward to future collaborations around data and computational capacity building. Read More ›

The First Ever Data Carpentry in Ethiopia
Lactatia Motsuku, Glenn Moncrieff, Margereth Gfrerer, Anelda van der Walt / 2017-09-10
The Ethiopian Education and Research Network (EthERNet) from the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the German International Cooperation (GIZ) Sustainable Training and Education Programme (STEP), the Education Strategy Center (ESC) and Talarify organised its first ever Data Carpentry workshop for young academics and researchers in Ethiopia. The workshop was conducted over two and a half days from 14-16 August 2017 at Addis Ababa Institute of Technology (AAiT). The main aim was to increase data literacy for researchers and establish a community of good research data practice in Ethiopia in order to increase the presence of Ethiopian researchers in the global research community. Note: UNESCO Statistics Institute reveals that in 2016 1.1% of the global research community are researchers coming from Sub-Saharan Africa. On average 30.4% from all Sub-Saharan researchers are females, whereas Ethiopia counts 13.3 % female researchers out of all Ethiopian researchers. Over 25 participants from all over Ethiopia joined the workshop. 98% of participants were women representing different research disciplines including animal nutrition, soil sciences, economics, sport sciences and information technology to name a few. The event was lead by Data Carpentry instructors from South Africa with helpers from Ethiopia and mainly covered lessons included in the Data Carpentry Ecology workshop - better use of Spreadsheets, data cleaning in OpenRefine, and data analysis and visualisation in R. Lactatia Motsuku from the South African National Cancer Registry and Glenn Moncrieff from Ixio Analytics recently trained as instructors and this was their first opportunity to teach as part of the Data Carpentry team. Our instructors’ experience: Lactatia: “As much as this was the first data carpentry for Ethiopia, this was the first instructor training for me. Before I joined Data Carpentry network, I had no idea what I can do to make changes in other people’s lives. It made me happy to see the transition in only three days i.e. From participants having no idea where to start with data analysis to facial expressions as they sigh “Oooh, okkayyy” and the nodding as they realise that there are beautiful, efficient and very effective tools to work with data. Ethiopia is a very nice place, very religious and full of kind people. I really enjoyed the food. It was organic, healthy and delicious. I bow down to the coffee ceremony and Margareth was a beautiful host, she managed to organise us dinner at 2000 Habesha which is a traditional restaurant with touch of Ethiopian music. It was great to see my colleagues doing The Shoulder dance.” Anelda: “Ethiopia was such a wonderful surprise to me. There are some very ancient traditions and experiences. For example, they have a different calendar that derives from the Egyptian calendar and has a 7-8 year difference from our own calendar. They also regard the day to start at sunrise which means 6 am is regarded as 12 o’clock in Ethiopian time. A meeting scheduled for 2 pm might be misunderstood to start at 8 o’clock due to the 6 hour difference between the Western clock and the Ethiopian time. When I realised the impact that both the time difference and calendar difference may have on research and reported data, it was an eye-opener. Meta data in this instance will be critically important so that collaborators and future users of the research data generated in Ethiopia, can understand exactly which calendar and what time system was used. I hope it will be possible for me to return to Ethiopia to learn more about this beautiful country and its people.” Glenn: “This was also my first workshop as a Data Carpentry instructor. I was encouraged by the enthusiasm of the students and their ability to absorb the vast amount of information we shared with them. When their faces begun to light up at the realization of the capabilities they were acquiring through the software we were teaching, I realized why Data Carpentry is so important. The kindness of the Ethiopian people, the richness of the culture, and the delicious food were all amazing added extras. Seeing the potential impact of Data Carpentry in Ethiopia inspires me to come back again soon and help to grow the seed that has been planted.” Read More ›

Joint future for Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry
Rayna Harris, Tracy Teal / 2017-09-02
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry are sister organizations focused on teaching computational best practices to scientists. They are currently independent organizations with their own fiscal sponsorship, Steering Committees, governance model, and bank accounts. However, as is perhaps no surprise the organizations’ operations have evolved to share memberships, infrastructure for workshop coordination, an instructor training program, and even some staff members. This ‘separate but collaborative’ organizational structure has allowed us to build a shared community of instructors with more than 1000 certified instructors and 47 current Member Organizations around the world. As Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry continue to grow and develop, this ‘separate but collaborative’ organizational structure will not scale. The governing committees of both Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry have recognized that as more mature organizations they can be most effective under a unified governance model with reduced operational overhead and streamlined support for curriculum development and maintenance. Over the last few months, a joint group of representatives appointed from (and regularly reporting back to) the governing committees of both organizations has been exploring and moving towards merging the governance and staff organizations to officially recognize this shared alignment and vision, and going forward to best support the community, member organizations, and curriculum. On August 30, 2017, the Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry Steering Committees met jointly and approved the following two motions, which together form a strong commitment to continue moving forward with the merger, and to eventually hand off governance to a joint Carpentries Steering Committee: Approve merger of Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry: The Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry steering committees approve the merger of the two organizations into a single umbrella organization with associated lesson organizations, with a starting date of January 1, 2018. Approve appointed members of combined board: We appoint Karen Cranston, Kate Hertweck, Mateusz Kuzak, Sue McClatchy, and Ethan White to the board of the umbrella organization. We are now very excited for the next steps in putting together the Carpentries! Even though the two motions passed this week lay the groundwork for a merged organization, there’s still a lot of work to be done on the details of how this will all come together. The two Steering Committees (which remain in command until Dec 31) will be putting together Requests for Comment, because community input in decisions and structure around everything from governance to curriculum oversight will be key. A very brief history of Software and Data Carpentry What does this mean for our instructors? Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry have already unified their instructor training to have one Carpentries instructor certification and program. Hence, the instructor training program will continue as it is. People who are already instructors can continue to teach workshops as they already do! Nothing substantive will change. There may be some updates on email list locations, but it will remain the joint Carpentries instructor community that it already is. The new Carpentries Board of Directors will include elected positions, and instructors will be the electorate casting votes for those, as they have in the past for the Software Carpentry Steering Committee. More information about the elections will be coming out in October. Please also consider running yourself for a position on the Steering Committee to help guiding the Carpentries through this next phase! If you’re interested in more information on elections now, please contact Kate Hertweck (k8hertweck@gmail.com). What does this mean for our Member Organizations? Memberships are already joint between Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry, so there will be no changes with memberships. All signed, pending and upcoming membership agreements will remain valid and will simply changeover to the Carpentries after January. We will be transitioning the Software Carpentry Advisory Council to a joint Carpentries council, and we will keep members updated on that shift. Proposed organizational structure and leadership Members of both the Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry Steering Committees and staff have been meeting regularly to outline the steps needed for transitioning from two independent organizations to one united organization. The Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry steering committees have approved the following structure to be effective on January 1, 2018: A single umbrella organization (tentatively named The Carpentries) with associated lesson organizations A governing Board of Directors composed of 9 members (5 appointed, 4 elected), each serving a two year term without limits on the number of terms. An Executive Director who reports to the Board of Directors. Initially, this position will be offered to Dr. Tracy Teal. A Director of Business Development who reports to the Executive Director. Initially, this position will be offered to Jonah Duckles. Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry will remain as distinct lesson organizations with their unique brand. Currently, we are articulating the roles and responsibilities of the unified organization and the associated lessons. Below is a brief summary of the responsibilities we propose will fall under the Carpentries and under the lesson organizations. Proposed structure and responsibilities of The Carpentries and the Lesson Organizations Just in case you are wondering who the current Steering Committee members are and who will be on the 2018 Board of Directors, here’s a table for your reference. (M = Member of the current merger committee that serves as the liaison between the community and the Software Carpentry and the Data Carpentry Steering committees during the planning and execution of the merger.) 2017 Software Carpentry Steering Committee(all elected) 2017 Data Carpentry Steering Committee (all appointed) 2018 Carpentries Board of Directors (5 appointed, 4 elected) Rayna HarrisMKate HertweckMChristina KochMateusz KuzakKarin LagesenSue McClatchy Karen CranstonMHilmar LappMAleksandra PawlikKarthik RamEthan White Karen CranstonKate HertweckMateusz KuzakSue McClatchyEthan Whiteto be electedto be electedto be electedto be elected Next Steps in the merger There are many areas of work to be done before January 1, 2018. Some of the things we are working on include: Articulating the bylaws for the Carpentries Articulating the policy and leadership within each Lesson Organization Posting Requests For Comment on bylaws, structure and policy for community comment, incorporating feedback. Approving a unified budget Launching a new website Electing the 2018 Board of Director members Updating or crafting mission and vision statements And so many more details… Questions, comments, want to learn more? If you have questions, comments or just want to learn more than what’s already posted here, please get in touch with staff at team@carpentries.org, Tracy Teal at tkteal@datacarpentry.org, Jonah Duckles at jduckles@software-carpentry.org, the Software Carpentry Steering Committee president Kate Hertweck at k8hertweck@gmail.com or the Data Carpentry Steering Committee at board@datacarpentry.org. Also, feel free to comment on this post, or start a new conversation at https://github.com/carpentries/conversations Community is and will continue to be a key component in this merger, so comments and discussion are always appreciated! Read More ›

Waxing poetical in a Software Carpentry workshop
Brian Ballsun-Stanton / 2017-08-31
Hi everyone! I just finished running my first segment of a Software Carpentry workshop. I massively overprepared last evening and my notes for the first four lessons of unix shell are on google drive if anyone would care to reuse them. In any case, one of my students (who had audited one of my other classes) made the following tweet: “Never heard anyone present fundamental computing concepts so poetically as @DenubisX @swcarpentry #MacquarieUni” At which point, Belinda responded: “Liking the sound of this - will you write up a workshop post for us, Brian?” And so here I am, accused of poetry. I think because I semaphored my arms when describing arguments/flags. I stood in front of the group and waved my arms around like I was holding flags, directing trains down different tracks. I also used call and response, asking the audience to complete my statements (after introducing them a few times), which served to introduce nice pauses into the presentation, allowing people to process and ponder. But … none of this is poetry. I think I was accused of poetry because during the first discussion of command line interfaces (CLIs), I stepped away from the computers and varied my voice and volume and pitch when looking at the nature of computers. And lots of emotive body language. Speaking to the learner during the lunch break, she tweeted when I was unpacking the why of CLIs in unexpectedly non-mundane (perhaps florid, or purple) detail, sharing my enthusiasm for the ideas with the class. And most people seemed to respond well to that sort of engaging and obviously “I am interested by this topic and I hope to share my excitement with you” framing. Yay! I think the lesson to take away here is: speak passionately when you can, infecting the learners with your passion at the start of the lesson sells them a reason to engage. (And their body language will tell you if the enthusiasm was, indeed, sold. Pay attention to body language.) Read More ›

All About CarpentryCon
Belinda Weaver / 2017-08-30
What is CarpentryCon? CarpentryCon aspires to become a major learning, skill-building and networking event for our global Carpentries community. We want to help Carpenters develop the skills they need to get the careers they want. We want to help them create supportive local communities based on our values of openness and sharing. We also want to give newcomers the chance to network with more experienced people in our community, so that a range of hard-won knowledge can be passed along to a new generation of leaders. Under the theme Building Locally, Connecting Globally, this first-time event will stand on three pillars – community building, professional development, and networking. Community Building By bringing together members of the Carpentry community, including instructors, partners, advocates, and staff, together with people sharing similar interests from around the globe, we will discuss tried and tested methods for creating local communities within the larger Carpentry community. Our “come and learn” format will include success stories from people who have built communities across six continents. Sharing Knowledge We will provide current and future Carpentry community leaders opportunities for continued learning and professional development. This will include sessions on teaching methods, curriculum development, and community organization. Professional development sessions might cover technical skills (such as writing R apps with Shiny), pedagogy (such as lesson maintenance), and leadership (such as recruiting and retaining local helpers, or leading projects). Networking We will provide networking opportunities so Carpentry community members can meet peers and share skills and perspectives. Participants can come together both formally and informally to share stories about challenges and successes, and to make new friends. Un-conference While there will be a range of structured sessions, we also want to include some ‘un-conference’-like sessions at CarpentryCon. This will allow for spontaneity, where attendees can decide the direction and discussions they want. Where will it be held? And when? As yet, we don’t know (though it will be some time in 2018). We have just posted a form to allow potential hosts to offer venues. Please send this out as widely as you can, or consider bidding to be a host yourself. We do know that CarpentryCon will be a three-day, high-intensity event. Connecting people from different communities in both industry and academia, CarpentryCon will allow us to celebrate how far we’ve come as a community and make plans to go on to do even greater things. How can you get involved? Join the task force headed up by Fotis Psomopoulos and Malvika Sharan Spread word about the venue bid form Publicise the event through your channels Catch up on what’s been happening Volunteer as a helper/organizer at our meetings Read More ›

Publishing our lessons, Version 2017.08
Kate Hertweck, Rémi Emonet / 2017-08-24
We are pleased to announce the latest publication of Software Carpentry lesson materials, from release Version 2017.08. Although most of our lessons are fairly mature, we had almost 100 new contributors. We have used this opportunity to improve the process through which lessons are released, some parts of which were previewed in this blog post. This release includes linked ORCID identifiers (visible on the Zenodo page next to the author’s name) and has allowed for individuals to opt-out as contributors. You can learn about the release process on GitHub, and can view this and previous archived versions on the release page. Publication records Latornell, Doug (ed): “Software Carpentry: Version Control with Mercurial” Version 2017.08, August 2017, https://github.com/swcarpentry/hg-novice/tree/2017.08 10.5281/zenodo.838760 Gonzalez, Ivan and Huang, Daisie (eds): “Software Carpentry: Version Control with Git” Version 2017.08, August 2017, https://github.com/swcarpentry/git-novice/tree/2017.08 10.5281/zenodo.838762 Capes, Gerard (ed): “Software Carpentry: Automation and Make” Version 2017.08, August 2017, https://github.com/swcarpentry/make-novice/tree/2017.08 10.5281/zenodo.838764 Kiral-Kornek, Isabell and Srinath, Ashwin (eds): “Software Carpentry: Programming with MATLAB” Version 2017.08, August 2017, https://github.com/swcarpentry/matlab-novice-inflammation/tree/2017.08 10.5281/zenodo.838766 Bekolay, Trevor and Staneva, Valentina (eds): “Software Carpentry: Programming with Python” Version 2017.08, August 2017, https://github.com/swcarpentry/python-novice-inflammation/tree/2017.08 10.5281/zenodo.838768 Wright, Tom and Zimmerman, Naupaka (eds): “Software Carpentry: R for Reproducible Scientific Analysis” Version 2017.08, August 2017, https://github.com/swcarpentry/r-novice-gapminder/tree/2017.08 10.5281/zenodo.838770 Chen, Daniel and Dashnow, Harriet (eds): “Software Carpentry: Programming with R” Version 2017.08, August 2017, https://github.com/swcarpentry/r-novice-inflammation/tree/2017.08 10.5281/zenodo.838772 Devenyi, Gabriel and Srinath, Ashwin (eds): “Software Carpentry: The Unix Shell” Version 2017.08, August 2017, https://github.com/swcarpentry/shell-novice/tree/2017.08 10.5281/zenodo.838774 Cabunoc Mayes, Abigail and McKay, Sheldon (eds): “Software Carpentry: Databases and SQL” Version 2017.08, August 2017, https://github.com/swcarpentry/sql-novice-survey/tree/2017.08 10.5281/zenodo.838776 Silva, Raniere and Emonet, Rémi (eds): “Software Carpentry: Example Lesson” Version 2017.08, August 2017, https://github.com/swcarpentry/lesson-example/tree/2017.08 10.5281/zenodo.838778 Silva, Raniere and Emonet, Rémi (eds): “Software Carpentry: Workshop Template” Version 2017.08, August 2017, https://github.com/swcarpentry/workshop-template/tree/2017.08 10.5281/zenodo.838780 Read More ›

Feedback of Champions
Belinda Weaver / 2017-08-24
Jonah Duckles and I hosted our first Community Champions call on 22 August (23 August for us southern hemisphereans). Twenty-five people signed up for the call. We had attendees from the US (several locations), the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, plus me in Australia and Jonah in New Zealand. We also had a range of expertise - some old hands, and some keen to kickstart a brand new community. People shared experiences about what had worked locally - these involved regular drop-in sessions like Hacky Hours, as well as more formal arrangements like local study groups or big events like the three-day Research Bazaars, which combine workshops with more informal sessions such as lightning talks, knowledge bazaars, meet ups, stalls, and fun and games. There were 14 Research Bazaar events held in 2017 in locations ranging from Oslo to Tucson and five cities in New Zealand. The first was held in Melbourne in 2015. This spawned 10 in 2016 in countries such as Ecuador, Canada, and Australia. Local activities Mateusz Kuzak from the Netherlands talked about the Study Group that runs at Science Park Amsterdam. The group mostly comprises plant physiology and neurobiology researchers, with biodiversity researchers now joining in as well. More informal meetings are also held bi-weekly in a local cafe, where people can come for help with tools like R, Python, Snakemake, and git. Mateusz is keen to expand the instructor base in the Netherlands too with instructor training happening in November. In Brisbane, Hacky Hours are run weekly at both The University of Queensland and at Griffith University, with a new HackR Hour at the other Brisbane university, QUT. Software Carpentry instructors and helpers tend to be the key drivers of these events. Queensland universities also collaborate to run Research Bazaar, with successful events in both 2016 and 2017 where 11 workshops were run, including two Software Carpentry workshops and an advanced R class. Meetups are another great networking tool to build community - Brisbane has monthly data science, Python and Hackers/Hack meetups. Australia also has a bioinformatics student group called COMBINE, many of whom train as Software Carpentry instructors. Forging links with groups like these help with cross-promoting events and community building. At UC San Diego, work to expand the instructor community is underway. Two Software Carpentry workshops per year are offered through the library. The University of Oklahoma runs three workshops per semester for fall/spring, with summers set aside for special requests. Open office hours are also run for four hours a week in two campus locations. Carpentry instructors meet monthly to network and share ideas. The University of Arizona/CyVerse now run an annual Research Bazaar, as well as regular Hacky Hour and PhTea drop-in advice sessions. Work is underway to build a Data Science/Literacy initiative at the university. Three large (50-100 people) Software Carpentry workshops are run annually, with ten smaller, more focused workshops run as well. There is a strong instructor/helper community, with the aim of building a strong community of practice, and linking up with local initiatives such as Python or Big Data meetups. At the University of Michigan, “flagship” workshops are run 3-4 times a year, along with workshops sponsored by specific departments/groups. They are interested in creating a pipeline of learners –> helpers –> instructors to ensure the sustainability of the community. There are R user groups at the University of Florida (UF) and at York University in Canada (which also has a PyData group). UF also has a Carpentries Club for instructors, while the UF Libraries are hoping to fund a community organizer position through an internship or fellowship. UW Madison has ComBEE, a Hacky Hour-style group. Among other activities, they also host both R and Python study groups, which complement the Carpentries workshops they run on campus. People used a range of methods to stay in touch with local groups, with Twitter, slack channels, email/email lists and regular meetups being the most common. Getting started Newcomers to community building were keen for tips on creating a community out of nothing. One way to fund workshops is to try to source funding via grants proposals. At the University of Oxford, ideas are wanted on how to turn enthusiasm into actual workshops, since the legwork involved in making workshops happen is challenging. As an outcome of these discussions, we aim to create a playbook for community building. This growing document will outline the successful strategies people have already used. It would include checklists, some best practice guidelines, and some success stories. This playbook would be made available as an open source tool, but also could be worked up as a paper to publish. This idea got the thumbs up from attendees. To sum up, these are the mechanisms most in use. We welcome more ideas. Stay tuned for our next Champions call in November. Open Help Sessions (Hacky Hour, PhTea, Digital Scholarship Office Hours …) User Groups (R Users, Python Users, discipline-specific meetups) Study Groups Research Bazaar (also known as ResBaz) events ThatCamp Read More ›

15 July -15 August, 2017: Writing a blog post, Instructor Training Curriculum, Merger, League of Champions.
Martin Dreyer / 2017-08-18
Highlights It should not be a painful experience to write a blog post, so please reach out to us! Have a look at the approved motions for the Carpentries merger. We are pleased to announce the Instructor Training Curriculum has been updated and will be released end of August. Tweets Our Carpentry Clippings newsletter is out. Read it here if you missed it. Contributed to a lesson? Let us know so you get credit. Donate to Software Carpentry to support workshops in new places. Want to get a Software Carpentry workshop at your institution? Here’s how. Show your support for opensource datascience — become a NumFOCUS member. Did you know we have a mailing list to discuss our R lesson + other R-related issues? Post questions there. Building a community: 3 months of Library Carpentry. General Please feel free to provide suggestions to our Community Lead via the Google form. We invite all our community champions to join the Carpentry Champions call on 22 August to come and share their knowledge and learn from each other. 21 workshops were run over the past 30 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops: August University of Tasmania, University of Oklahoma, University of Michigan, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, University of Namibia, University of Arizona, Tucson, UW Madison, National Center for Supercomputing Applications. September University of Würzburg, Ghent University, Oregon State University/CGRB, University of Chicago, University of Southern Queensland, Macquarie University. October The River Club, Aarhus University, UCLA, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Institute for Theoretical Physics UAM-CSIC. Read More ›

The Totally Bearable Lightness of Being an Instructor ... So Finish that Training!
Juliane Schneider / 2017-08-17
Also, there’s this thing at UCLA going on September 7-8 … Greetings, my Library Carpentry community peeps! Hope your summer is going as well as mine, which means about as fine as the coffee in Twin Peaks, or a Fellini film - take your pick. Several months ago, I wrote a post about the amazing time I had in Portland at csv,conf and at the Library Carpentry Instructor Training that Belinda Weaver and Tim Dennis taught, ably assisted by myself, John Chodacki and a spatula. We had a wonderful cohort of instructors-in-training, all of whom I know would rock a room with their Bash and OpenRefine instructional skills. So I say to thee, oh #porttt cohort, if you haven’t completed the final steps of your instructor certification, get on it, because we need you! Remember how much fun we had in Portland? You can have that again, by holding your own Library Carpentry workshop and building your local community of data-savvy colleagues. Steps to certification: 1. Contribute to a lesson. Library Carpentry just had a very successful writing sprint, and we have a lot of open issues to resolve so there are many opportunities to contribute, even if it is spelling corrections or link updates. The downside of this is that it can be confusing to figure out HOW to do this and what issues are actually available to work on. If you find it daunting to know where to start, or how to get through the GitHub workflow, please - PLEASE - contact me, Tim Dennis or John Chodacki and we’ll help you through it. Promise, it’s eezee peezee! 2. Participate in an online discussion. This is the easy one. Jump online and hang out! Ask questions about doing workshops, ask about specific lessons, or, like me, have an ecstatic geekfest discussion about the glories of OpenRefine, in my case with Kate Hertweck. Here’s the schedule. Sign up for a session and knock this one off the certification list. 3. Teach a short demonstration session. This is easier than you think. (LOUD WHISPER: you are on videoconference doing live coding/demo, so you can use notes and nobody sees you looking at them!) We are mostly nice people, except for me when when confronted by MARC XML or a poorly made gimlet. So, you will be fine … unless you do something outlandishly egregious, like perhaps saying “just” a lot or admitting out loud that you didn’t like OpenRefine. Sign up for your demo. That’s it! If you want what I just typed in more formal and less metricious language, see the full checkout procedure. I know, it’s SWC, but we’re following the same procedure, so you are in the right place. Now. NOW. To the fun part. Team Spatula Returns! Belinda, Tim, John and I will be at UCLA September 7-8, spreading the word about Library Carpentry and having discussions about community building and running a Library Carpentry workshop (or watching some of our new instructors teach one, we hope). In addition, we will be having yet more fabulous times after hours with all of our new best Library Carpentry friends. As we finalize the schedule for this reunion event, we’ll keep you all informed, and remember, if you are experiencing any kind of roadblock or confusion over your final LC instructor certification steps, please contact one of us. We will be more than happy to help you complete the steps and start planning a workshop! (Hint: if you are still completing certification and are in the LA area and want to get certified in time to be an instructor for the September 7-8 event, we’ll help you get there, and get you your first instructor experience.) Basically, if you need any support, PING US. We are are here to help. And we hope to see some of you soon in Los Angeles. Till next time, Juliane Read More ›

Instructor Curriculum Updated
Belinda Weaver / 2017-08-14
Sixty-seven pull requests were successfully merged during the recent update of the Software and Data Carpentry instructor training curriculum. Most of these PRs were merged during the recent 24-hour Bug BBQ that ran over 3-4 August. More than 20 instructors and trainers were involved with the update. A few pull requests remain to be merged before the material is ready to be re-released. This should happen by the end of August. The spadework for what needed fixing was established during an issue bonanza in July. Erin Becker then created a plan of work for people to tackle during the Bug BBQ. Some new material has been added, for example, Ted Laderas’s contribution on the importance of ‘grit’ - sticking with something even if it is a little bit challenging. Where material was duplicated, that has been addressed as well. After the Bug BBQ, Christina Koch commented: ‘It’s really cool to see how having lots of different people contribute makes the whole thing so much better. We had a new contributor [Ted Laderas] who added great material on error framing / grit, Rayna [Harris] and Lex [Nederbragt] both added really helpful diagrams for Bloom’s taxonomy, there were good additions to the instructor notes, and all of the “little” changes ([fixing] typos, weird sentence structure, etc.) add up to make a BIG difference in the quality and professionalism of the material.’ She went on to say how important it was to ‘organize and tag issues so that there was a lot of good “low-hanging fruit” for people to bite off without getting too overwhelmed. Lots of small issues is definitely the way to go, and it’s important to resolve issues as they’re addressed via PRs so that it’s clear what still needs work.’ Christina would be interested to hear from other people about the pros and cons of using tags to label issues for hackathons and whether or not organisers made it clear to participants how to find issues using those tags. The Data Carpentry chatroom provided a central place for people to network and ask questions during the Bug BBQ, and a few people hopped on zoom calls as well to chat face-to-face. Our instructor training curriculum is crucial to growing our instructor community across both Software and Data Carpentry, so it is pleasing to see the material tidied up and, in some places, re-ordered to provide a more logical flow. Thanks to everyone who came along and took part in the Bug BBQ. Your contributions were very much appreciated. Read More ›

Motions approved for Data Carpentry & Software Carpentry Merger
Rayna Harris / 2017-08-07
I am happy to announce that the Steering Committees of both Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry have approved 4 motions regarding the structure and leadership of the mergered Carpentries organization. The approved motions are: Motion 1 The Board of Directors for the combined organization will be composed of 9 members, each serving a two year term without limits on the number of terms. Five members will be appointed through a process of nomination to the board followed by voting by board members. The other four members will be elected by the membership of the organization. Background: We anticipate that role of Board is governance / steering rather than execution / operations. Appointed members ensure that the Board has the expertise desired for leading an organization with the legal and financial responsibilities of the combined organization, while elected members continue on the democratic traditions of SWC and allow interested community members to be part of the leadership. Motion 2 The combined organization will have an Executive Director who reports to the Board of Directors. Initially, this position will be offered to Dr. Tracy Teal. Background: The ED is the link between the Board and the operations of the organization. The ED will have autonomy to make decisions about running the organization, given strategic direction from the Board. Motion 3 The combined organization will have a Director of Business Development who reports to the Executive Director. Initially, this position will be offered to Jonah Duckles. Background: Business development is critical to the long-term sustainability of the organization. In the merger of two organizations, each with an ED, this clarifies roles and reporting. Motion 4 Existing subcommittees and task forces will have a point of contact from among the staff, rather than reporting directly to the Steering Committee. Background: The subcommittees perform important work of the organization. They currently report directly to the SWC Steering Committee, which is inconsistent with a Board responsible for governance, not operations. The subcommittee’s should instead work directly with staff, overseen by the ED. Timeline for the merger See the overview all the steps we will be taking in the next few months here: https://software-carpentry.org/blog/2017/06/merger.html Read More ›

The Champions League
Belinda Weaver / 2017-08-07
When people sign up for our newsletter, Carpentry Clippings, many mention community building as one of their key interests. We are lucky in the Carpentries to have so many people who want to build local groups. These people are our community’s champions. They are the hard workers who volunteer their time to organise and run local workshops, recruit new instructors and helpers, teach and maintain our lessons, serve on committees and task forces, and generally help further the Carpentries’ mission of skilling up researchers to do more efficient, reproducible science. Many of these champions have fantastic local knowledge, and many provide the backbone without which local events such as Hacky Hours, Research Bazaars (ResBaz), study groups or communities of practice around certain disciplines or tools would not exist. What they know about community building is enormously valuable. We would like to connect these champions together in a network together so they can share tactics and expertise. Our ultimate aim is to develop a community building ‘playbook’ so that tried and tested methods can be transplanted easily to new spots around the world as we welcome more and more people into our Carpentries community. To kickstart a conversation, Jonah Duckles (Executive Director, Software Carpentry) and I (as Software and Data Carpentry Community Development Lead) are planning to host a Carpentry Champions call at 8pm UTC on 22 August - check the local date and time in your location. Sign up for the call on our etherpad, which will provide a list of talking points and all the connection details. We welcome experienced and aspiring champions to come learn from each other about how to best spread the Carpentries approach to teaching and collaborating to new organizations and new places. Come share your stories and learn from each other! We hope to see you there. We will write up the results of the call, and post it on this blog. We will also start a GitHub repo to capture all your great community building ideas. Stay tuned for more details. Read More ›

Keep Calm and Write a Blog Post
Belinda Weaver / 2017-07-25
Writing a blog post should not be hard. A blank screen can seem very daunting, but if you populate it with a few questions, such as Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?, then you have the genesis of a post. Workshop report? Once you’ve answered the questions above, you’re pretty much done. Throw in something that went well or a funny story about something that didn’t, and that’s it. Conference reportback? Ditto. Project you’re working on? Ditto. Perhaps you’ve stumbled across some new tool that you love so much you want to tell the world? Tell us why you like it and what you use it for, and that’s a post right there. If you are not sure how to format your post for our blog, check out our CONTRIBUTING.md file, which now includes instructions on posts. If that all seems too hard, feel free to email your text to me, and I will arrange to post it for you. We want our blog to be useful to our community, and a multiplicity of voices helps with that. Read More ›

Feedback on feedback
Belinda Weaver / 2017-07-20
When I started as Community Development Lead, I posted a Google form to ask people in our community for feedback on what they thought was the main issue I should address. I got a range of responses, from concerns about lesson maintenance to a call for more briefings to help people stay connected. Also raised were instructor retention - how do we prevent burnout so good people don’t leave? - and instructor involvement - how do we increase the numbers of instructors reading our blog posts, signing up for the newsletter, getting involved in community calls and committees like mentoring? ‘Quality control’ of workshops was also raised. Obviously workshops where people teach their own material, use slides instead of live coding, or don’t otherwise follow our pedagogy can damage people’s trust in the Carpentries. But how do we find out about those? And how can we educate our instructors on what makes a good workshop? I was also asked to tweet more - especially to alert people to new blog posts. People also wanted reminders about upcoming events like community calls. Some of these issues were discussed in the two community calls just gone. You can see the discussions on the call etherpad. Some good ideas were raised - annual refreshers to keep instructors informed and engaged, providing text people can use in CVs and job applications on the benefits of Carpentry skills and training, and building a workshop ‘playbook’ to centralise checklists and tips. The Google form is still open - feel free to keep channelling ideas and suggestions to me. If you leave your contact details, I promise I will get back to you to discuss your ideas further. However you are also welcome to post feedback anonymously. One respondent asked us to develop an infographic of the Carpentries to help people orient themselves in the merged organisation. I think this is an excellent idea. However, my design skills could most kindly be described as rudimentary. Anyone want to volunteer? Read More ›

1 - 15 July, 2017: Learner Impact, Instructor Training, Community Building, Author Information.
Martin Dreyer / 2017-07-17
Highlights Our pre- and post-workshop surveys show that the Carpentries have a significant impact on the learners. We are working to better the instructor training material to ensure we have a good up to date curriculum. You do not have to be an expert to be a good instructor. Tweets Are you on our mailing list yet? Sign up here to get our newsletter. The teams at @swcarpentry and @datacarpentry keep fighting the good fight! Good enough practices in scientific computing. Help bring workshops to new countries + communities in 2017 - make a donation to Software Carpentry. Read our experiences in ELIXIR with @swcarpentry and @datacarpentry. Research libraries and tools curation in digitalhumanities: new report. Wonder what’s going on @swcarpentry? You can see our community calendar here - it will correct for your time zone. General You do not need to be an expert to be a workshop helper. We do a lot to build the community within the Carpentries. NASA DEVELOP hosted two concurrent workshops and it went very well. If you have contributed to any of our lessons in the past please take a few minutes to give us some basic information. 22 workshops were run over the past 30 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops: July University of Mauritius, Imperial College London, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University College London, McMaster University, Noble Research Institute. August University of Southampton, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, University of Notre Dame, Space Telescope Science Institute, University of Sheffield, Washington State University, Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University. September University of Würzburg, Ghent University, Oregon State University/CGRB, European Molecular Biology Laboratory. Read More ›

Credit for lesson contributors
Kate Hertweck / 2017-07-16
In 2016, Software Carpentry instituted a twice-yearly release schedule for our lessons (see here for previous releases). Lesson releases, representing a snapshot in time of the material’s development, are published through Zenodo and given a DOI for citation purposes. Releases serve a few purposes, primarily to provide a trackable record of the development of our materials and to allow attribution to community members who contribute to lessons. The lesson maintainers are included as editors, while all other contributors who have made changes (as tracked through GitHub) are represented as authors. Given that the time is approaching for a new release, we have begun to reassess how to manage the rather lengthy list of authors for each lesson. Rémi Emonet designed and implemented a fantastic automated method for lesson releases for Version 2017.02 in February 2017. We would like to improve this process by including additional information about our contributors besides their names. Zenodo allows inclusion of an ORCID identifier for each author, which provides a more robust and trackable method of identifying authors than traditional affiliations. If you’re not familiar with ORCID, please head over to their website to learn more and obtain your own identifier. ORCID is a great project which would be certainly useful outside of this purpose! A second issue related to lesson authorship is that our list of authors is inherently additive in nature, and represents anyone who has authored commits merged into the lessons. As our lessons have matured, some contributors no longer desire to be included as an author on the release. There are multiple reasons why this might be the case. For example, someone may no longer be affiliated with Software Carpentry, or may have authored a commit early in the lesson development process that does not currently appear in the lessons. We have operated under the philosophy that the lessons as they currently exist are the cumulative result of all previous work, and all authors should be acknowledged. However, we also recognize that this is ultimately a personal choice, and our community members should be allowed to opt-out of authorship in all future releases if they wish. To reconcile these two issues, we’ve decided to gather some information from our contributors using this Google Form. If you have contributed to lessons in the past, please take a few minutes to provide some basic information. We will be collecting responses until August 1 to include in the next release, although the form will stay open indefinitely. Eventually we may decide to add features in AMY to capture this information, but for now, please help us test this approach by adding your information. Read More ›

First time for everything
Peter Evans / 2017-07-11
This spring I found myself back in a new situation, an anxious instructor in front of a room full of anxious students. My last teaching was many years back, as a teaching assistant in graduate school, and then a few lectures as part of an intermediate-level course for graduate students. But those were rather theoretical, blackboard affairs. This was my first attempt at teaching software, and with live coding demos. Didn’t Steve Jobs himself say “never give a software demo”? (Okay, maybe not.) In the end though, I was happily surprised by the experience. Getting there is half the fun At the end of the long German winter, a group of us had come together with the idea of holding a useful workshop or two for our institutes - the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and the University of Potsdam (UP), and others. After much discussion, we settled on two two-day workshops to be held in May - one a Python Novice workshop, and the other on R. There was strong interest and many more people wanted to take part than we could fit. We had a large group of instructors and helpers with a diverse background. One or two had done this before; three of us had just completed the SWC instructor training course, but hadn’t checked out yet. Martin Hammitzsch led us in wisely lowering our sights to something achievable, and in managing much of the administrative work required to get us there. We were fortunate to have a great venue available. (Literally, as it was at the GeoLab meeting space in the base of the Great Refractor, one of the important scientific instruments of the end of the nineteenth century.) Little set-up time was needed, as we were able to distribute preconfigured disk images to all the computers in the room. Both courses were delivered in English. This created a few amusing issues like “Where is the control key on this German keyboard?” Getting to know you We began the first morning with all participants giving short “lightning talks”, limited to two minutes and one slide. This was an effort to build a software-oriented community by finding common interests across the many disparate research groups in our cross-disciplinary institutes. The results were an impressive demonstration of the range of talents present here. The big day I gave the “Introducing the Shell” introduction. As I got started, I had an insight: Every one of us in this room had mastered a second (natural) language. So surely getting started on a couple of computer languages and dialects (bash, git, Python, R) wouldn’t actually present much of a hassle for the participants. I found this thought reassuring, at least - I hope they did too. Things unfolded more or less smoothly over the rest of the workshop. The most satisfying feedback was that we obviously enjoyed guiding the students and benefitted from having strong material. Or that we went slowly and carefully so that everyone could keep up. Much credit is due to the SWC community for giving us such a solid, well-structured base to work from, and to Martin for his leadership in educating us about the goals of SWC, and for his organisational expertise. These workshops were a good learning experience for the instructors (for the participants too!) and we look forward to putting on an even better workshop in 2018. Read More ›

Curriculum › Help Update the Instructor Training Materials
Erin Becker / 2017-07-11
The Carpentry Instructor Training curriculum helps prepare new instructors to teach Carpentry workshops. It also impacts instructors’ teaching practices when they teach in other contexts, helping to spread the Carpentry pedagogical model and evidence-based teaching practices around the world! We last published this curriculum in February. Since then, we’ve taught over 150 new instructors at a dozen training events. We’ve also welcomed ten new Instructor Trainers to our community, with fifteen more to join in September. We’ve learned a lot over the past six months and want to incorporate what we’ve learned before our next publication (scheduled for August 10th). Please join the Trainer community in updating these lessons! Get involved! If you’ve made a contribution to the Instructor Training materials, you’re already an author. Help make sure the final product is polished and complete by getting involved in the lesson release events. The Instructor Training Issue Bonanza is starting Thursday, July 13th at 22:00 UTC and will continue until Friday, July 14th 22:00 UTC. Click this link to see the event in your local time. How does the lesson release process work? Here’s a run-down of the lesson release process and our timetable for this release. Issue Bonanza to identify issues that need to be fixed before publication. July 13-14 Staff and maintainers organize issues (e.g. add tags and remove duplicates). July 16-20 Bug BBQ to fix issues identified during Issue Bonanza. Aug. 3-4 Publish! Aug. 10 Issues to focus on are in the lesson release checklist. You don’t need to be an expert in the materials - we need people to help search for broken links and typos too! If you’re planning on joining the Issue Bonanza - add your name to the event Etherpad. We’re excited to work with the community to update these materials. Put these dates on your calendar, and we’ll send out reminders and updates too. These lessons belong to the community - help us keep them great! Read More ›

Two Workshops at NASA DEVELOP (or, Python De-Fanged)
Ryan Avery, Kunal Marwaha, Katie Moore, Kelly Meehan / 2017-07-11
On 8-9 June, 2017, Katie Moore, Deputy Data Management Team Lead for the NASA CERES Science Team, and Ryan Avery, Geoinformatics Fellow with the NASA DEVELOP National Program, ran a Self-Organised workshop in Hampton, VA. On 12-13 June, 2017, Kunal Marwaha, a software engineer with Palantir, Kelly Meehan, Geoinformatics Fellow with NASA DEVELOP, and Ryan ran another Self-Organised workshop in Norton, VA. Both workshops focused on building skills in NASA DEVELOP participants, who work on 10-week feasibility projects that demonstrate how to apply NASA Earth observations to environmental concerns to enhance project partner decision-making. In the process, both partners and participants gain a better understanding of NASA’s Earth-observing (EO) capabilities and improve their professional and technical capacity to use EO data. For Katie, Kelly, and I, these were the first workshops in which we taught entire lessons and we found it to be an extremely rewarding experience. ## NASA DEVELOP at Langley Workshop Attendees Day 1: 19 Attendees Day 2: 15 At the Hampton workshop, learners came from a variety of academic backgrounds and with a spectrum of skillsets. The majority of learners fell within environmental or planetary sciences, but we also had undergraduate and graduate students attending who were studying mathematics, chemical engineering, economics, physics, and social sciences. Because of the types of programs written for DEVELOP research projects, we opted to focus on covering programming fundamentals, leaving out most of the UNIX shell lesson after the working with directories section. For Python, we incorporated the Gapminder Variables and Assignment and Libraries lessons into the Inflammation lessons, which was a success. We also covered the Gapminder Plotting lesson, which ended up being a little redundant. The Git lesson excited and motivated most participants but also left some participants wondering when or if they would ever use Git. In our next workshop in Norton, VA, we changed our delivery of these lessons to include more hands-on examples. For most learners, the pace of the workshop was spot on, with a handful of respondents saying the pace was either too slow or too fast. There were some technical issues with being able to open the Python interpreter from Git Bash. We solved this problem pretty quickly by creating a .bashrc file to point the Python command to the python.exe executable file. Instructions to do this have been documented on the Configuration Problems page. Another big lesson from this workshop was not to hold intensive two-day workshops during the orientation week of our program, when participants are tired out from getting accustomed to a new job. There was some drop off in attendance on the second day, however, overall feedback and survey responses were positive and most learners reported feeling more motivated and less intimidated by the UNIX Shell, Python, and Git. Some of the feedback we got: Good The sticky notes help system worked well and was a good idea The pace, the instructors, and the content that was [provided] were fantastic. Thank you again. Thank you Ryan and Katie! That was very helpful and very informative. Improve I would have loved a couple extra days to learn R, more bash, and sql! None that I can think of right now NASA DEVELOP at Wise Workshop Attendees Day 1: 9 Attendees Day 2: 9 The audience was very engaged and committed to staying the full length of the workshop. It included a high school teacher and student from John I. Burton High School (where we hosted the workshop) and the 7 participants of the NASA DEVELOP program at Wise. The NASA participants had already met a week prior, so there was existing camaraderie that made the workshop less formal and more welcoming. Furthermore, this workshop began after a weekend, with participants fresh and ready to tackle new challenges. The audience was new to programming but were proficient at typing and navigating their computer via a GUI, which made this workshop a lot easier to teach. Three instructors for nine learners also made a huge difference, for example, one participant was slightly behind for most of the first Python lesson, but was able to catch up each time with one-on-one help from an instructor. Some changes we made between this workshop after learning from the one at Hampton - we decided to not teach plotting from the Gapminder tutorial since we had already covered this in Inflammation. We also decided to provide more challenge exercises to give more hands-on experience and less “lecture” time. Folks were really excited by a few hands-on tutorials; there were several moments where the room was full of “oohs” and cheering. A couple of highlights included: After teaching Git, we pointed people to the Github repository for pianobar, a program to run Pandora from your command line. Find the binaries here. Learners cloned the appropriate repository (or brew installed it), and were able to connect their Pandora accounts and use the command line to create stations and play music. This was a good tie-in with versioning and collaboration and got the learners excited about the world of open source programming. In the final hour, we ran a couple of exercises at the end: Write a function that takes in a number (1-12) and runs the plots for the associated inflammation-xx.csv file. This tied together relevant concepts including if statements, chained functions, and data types. It also showed learners that there are often multiple ways to accomplish a task when programming. Use vi to write a simple questionnaire using python’s input() function, so that it would interactively ask for your name and how you’re doing and then provide a response which uses your answer. Learners came up with other questions and wrote humorous questionnaires. We wrapped up with learners trying each other’s programs and had lots of fun! Feedback was overwhelming positive, with 8/8 respondents to the post-workshop survey identifying as promoters. Some of the feedback we got: Good Learned Python!!! Learned how to use the terminal. I’ve used it before but never understood what I was doing and probably couldn’t have done anything useful with it before the workshop. Liked Rodeo & I think it’ll be useful in my DEVELOP project & my other research project. Instructors were really good & easy to follow. I was scared of coding before but not anymore so THANKS! I liked learning about the various applications & uses of Python. Awesome how it was step-by-step. I knew nothing about coding, but it was explained very well. Apply[ing] the coding… to actual problems was cool to see. The information was easy to understand. I liked the challenges after the lessons. I also liked hearing how the things we learned apply to real world applications. Ya’ll made coding fun for someone who has had no previous experience. Willing to help when we are stuck. EVERYTHING! Very useful & learnt A LOT especially Python. Learning the basics, plotting, functions, etc is very helpful in school & at work. I feel like I removed the fangs of the Python in this workshop and now it can’t bite me anymore. Before I was scared of it. OK maybe a bad pun. Intense course in 2 days but learning was steep. Improve With more time it would be nice to go over indexing and how computers read rasters. More explanation on Python basics. Possibly slow down the Python coding section. This workshop was not long enough for the information given. Possibly tailor to specific projects. Include more exercises. I want more than 2 days of Software Carpentry. I want to learn more. Maybe just slow down explaining some parts. Maybe break down exactly how these programs could work with our specific projects. Read More ›

Assessment › Analysis of Software Carpentry Workshop Impact
Kari L. Jordan / 2017-07-10
We’ve begun to look at our pre- and post- workshop surveys and are sharing the draft reports to stimulate conversation about our workshops and their impacts on learners. For this first cut, we looked at our post-workshop survey data. From this survey data, we can see that learning to program can be quite intimidating for many learners. About 44.5% of Software Carpentry learners who responded to the post-workshop survey feel that at least one of the tools covered in the workshop they attended was either slightly or very intimidating to them before attending a workshop. Luckily for our learners, we have trained, enthusiastic, and considerate instructors who are great communicators. As a result, our learners are leaving Software Carpentry workshops with increased confidence and motivation to perform computing tasks like initializing a repo in Git and importing libraries in R or Python! We have learned so much from the analysis of our post-workshop surveys. We invite you to check out the Analysis of Software Carpentry’s Post-Workshop Surveys report to learn more. Special thank yous go to Ben Marwick, Naupaka Zimmerman, Erin Becker, and Jonah Duckles. These individuals made valuable contributions to the code that was used to create the figures in this report. All of the data are available in a de-identified way in this repository. Source data (csv) , Report (html) and Report Source (rmd) are all available for further analysis and exploration. We’d love to hear from you if you look at the data, and pull requests are most welcome if you come up with some interesting analyses. What strikes you after reading the report? Tweet us your thoughts @swcarpentry and @drkariljordan. Read More ›

Open Channels
Belinda Weaver / 2017-07-06
I was writing a talk about community building in the Carpentries for the ANDS Tech Talk series, and found myself surprised at how many things we do. Obviously, workshops are our key community-building activity. They help us reach new learners, give instructors the chance to practise teaching, and draw in new helpers. Many learners and helpers go on to become instructors themselves, which builds further momentum. Conference tie-in workshops, such as the annual bootcamp for the UQ Winter School attendees in Brisbane, are another building block. People have already been at the conference together so they come to the workshop as a loose group, where they learn tools relevant to their research practice with others from the same discipline. Tie-in workshops help us build out into different academic communities both nationally and internationally, since many go home from our workshops as advocates for Software Carpentry. Conference-goers can find kindred spirits via our meetups page, and busy Carpenters can stay in touch via our newsletter - you can subscribe here or read issues you might have missed. We also have a number of email lists, such as the discuss list, or regional lists such as Australia/New Zealand. Our blog and our Twitter feed provide other avenues to stay in touch, as does our slack channel. People can catch up with those conversations whenever it suits them. For those who want to connect more directly, community calls and instructor discussions provide a way to talk in real time. Find those on our community calendar. We also engage people directly via our lessons on GitHub. People raise all kinds of issues, and discussions can get quite lengthy. But it’s important for us to provide that forum: we’re Software Carpentry - we do what we do in the open. There is also all the great outreach our mentoring volunteers do - running instructor discussion sessions to debrief instructors after workshops or to help new people prepare to teach for the first time. Teaching demo sessions are another way to build community - connecting the growing trainer group to new instructors coming through from instructor training, another key building block of outreach. Sprints and hackathons like Data Carpentry’s bug bbq also draw people in, as did our 2015 instructor retreat. And soon there will be CarpentryCon! Expect to see a blizzard of info about this 2018 event soon. Read More ›

Why be a helper at Software Carpentry workshops?
Belinda Weaver / 2017-07-01
“I’m not an expert on R”, “I don’t know any Python”, “I’ve never used Git” - these may be true statements but they should never stop you from helping out at a Software Carpentry workshop. Even the workshop instructors themselves may not be “experts” - and all the better if they are not! Experts don’t necessarily make the best teachers. Many have lost sight of - or, worse, patience with - the beginner mindset. Software Carpentry’s worldwide community of volunteer instructors include experts, near-learners and plenty of people in between. What they share is a willingness to teach their peers. And that’s all a helper really needs - the willingness to lend a hand. It’s fine to say you don’t know the answer to something, or to call for help with a question that stumps you. Let the instructors deal with anything knotty that crops up. Most workshop hiccups are much simpler - a typo, issues with the wifi, or learners not being able to locate a downloaded file. Learners might have fallen behind, in which case all they need to get caught up is to be shown the right spot in the online lesson. Or perhaps they overlooked the etherpad link. These are all simple problems that you don’t need to be an expert to fix. Sometimes it’s enough just to be familiar with a Mac or with Windows, so that people using unfamiliar laptops can navigate their way around an operating system. All kinds of help are welcome at Software Carpentry workshops. Perhaps you can paste challenges into the etherpad. Collect sticky note feedback. Write links on a whiteboard. Point people to the best coffee or lunch place on campus. It certainly helps if you’ve had time to review what will be taught. That way, you will be quicker to spot a typo or locate the spot where the learner needs to find the lesson. But don’t pretend to know more than you do. Learners will appreciate your honesty. The main thing is to be friendly and approachable. Helping at a workshop is a way to see workshops in action. You may be trying to figure out if you’d like to become an instructor yourself. You might even want to have a crack at teaching a section, knowing there are more experienced instructors in the room should you run into problems. You can certainly learn a lot about instructing by watching others. Many helpers do go on to become instructors themselves, reinforcing their own learning by teaching the material to other people. If you have attended a workshop before, helping may reinforce your own learning. Hearing things explained again can really help consolidate your knowledge. You might also pick up new tricks and tips. A key benefit is helping people get started, feeling you are making a contribution to their learning, and to the learning community within your institution. It might kickstart a new community of practice, or just a networking group for when times get tough and you need to talk your work over with someone who is struggling with the same problems. So what are you waiting for? FInd a workshop near you and volunteer. You will be made very welcome in what is a great, global community. Read More ›

15 - 30 June, 2017: Reorganisational Timeline, HPC-in-a-day, Good Enough Practices for Scientific Computing, Opensource Survey.
Martin Dreyer / 2017-06-30
Highlights The reorganization timeline has been drafted and awaiting approval from the respective steering committees. Learn about the HPC-in-a-day course that brings the fun back to HPC. we are pleased to anounce the publication of Good Enough Practices for Scientific Computing. We are very excited for Maneesha Sane that is moving from Program Coordinator to Program Manager of the Carpentries. Jobs Software and Data Carpentry are looking to hire a part-time Workshop Administrator to help set up workshops and ensure that they run smoothly. Tweets Top 10 tips for image acquisition if you are going to do image analysis. Spread the word and happy quantifying! Just out, “Good Enough Practices in Scientific Computing” Ten simple rules for collaborative lesson development. Good essay on value of empathy in work. Empathy of @swcarpentry instructors humanizes technical skills for learners. How open is your opensource? Check out the Open Source Survey. General Our secretary has commited to write a monthly blog post to ensure better transparency between the Steering Committee and the community. Macquire University held their first ever instructor training and it went very well. 17 workshops were run over the past 30 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops: July ResBaz 2017- Python, ResBaz 2017 - R, University of Technology Sydney, University of Würzburg, University of Auckland, UQ Winter School , University of Chicago, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California San Francisco , University of Mauritius, Imperial College London, University College London, McMaster Software Carpentry Workshop. August University of Southampton, Washington State University. September University of Würzburg, Oregon State University/CGRB. Read More ›

Job Posting: Workshop Administrator
Belinda Weaver / 2017-06-26
With the growth of Carpentry workshops all over the world, we are excited that Maneesha Sane is moving from Program Coordinator to Program Manager of Software and Data Carpentry. As Program Manager, she will continue to be involved in workshop coordination and instructor training and will oversee and ensure the quality and consistency of program operations. She will also work to develop processes, infrastructure and communications to consistently improve the workshop experience for instructors, hosts and learners. To fill some of her workshop coordination responsibilities, Software and Data Carpentry are looking to hire a part-time Workshop Administrator to help set up workshops and ensure that they run smoothly. The successful candidate will join a team of workshop coordinators around the world. In this job, you will manage workshop logistics, help communicate with hosts and instructors, and respond to general workshop inquiries. We are looking for someone with strong organizational and communication skills, who can prioritize competing tasks and work independently. Strong attention to detail is a must. Enthusiasm for our mission of teaching people how to program is also a plus! This is a remote position. The incumbent will be hired and paid as an independent contractor of our 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor, NumFOCUS. The position will begin as part-time, approximately 20 hours a week, but has the potential to become full time. Review of applications will begin on July 17, 2017, and the position will remain open until filled. For more details on the position and information on how to apply, please see the full job posting. Read More ›

Good Enough Practices in Scientific Computing
Greg Wilson / 2017-06-22
We are pleased to announce the publication of “Good Enough Practices in Scientific Computing” by Greg Wilson, Jennifer Bryan, Karen Cranston, Justin Kitzes, Lex Nederbragt, and Tracy K. Teal, which is intended as a complement to 2014’s “Best Practices for Scientific Computing”. As the summary says: Computers are now essential in all branches of science, but most researchers are never taught the equivalent of basic lab skills for research computing. As a result, data can get lost, analyses can take much longer than necessary, and researchers are limited in how effectively they can work with software and data. Computing workflows need to follow the same practices as lab projects and notebooks, with organized data, documented steps, and the project structured for reproducibility, but researchers new to computing often don’t know where to start. This paper presents a set of good computing practices that every researcher can adopt, regardless of their current level of computational skill. These practices, which encompass data management, programming, collaborating with colleagues, organizing projects, tracking work, and writing manuscripts, are drawn from a wide variety of published sources from our daily lives and from our work with volunteer organizations that have delivered workshops to over 11,000 people since 2010. We hope the community will find it useful, and would welcome feedback. Read More ›

Instructor Training at Macquarie University
Belinda Weaver / 2017-06-20
Software Carpentry Executive Director Jonah Duckles and I ran instructor training for new member institution Macquarie University in Sydney on 19-20 June. There were a few firsts at this workshop - Jonah’s first time as an instructor trainer, my first day in the job as the new Community Development Lead for Software and Data Carpentry, and Macquarie’s first-ever instructor training event. We may also have had the biggest-ever workshop etherpad, coming in at 1400+ lines, but that would be a tough claim to substantiate. Certainly the eventual size of the etherpad mirrored the deep engagement of attendees, who all worked very hard. Eighteen people attended the training, most of them from Macquarie (a mixture of postgrad students and IT/research support staff), but there were also attendees from local institutions UNSW and the University of Sydney. Feedback was plentiful - we did both sticky note feedback and One Up, One Down twice - and we were praised for the friendly atmosphere and the energy we brought to the workshop. A talking stick circulated to make sure quieter voices got to have their fair share of the conversation, and this attracted a favourable mention in feedback. Enthusiasm to build community and to get the skills out to others was high, though as one attendee commented a little ruefully in final feedback: “Daily noise gets in the way”. Jonah was forced to multi-task through one session, taking advantage of some audience challenge time to fix problems on the Software Carpentry website, which had disappeared from view because of a Jekyll page build problem. All was luckily fixed before the class raised their heads again. Attendees were keen to put what they had learned into practice, and most enjoyed the live teaching practices more than they had anticipated. As with most workshops, some people wished they had learned some of the material long ago! Jonah and I both appreciated the efforts of our magnificent, well-organised helper Carmi Cronje, who scribed for us tirelessly throughout the workshop. Thanks must also go to Emily Brennan, Project Coordinator in the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), who worked very hard to make this workshop happen, and Professor Peter Nelson, PVC Research Performance and Innovation, who funded the workshop. Macquarie are very keen to develop strong communities of practice around skills and training, and this workshop was a fantastic first step. I look forward to welcoming the class to the Software and Data Carpentry instructor communities. Read More ›

HPC in a day?
Peter Steinbach / 2017-06-20
Preface In today’s scientific landscape, computational methods or efficient use thereof can be at the heart of the race for new insights, if not at the heart of the race with the academic competition. Learning how to automate tasks from data analysis to data preprocessing as taught by the carpentries provides the technical concepts to enter this race with an advantage. If you just graduated a software/data carpentry boot camp and want to go beyond your laptop’s capabilities, the next step in academia is typically to approached the data center of your university or alike. There, a user account application has to be filed for the High Performance Computing (HPC) facilities. After some more formalities, storage and computing time is awarded and you can successfully log into the cluster. And then? Then either our carpenter is given a link to the wiki of the local cluster and how to use it. Sometimes there can be a short course on the mechanics of the HPC cluster and how to use tools that are installed on the cluster. That’s it and good luck. Clearly, the details of the last paragraph vary from site to site and may be a bit exagerated. Judging from YouTube, there are a lot of dedicated and highly enthusiastic HPC instructors out there. Even so, there is yet a large gap from filing an account on the HPC machine to running an analysis or simulation campaign autonomously and at scale. The reason for this is, that HPC clusters are very complicated installations. Moreover, the trainings in HPC jump very quickly to the nuts and bolts of HPC, i.e. the number of cores, size of CPU caches, batch system intrinsic, optimal communication patterns, what profiler to use etc. As many (if not the majority) of HPC users stem from domain sciences and hardly ever received a formal education in (parallel) programming or modern computer architecture, this situation leaves many users with despair and hopelessness. Many of the latter end up ‘copy & paste’ing scripts from wikis or arbitrary places and using these snippets in a mechanical fashion. Simply put: the fun disappears very quickly. With fun lost, creativity will be the next victim which can be detrimental to the scientific race mentioned above. hpc-novice So let’s change this! Let’s bring fun back to HPC (training) for all. For this purpose, Christina Koch from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ashwin Srinath from Clemson University and myself (Peter Steinbach from Scionics Computer Innovation GmbH) started to come about with a hpc-novice curriculum that is inspired by the software carpentry spirit and pedagogical methods. Although this set of material is still in it’s infancy, the idea behind it can be paraphrased by “Help a carpentry learner to use a cluster of computers to speed up their day-to-day data lifting”. Our efforts to brain storm a possible curriculum are currently fixed in this document. Feel free to dial over and provide comments. In an attempt to converge on a curriculum based on user feedback and due to the need for local training at our client, the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, I went ahead and came up with an one-day HPC course, which I called hpc-in-a-day. People invited me to to report my experiences made there, so I dedicated the remainder of this post to that. hpc-in-a-day was conceived as a course for our scientists as our (client) institute is becoming more and more cross-disciplinary and hence we have mathematicians, physicists, biologists and engineers that all want to use our HPC infrastructure. As we were about to open our new cluster extension, hardware resources were a bit scarce at the time of the workshop. I started to ask around if I could get support from the AWS cloud team through my data carpentry contacts and some vendors that we work closely together with. But no luck. Surprisingly, our Lenovo re-seller pro-com helped us out and put up a temporary cluster of 8 machines just for our workshop. A big thank you them at this point! Before going in, I prepared pre-workshop assessments to infer the expertise level of the learners. I asked them mostly questions regarding how familiar they were with the terminal and how familiar they were with programming. To give you a feeling of the crowd, 90% of my participants expressed that they use the terminal at least once a day. 45% of all learners mentioned that they would required “google or a colleague of choice” to infer how much disk space they have left on the computer using the terminal. Along the same line of thought, 90% of the participants claimed that they program at least once a day. So I thought I was well prepared and went ahead composing the material. The contents were set up in the following way: Two sessions about advanced shell methods (ssh/scp and file system recap) Two sessions on how to submit jobs to the cluster (scheduler basics, submit scripts) One session on using the shared file system Three sessions on the basics of parallel programming with python (from serial implementation, to a shared memory parallel one and a distributed one) One session on using the scheduler for high-throughput computing What went wrong? First of all, I had to learn the hard way that lime survey also records incomplete surveys. It turns out that 2 of my learners didn’t complete the survey and those were the ones with rarely any expertise in using the terminal. Me, as the instructor, I need to be more careful with this. Not only did this produce a bi-modal distribution of prior expertise in programming among the participants, but it made structuring the course much more difficult as the majority of learners were able to work with the terminal. Second of all, when you are an experienced HPC user and half-time admin, you simply stop seeing the obstacles - many things like file system mechanics are simply done by your fingers and not by your mind anymore. This made my time estimates very inaccurate and tempted me to ditch large parts of some lessons. Judging from this, a 1.5 or even 2 day workshop would be better. A quote from the feedback: Course was very intensive (or just too fast) for unexpirienst user. Very fast in the beggining with all the ssh connection, without explanation what is it and how to work with it. Last but not least, it became apparent in the feedback round (learner 1, learner 2, learner 3, learner 4, learner 5, learner 6 and learner 7) that some of the terms which I used to relate the parallel execution of a program (think “threads on cores”) where not mentioned at all in source code. Apparently, this mental mapping was missing and so one learner even said: I’ve also missed examples of how to run programs that already have a –threads option in the cluster. even though I covered this type of parallelization in detail. That said I wondered, if python is really the best language to teach parallel programming? What went well? In the post-workshop assessment, participants were asked to indicate if they would recommend the course to others, where a score of 5 refers to very strong agreement and 0 no agreement. The feedback from my learners averaged to a score of 4.5 out of 5! A quote from the feedback: Otherwise, great course. Thanks for having me. During the course, I saw that many people just immediately grasped the content that I was trying to convey. Many people immediately asked how to automate job submission, how to profile their Fortran or C++ application, how to automate the optimal parameter set for submitting their jobs and much more. You could tell that some of these questions grew out of their day job use of HPC clusters. Also, I was personally happy to see that people enjoyed parallel programming as much. I chose the Monte Carlo style estimation of Pi using 2 arrays of pseudo-random numbers as the underlying algorithmic problem to solve. I had the impression that people could grasp this rather easily - something I was not clear about beforehand. Summary To put up a carpentry inspired HPC course, some things became evident (again): my hpc-in-a-day curriculum should be split into 2 lessons (hpc-novice and hpc-parallel) to target people that just want to get their job done on the cluster (hpc-novice) and those that need to go further (hpc-parallel). A much more clear communication of the expected expertise of the learners is essential. Good teaching of parallel programming and processing can be done before any deep hardware details enter the stage, which is where I see the biggest selling point for this curriculum. Working in HPC for years and using these machines should not lead us to believe that we fit to teach it. We should therefor reduce the material to concepts first. Further, some HPC centers and even one vendors already asked me if and how hpc-in-a-day will live on and if there will be other implementations of it. I personally would love to continue working with Christina and Ashwin as well as any other volunteers out there to do this and potentially bring HPC back home into the Carpentries. There already was one adaptation of hpc-in-a-day by Andrea Zonca. Read More ›

New monthly updates from the secretary
Rayna Harris / 2017-06-20
After 6 months, I feel that I’m settling into my role as Software Carpentry Steering Committee Secretary. In an effort to improve communication and transparency between the Steering Committee and everyone else, I am commiting to writing or co-writing a montly blog post to keep you abreast on news from each meetings. Check out these new blog post summaries of the in-person Software Carpentry Steering Committee Meeting and of the in-person SWC/DC merger group meeting. I also have resumed the process of recoding all board resolutions here with those from previous years: https://github.com/swcarpentry/board/blob/master/minutes/resolutions.md For your reference, minutes are always archived here: https://github.com/swcarpentry/board/tree/master/minutes These can be a bit detailed or disorganized, so I’ve started to include a summary paragraph at the top the archived to improve their readability. I’ve begun archiving the minutes for the Community Call meetings in this Carpentries GitHub repo: https://github.com/carpentries/community-calls Please let me know if you have questions or concerns. Thanks! Read More ›

1 - 15 June, 2017: Steering Committee retreat, Community Development Lead, Library Carpentry Instructors,CarpentryCon.
Martin Dreyer / 2017-06-19
Highlights The Carpentries might look a bit different in future. The Software Carpentry Steering Committee retreat went really well and they have provided five key areas in which the committee wil provide oversight. We are pleased to welcome Belinda Weaver as our new Community Development Lead we wish her all the best! Tweets For detailed review computation and data: Research Software Engineers report. A good read. A Comprehensive Survey on Open Source. Awesome, Tireless, Excitable Library Carpentry Champion Belinda Weaver is the new Software Carpentry Community Development Lead! If you care about research data practices & have #genomics #bioinformatics experience we’ve got a great opportunity. Hear about how Software Carpentry built community on campus through University of Oklahoma Libraries from Carl Grant and Sarah Clayton. Sheffield University is now a Software Carpentry Parnter! General Library Carpentry will have some new instructors soon and we cannot wait to welcome them to the instructor community. The Carpentries are committed to promoting inclusion to all that want to participate in any workshop. Library Carpentry recently joined the Mozilla science sprint and it exceeded our expectations. Our vision for CarpentryCon 2018 is to be a better more interactive community driven event. 22 workshops were run over the past 30 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops: June IRI Life Sciences, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Macquarie University, TGen, Queen Mary University of London, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Materials Physics Center,University of the Basque Country Software Carpentry Workshop, UW Madison. July University of Auckland, University of Chicago, University of Mauritius, UQ Winter School. September University of Würzburg, Oregon State University/CGRB. Read More ›

Timeline for the Data Carpentry & Software Carpentry Reorganization
Karen Cranston, Rayna Harris, Kate Hertweck, Hilmar Lapp / 2017-06-17
On Jun 8 & 9, we met in-person to continue discussing how to proceed with the merger of the Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry organizations to best achieve our strategic goals and serve our communities. We are happy to report that is was a very productive meeting. We spent most of the meeting discussing the structure of the future organizational leadership. We have drafted a number of motions that we will present to our respective steering committees for approval at our next meetings. Among the motions, we will propose that the combined Carpentries governing structure be made up of both appointed and elected members. Additionally, we propose that it is in the best interest of the organization to seed the future steering committee with bylaws, which will be enumerated, written, and approved in the coming months. Below is a timeline for the merger process. Various steps in this timeline require approval by both steering committees, and are dependent on results of previous steps, so this may change as we proceed. Month Merger Process Milestones June Communicate the in-person meeting outcomes and proposed governance structure to staff and community members. July Present motions to approve the proposed governance structure, executive leadership, and transfer of assets (e.g. finances, cross-organization subcommittees). Enumerate required bylaws. August Present and approve an official motion to combine Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry into a unified organization. Approve nominations for the appointed seats to the steering committee. September Approve a unified budget. Approve the transfer of assets. October Call for candidates for elected members of the steering committee. Approve motions to dissolve the current steering committee and transfer assets as of January 1. November Community call to announce candidates for the elected seats on the steering committee. December Elect new elected steering committee members. January New organization with new steering committee commences. We are grateful for all the input we have and will to continue to received from community members, from staff, and from colleagues outside the Carpentries during this decision-making process. Please stayed tuned for updates and feel free to contact us with questions or concerns. Read More ›

The road to CarpentryCon 2018
Fotis Psomopoulos / 2017-06-10
Imagine a global community event where Carpentries members and aficionados come together for a short period to exchange experiences, discuss lessons and debate teaching practices. Visualize a space where keynote speeches are closely complemented by community-driven lightning talks, and round-table panels are supported with ad-hoc informal meetings to share stories about challenges and successes. Finally, to complete the picture, consider a number of satellite events, such as social gatherings, carpentry workshops and new lesson developments. Well, this is our vision for CarpentryCon 2018! During the last meeting of the CarpentryCon task force (2017-06-04), we made several concrete steps towards making this a reality. First and foremost, we started working on a draft agenda for the CarpentryCon event, as well as on a bid guide for potential sites to host the event. Primary considerations in both cases were to incorporate the best experiences in conferences so far, as well as attempting to cultivate an informal but informative environment. Finally, we selected new officers for this task force: Mateusz Kuzak and Rayna Harris, after their tireless efforts so far, stepped down and passed on their responsibilities to Fotis Psomopoulos and Malvika Sharan (as chair and secretary respectively). Our next steps will focus primarily on finalizing the draft agenda and start sending out the bid forms to potential sites. We envision CarpentryCon as an event by the community and for the community. This is why we want to involve you in the process and decisions. We also want the event to be inclusive and attract a very diverse group of people, our learners, instructors, trainers and lesson contributors. Bid guide and agenda documents are open for comments and will be circulated to the community for feedback within the month. We will also host the Community Call in August in order to bring in more people into the discussion and planning. So stay tuned! Read More ›

The Endless Sprint
Belinda Weaver / 2017-06-07
The recent Library Carpentry sprint exceeded my expectations, and then some! Around 107 people signed up on our organising etherpad, either to work remotely or to contribute at one of the 13 sites in seven countries around the globe. That’s a big step up from the 2016 numbers of six sites and around twenty people working on the material. The sprint was organised as part of the 2017 Mozilla Global Sprint. Library Carpenters comprised around one-sixth of that sprint workforce, and our more than 850 GitHub events - pull requests, forks, issues raised, commits and merges - outpaced the rest of the field by miles. We used the sprint to amend, update, and extend the existing Library Carpentry lessons, get draft lessons on SQL and Python into better shape, and develop a new lesson on web scraping. We welcomed contributions from librarians and archivists, as well as from other information professionals, not to mention Software Carpentry Executive Director Jonah Duckles himself who worked on the git lesson alongside Gillian Elliott’s team in Otago. We used our chatroom and this GitHub repository to organise work during the sprint. These were the issues we worked on, with lesson maintainers making themselves available to answer questions either via the chatroom or on Zoom (video call) sessions. The Zoom sessions sometimes ran for hours and proved to be an efficient channel for the different sites and people working remotely to network with others or to resolve tricky questions. Greg Wilson popped up in one Zoom session and we also had a visit from Raniere Silva - both welcome presences at any Carpentries’ hackathon. We used Zoom for the daily handovers as the baton passed to the next team coming online. The sun never set on the project as momentum moved from earlier risers New Zealand, into and across Australia to the Netherlands and the UK, then on to Canada and the US, and back again. US librarians truly committed to the sprint, with seven sites overall, some of whom were still going strong when I clocked in on Saturday morning (my time) to say thanks and goodbye (getting snapped in my pyjamas by Elizabeth Wickes in the process). Librarians who had attended the instructor training in Portland run by Tim Dennis and me (half of the newly minted #TeamSpatula) were particularly well-represented. Portlanders - we love you guys! There were just too many of you to name here but more than half the Portland cohort sprinted, and some are still chiming in with contributions now. I will give a shout out to Scott Peterson for being not only a sprinter, but also a site organiser at UC Berkeley. Sprinters were free to work on whatever lessons or issues they liked. In New Zealand and Utah, librarians worked through lessons to familiarise themselves with what for many was new material. What eventuated was not just lesson knowledge, but a sense of community, and a feeling of ‘buy-in’ that this was useful knowledge worth spreading further. Non-coders were free to raise issues, correct typos, suggest fixes and devise scenarios to try to make the material more relevant. That this worked well could be seen in our email in-boxes: GitHub notification numbers were off the charts for the lesson maintainers. Not that we are complaining - the level of engagement was just mind-bogglingly gratifying. Led by Nora McGregor, the British Library had a team working on git, and Software Carpentry Steering Committee member Mateusz Kuzak led a big team at the national library of the Netherlands where the Python and SQL lessons got a solid working over. Owen Stephens and Carmi Cronje led the charge on OpenRefine, and Jez Cope worked on incubator lessons and built a page for reporting our many workshops. James Baker worked on the data intro lesson, helmed a lot of Zoom action, and provided a steadying hand and answered a lot of questions in the chatroom. James also made sure that issues around standardising README and CONTRIBUTING files across the many repositories were not forgotten. Just as in 2016, the indefatigable Cam Macdonell was on board all hours, and Elizabeth Wickes distinguished herself by being blocked on GitHub - they mistook her hard work for something more spammy and sinister and closed her down for a few hours. Thanks to Thomas Guignard for the web scraping lesson we used as a basis for ours and to Lauren Ko for hacking away at it and running a site in Texas as well. The Brisbane site hosted Richard Vankongingsveld who developed the new Python intro lesson. He made good use of Zoom to consult with sprinters in New Zealand and the Netherlands as the sprint got underway. As for me, I baked two cakes, wrangled pull requests, worked on the git and web scraping lessons, reported on progress to Mozilla, dug people out of Git-holes, talked to people on Zoom, haunted the chatroom, answered queries, and matched people to tasks that needed doing. I also tweeted a lot. All in all, it was a thoroughly rewarding two days, and it was truly sad to see it end. We are now into the consolidation phase, with a lot more work ahead. HUGE thanks to everyone who took part. Great effort all round. Never seen Library Carpentry? Here are the links: Git Shell OpenRefine Python Draft new Python SQL Data Intro, Jargon Busting, Regex Web scraping There is a new Data Intro lesson specifically geared towards the needs of archivists: Data-intro-archives An incubator lesson exists within a separate repository for tidying spreadsheet data. Library-spreadsheets Read More ›

Announcing Belinda Weaver as our Community Development Lead
Jonah Duckles, Tracy Teal / 2017-06-07
We’re excited to announce Belinda Weaver has accepted our offer to become the Community Development Lead. Belinda will join the Carpentries staff later this month, please give her a warm and enthusiastic community welcome! Many of you may already know of Belinda from her work all over the community as a Software Carpentry Steering Committee Member, the Mentorship Subcommittee, the Trainers Subcommittee and a champion and leader of Library Carpentry. As part of our bylaws Belinda will be stepping down from the Software Carpentry Steering Committee on Friday June 16th and the Committee will finish the 2017 term with a membership of 6. For those of you who don’t know her yet, look for her introductory blog post later today. In short, Belinda is a very active community member and a delight to work with, we’re incredibly excited to have her contributing to our community full-time very soon! We want to thank everyone who participated in the conversations about how we created this staff position, the global search process, and helped with community member interviews. It is always encouraging to see such a vibrant and thoughtful community as we think carefully about how to grow our impact around the world. Belinda will officially begin in the new role on June 19th, 2017 and will be joining us as a full-time staff member. You can reach her at: bweaver@carpentries.org and follow her on Twitter at @cloudaus Read More ›

New Community Development Lead
Belinda Weaver / 2017-06-06
I am very pleased to be starting as the new Community Development Lead for Software and Data Carpentry. Building communities, helping people connect, fostering skills and learning, brokering solutions - these are the things that drive me. Jobs I have had include librarian, repository manager, newspaper columnist, Internet trainer and IT project manager. I ran the library system for the City of London libraries in the 1980s, and have just finished working for a non-profit organisation making eResearch infrastructure available to university researchers. In my spare time, I like to read (a LOT), bake bread (and cakes), see as many films as I can, especially foreign/art house ones, and grow herbs and vegetables in the garden. I also love teaching - whether it be Software Carpentry workshops, Library Carpentry courses, or training new instructors. I dive right into the new job on 19 June, when I will be running an instructor training event with Jonah Duckles at Macquarie University in Sydney. It will be great to see the instructor pool in Sydney increase. I have been a fan of Software Carpentry since first hearing about it in 2014, when I organised the first ever Software Carpentry bootcamp in Brisbane in July of that year. I certified as a Software Carpentry instructor in 2015 (and as a Data Carpentry instructor the same year), and taught at two workshops. In 2016, I taught at eight workshops out of a total of 14 statewide. During 2016, I and other Queensland instructors took Software Carpentry to five cities in Queensland - Brisbane, Townsville, Toowoomba, Gold Coast and Rockhampton - a huge improvement on 2015, when we taught three workshops in Brisbane only. I organised Software Carpentry instructor training in Brisbane in 2016, and certified as an instructor trainer myself in late 2016. I have since helped train an online cohort and a librarian cohort face-to-face in Portland, Oregon (with the wonderful Tim Dennis as my co-trainer). I look forward to training many more new instructors in 2017 and beyond. I currently serve as the Software Carpentry administrator for half of Australia. This means helping people in other Australian states and territories organise workshops. I have also served on the Software Carpentry Steering Committee for eighteen months, but I will step down from that on 16 June as joining the staff makes me ineligible for the Committee. I was one of the organisers of the very successful 2016 and 2017 Brisbane Research Bazaar festivals. ResBaz is a three-day research event to skill up graduate students and early career researchers and help them find their ‘tribe’, whether that be in a discipline such as ecoscience or around tools such as R. From one event in 2015, ResBaz grew to ten in 2016 and 14 in 2017 in places as distant as Oslo, Tucson, Christchurch in New Zealand and Cuenca in Ecuador. Software Carpentry workshops are always a key part of ResBaz festivals, and ResBaz events are a great way to attract more people to Software and Data Carpentry. Along with Sam Hames and Nicholas Hamilton, I started a weekly Hacky Hour drop-in IT advice session for researchers at The University of Queensland. In June 2016, I organised a sprint to update and extend the Library Carpentry material created by Dr James Baker and others in the UK. This was part of the annual 2-day Mozilla Science Lab Global Sprint. More than 20 people in six countries worked on updating the material, and added a new SQL lesson to the existing four. Interest burgeoned. Library Carpentry won the British Library Labs award in November 2016, and there have been 30 workshops held worldwide since the 2016 sprint. The recently concluded 2017 sprint attracted 107 people at 13 sites worldwide. New lessons were added (web scraping, introductory Python) and existing lessons were updated. The community is very active, with an ongoing chat room. New members are welcome. Software Carpentry has really taken off in Australia, and the southern hemisphere more generally, with strong communities developing in New Zealand and South Africa as well. In this role, I plan to continue that work, train more instructors, get more partnerships across the line, if possible, and make sure we extend Software Carpentry workshops beyond the capital cities into the regions and into new, under-represented countries and communities. I also hope to improve communications, and to create opportunities for all our instructors and supporters to become more involved, and to feel more valued. But I don’t intend to be just a southern hemisphere community builder - I want to help build Software and Data Carpentry communities worldwide. I hope to spend a couple of months working in the northern hemisphere next spring. If you would like to host me, please get in touch. I am also looking forward to working with the Software and Data Carpentry staff - we all have big plans! Feel free to contact me any time at bweaver AT carpentries.org or ping me on Twitter. I look forward to meeting you all. Read More ›

Instructor Access to Workshops
Erin Becker, Jonah Duckles, Kari L. Jordan, Maneesha Sane, Tracy Teal / 2017-06-06
Working with hosts and instructors on workshop access Read More ›

Summary of the 2017 Software Carpentry Steering Committee Retreat
The 2017 Steering Committee / 2017-05-31
The Software Carpentry Steering Committee met in person on June 7-8 in Davis, California. The committee members have unique journeys that brought them through the community to having a seat on the steering committee. Importantly, we have a unified vision for the future of the Software Carpentry Foundation and the roles of the steering committee. Below is a brief summary of the motions passes and detailed description of the five key areas over which the Steering Committee will continue to provide oversight. Below, we 1) summarize the motions that were passed at the meeting, 2) describe the five key areas over which the Steering Committee provides oversight, and 3) provide a timeline for implementing our goals. Summary of motions passed at retreat The Steering Committee has created a board-designated operating reserve ($80,000, equivalent to one quarter’s worth of budget) to provide an assurance of financial solvency The Steering Committee empowers the trainer group to move forward with open instructor training events to non-member affiliated individuals The Steering Committee empowers staff to perform tasks in their areas of focus while the Steering Committee retains oversight in the key areas of community, instructor training, curriculum, finances, and hiring staff Areas with Steering Committee oversight Community We value the involvement of everyone in our community - learners, instructors, hosts, developers, maintainers, committee members, staff, partners, advocates, trainers, organizers, sponsors, advisors, and helpers. We are committed to creating a friendly and respectful place for learning, teaching and contributing. We will continue to support the Code of Conduct, which is at the heart of our community. Our mission is to continue growing and supporting a diverse and inclusive community. To that end, we have empowered a new Director of Community Engagement to accomplish this mission. Instructor training We are committed to creating a community of practice around instruction. As we train new instructors and instructor trainers, we must also continue to support their professional development through a community of practice. We have empowered the Director of Instructor Training to expand the instructor training program to accommodate the needs of our community. Our strategic plan is to identify new instructor trainees and provide training opportunities while simultaneously working to grow our capacity to offer mentoring and other support to those new instructors. Curriculum The Software Carpentry lessons and workshops are the vehicle through which we teach best practices for scientific computing. Our curriculum evolves over time for many reasons, including changes in the needs of learners and turnover of lesson contributors. Part of our strategic plan is to support community involvement with lesson archival, lesson releases, lesson maintaince, lesson development, and other tasks related to curriculum. Finances The Software Carpentry Foundation is financially responsible for the organization. The Steering Committee will continue to govern the financial model and budget. We have designated a financial reserve to promote healthy and fiscally responsible operations. Hiring staff To achieve our mission, the steering committee will oversee the process of creating staff positions. We will evaluate the extent to which senior staff are carrying the strategic initiatives. Senior staff will be responsible for evaluating junior staff members. Timeline for implementing our goals Immediate concerns (now-six months) Resolve issues with Windows Installer Reconcile and resolve restructuring with Data Carpentry Identify immediate concerns for lesson development and maintenance (with an eye towards a restructured Carpentries) Create a curated list of resources for learners to continue building skills following workshops Connect with members and community organizers, to develop local/regional communities Medium term (6-18 months) Populating the map (in terms of workshops, instructors, members) with an emphasis on diversity Create feedback loops for improving lessons, including lesson templates Local community building Assess inclusiveness of online communities Long term (18+ months) Focus on communities of practice (for learners, instructors, trainers) Solidify pathways of involvement for community members, associated with a mastery rubric of skills Improve methods of documenting and recognizing contributions to the community (e.g., badging) Read More ›

Apply to Become a Carpentry Instructor Trainer!
Erin Becker / 2017-05-31
The Carpentry community is growing! This month we welcomed ten new Instructor Trainers to our community. Now we are looking for the next group of new Trainers. Carpentry Instructor Trainers run instructor training workshops, lead online teaching demonstrations, and engage with the Trainer community about how best to train new instructors. Trainers are also actively involved in developing and maintaining the instructor training curriculum. We meet regularly to discuss our teaching experiences and stay up to date on policies, procedures, and changes to our curriculum. The Trainers are an eclectic group. Some of us have formal training in pedagogy, some are experienced Carpentry instructors, others run Carpentry-like trainings as part of their jobs, and others pitch in on their own free time. We all share a commitment to helping new instructor trainees become familiar and comfortable with Carpentry teaching practices and principles. More detailed information about what Trainers do can be found here. Trainers-in-training meet one hour a week for eight weeks to engage in a series of discussions around teaching pedagogy and creating welcoming classroom environments. After completing this part of the training, new Trainers shadow a teaching demonstration and part of an online instructor training event. Trainers-in-training also attend regular meetings of the Trainer community. This group of Trainers will start meeting in July and be eligable to teach instructor trainings by September. If you’re interested in joining the Trainer community, please apply here! Applications will be open until June 14th. If you have any questions about the training process or the expecations for being a Trainer, please get in touch with Erin. Read More ›

Summary of May Community Call: Restructuring the Carpentries
Kate Hertweck / 2017-05-19
Thanks to those of you who attended the May Community Calls, the topic of which was restructuring of Software Carpentry (SWC) and Data Carpentry (DC) into a single unified (umbrella) organization, with SWC and DC continuing as lesson organizations within the umbrella. As the Chair of the SWC Steering Committee, I am one of the representatives from each organization tasked with developing a plan of action for how the restructuring will proceed over the next ca. six months. I am gratified by how much our community cares about its future, and what we (as community) believe is important to target as we proceed in planning. The following items highlight major discussion points synthesized from both community calls, and a complete set of notes is available on the etherpad. Organizational members represent major stakeholders in our community. Given a majority of organizations have signed joint memberships with SWC and DC, we expect the transition to a restructured organization will be smooth, with scheduling of workshops proceeding as normal. Representatives of each member organization currently comprise the SWC Advisory Council, and we are currently assessing how to maintain connections with member organizations in a restructured Carpentries. Scalability of a restructured organization is clearly an area of interest throughout our community. An umbrella organization represents an ability to not only combine the assets and advantages of both DC and SWC, but also allows for planning to expand operations into different disciplines, geographic areas, lesson modules etc. We are mindful of a need to balance opportunities for growth with continuing to provide high-quality workshops. Local communities are a cornerstone of scalable growth. Finding ways to bolster local and regional groups of learners and instructors represents an essential step in maintaining cohesiveness and identity as we continue to promote both the umbrella organization as well as individual lesson organizations. Other lesson developers besides DC and SWC (e.g., Library Carpentry) are already thinking about how they might fit in to the restructured umbrella organization. Given the restructured organization was designed specifically with this type of growth in mind, we are currently considering what mutual expectations and onboarding might look like in these cases. Instructor Training is currently in high demand throughout our community, and represents one of the major deliverables to our organizational members. Instructors certified for either DC or SWC are currently eligible to teach workshops for either group. When combined with the focus of instructor training on effective pedagogical practices, the restructuring process should not change how we train instructors. Please note that we have only begun to lay out the basic framework for the restructured organization, and the points above serve to highlight areas of interest from the community calls. I’m excited about taking this feedback to the rest of the group involved in planning, and look forward to continued reporting on this process. Read More ›

Three Instructors, Two Coasts and One Spatula
Juliane Schneider / 2017-05-17
In the space of a year, interest and participation in the Library Carpentry community has exploded like an amoeba who over-ate at an algae banquet and attempted one too many pseudopods. For Library Carpentry, though, this is a good thing; the pseudopods are propelling us forward across institutions, disciplines, and continents. The community, grounded in collaborative tools like Github and Gitter (I always want to type Glitter) is coalescing around lesson development and holding new workshops. Why is the buzz so strong? I think it’s a combination of relentless energy from people like Belinda Weaver and Tim Dennis (to name just a few), the acceptance and active encouragement of new people who want to contribute in some way, and the mutual recognition by all of us that in any one thing, we are all absolute beginners, and we all give each other permission to be terrible until we aren’t. I am still terrible at Github and command line and use Tim’s Github workflow post every time I work with Github - seriously, this is Github workflow gold, people. I am less terrible at OpenRefine and will happily show anyone how to rearrange columns because OpenRefine hides that function in a super weird place. There’s a Library Carpentry Sprint coming up on June 1, with sites worldwide contributing to new lessons, and updating/improving existing ones. There’s this powerhouse woman in Australia called Carmi Cronje (what is it you Aussies are drinking, the way you get stuff done?) who is Githubbing the hell out of the prep for it. Go, Carmi! I encourage anyone with an interest in the Library Carpentry community to check out the Sprint and find a way to participate. Remember, Library Carpentry is a no-judgement zone. My cat will judge you, but the LC community will not. West Coast, Library Carpentry Instructor Training Led by the intrepid and hilarious Belinda Weaver and Tim Dennis, with help from John Chodacki and me, 28 very enthusiastic participants were inducted into the Library Carpentry instructor community over two days in Portland, OR. Back when I took the instructor training at UC Davis, I came to it with no experience in instruction whatsoever. By the end of the two days, I was faintly confident in my instructor skills, had learned pedagogical things that seemed obvious but were so not obvious and jumped right into organizing a week-long Library Carpentry workshop with Tim Dennis because Tim happened to have the biggest library conference room reserved and nothing to use it for. I have a feeling this group will be doing the same, and the beauty of OpenRefine will resound throughout the land. The best part about observing my first instructor training from the helper side was the abject terror that the first mention of the video exercise produced. And the second best part was how much confidence they all gained by realizing how good they really were, and how supportive, constructive suggestions for improvement actually sustained that confidence instead of undermining it. Community, yo! On the morning of the workshop, Belinda decided she needed a speaking stick, so we claimed a wooden toy spatula from the daycare room next to the classroom. It was a very popular form of speaking stick, and people were using it as a fake microphone, sometimes without thinking about it which was effective and also hilarious. Here is John Chodacki, using the spatula in a mindful way. This workshop happened because UC3 and the csv,conf came up with the support to make it happen, so thanks, UC3 and csv,conf! East Coast, Boston Library Carpentry Workshop Having conquered the West Coast, Library Carpentry invaded Boston to teach a one-day workshop that included sections on data basics, jargon busting, shell/bash, line command, regular expressions and OpenRefine. [The workshop was actually held across the river, at MIT in Cambridge.] There was no corporeal spatula, but it was there in spirit. Belinda started off discussing the threat that algorithms present to those of us in the info workforce, and how learning new skills can help us move into new roles. Then we did the jargon busting exercise, which was fantastic! The Boston crowd came up with terms I hadn’t yet seen surface in this section, like flag/parameter/option/argument and Bayesian and they were enthusiastic users of the etherpad. Some of the best etherpad use I’ve encountered in an LC event. And then there was regex. Oh regex. So useful, so painful to actually look at! But so useful … The challenge with teaching regex is that to truly understand its power, you need to see it work against a block of text or data. I’m currently developing an after-workshop exercise that students can use to really dig into regex, and look at why an expression returns the strings that it does. So stay tuned for that! The most interesting section was the bash/shell lesson, with Belinda using the text of Little Women to demonstrate how to count how many times a specific word appears. If you haven’t had the pleasure of watching Belinda do her thing, you need to! I learned so much about effective instruction just by watching her engage with the room. She makes everyone instantly comfortable in learning complex new concepts. And, as often happens, a discussion ensued about the context of using bash/shell in libraries. There are definite use cases for using command line, including file management and text evaluation, but is there a more direct line to library work? Are we missing the definitive use case that would drive home why librarians should use this method of working with a computer, or are we not presenting its core benefits clearly enough? (Hint: I don’t know). This discussion comes up every time I’ve seen it taught, so it is something to consider (and has been raised as an issue to fix in the sprint). OpenRefine was, as always, a joy to teach, and the Boston audience got me out of a muddle when I lost my head and forgot the GREL string for extracting the JSON from CrossRef. I learn something every time I get up there and do instruction, and am consistently impressed by the kindness of the people in our workshops. We’re in this together! I look forward to taking the next step, learning how to teach OpenRefine wikidata reconciliation. Finally, I’d like to thank our helpers and our hosts, the amazing Kate Nyland of Yale (and NEASIST), Thomas Hohenstein of Boston University, Daina Bouquin of the Wolbach Library at Harvard, Joshua Dull of Yale, and Christine N Malinowski and Olimpia Estela Caceres-Brown of MIT. This happened through the generosity of NEASIST. Woo NEASIST! Read More ›

1 - 15 May, 2017: Lesson Printing, Instructor training, Successes of the Carpentries.
Martin Dreyer / 2017-05-15
##Highlights Printing our lessons has never been easier! Sign up for the community call about the restructuring of the carpentries. ##Tweets Heartworming to hear about the success of Software and Datacarpentry from Dr Karli Jordan. Share your fun coding applications to inspire learners. ##General The second in-person Instructor training for South Africa took place and was very successful. What are the reasons why we volunteer our time so enthusiastically toward the Carpentries. 16 workshops were run over the past 30 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops: May Albert Einstein Science Park, Potsdam, Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility ,McMaster Software Carpentry Workshop, Macquarie University,West Virginia University (WVU), University of Arkansas,State Water Agencies, University of St Andrews, UC San Diego Library, Griffith University. June Curtin University, The University of Washington eScience Institute, IRI Life Sciences, Macquarie University, Queen Mary University of London, UW Madison, University of Auckland, UQ Winter School, University of Würzburg. September University of Würzburg. Read More ›

What is the reward for empowering others?
Rayna Harris / 2017-05-14
Following a few round-table discussions with Software Carpentry instructors, I gained some insight into what drives so many of us to volunteer our time so enthusiastically. I came to the conclusion that many of us share a sense of accomplishment when we empower others through mentoring and education. Software Carpentry gives us a fountain-full of opportunities to contibute through community developed lessons, community supported workshops, and world-wide community conversations. We start out volunteering a little when there is time, but we soon carve out more and more space in our schedule for Software Carpentry events and activities that provide the opportunity to empower others. I can’t help but wonder if this is driven in part by a lack of reward for empowering others in traditional academic settings. Compare the motivation of learners in a required semester-long class introductory class to learners in a intense two-day workshop teaching best practices for domain-specific research. Learners in a two-day workshop are more highly motivated. I prefer to teach the highly motivated because I’m more confident that it enhances education and research. Furthermore, we all know that many professors are rewarded for research while paid for teaching (something I know but still don’t quite comprehend). For many of us, Software Carpentry is where we hear most clearly that our teaching really is valued. I wonder who else shares a rewarding sense of accomplishment for empowering others. I’m also curious to know what other commonalities unite our global community. What are your thoughts and comments on the subject? Read More ›

May Community Call: Restructuring the Carpentries
Kate Hertweck / 2017-05-14
The Software Carpentry Steering Committee (SWC SC) announced back in February that we were initiating discussion with Data Carpentry about potentially merging into a single organization. Members from the SWC SC and the Data Carpentry Board have been meeting regularly since then, identifying the advantages and logistical challenges associated with a restructured organization. More recently, we passed a motion approving the following structure: “A Carpentry umbrella organization and a set of Lesson Carpentries. The umbrella organization is primarily responsible for finances, administration, and facilitating policy. Each Lesson Carpentry is primarily responsible for lesson development and maintenance.” This motion represents the first step towards a restructured Carpentries organization, with the respective community governance structures continuing to solidify details over the next few months. We are excited to share our vision and goals with you during the May Community Call. Mark your calendar for May 18 and sign up on the etherpad the etherpad! Read More ›

Instructor Training in South Africa 2.0
Aleksandra Pawlik, Kari Jordan, Anelda van der Walt / 2017-05-09
One of the main goals of our community is to make Software and Data Carpentry workshops accessible for all researchers from all disciplines and all regions of the world. In the past three years workshops in South Africa and other African countries have started gradually picking up and I think we may soon see exponential growth! This has been made possible thanks to a lot of effort and hard work from a number of amazing people, including Anelda van der Walt. In 2014 we realised that the biggest obstacle to running workshops in Africa, was the lack of qualified trainers on the continent. Since then we’ve put significant focus on building a local instructor pool to enable research organisations in the region to run Software and Data Carpentry training. In 2015 several instructors were trained online. Last year North West University at Potchefstroom hosted the first in-person Instructor Training with attendees from South Africa and other African countries. Just last week, between 30th April and 2nd May, we (Anelda, Kari Jordan and Aleksandra Pawlik) ran another Instructor Training in Cape Town with 28 participants. The whole group was incredibly varied with expertise ranging from life sciences, engineering, mathematics, and astronomy to library and information sciences. We had almost 50-50 gender balance (42% female vs 58% male to be precise). The participants also represented a variety of organisations. Several of them came originally from other African countries and were already discussing ideas of bringing the workshops over to their motherlands. We secured a fantastic venue at the Takealot offices with plenty of space, a coffee machine at our own disposal, and a stunning view of Table Mountain. (Photo credit: Maryke Schoonen) Like that view? Well, here’s more. On the second day of the workshop (Monday, 1st May) we were joined by the instructors who were trained last year at the North-West University campus and those trained online in 2016. Their participation in the 2017 Instructor Training was part of a 12-month programme. The programme included a full cycle starting off with Instructor Training, supporting the checkout process, helping out with organising and hosting workshops, and finally bringing the participants back together for a catch up a year later. (Photo credit: Maryke Schoonen) Indeed the programme proved to be a great success building strong foundations for computational training in South Africa and Africa. It also leveraged the power of our community with a number of international people stepping in to provide mentorship for newly trained instructors. Last but not least, bringing together the three cohorts of instructors last week in Cape Town was an incredible networking opportunity. We started with an evening mixer on Monday and carried on with more structured networking activities the day after. As a result, there is now a series of workshops planned for South Africa and several other African countries. We are really grateful to everyone involved in growing the capacity for training in computational skills for research in Africa. The 2017 Instructor Training and co-located events were made possible thanks to North-West University’s eResearch Initiative, Talarify, DIRISA, Takealot and DHET through the Rural Campus Connectivity Project II. Read More ›

How to print our lessons?
Raniere Silva / 2017-05-08
From the time that I joined Software Carpentry, I remember two feature requests that often showed up on our list of issues. The first one was links to help navigate the lessons and the second one was a way to print the lessons. Adding these two features was challenging because the limited information that is available as metadata by Jekyll (or Pandoc, which we used for a while). In addition, we want to have a “real” solution, instead of a workaround that is going to stop work in a few months. Although as software developers we knew that at every release of Jekyll, or any other library, that we are using exist a chance that our pipeline will break. At some point, Greg Wilson managed to implement the navigation using Jekyll Collections, introduced in Jekyll 2.0.0, after the last review of our template. But until this month, instructors and learners had to print each episode of our lesson individualy. We are happy to introduce our “All episodes in one page”. How to Use Access the lesson you want to print. At the navigation bar, on the top, open the “Episodes” menu. Click on the last option, “All in one page (Beta”). If the option isn’t available yet it will be soon. We are still merging the pull request that include the new feature. In your web browser, select the “Print” option and proceed to print the lesson as any other document. If your web browser offers the option to save the document as PDF you can use it to read the lesson off-line. Bonus: If you are using Chrome 59 or higher you should be able to get the PDF of the lesson using $ chrome --headless --disable-gpu --print-to-pdf http://swcarpentry.github.io/your-favorite-lesson/aio/ Next Steps Our CSS rules for the print version need some improvements. If you want to contribute with it contact us. Technical Details After we play around with Pandoc and XPATH and other methods to have the lesson in PDF and EPUB we decided to those approaches were incompatible with our pipeline that depends on GitHub Pages and because of it we should try to come up with a solution that only use Liquid. Since part of the lesson was stored on the YAML header and need to be compiled by Jekyll we end up with a difficult challenge. Fortunately, we can use Javascript not only to animate web pages but also to query servers for data (or episodes in our case) and inject the new data into the page. For this reason, the solution that we implemented is 100% powered by Javascript and isn’t available to web browsers without a Javascript engine. The code running to generate the all episodes in one page is window.onload = function() { var lesson_episodes = [...]; var xmlHttp = []; /* Required since we are going to query every episode. */ for (i=0; i < lesson_episodes.length; i++) { xmlHttp[i] = new XMLHttpRequest(); xmlHttp[i].episode = lesson_episodes[i]; /* To enable use this later. */ xmlHttp[i].onreadystatechange = function() { if (this.readyState == 4 && this.status == 200) { var article_here = document.getElementById(this.episode); var parser = new DOMParser(); var htmlDoc = parser.parseFromString(this.responseText,"text/html"); var htmlDocArticle = htmlDoc.getElementsByTagName("article")[0]; article_here.innerHTML = htmlDocArticle.innerHTML; } } episode_url = ".." + lesson_episodes[i]; xmlHttp[i].open("GET", episode_url); xmlHttp[i].send(null); } } Suggestions to improve the Javascript are welcomed. Read More ›

Plans for Windows Installer
Raniere Silva / 2017-05-04
In March, we had two email threads on our discuss mailing list related to nano on Windows machines The first thread was about “nano not found”, a bug on our installer that we never managed to trace. The second thread was about some “misbehaviour” of nano on Windows, and the suggestion to use Atom as the default text editor. The suggestion to use Atom started a long discussion where instructors described their reasons to use nano and why Atom is inadequate which lead us to start investigating ways to install nano properly on Windows. On May 3rd, Kate Hertweck, Maneesha Sane, Naupaka Zimmerman, Rémi Emonet and I met online to draft a plan—taking into consideration all of the feedback that was provided in the past month—to solve the problem with nano on Windows. Plan We will work to use Git for Windows SDK to compile our own installer that will include bash, Git, nano, SQLite and make. In the future we can work to include man pages and Jekyll. Acknowledgement Thanks very much to everyone that contributed with the discussion on the mailing list, GitHub issues and other places. We had a great resource for anyone that wanted to investigate other options for different projects. FAQ What Software Carpentry is looking for? A novice-friendly command-line text editor for use (primarily) during the shell and Git episodes of Software Carpentry workshops that works across Windows, macOS and Linux distributions. The installation of this command-line text editor must be easy or transparent to install along with the other tools we ask learners to have before showing up. Where can I review the background materials that were considered in the developemnt of this plan? discuss mailing list Survey Best strategies for Windows installation Add installation instructions for Atom Replace Git Bash with Cygwin Replace Git Bash with conda Replace Git Bash with MSYS2 Community Call Which versions of Windows will the installer support? The installer will support Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10. The end of extended support to Windows 7 by Microsoft is January 14, 2020 We don’t have data about how many learners are using Windows 7, so we believe it would be unfair to not include Windows 7 at the first release of our installer. Do we have a date where the new installer will be available? Not yet. Software Carpentry staff and Steering Committee are looking at efficient and sustainable ways to implement the recommendations. No change necessary if you already use your own custom installer or teaching environment? If you are already using an installer you’ve created for your own systems or environment, you do not need to make any changes. Read More ›

1 - 30 April, 2017: Library Carpentry, Instructor training, relevant to Learning.
Martin Dreyer / 2017-04-30
##Highlights Great news for Library Carpentry, we won the British Library Labs Awards 2016. University of Puerto Rico taught an Instructor Training Workshop and it was special in many ways. Libarary Carpentry along with Mozilla science lab will have a lesson sprint in June 2017. ##Tweets Have you considered making a donation to Software Carpentry? Author Carpentry a research training initiative complementary to Software and DataCarpentry. A great atricle for a Software Carpentry Workshop. To folks in Software Carpentry: please take the survey in this blog post and sign up for the community calls! ##General The Carpentries stay relevant and optimized for learning because it is intergrated into the community. Please share your thoughts on the software used to teach the shell lesson. 12 workshops were run over the past 30 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops: May Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, NIH Bldg. 10 Library,The University of Leeds, Scion Research and NeSI,University of Pennsylvania, University of Edinburgh,Oklahoma State University, University of Alberta,McMaster Software Carpentry Workshop, Macquarie University,West Virginia University (WVU), University of Arkansas,State Water Agencies, University of St Andrews,Griffith University. June IRI Life Sciences, Macquarie University, Queen Mary University of London, UW Madison, University of Auckland, UQ Winter School. September University of Würzburg. Read More ›

Library Carpentry sprint in June
Belinda Weaver / 2017-04-26
Lesson maintenance is necessarily an ongoing task, especially with fledgling lessons where workshops taught reveal gaps or issues with existing material. Development of new lessons may also spring from the same source. Who hasn’t thought, after teaching: “Wouldn’t it be great if we could add x?” But lesson maintenance and new development are probably best done as a shared activity, which is why the Library Carpentry community has signed up to work on lessons intensively during the 2017 Mozilla Science Lab global sprint on 1-2 June. Check out our sign up etherpad for information about our plans. This is a call for librarians - and archivists too - to join the sprint. You don’t need to be a coder to help out. Perhaps you can be a site host - finding a room for people to work together. Or maybe you have ideas about what should be tackled, or even a scenario or a dataset that could be used in a workshop. Perhaps you have a task you have always wanted to automate? Or maybe there is something about how you work that frustrates you? Chances are that other people find the same snags in what they do, and would welcome a new way out of that frustration maze. Ideas are gold for sprinters, so we really welcome ideas on what to teach and how to teach it. At this stage, we plan to work on consolidating our SQL and web scraping lessons and building a new Python lesson. We would also welcome input on our more established lessons such as Data Intro and OpenRefine. See the full list here. How can you get involved? Join the sprint - even if only to say hi or suggest things we should do (we love feedback) Add to the issues we are tackling here Pop into the chatroom and tell us what you want/don’t want Publicise the sprint in your library or workplace Encourage people to join us for some or all of the sprint Follow Library Carpentry on Twitter and help spread the word. So far, we have five sites committed to host people working on the sprint - two in the UK, one in Australia, one in the Netherlands and one in the US but we are hoping Canada, South Africa and New Zealand will make it eight (and there is always room for more). People are also signing up to work remotely, which is good as we are seeing new people joining up. Please get on board ! Read More ›

Instructor Training in Puerto Rico
Rayna Harris, Sue McClatchy, Tracy Teal / 2017-04-24
On March 24-25, Rayna Harris, Sue McClatchy, and Tracy Teal co-taught an instructor training workshop at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR). This was a very special workshop in many ways, and we are excited to share some of the highlights with you. Also, be sure to check out an accompanying blog post by Humberto Ortiz Zuazaga about the combined Replicathon and Instructor Training events. Unique aspects of the workshop Our instructor training event was co-located with a “Replicathon”, which was a 2 day-hackathon built around reproducing the analysis published in some recent high-profile journal articles. Having two simultaneous events really gave the feeling of a “critical mass” for building a community of researchers who are passionate about using and teaching reproducible research practices. Rayna and Sue have been working together on the mentoring committee for 2 years, but didn’t meet face-to-face until March 24. One of the really amazing features of the Carpentries is that sometimes your closest colleagues live thousands of miles away. About the trainees Eleven of the twelve trainees were faculty members from various UPR campuses, and one trainees was from a private company. The trainees were born and raised in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, and the Ukraine, so English was everyone’s second language. All the trainees were very excited to meet other faculty members with similar challenges and opportunities. They were all very motivated to enhance their teaching skills and implement new tools and techniques in their classrooms. Together, they have great ideas for building a data-literate community, and they really care about the success and progress of their students. Modifications to the curriculum We planned on starting the workshop with an introduction to the Carpentries and Carpentry teaching practices because we knew that none of the attendees had participated in a Carpentry workshop. We had to modify this plan slightly when we were asked if our trainees could attend Tracy’s keynote lecture for the Replicathon during that time slot we had devoted for the introduction to the Carpentries. In the end, Tracy’s keynote did an excellent job highlighting the history, vision, mission, and accomplishments of the Carpentries. It sparked a lot of enthusiasm and provided a great foundation for the rest of the training. You can view our workshop schedule here: https://smcclatchy.github.io/2017-03-24-ttt-UPR-RP/ At the end of the workshop, we took a few minutes to go around the room and have everyone say what they are excited about for the future. (This exercise is pretty standard for the weekly instructor discussion sessions, but it is not part of the instructor training curriculum.) Since most of the discourse during a workshop happens in the Etherpad, it was great to hear something positive from everyone. They also showed real enthusiasm for building communities and teaching, and you could tell that all the trainees has a positive experience. Trainees response to the curriculum The trainees really enjoyed getting feedback from their peers, which served to increase their network and improve their teaching skills. They also said that the material on motivation and demotivation resonated particularly well. We received a lot of suggestions from the group on how to improve the typical workshop lesson to make them more approachable (such as having an overview that is separate from the agenda, having a rationale for each lesson in addition to the questions and learning objectives). The trainees pointed out a few places where we used idioms that did not translate well and had to be explained. This is an ongoing topic of discussion, and we are working to evaluate the lessons to minimize use of idioms. Advice for new instructors I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger. Here are a few pieces of advice we have for new instructor trainers: Have trainees pick their lesson for live coding before going home on day 1. The live coding exercise can be particularly challenging when the trainees don’t fully prepare. By asking them to choose the lesson on the end of day 1, everyone can go into the exercise a little more prepared. When soliciting responses in the Etherpad, type everyone’s name on a new line so that the trainees know where to put their response and so that the instructor’s can gauge how students are processing with the challenge exercise. Introductions are crucial. As the instructor, be sure to articulate your qualifications for teaching the curriculum (which are different from the qualifications you would articulate when teaching R or Python). Also, the trainees really want to meet the other trainees, so be sure that they all introduce themselves to each other. Acknowledgements Thanks to Erin Becker, Jonah Duckles, Kari Jordan, Maneesha Sane, and Greg Wilson from Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry for helping make instructor training an awesome thing. Thanks to the group of instructor trainers for collaboratively building the train-the-trainer curriculum. Thanks to the Carpentry community members for your enthusiastic support of events like these. Thanks to Humberto Ortiz Zuazaga, Yamir Torres, Jose Garcia-Arraras, and Patti Ordóñez for welcoming us into their community in Puerto Rico. Read More ›

Software tools for unix shell: Survey and April community call
Kate Hertweck / 2017-04-14
The Software Carpentry Code of Conduct includes a somewhat tongue-in-cheek reference to nondiscrimination based on “choice of text editor.” While a choice of software may seem trivial, this particular discussion has led to more than one heated exchange among programmers. In fact, the Discuss list in March was very active concerning issues with the Windows installer, which provides access to the nano text editor through Git for Windows (used in both the Software Carpentry Shell and Git lessons). That discussion eventually transitioned to consideration of alternative software tools we might consider using and moved over to GitHub, where you can read more about the opinions and options voiced by participants. To help us understand what our community thinks about the software we use for teaching the shell lesson, we’ve developed a short survey to gather information. Please share your thoughts! You may find it useful to peruse the summary and links below before taking the survey. The Community Call for April will be dedicated to a discussion of software tools used while teaching workshops, with a specific focus on the shell lesson. Please join us on Thursday, April 20 in either of two sessions to hear about the results of the survey and share your thoughts on what tools we should introduce to learners. The rest of this post includes a quick summary of the discussion regarding the installer. We’ve had increasing reports lately of problems with the installer failing to function as expected, especially in relation to nano. Tracy Teal administered a quick survey and found that, despite these issues, folks tend to like the installer. Given that a few years have passed since this tool was built by our community to teach workshops, it’s worth revisiting how we could improve the tools used for the benefit of both instructors and learners. The following suggestions have been offered as ways to resolve the logistical problems we’ve been facing lately while teaching shell at workshops. While we’re specifically discussing software used to teach the shell lesson, we also acknowledge that some of these tools could also be used for installation of other software as well. Windows installer: Modify or update to reduce installation problems in workshops. On top of the standard suite of tools provided by Git for Windows, the installer ensures learners have access to nano, SQlite, and make, with all easily accessible in path (it’s worth noting that the latter two tools are only used in workshops specifically about them, which have not often been taught in recent past). Create a new custom package that includes nano using: Git for Windows SDK MSYS2: discussion here conda: discussion for how it would work in workshops here Cygwin: installation instructions for workshops, with extra discussion here Atom: a stand-alone text editor which would abandon use of nano altogether, although this is problematic for workshops focusing on the use of HPC resources The challenge associated with utilizing particular software tools during our workshops is that we must balance multiple (sometimes conflicting) needs on the part of both instructors and learners. Some of these considerations that are especially releavant for the shell lesson include: Ease of use for learners: Novice programmers should be able to use it without too much effort, and it should be able to handle a breadth of activities throughout the workshop. Ease of installation: Learners should be able to install the software without much (if any!) trouble, and it should work as expected for the duration of the workshop. Minimal installation: Some options above allow installation of multiple tools at once, which makes getting the workshop set up easier. Propensity of learners to continue use: If learners will continue developing their coding skills, the tools we show them should be something that will be useful even months after the workshop. Similarity across platforms: installation of nano is a non-issue for Mac/Linux computers, and a basic workaround for a lack of nano on Windows is using notepad (which easily opens from the command line in Git for Windows). This means that learners will be using two different commands while editing files, which can be confusing for learners and instructors. Favored by instructors: Instructors need to be comfortable with the tools they are using to teach. If it’s not their top choice of software, they should at least be comfortable enough to help learners troubleshoot. If you have other thoughts on this conversation, please take the survey or feel free to comment on the relevant GitHub discussions linked above. Read More ›

Optimised for Learning
Anelda van der Walt / 2017-04-07
In 2014 I fell in love with Software Carpentry. I wasn’t quite sure what it was that was that appealing about the workshops, but I knew we had to run more of these in South Africa. I had been following the activities and blogs of Software Carpentry since 2012 when I started working at a next generation sequencing (NGS) facility as lead (only) bioinformatician. Working with our clients I found that most of them had no idea how to deal with NGS data and very often didn’t know how/where to access computing infrastructure that would allow them to analyse their data. But in 2014 we finally ran our first Software Carpentry workshop in Cape Town. It was a big one. Over 100 participants including instructors and helpers. Two rooms. Teaching Python, version control (git), and the shell at “beginners” and “intermediate” levels. The buzz over coffee time gave me the feeling that we had done something good. There were people from several provinces all over South Africa, from a plethora of research disciplines, institutions, and career stages - all talking, buzzing, exclaiming about their research and how they didn’t realise there were others at their own institutions, in their own fields, but also in very diverse fields, grappling with similar challenges in terms of research computing and data analysis and capacity development. Since then I have been thinking about the Carpentry workshops and community a lot. I was trying to identify the core elements that made me love it so much. That made me join a mentoring session at 01:00 in the morning or stay away from my kid for a week or longer to run workshops in strange parts of the country without being paid for it. What was it about this community and initiative that made it almost addictive to be a part of? By chance I started reading Thank You For Being Late – An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Acceleration by Thomas L. Friedman last week and something I came across in his book made me think… Friedman refers to a conversation he had with Eric Teller, CEO of Google’s X research and development laboratory. Teller was explaining to him that the rate of change of technology is outstripping the rate at which we, as human beings, can adapt. No surprises there - we’re all trying to catch up with life. But Teller also said in his interview with Friedman, according to the book, that the only way in which human beings can “come to equilibrium” again and find peace in this fast changing world, is by enhancing our adaptibility (the rate at which we can adapt). And that, Teller said, is “90% about optimizing for learning”. By chance again I was in a meeting today where we were discussing the establishment of a newly funded Research Centre. Amongst other things, we were talking about the type of training that should be delivered by this Centre. I explained the value of building on what has been done in Software/Data/Library Carpentry and how that could be tied in with community building (see e.g. Mozilla Science Lab Study Groups) to facilitate post workshop (continuous) learning which would not be dependent on the single “expert” instructor who graciously visits from afar to impart his/her expert knowledge upon which he/she returns to their institution never to be heard of again because life (or the next workshop) swallows them up. That made me realise… The Carpentry model has been around since 1998. It has been adapted and adapted again to stay in touch with what is needed by the learners, not with what can be taught by the teachers. It is optimised for learning and it is optimising our learners for learning as well. Carpentries are staying relevant because it builds on the shoulders of giants, it learns from everyone in the community, be it learner, host, instructor, helper, or the leadership. And then, even more importantly, it acts on what it learns - Issue Bonanzas, Bug BBQs, Lesson Sprints… No-one has to invent their own Powerpoint slides with stolen images and arbitrary examples the night before the workshop. We can start from where the last iteration of teaching stopped. We can join conversations about workshops that took place yesterday, last week, last month, in several countries and on various continents. We learn from people in STEM fields as much as we learn from Social Sciences and Humanities and we apply what we learn across domains and across the traditional “researcher”/”support staff” barrier. You would be crazy not to want to use what is available and build on that in a world where disruptive technology make the world look significantly and uncomfortably different within 5 - 7 years (according to Teller in Friedman’s book). Thank you to everyone in the Carpentry community for allowing us to stand on your shoulders. We’re not only teaching our learners some recipe for data analysis, but we’re teaching them to learn, and at the same time, we’re learning to keep on learning ourselves. Read More ›

What's new in Library Carpentry
Belinda Weaver / 2017-04-06
There is lots of current Library Carpentry activity. Our big news is Library Carpentry won the British Library Labs award in 2016 for teaching and learning. The prize money has since been used to fund Library Carpentry workshops in the UK, with one in Sheffield just completed, and another upcoming in Taunton in June. Tim Dennis (UCSD) and I are running Software Carpentry instructor training for 30 librarians in Portland, Oregon, on 4-5 May, after csv,conf. I am then teaching Library Carpentry at MIT with Juliane Schneider (ex-UCSD, now working for Harvard) on 15 May. We have helpers for that workshop from Boston University, Harvard and Yale. We are running a Library Carpentry project again this year as part of the annual Mozilla Science Lab global sprint on 1-2 June. This is our sign up etherpad. So far, we have five sites committed to host people working on the sprint. People are also signing up to work remotely. We will stay in touch via the chatroom and daily hangouts. We plan to work on SQL, Python, and web scraping lessons, rebuild our main Library Carpentry page, and to work out a way to record and track workshops better. We are also hoping to make Library Carpentry work for archivists. We are currently seeking feedback on what archivists want through this form. I have been invited by the Australian Society of Archivists to teach a Library Carpentry workshop as a tie-in to their annual conference in September, so I hope to incorporate some of the suggestions already made. Here is more information on what we hope to tackle in the sprint. So far, there have been about 15 Library Carpentry workshops since last year’s global sprint provided the impetus for this new community. Our chat room is very active and issues are constantly debated on GitHub. Australia, Canada, the US, the Netherlands, the UK and South Africa are the main places for activity with New Zealand about to join the bandwagon. There is an upcoming workshop in South Africa in May, as well as plans for one in Ottawa a bit later on in the year. Hopefully there will be many more workshops in the US after the Portland instructor training mints 30 new instructors. How can you get involved? Join the sprint - even if only to say hi or suggest things we should do Pop into the chatroom Request a workshop through the contact form on this page Follow us on Twitter. Read More ›

Our first work cycle - Prometheus
Erin Becker / 2017-03-26
We’re wrapping up our first work cycle! Here’s what we accomplished over the past six weeks and what we’re still working on. To help with any of these projects, please get in touch! Planning for Data Carpentry Ecology Lessons Release What did we do? This cycle we started the process for Data Carpentry’s first lesson release - for our Ecology lessons. During the Issue Bonanza 3/16-3/17, fifteen energetic members of our community and staff submitted a total of 134 issues forcus on items related to our lesson release checklist. Data Carpentry staff and maintainers will be going through these issues in preparation for our Bug BBQ (4/6-4/7). Stay posted for announcements about the Bug BBQ! What are we still working on? Over the next cycle, we’ll be working on documenting the process for future lesson releases and planning for our next lesson release (the Data Carpentry Genomics lessons). How can you help? Sign up for the upcoming Bug BBQ to help polish up the Ecology curriculum for publishing. Even if you can’t “attend” please help clean up issues in those repos! We’d love to hear your thoughts about this new lesson publication process. Please send any feedback to Erin (ebecker@datacarpentry.org) or Tracy (tkteal@datacarpentry.org). Streamlining Process for Instructor Training What did we do? This cycle we focused on simplifying processes, increasing our capacity for training new instructors and giving our Trainers opportunities to share expertise and learn from each other. We simplified our processes for scheduling instructor training events and tracking progress of trainees through checkout to make more efficient use of our volunteer Trainer time. We set up regular meetings for our Trainer community, including discussion meetings to share expertise about teaching instructor training events. We started training ten new instructor Trainers, who will be joining the Trainer team this summer. We also developed documentation for communicating with partners about training events and followed up with pending instructor training applicants. What are we still working on? We’re working on building our capacity for offering training to non-partner affiliated individuals and improving our documentation for Trainers running instructor training events. How can you help? If you’re interested in becoming an instructor Trainer, please contact Erin (ebecker@datacarpentry.org). New hire We’ve received a large number of highly qualified applicants and are working on scheduling first round interviews. Keep an eye out for more news! Setting an Assessment Strategy What did we do? This cycle Data Carpentry overhauled our pre- and post-workshop surveys to include measurements of self-efficacy and skill with R or Python. We’ll be piloting these surveys over the next few months. We also developed and released a long-term follow-up survey for learners who attended workshops six months ago or more. What are we still working on? In October we released a report of Data Carpentry’s impact on learners. We’re now working on a report for Software Carpentry. Stay posted! How can you help? If you were a learner at a Carpentry workshop over six months ago, please fill out our new survey by April 4th and be entered in a drawing for a Data Carpentry swag bag. Lesson Contribution Guidelines What did we do? We surveyed community members about their experiences with contributing to Carpentry lessons and asked for ways that we can make this process more straightforward. We received 54 responses with a wealth of suggestions. What are we still working on? We organized the feedback we received and are working on understanding the best way to implement these suggestions. How can you help? If you’d like to be part of the team developing new documentation and resources for lesson contributions, please contact Erin Becker (ebecker@datacarpentry.org). Our next cycle - Cycle Deimos - March 27th through May 19th I hope you’ll agree that we accomplished a lot over the past six weeks! Our next cycle is also looking to be action-packed and exciting. Stay tuned for an announcement of what’s coming up! As always, if you there’s something you’re excited about and would like to see, post your idea to our Conversations repo or get in touch. This post was originally posted at Data Carpentry Read More ›

Get Involved With Mentoring
Christina Koch / 2017-03-08
Are you a new Software or Data Carpentry instructor? Do you remember what it was like to be a new instructor? Are you interested in improving your own teaching skills? Do you want to connect with other instructors to share teaching ideas and experience? The mentoring committee is a group of Software and Data Carpentry community members who organize initiatives to support instructors and we’re looking for new members. The mentoring committee meets once a month to discuss current activities and new ideas, and we help organize the weekly instructor discussion sessions hosted on this etherpad. We would love to expand our activities and for all of our activities to be a true community-driven and community-owned effort. To make that happen, we need community members to join us! Anyone can be involved – the only criteria for membership is interest in how we can better support instructors and connect them with each other. Here are some ways to get involved: Join the mentoring mailing list and/or attend next committee meeting (to be announced on this etherpad ). Sign up to help with some of our main endeavors as described on this page. If you have questions or suggestions about the mentoring committee, Christina Koch, outgoing committee chair, will be holding two informal FAQ sessions on Monday, March 13. There is information about these on the community calendar. We will also be selecting new positions in the committee next week – if you’d like to vote (or stand for a position!) please get in touch. Read More ›

1 - 28 February, 2017: Inclusivity, Career Pathway Panel, Community Development Lead, BaseCamp.
Martin Dreyer / 2017-02-28
##Highlights The Carpentries stand for inclusivity and freedom of movement for each and every volunteer, researcher, or professional in industry. If you have been affected by any action or policy that is preventing you from partaking in the carpentries in any way, please contact us. The second Career Pathway Panel will be held on 1 March 2017, please register. ##Tweets Have you considered making a donation to Software Carpentry? ResBaz 2017 was a big success! Thank you to all that participated. Need a helping hand to get started with coding? Have a look at our website. Have you subscribed to our monthly newsletter? ##Jobs Software Caropentry and Data Carpentry are hiring a Community Development Lead. ##General The Carpentries have adopted a new work process to better the progress on projects, and it is based on BaseCamp’s six week work cycle. 26 workshops were run over the past 30 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops: March University of Technology, Sydney, EPSRC & MRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Regenerative Medicine, University of Manchester, McGill University, Winona State University, University of Freiburg, University Of British Columbia, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Oxford, Dartmouth College, Oklahoma State University, Brock University, The University of Washington eScience Institute, Technical University Munich, Washington State University. April Massey University Auckland & NeSI. Read More ›

A Year to Build a Software and Data Carpentry Community at the University of Florida - The Impact of a Local Instructor Training Workshop on Building Computing Capacity
Matthew Collins, François Michonneau, Brian Stucky, Ethan White / 2017-02-22
This January was the one year anniversary of our effort to bring regular Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry workshops to the University of Florida. These workshops are aimed at helping students, staff, and faculty gain the computing skills they need to be successful in our data-driven world. The Carpentries are international organizations that provide materials, instructor certification, and organization of multi-day workshops on basic software development and data analysis tools. In January 2016 a Software Carpentry instructor training workshop held at the University of Florida Informatics Institute provided the start of our efforts. Since then, instructors trained here as well as experienced instructors already in the UF community have held four workshops, reaching 98 participants, including 70 students, 14 staff and 11 faculty. The participants received training in programming languages like R and Python, version control with Git and GitHub, SQL database queries, OpenRefine, and Excel spreadsheets. Graph of participants’ status at UF and word cloud of departments our participants hail from ( https://www.jasondavies.com/wordcloud/) Such a robust and recurring workshop pattern is uncommon in the Carpentries community (but not unprecedented) and it is a result of the generosity and volunteerism of a combination of staff, faculty, students, and organizations at UF. Together we recognized that members of the UF community did not have enough opportunities to get hands-on experience with the software development and data analysis tools they need to be effective researchers, employees, and future job-seekers. In response, we have established a highly collaborative process for giving our fellow UF community members, whether they are students, staff, or faculty, this opportunity. Our Year of Workshops Though UF has a longer history with the Data and Software Carpentry communities, the start of this current program was an instructor training workshop held in January 2016 at the UF Informatics Institute (UFII). Dr. Ethan White provided funds (through a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation) for UF to become a Software Carpentry Foundation affiliate member and to run an on-site training for instructors. Fourteen people from UF attended the 2016 workshop, 5 came from other Florida institutions, and 4 from elsewhere in the US and Canada. As a result of this workshop, 8 participants from UF became newly certified instructors for Software or Data Carpentry. Today there are a total of 10 active instructors at UF. Several existing instructors, including Matthew Collins from the Advanced Computing and Information Systems Lab and Dr. François Michonneau from the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, with the help of the newly trained instructors, then approached the director of the UF Informatics Institute, Dr. George Michailidis, for logistical support to run a Software Carpentry workshop in March 2016. While it was very successful, only 16 participants of 31 who signed up attended. We did not charge a registration fee, so we believe that many people simply did not show up when another commitment arose. For our second workshop, held in August 2016 just before the start of the semester, Alethea Geiger from the UFII worked with the UF Conference Department to set up an account and a registration page that accepted credit card payments. We were able to charge a $30 registration fee which allowed us to pay for lunch during the workshop. This amount appears to strike a good balance between using a registration fee to encourage attendance and cover catering costs while not imposing serious financial hardship for participants with limited funding. However, the Conference Department web site did not let us smoothly deal with waitlists and capacity caps, and over the first weekend we had more than 35 people sign up for the workshop. In order to accommodate everyone, the Marston Science Library generously offered a larger room for the workshop. Everyone who registered attended this workshop. In October 2016, we held our third workshop using the Data Carpentry curriculum. At this workshop we had the honor of having Dr. Kari L. Jordan as a participant. Dr. Jordan was recently hired as the Data Carpentry organization’s director of assessment and this was her first experience at a workshop. The registration process worked smoothly this time and were able to use the UFII conference room for the workshop and catering. Our most recent event was another Software Carpentry workshop held at the UFII in February 2017. What it Takes This group’s volunteered time as well as the coordination and support of three existing instructors and the logistics supplied by the Informatics Institute have made it possible to reliably host Carpentry workshops. It currently takes about 8 hours for the lead instructor to arrange instructors, helpers, and announcements and to respond to attendee questions. The staff at the UFII spend another 8 hours managing registration and preparing the catering. Instructors spend between 4 and 12 hours preparing to teach depending on whether they have taught the lesson before. Helpers who are already familiar with the content of the lessons usually don’t need further preparation but new helpers spend 4 to 8 hours reviewing lessons and software installation instructions. Combined, each workshop takes about 40 person-hours of preparation and over 80 person-hours to host. With the exception of the UFII staff, this time is all volunteered. How do we keep people volunteering? There are a number of factors that go into maintaining volunteers’ motivation and momentum. We didn’t plan these in advance but now that we have them in place, we recognize them as the reasons we can continue to keep our community engaged and excited about putting on workshops. Instructor density - have enough instructors to get 3-6 people at each workshop without burdening anyone’s schedule Instructor cohesion - just like we suggest learners attend workshops with a buddy, instructors who come to the instructor training from the same department or discipline immediately make their own community of practice Instructor mentorship - a core group of senior instructors to guide initial workshops (note the plural) so new instructors can focus on the teaching experience without the logistical burdens Professional staff - find staff who organize workshops as part of their job to share the overhead of coordinating logistics Institution-level support - a single research lab or department doesn’t have enough people to do this on its own, doing it for the whole institution fits the needs of everyone and shares the work Follow-through - have supporting events and communities available for people to keep learning and keep their experience with the Carpentries fresh in their minds when it comes time to look for more instructors and helpers Community Building After the Workshops Some of the instructors have also been involved in creating and helping communities of learners on campus grow outside of workshops. Dr. Michonneau started a Meetup.com group for the Gainesville community focused on R. M. Collins is an advisor to the UF Data Science and Informatics student organization which holds about 12 evening workshops each semester focused on building data science skills for UF students. In spring 2017 Dr. Daniel Maxwell , Informatics Librarian for the Marston Science Library, re-invigorated the UF R Users mailing list and is holding weekly in-person drop-in sessions. These venues allow former workshop participants to continue learning the skills taught in the Carpentry workshops. They provide a space where participants can ask questions of and interact with their peers when they start using the tools taught in the workshops for their own research. This ongoing communal engagement is proving to be a key factor in making sure workshop participants continue to develop their abilities. UF’s Impact on the Carpentry Community UF has a long history and deep connections to the Carpentries. Data Carpentry was originally imagined during the 2013 COLLAB-IT meeting between the IT members of iDigBio (a large NSF-sponsored project centered at UF) and the other NSF biocenters. The attendees of this two-day workshop found that one important need shared by the biocenters was a training program for researchers, focused on the novice, to develop software skills and data literacy for analyzing their data. Some attendees were involved with Software Carpentry and decided to develop a curriculum based on Software Carpentry’s teaching principles. Dr. White, as well as iDigBio staff including Deborah Paul, Dr. Michonneau, and M. Collins were instructors, helpers, and attendees at the prototype Data Carpentry workshop held in May 2014 at NESCENT facility at Duke University. The second official Data Carpentry workshop was put on by the iDigBio project right here at UF. Since this first engagement with the Carpentries, many other members of the UF community have participated in Software and Data Carpentry workshops across the country. Not all have participated in this most recent effort to run workshops here on campus and some have moved on to other institutions but they have all contributed to UF being a valued organization in the Carpentries community. In addition to building its own workshop infrastructure, UF is helping to advance the Carpentry programs in the US and globally. Dr. White is a founding Data Carpentry steering committee member, a member of the Software Carpentry Advisory Council, and has developed a semester-long course based on Data Carpentry materials that he has taught twice as WIS6934 through the Department of Wildlife Ecology. Through the iDigBio project and support from Dr. White, M. Collins and D. Paul have taught workshops in Nairobi, Kenya and Santa Clara, Costa Rica before the Biodiversity Information Standards conferences in 2015 and 2016. M. Collins has also served as a mentor to instructors trained during the South African instructor training and along with D. Paul has more recently become a member of the formal Carpentry mentorship program providing on-going support to new instructors across the country. Going Forward The success of our group has been the result of the serendipitous meeting of interested UF community members, an existing international teaching community, and informal funding and infrastructure support. We are now looking for a way to formalize UF’s commitment to building capacity in informatics skills for its staff, students, and faculty through an on-going structure. To start this process, a consortium of labs and institutes at the University of Florida have combined resources to sponsor a joint Gold Partnership with Software and Data Carpentry going forward. The UF partners are Dr. White’s lab, the UF Biodiversity Institute (via Dr. Pamela Soltis), iDigBio (via Dr. Soltis), and the UF Informatics Institute (via Dr. Michailidis). This partnership will provide annual instructor training opportunities to grow the instructor community To continue the rest of the key parts of our success, we still need: A UF department or institute to adopt the goal of informatics capacity building for the UF community. An individual to be given the task of coordinating this goal across UF. Continuous funding and resources to provide for a pipeline of people capable of meeting this goal. We believe UF has a unique opportunity to create a sustainable effort that cuts across individual departments and research labs. While existing on-book courses and department-specific programs are available, we have shown that there is need for hands-on, community-led informatics skill development for everyone on campus regardless of affiliation or discipline. By approaching this need at the university level we can maintain the critical mass of expertise and motivation to make our staff more productive, our students more employable, and our faculty’s research more innovative. Acknowledgements The following people have been active members of the UF instructor community and have volunteered their time in the past year by participating as instructors or helpers during the recent workshops: Erica Christensen (*) - Ernest Lab, WEC Matthew Collins - Advanced Computing and Information Systems Lab, ECE Dave Harris (*) - White Lab, WEC Allison Jai O’Dell (*) - George A Smathers Libraries Sergio Marconi (*) - White Lab, WEC François Michonneau - Martindale Lab, Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience Elise Morrison (*) - Soil and Water Sciences, IFAS Deborah Paul (*) - Institute for Digital Information, Florida State University Kristina Riemer (*) - White Lab, WEC Henry Senyondo (*) - White Lab, WEC Miao Sun - Soltis Lab, FLMNH Brian Stucky (*) - Guralnick Lab, FLMNH Shawn Taylor (*) - White Lab, WEC (*) Trained at the January 2016 UF instructor training workshop The following entities have contributed material support to our workshops or the Carpentries communities: Advanced Computing and Information Systems Lab, Electrical and Computer Engineering Earnst Lab, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Soltis Lab, Florida Museum of Natural History University of Florida Biodiversity Institute University of Florida Informatics Institute White Lab, Wildlife Ecology and Conservation We would also like to thank the incredible support provided by Alethea Geiger, Flora Marynak, and Deb Campbell at the UF Informatics Institute. They have managed the space, catering, registration, and financial aspects of our workshops for us and their services are the main reason we can provide so many workshops. Read More ›

Beginning the conversation: Potential merger with Data Carpentry
Kate Hertweck, Rayna Harris / 2017-02-22
Newcomers to our community frequently request clarification regarding the distinction between Software Carpentry (SWC) and Data Carpentry (DC). SWC and DC are two independently established and operated organizations that share a common goal of promoting education in reproducible science skills, both in data literacy (DC) and software development (SWC). Despite our separate organizational structures, SWC and DC maintain close ties, and have begun moving over the last year or so towards increased connectivity. Staff interact with leadership and members of both communities, and are sometimes shared hires between both groups. We offer joint institutional memberships. We’ve worked together to implement shared policies, and have released statements which reflect our commitment to shared values. Given the increasing levels of integration between SWC and DC, the SWC Steering Committee passed a resolution at a recent meeting to “begin discussions with representatives from DC leadership about a potential merger” between these two currently independent organizations. We are excited about the potential these discussions hold in forging a strong, cohesive community that will continue to promote the goals of both organizations, and look forward to sharing our ideas with you in coming months. Read More ›

Carpentries Career Pathways Panel - Marianne Corvellec, Bernhard Konrad, Aleksandra Pawlik
Lauren Michael / 2017-02-22
Wednesday, Mar 1, 3pm PST / 6pm EST / 11pm UTC / 9am AEST (next day) On Wednesday, March 1, the Carpentries will host the second of three Career Pathway Panels, where members of the Carpentry communities can hear from three individuals in careers that leverage teaching experience and Carpentry skills. (Note: The date of this second panel was shifted from the originally-proposed date of Feb 22 due to scheduling considerations.) Anyone who has taught at a Carpentry workshop in the last three months is invited to join, and should register by Monday, February 27 in order to be invited to the call. Registration is limited to 20 people per session, so please only commit if you are sure you will attend. Attendees can register for any number of these sessions. Each session will last one hour and will feature a different set of panelists. The final session will occur on Tuesday, March 21 at 3pm PST (panelists TBA). For the March 1 session, we are excited to be joined by the below panelists! Marianne Corvellec Marianne earned a PhD in statistical physics in 2012. She now works as a data scientist at CRIM, a semi-public research centre in Montréal, Canada. She specializes in data analysis and software development. Before joining CRIM, she worked at three different web startups. She speaks or teaches at local and international tech events on a regular basis. Her interests include data visualization, signal processing, inverse-problem approach, assessment, free software, open standards, best practices, and community management. Bernhard Konrad Bernhard attended a SWC workshop in 2012 during his graduate studies, and was immediately fascinated by the world of opportunities and productivity that these software tools opened up. He taught a dozen workshops since, and started to work on software-related personal side projects. Bernhard then went to Insight Data Science, a Data Science fellowship in Silicon Valley. After interviewing with a few companies and after a complicated work permit process, he started his job as a Software Engineer at Google in early 2016. There, he develops internal tools for engineering productivity. Aleksandra Pawlik Aleksandra Pawlik is the Research Communities Manager at the New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI). Before joining NeSI in 2016 she worked for three years at the University of Manchester, UK for the Software Sustainability Institute where she was leading the Institute’s training activities. Software and Data Carpentry has been always a big part of her professional activities and allowed Aleksandra develop a range of skills, understand the research ecosystem and meet a number of amazing and inspirational people. Read More ›

Job Opportunity: Community Development Lead
Tracy Teal, Jonah Duckles / 2017-02-21
Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry are hiring a Community Development Lead! We are excited to announce a position as a full-time staff member to lead community development activities! Software and Data Carpentry have an active global community of researchers, volunteers, learners and member organizations. This person will cultivate and grow this community, developing communication strategies and opportunities for the community to connect with and support each other. You will become an active member of our team of staff and will work with people around the world to advance our mission of building a community teaching digital research skills to make research more productive and reproducible. As the Community Development Lead, you will oversee Software and Data Carpentry’s community engagement efforts to develop and support the community, creating pathways for participation and increased communication. You will lead blog, newsletter and social media efforts, help develop online resources, participate in the mentorship subcommittee and help facilitate the development of regional groups. You will also have the opportunity to guide efforts to reach underserved communities and to be involved in instructor training. For details, including a full job description and the application procedure, please see the Jobs page. This is a joint Software and Data Carpentry position and is cross-listed on both websites. Read More ›

How we're getting things done
Erin Becker / 2017-02-16
Adopting work cycles The Data and Software Carpentry staff have been working together to make progress on projects that are important for our community. To help us do this, we’re trying out a new work process based on BaseCamp’s six week work cycle. You can read their blog post if you’re interested in the details of how structuring a work cycle works. We’re picking a small handful of projects to focus on for each six week cycle, with each staff member working on one or two projects. For each project, we’re setting realistic goals we know we can accomplish before the end of the cycle and holding ourselves accountable to meeting those goals. We’re spending the first two weeks of the cycle planning those goals, dividing up the work into teams, and setting timelines to make sure we stay on track. We envision this workflow having some specific advantages, including: Reducing clutter and letting us focus on making progress. Making it ok to say “we can’t tackle this right now, but that’s an important project, can we do it next cycle”? Making it possible for busy community members to be involved without having to commit time indefinitely. (No commitments after the cycle ends!) Bringing staff time and resources together with community enthusiasm. Giving us a structure for regularly communicating what we’re working on with the community at large. Providing passionate community members more opportunities to get involved. We’re still working out some of the details of how working in cycles will work for us, but we’re excited to share our plan for the first round. If there’s something you’re excited about for the next round, let us know! If you’d like to join (or organize) a team for one of the next few cycles, let us know! Please post an issue on our conversations repo or email ebecker@datacarpentry.org. Our first cycle - Cycle Prometheus (January 23rd - March 17th) Our first cycle started at the end of January and goes through the middle of March. Here’s what we’re hoping to accomplish in our first cycle. Planning for Data Carpentry Ecology Lessons Release Tracy, François Michonneau, and Erin are working on Data Carpentry’s first lesson release! In addition to starting the process for releasing our Ecology lessons, we’re also working on setting up a process for future lesson releases. Based on Software Carpentry’s success with the Bug BBQ last year, we’re planning an Issue Bonanza to coordinate community effort on preparing the lessons for release. Keep your eyes peeled for announcements and ways you can contribute! Streamlining Process for Instructor Training Erin and Maneesha are continuing Greg’s instructor training work and are updating the instructor training program process for organizing training events and tracking trainee progress from training through checkout. We’re simplifying how we schedule instructor training events and putting together resources for instructor trainers. We’re also streamlining the process of tracking instructor trainees to make more efficient use of our staff and volunteer time. Lastly, we’re exploring our needs for new instructor trainers and planning the recruitment and training process. If you’re interested in becoming an instructor trainer, please email Erin so we can keep you in the loop about future plans. New hire Tracy, Jonah and Kari are working a new hire for Software and Data Carpentry. Posting coming Monday, February 20th, so keep your eye out for more information! Setting an Assessment Strategy Kari is developing a strategy for both near-term and long-term assessment of Data Carpentry workshops. She’s putting together new pre- and post-workshop surveys for learners at Data Carpentry workshops that will be piloted starting in April, as well as a long-term assessment for learners from previous workshops to be piloted by mid-March. She’s also cleaning up code and formalizing a template for regular quarterly data releases on assessment efforts. We need more Data Carpentry workshops to pilot our new surveys! Please consider organizing a workshop at your institution in April. Let us know what we can do to support you in getting a workshop set-up. Please email Maneesha. Lesson Contribution Guidelines Erin, Mateusz Kuzak, Aleksandra Nenadic, Raniere Silva and Kate Hertweck are working on making it easier for new instructors and other community members to contribute to lesson development. We’re reaching out to the community to understand roadblocks people may have with the development process, and then developing new documentation and resources to help reduce these barriers. We’re collecting feedback from all of the various discussion threads and GitHub issues. Please keep commenting there, and stay tuned for more opportunities to give us feedback! Continuing Work We’re also continuing to work on our many ongoing projects, including (but not limited to): Publishing our monthly newsletter Running our blogs Maintaining our websites and lessons Coordinating workshops and instructor training events Teaching at workshops and instructor training events Hosting discussion sessions and instructor teaching demos Speaking publically about Data and Software Carpentry Running our Virtual Assessment Network Organizing our Mentorship Program Serving on the mentoring subcommittee, trainers group and bridge subcommittees If you’re interested in helping with any of this ongoing work, or would like to make suggestions about what to tackle in our next cycle, let us know! Please post an issue on our conversations repo or email ebecker@datacarpentry.org. Our next two cycles will be: Cycle Deimos - March 20th through May 12th Cycle Phobos - May 15th through June 23rd Read More ›

Standing for Inclusivity
Carpentries Staff and Steering Committees / 2017-02-02
Our goal as Software and Data Carpentry is to build a community teaching digital research skills. We teach essential computing skills to thousands of researchers in academia and industry each year. As an international organization we rely on the volunteer efforts of hundreds of researchers and professionals from around the world. Our volunteers come from diverse backgrounds, countries of origin, and beliefs. These individuals generously donate their time with the goal of helping to speed the discovery of new knowledge and the creation of new technology. Actions and policies that arbitrarily restrict the movement of peoples based on their beliefs, national origins, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other intrinsic class contradict one of Software and Data Carpentry core values: providing inclusive and supportive environments for all researchers. These harmful policies send a message to the highly-trained individuals who participate in and teach workshops that they and those like them are not welcome in the country where they collectively volunteer the majority of their time. They also put traveling volunteers at risk of being stranded far from their homes and families with little or no warning. These restrictions negatively impact our ability to teach others, collaborate and conduct scientific discourse and affect the advancement of research of all types. We stand with those that have been harmed, both directly and indirectly, by any such actions or policies. If you are a researcher who is stranded and could use a local contact, contact us, and we will work to connect you with volunteers in our global network. Read More ›

Moving Forward
Erin Becker / 2017-01-31
As of January 30th, Greg Wilson has stepped down from his role as Director of Instructor Training to start a new position as Shopify’s Computer Sciences Education Lead. Instructor training will continue under the guidance of Erin Becker, Data Carpentry’s Associate Director and Maneesha Sane, Data and Software Carpentry’s Program Coordinator. Erin has a strong background for this role from her postdoc at University of California, Davis studying the effectiveness of training methods for transforming instructional practices. She has been involved with the Carpentry community as an instructor trainer, a member of the Mentorship Subcommittee, and leader of the effort to form an instructor mentoring program. Maneesha is the Carpentry Program Coordinator, and serves as an active Carpentry instructor and member of the Mentorship Subcommittee. Maneesha’s hard work behind the scenes keeps Carpentry workshops running smoothly. She will now bring her expertise to coordinating instructor training events. Erin and Maneesha have worked actively with Greg to ensure a smooth transition. We are conducting instructor trainings as scheduled, and are planning new events with Member Organizations. We will continue our efforts to train and support instructor trainers and build the instructor training program. If you have any questions about instructor training, including the status of your institution’s planned training event, please contact us at admin@software-carpentry.org. Read More ›

15 - 31 January, 2017: JupyterCon, Steering Committee 2017, North West University, Programming skills .
Martin Dreyer / 2017-01-31
##Highlights We are please to present to you the Steering Committee of 2017. North West University becomes the first African Partner of Software and Data Carpentry. ##Tweets Have you considered making a donation to Software Carpentry? Jupytercon anounced for 2017! Programming skills can help improve your research efforts. ##General We have set out a rubic to rank requests for online instructor training to ensure the spaces are filled. The Career Pathways Panel has started and will have a session every month, please join us. Have you signed up for our monthly newsletter? 18 workshops were run over the past 30 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops: February University of Oslo, Simon Fraser University, New York Academy of Sciences, New York Academy of Sciences, University of Toronto, University of Texas at Arlington, Conestoga College, AMOS / MSNZ Conference, UF Informatics Institute, University of Auckland, The University of Queensland - Python, The University of Queensland - R, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Library of Congress, The Jackson Laboratory, Boise State University, Queen’s University, University of Ottawa. March University of Colorado Boulder, Brock University, https://konrad.github.io/2017-03-29-munich/. Read More ›

Announcing the 2017 Steering Committee
Jonah Duckles / 2017-01-30
I’m pleased to announce our new steering committee for 2017. The new steering committee is comprised of Kate Hertweck Rayna Harris Christina Koch Mateusz Kuzak Karin Lagesen Sue McClatchy Belinda Weaver Turnout and Voting Tallies We had 31.6% turnout representing 176 of the 557 eligible voters casting a ballot in this election. Official election results are available from electionbuddy. We thank our outgoing steering committee members I want to thank our outgoing steering committee members for their service. They’ve helped us to grow the impact that Software Carpentry can have in the world in a stable and sustainable way. Jason Williams Bill Mills Raniere Silva Thank you gentlemen! Hope to see you around in subcommittees and at workshops in the future! Read More ›

Carpentries Career Pathways Panel: Raniere Silva, Geneviève Smith, Tiffany Timbers
Lauren Michael / 2017-01-20
Tuesday, January 24, 7am PST / 10am EST / 3pm UTC / 2am AEST (next day) On Tuesday, January 24, the Carpentries will host the first of three Career Pathway Panels, where members of the Carpentry communities can hear from three individuals in careers that leverage teaching experience and Carpentry skills. Anyone who has taught at a Carpentry workshop in the last three months is invited to join, and should register ahead of time in order to be invited to the call. Registration is limited to 20 people per session, so please only commit if you are sure you will attend. Attendees can register for any number of these sessions. Future, monthly, panel sessions will occur on different days and at different times. Each session will last one hour and will feature a different set of panelists. For the first session, we are excited to be joined by the below panelists! Raniere Silva Community Officer at the Software Sustainability Institute, UK. I’m Brazilian, just completed my year living abroad, and my background is applied mathematics. Most of the time I select Python as the tool that I will use to solve my tasks but I’m jealous of those who use RStudio. My dream is that South America host as much Carpentries workshop (Software Carpentry, Data Carpentry, Library Carpentry, …) as US, UK and Australia. Geneviève Smith I’m the Head of Data Science at Insight, where we run training programs for quantitative PhDs who want to move into careers in data science, data engineering, health data, and AI. Prior to joining Insight I did a postdoc and earned my PhD in Ecology, Evolution & Behavior from UT Austin. My research focused on the role of competition in structuring ecological communities of species through a combination of field-based experiments and theoretical modeling. During my time in grad school I participated in multiple Software Carpentry workshops, volunteered at a few, and trained to be an instructor. Those experiences were critical in my development as a coder and helped me gain confidence while building evidence of my computational skills. Tiffany Timbers Tiffany Timbers received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Carleton University in 2001, following which she completed a Doctorate in Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia in 2012, which focused on the genetic basis of learning and memory. After obtaining her doctorate, Tiffany carried out data-intensive postdoctoral research in behavioural and neural genomics at Simon Fraser University (SFU). During this time, she also gained valuable experience teaching computational skills to students and scientists through her work with Data and Software Carpentry, the SFU scientific programming study group, and teaching a course in computation in Physical Sciences at Quest University. Tiffany began her current teaching role in the University of British Columbia Master of Data Science program in the summer of 2016. Read More ›

South Africa's North-West University Becomes Software and Data Carpentry’s first African Partner
Anelda van der Walt / 2017-01-20
In November 2014 the first large-scale Software Carpentry event was run in South Africa as part of the eResearch Africa conference in Cape Town. Since then 15 more Software, Data, and/or Library Carpentry events were run by the Southern African community across many disciplines and several institutions. The North-West University has been heavily involved in further developing the Southern African Carpentry community. In 2015 NWU led the development of a 12-month proposal that kicked off in April 2016 with the first South African in-person instructor training event. Since 2015 NWU has been involved in four internal Software and Data Carpentry events as well as four events run at other Southern African institutions. The university currently has five qualified instructors as well as two preparing for check-out. Instructors hail from diverse disciplines such as genomics, digital humanities, chemistry, and IT. At the end of 2016 the NWU entered into a gold partnership with Software and Data Carpentry. The partnership marks the beginning of a new phase of capacity development around computing and data at the university, it is the culmination of months of hard work, exciting workshops, and interesting conversations with colleagues from all over the world. The NWU Chief IT Director, Boeta Pretorius, has been the main sponsor for Carpentry activities around the university and hope that the partnership will help to develop and enhance computational research skills amongst NWU researchers and postgraduate students while developing increasing numbers of local instructors. The training events have been run as part of the NWU eResearch Initiative which commenced in 2015. We look forward to continue our collaboration with Software and Data Carpentry and with you, our community! Read More ›

Software Carpentry Steering Committee Candidates 2017
Jonah Duckles / 2017-01-15
2017 Steering Committee elections and January Community Call We are pleased the announce the 2017 Steering Committee elections, which will occur from January 23-27. All members will receive a ballot via email to cast their vote via electionbuddy. Be sure to look at the membership list and let us know if you feel you’ve been left off by mistake; membership details are here. Community Call As a preface to the election, we are using our January Community Call to allow the candidates time to introduce themselves. We have seven outstanding candidates to fill the seven Steering Committee seats. Our governance rules require us to hold the election, albeit uncontested, but we also feel this is a vital way for the community to exhibit commitment to the organizational leadership. Please sign up to attend one of two meetings on January 20 to hear about our candidates’ plans for 2017. What would you like to see the Steering Committee accomplish? What are you excited for Software Carpentry to tackle this year? 2017 Steering Committee Candidate blog posts Linked under each candidates name is their blog post about their plans for Software Carpentry if elected. Kate Hertweck Rayna Harris Christina Koch Mateusz Kuzak Karin Lagesen Sue McClatchy Belinda Weaver Read More ›

1 - 15 January, 2017: CarpentryCon, Steering Committee Elections, Rubic for online Instructor training, TalkPython.
Martin Dreyer / 2017-01-15
##Highlights If you are interested in attending or helping with the planning of CarpentryCon, please sign up! Steering Committee elections will take place on January 23-27, and all members will be receive a ballot via email. Please look at the membership details to ensure you get the email. ##Tweets Have you considered making a donation to Software Carpentry? Talkpython episode #93 Spreading Python through the sciences with Software Carpentry. Huge thank you to the instructors who joined the new mentoring program! 8 best practices to improve your scientific software. Sign up for the Collaborations Workshop 2017. First DTL programmers meeting for 2017 scheduled for January 20 in the Netherlands. ##General We have set out a rubic to rank requests for online instructor training to ensure the spaces are filled. Our executive director Jonah Duckles was interviewed by TalkPython in December 2016, listen to the interview here. Please sign up for the January community call meetings on January 20 to hear the Steering Committee candidate’s plans and visions for 2017. Have a look at the candidate blog post for the 2017 Steering Committee. 12 workshops were run over the past 30 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops: January LCG-Aula 1-2, Centro de Ciencias Genómicas, UNAM, University of Michigan, NERC / The University of Bristol, Langley Research Center, Imperial College London, Neuroscience Research Australia, ResBaz Hobart, Python Stream, ResBaz Hobart, R Stream. February Simon Fraser University, New York Academy of Sciences, University of Toronto, University of Texas at Arlington, AMOS / MSNZ Conference, UF Informatics Institute, University of Auckland, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Boise State University. Read More ›

Announcing for Lesson Infrastructure Subcommittee
Raniere Silva / 2017-01-13
One of the issues that we have with the styles, lesson-example, and workshop-template repositories is that some issues or pull request just sit around for a long time because of the lack of ownership of those repositories. Going on with the Proposal for Lesson Infrastructure Subcommittee, that will try to solve that issue, we would like to announce that Subcommittee calendar for 2017. Month Activities February Lesson Infrastructure Subcommittee meeting. April Lesson Infrastructure Subcommittee meeting. May Repositories freeze for release. June Lesson release and Lesson Infrastructure Subcommittee meeting. September Lesson Infrastructure Subcommittee meeting. October Repositories freeze for release. November Lesson release and Lesson Infrastructure Subcommittee meeting. If you are the maintainer of a Software Carpentry or Data Carpentry and want to vote on issues or pull request on styles, lesson-example, or workshop-template repositores please email Kate Hertweck or Raniere Silva until January 27th 23:59 Pacific Time. Once we have the list of Lesson Infrastructure Subcommittee members we will find a suitable time for meeting between February 6th and February 10th. We will continue to welcome issues and pull request to styles, lesson-example, and workshop-template and making our lessons a community effort. Read More ›

Software Carpentry on TalkPython
Raniere Silva / 2017-01-05
On January 3rd, 2017 TalkPython published a podcast interview with our Executive Director, Jonah Duckles, that was recorded on December 6th, 2016. If you have friends who are interested to know about Software Carpentry and are fan of listen podcast (or not) the record is a great way for them to discovery what we are and how we operate. In the past, our staffs were interviewed in other podcasts by Open Science Radio and Podcast.init that podcast fans should check out. Read More ›

Announcing the CarpentryCon Proposal
Alix Keener, Rayna Harris, Greg Wilson / 2017-01-04
To date, we have not yet had an opportunity to bring together all the members of our communities. Enter: CarpentryCon! We are proposing a two-and-a-half day conference, tentatively held in May 2017 at the University of Michigan. We envision an event that brings together members of the Carpentry community, including instructors, partners, advocates, and staff, together with people sharing similar interests from around the globe. We will have a “come and learn” format that is different from most conferences with session on topics such as teaching methods, curriculum development, community organization, and leadership skills. Opportunities will be provided for participants to come together informally to share stories about challenges and successes. There will be at least one session where attendees can share how they have incorporated Carpentry techniques into their own research and teaching, and/or how they have grown their local Carpentry community. The final list of sessions will be determined by the program committee in consultation with the community, balancing “who wants to learn what?” with “who’s willing to teach what?”. Interested in attending or getting involved with planning? We’d love to hear from you! Add your name to the list on the etherpad and sign up for one of the planning calls on Monday, January 9. See more details at our working document. Read More ›

Rubric for Open Instructor Training
Greg Wilson / 2017-01-03
The Software Carpentry Foundation’s Steering Committee recently resolved to run four open online instructor training sessions per year in order to help support people whom we otherwise might not be able to reach. Since there are likely to be many more applications than spaces, we have developed a rubric for ranking requests for training. This applies only to people who are applying for spots in open training sessions: people who are receiving training through institutional partnership agreements will continue to be nominated by their institution as before. Note that as a condition of being trained, people must: Abide by our code of conduct, which can be found at http://software-carpentry.org/conduct/ and http://datacarpentry.org/code-of-conduct/. Complete three short tasks after the course in order to complete certification. The tasks are described at http://swcarpentry.github.io/instructor-training/checkout/, and take a total of approximately 8-10 hours. Help teach a Software Carpentry, Data Carpentry, or Library Carpentry workshop within 12 months of the course. Personal (given) name: [________] Family name (surname): [________] Email address: [________] GitHub username: [________] What is your current occupation/career stage? Please choose the one that best describes you. [_] Prefer not to say [_] Undergraduate student [_] Graduate student [_] Post-doctoral researcher [_] Faculty [_] Research staff (including research programmer) [_] Support staff (including technical support) [_] Librarian/archivist [_] Commercial software developer [] Other [_______] Affiliation: [________] Location: [________] [_] This a smaller, remote, or less affluent institution. Software and Data Carpentry strive to make workshops accessible to as many people as possible, in as wide a variety of situations as possible. Award +1 for outside Europe/UK/US/Canada/Australia/New Zealand. or +1 for being in smaller/remote/less affluent institution within EU/UK/US/Can/Aus/NZ. Areas of expertise: [_] Chemistry [_] Civil, mechanical, chemical, or nuclear engineering [_] Computer science/electrical engineering [_] Economics/business [_] Education [_] Genetics, genomics, bioinformatics [_] High performance computing [_] Humanities [_] Library and information science [_] Mathematics/statistics [_] Medicine [_] Organismal biology (ecology, botany, zoology, microbiology) [_] Physics [_] Planetary sciences (geology, climatology, oceanography, etc.) [_] Psychology/neuroscience [_] Social sciences [_] Space sciences Other areas of expertise: [________] Award +1 for being in economics or social sciences, arts, humanities, or library science (domains where we wish to expand). [] I self-identify as a member of a group that is under-represented in research and/or computing, e.g., women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ, etc. Details: [_______] [] I have been an active contributor to other volunteer or non-profit groups with significant teaching or training components. Data and Software Carpentry. Details: [_______] Optionally award +1 for each response (maximum of +2). How often have you been involved with Software Carpentry or Data Carpentry in the following ways? [_] Helper [_] Instructor [_] Workshop host [_] Learner [_] Workshop organizer [_] Contributed to lesson materials Score +1 for each previous involvement up to a maximum bonus of +3. Previous formal training as a teacher or instructor. [_] None [_] A few hours [_] A workshop [_] A certification or short course [_] A full degree [] Other: [_______] Description of your previous training in teaching: [________] Award +1 for “a certification or short course” or “a full degree” Previous experience in teaching. Please include teaching experience at any level from grade school to post-secondary education. [_] None [_] A few hours [_] A workshop (full day or longer) [_] Teaching assistant for a full course [_] Primary instructor for a full course [] Other: [_______] Description of your previous experience in teaching: [________] Award +1 for “TA for full course” or “primary instructor for full course”. How frequently do you work with the tools that Data Carpentry and Software Carpentry teach, such as R, Python, MATLAB, Perl, SQL, Git, OpenRefine, and the Unix Shell? [_] Every day [_] A few times a week [_] A few times a month [_] A few times a year [_] Never or almost never Award +1 for “every day” or “a few times a week”. How often would you expect to teach on Software or Data Carpentry Workshops after this training? [_] Not at all [_] Once a year [_] Several times a year [] Other: [_______] How frequently would you be able to travel to teach such classes? [_] Not at all [_] Once a year [_] Several times a year [] Other: [_______] Why do you want to attend this training course? [________] What else should we know about you? [________] Award -3 to +3 based on responses to “why do you want to attend” and “what else should we know”. Read More ›

1 - 31 December, 2016: Instructor Training, Community Service Awards, Career paths, Steering Committee Elections.
Martin Dreyer / 2016-12-31
##Highlights We are pleased to announce the first ever Library Carpentry instructor training in 2017. The very first Software Carpentry community service awards have been awarded. Greg Wilson will be taking up a position as Computer Science Educator Lead at Shopify, and will continue to work as a volunteer with the Carpentries. We are exited about the upcoming series of panel discussions on the variety of career paths available for our community members. ##Jobs Department of Physics and Astronomy at UCL (University College London) is looking for a physics teacher with IT skills. ##Tweets Have you considered making a donation to Software Carpentry? 8 best practices to improve your scientific software. A minimum standard for publishing computational results in the Weather and Climate Sciences. How to write a reproducible paper. ##General The 2017 Steering Committee Candidates have shared their stories with us: Sue McClatchy, Rayna Harris, Kate Hertweck, Christina Koch, Mateusz Kuzak, Karin Lagesen, Belinda Weaver. Python is not only for coding serious programs, you can also use it to create art. Communication is the key to any successful foundation, we would like to better our communication between community, staff and Steering Committee. Despite some severe wheather conditions in New Zealand, NIWA had a very succesful workshop. The Steering Committee’s year in review by Rayna Harris. A special thank you to everyone involved in the instructor discussin sessions during the year. Some insight on how SWC and DC can lead you to new and exciting places. 7 workshops were run over the past 30 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops: January 229th AAS Meeting, Oklahoma State University, NERC / The University of Bristol,University of Nebraska - Lincoln, University of Oxford, The University of Washington eScience Institute, Michigan State University, University of California Berkeley, University of Oklahoma, University of Connecticut, Software Carpentry @ UW Madison, LCG-Aula 1-2, Centro de Ciencias Genómicas, UNAM, University of Michigan, NERC / The University of Bristol, Langley Research Center, Imperial College London, Neuroscience Research Australia, ResBaz Hobart, Python Stream, ResBaz Hobart, R Stream. February Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto, University of Texas at Arlington, AMOS / MSNZ Conference, University of Auckland, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Read More ›

Career Pathways Panel Discussions
Lauren Michael, Christina Koch, Erin Becker / 2016-12-28
The Carpentries are excited to announce an upcoming series of panel discussions designed to help our community members become informed about the variety of career paths available to computationally literate members of their fields. Panel discussions will be held virtually in the months of January, February and March (tentative dates, below) with each session featuring 3-4 senior community members in Carpentry-related professions, including: tenured faculty, communicators/consultants, research software engineers, industry scientists, etc. Panelists will discuss how their career path led them to their current positions, including obstacles or challenges they may have faced and how they overcame those barriers. Audience members will have the opportunity to submit questions for panelists, and time will be reserved for free-form Q&A. To insure that all attendees have the opportunity to participate, attendance will be limited to 20 participants who have attended a debriefing within the last 3 months. To attend, please add your information to this form. We are currently in the process of recruiting panelists and would love to have recommendations from the community! If you know of someone who would be a good panelist, please recommend them here by Monday, January 9. Anyone with questions can send an email to Lauren Michael (organizer) at lauren1.michael-at-gmail-dot-com. Tentative Dates Tuesday, Jan 24 - 7am PST / 10am EST / 3pm UTC / 2am AEST (next day) Wednesday, Feb 22 - 3pm PST / 6pm EST / 11pm UTC / 10am AEST (next day) Tuesday, Mar 21 - 3pm PST / 6pm EST / 11pm UTC / 9am AEST (next day) Read More ›

2017 Election: Belinda Weaver
Belinda Weaver / 2016-12-23
Hello everyone. I am standing again as a candidate for the Steering Committee, having served on it this year for the first time. About me I have been involved with Software Carpentry for about three years. I organised the first workshop in Brisbane in 2014. I certified as an instructor myself in 2015 and taught at two workshops that year. In 2016, I taught at eight workshops, all of which I either organised or helped to organise. During 2016, I and other Queensland instructors have taken Software Carpentry to five cities in Queensland - Brisbane, Townsville, Toowoomba, Gold Coast and Rockhampton - a huge improvement on the number of workshops run in 2015 (three). Instructor training I organised Software Carpentry instructor training in Brisbane in 2016, and have since seen our local community of instructors grow to 16. I certified as an instructor trainer myself a week ago - very exciting! I look forward to training new instructors in 2017. Admin I currently serve as the Software Carpentry admin for half of Australia, with Damien Irving in Hobart taking the other half. This means helping people in other Australian states and territories organise workshops and keeping AMY up to date with what we’ve done. ResBaz I was one of the organisers of the very successful 2016 Brisbane Research Bazaar, (ResBaz) a three-day research festival for graduate students and early career researchers. Software Carpentry workshops in R and Python were taught there. I am currently helping to organise the 2017 Brisbane ResBaz, which promises to be huge and which has already attracted a number of sponsors. I will teach Software Carpentry there. I also helped the ResBaz folks in Arizona with ideas for their inaugural ResBaz. Library Carpentry In June 2016, I organised a sprint to update and extend the Library Carpentry material created by Dr James Baker and others in the UK. This was part of the 2-day Mozilla Science Lab Global Sprint. More than 20 people in six countries worked on updating the material, and added a new SQL lesson to the existing four. More lessons are in the works and this has almost become a third ‘Carpentry’ - interest is burgeoning, and it won the British Library Labs award in November. There have been about a dozen workshops run since the sprint. Find out more here. I have taught two full Library Carpentry workshops this year as well as teaching parts of it at other events. The community is very active, with an ongoing chat room. New members are welcome. Guiding I did some ‘guiding’ this year - mentoring recent Software Carpentry instructor trainees through the final stages of checkout. I tried this approach on attendees at the Brisbane instructor training and it was effective in getting people to finish (I think 17 out of 20 certified). I then assisted Anelda van der Walt’s South African instructor trainee cohort - running lesson discussion and practice teaching sessions to help them finish. I plan to do the same thing to help attendees at the recent online instructor training I taught check out as instructors. Communications My one disappointment this year has been my inability to take forward work I proposed on improving Software Carpentry communications. I was simply swamped by the tsunami of interest in Library Carpentry (16 requests to teach it, and counting) and that ended up gobbling up a lot of my time. I did promote Software Carpentry tirelessly through tweets, but campaigns I hoped to run did not eventuate. I am still interested in taking that work forward and would be interested to hear from others with experience in that area who might like to participate in it. For 2017 I think it is important to have Steering Committee representation from Australia (and the southern hemisphere more generally). Software Carpentry has really taken off here, and I think I have proved to be an effective community builder for it. In 2017, I would like to continue that work, train more instructors, get more partnerships across the line, if possible, and make sure we extend Software Carpentry workshops beyond the capital cities into the regions. I also plan to work in more with colleagues in New Zealand and South Africa on building their communities. I also intend to help Library Carpentry continue to expand, and will be running instructor training for librarians in Portland, Oregon, in May 2017. Read More ›

2017 Election: Karin Lagesen
Karin Lagesen / 2016-12-23
2017 Election: Karin Lagesen I have been a member of the Software Carpentry Steering Committee for two years, first as secretary and then as vice chair. My involvement with the SCF started in 2012, when I attended a workshop in Oslo, Norway. I signed on as an instructor in 2013 and became an instructor trainer this year. I have around 10 workshops, including instructor training, under my belt. As a member of the SC, I have mainly focused on Software Carpentry operations and on the development of instructor training and instructor trainers. In addition to serving on the Steering Committee, I am also a member of the mentoring committee. Although I have not been able to be as active in the mentoring committee this year, I have previously worked on developing programs focusing on integrating new instructors and on helping new instructors teach their first workshop. I have a PhD in bioinformatics from the University of Oslo, and am currently employed at the Norwegian Veterinary Institute and the University of Oslo. My background is in both computer science and molecular biology. Since I have formal training in both fields, I am frequently the one to translate the biological problem into a computational one. I have often been called upon to teach people with little to no training in computer science how to do their bioinformatics analyses. This means introducing them to Unix, to command-line work and to basic programming. Working in such multi-disciplinary situations has made me very aware of how hard it can be to move into a field far removed from your core area of expertise. This makes the values and skills that Software Carpentry teaches particularly important to me. If re-elected, I will focus on building and maintaining cohesiveness, consistency and continuity within Software Carpentry and its committees, as well as with other organizations. Software Carpentry is growing rapidly and is spreading through both new domains and geographic areas, and is facing great changes as a consequence. In addition, the Director of Instructor, the founder of Software Carpentry, Greg Wilson, has decided to leave the employ of the organization. We are also integrating new instructor trainers into Software Carpentry. Such transitions can be challenging, and I will work to provide continuity and consistency to the organization to ensure that things run smoothly. Last, but far from least, we are part of what has become a “Carpentries” ecosystem, and I believe that working together with and towards a common structure for the “Carpentries” would be of great benefit to all parties. Feel free to contact me on Twitter (@karinlag) or by email (karin.lagesen@gmail.com). I occasionally blog at blog.karinlag.no. Read More ›

2017 Election: Mateusz Kuzak
Mateusz Kuzak / 2016-12-23
Hi, I’m standing up for election to the Software Carpentry Steering Committee 2017. Me & Carpentries My background is life science. I currently work at the Netherlands eScience Center in Amsterdam. Apart from being a developer on various research software projects, I’m involved in Center’s training activities and software development best practices. I got sucked into in Software Carpentry world through Elixir Data Carpentry Pilot organised by Aleksandra Pawlik. During hackathon in Helsinki, together with Francois Michonneau and few other people we kickstarted ggplot2 part in R-ecology-lesson. From day one I learned a lot about the mechanics of SC, lesson development and logistics of the workshops. Instructor At the end of 2015, I attended instructor training in Manchester and became certified instructor shortly after. Since then I instructed at 7 SC and DC workshops around Europe and few more eScience Center workshops based on Software or Data Carpentry materials. Currently, I’m learning towards becoming an instructor trainer. Mentoring Recently I started joining instructor discussions as an observer and I’m planning on becoming host next year. I also joined recently announced mentorship program. Library Carpentry With small group of people in Amsterdam we hosted site for Mozilla Science Global Sprint and joined groups around the world in the effort to migrate Data Carpentry lessons to Library Carpentry. I have been contributing to LC materials since then. Netherlands and Europe I see how powerful Carpentries training model is and how important it is to establish Carpentries communities in the Netherlands and Europe. I have been relentlessly promoting SC, from local Research Software Engineers meetings (DTL programmers meetings) to conferences (BioSB). I helped establish eScience Center and Software Carpentry Partnership and work together with SURF (the collaborative ICT organisation for Dutch education and Research) on wider partnerships within the Netherlands. ELIXIR is very close to finalising the partnership with SC/DC and next year multiple SC and DC workshops will be organised for life science researchers in ELIXIR nodes. It has become apparent that there is a need for bioinformatics lesson. Together with other people from other ELIXIR nodes, we are planning to test drive and contribute to Data Carpentry Genomics Workshop through series of hackathons in the Netherlands, Portugal and UK. Plans for Steering Committee I think it’s very important that there is someone on the committee to give the European perspective. The culture differs here from North America. The scale is different too, it easier to connect / partner with other countries and European Union projects. I plan to help establishing the partnership with SURF in the Netherlands and multiple smaller partnerships around the Netherlands. I will also continue connecting various European projects with Carpentries initiative. One example is establishing SC workshops as part of H2020 European Training Programs (ETPs). eScience Center is currently contributing to two of those. I know how important it is to build sustainable local instructor community and realise how low is the instructor certification rate. I hope to contribute to improving it through mentorship program but also local study groups. Read More ›

2017 Election: Christina Koch
Christina Koch / 2016-12-22
To begin, I present: Notable events in Christina’s Software Carpentry career: 2013-April: Graduate from grad school (Masters degree in mathematics). 2013-May: Attend Software Carpentry workshop (and see git and Python for the first time). 2014-January: Teach first Software Carpentry workshop. 2014-March: First time travelling abroad for Software Carpentry. 2014-May: Hear about a job through the Software Carpentry blog. 2014-October: Get the job (which is still my job). 2014-November: Become a lesson maintainer. 2015-December: First time leading an instructor training. 2016-January: Switch roles, from lesson maintainer to mentoring committee chair. 2016-June: Teach first Data Carpentry workshop. To this list, I would like to add: 2016-December: Stand for the Software Carpentry steering committee. And hopefully: 2017-January: Begin serving on the Software Carpentry steering committee. As you can see, Software Carpentry has meant a lot to me over the past 3-4 years. I’ve received so much from the community, and would now like to give back in a new way - as a member of the steering committee. As a member of the steering committee, I would primarily aim to: work together with my fellow committee-members, the Software Carpentry leadership, and the community at large to build a shared vision and direction for Software Carpentry. create policies and structures that enable community members to realize this vision for Software Carpentry, providing both the freedom to try new things, and the necessary oversight to guide their efforts. Personally, some of my visions and goals for Software Carpentry include: Provide clear avenues for supporters and community members to connect with the Software Carpentry organization and with each other. Maintain a pool of high-quality instructors and provide opportunities for instructors to share knowledge and grow in their teaching skills. Initiate opportunities for community members to learn more about topics like accessibility, diversity, and discrimination. However, I am most interested to hear what other members of the community value about Software Carpentry and what their goals would be for the organization and its members. If you read the above timeline carefully, you’ll see that I went from my very first Python script and git repository to teaching other people in under a year. I’d be applying that same “get-started” motivation to my work on the steering committee - learning the ropes as quickly as possible so that I can direct my energy back towards the community right away. If any of this sounds interesting to you, I encourage you to vote for me, or even better, to join me and stand for the steering committee yourself! P.S. For those who are interested in knowing a little more about me, I work as a Research Computing Facilitator for the Center For High Throughput Computing at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. I love to read, have recently gotten into knitting, and this winter, have tried my hand at curling for the first time. You can say hi or follow me on Twitter at @_christinaLK. Read More ›

Instructor Traininig Intercontinental
Aleksandra Pawlik / 2016-12-22
The end of the calendar year is a usual opportunity to make look back at the past 365 days. The summary of mine would be “Instructor Training Intercontinental”. I have always considered myself to be incredibly lucky working with Software and Data Carpentry and certainly in 2016 I hit another jackpot. I run 7 Instructor Training workshops, in 6 countries on 3 continents. But the highlight was, as it has always been with SWC and DC, the people. January 2016 kicked off with Instructor Training for ELIXIR in Switzerland which I ran together with Tracy Teal, Data Carpentry Executive Director. It was a baptism of fire for me, as I taught for the first time without Greg who could step in and save me, in case I would have messed things up. So I am very grateful to Tracy who helped me to get through the Instructor Training in Lausanne without causing any damage to the attendees. In fact, almost all of them have now completed their checkout and ELIXIR’s collaboration with Software and Data Carpentry is growing further. Next, I headed off across the world to Australia and New Zealand. A veeeery long flight and straight from the winter wonderland of Switzerland I found myself in sunny Brisbane surrounded by supporting arms of Belinda Weaver who, little did both of us know, became the co-creator of the guiding programme for a group of trainees which I taught 3 months later. In Australia, at the University of Queensland I learnt that the excitement of sharing what I know about teaching with a group of enthusiastic people effectively helps with the worst jetlag ever (Belinda, thanks again for the sleeping pills!). The excitement and Jetlag carried on over to Melbourne where I taught trainees just as they were getting ready for the Research Bazaar. Alistair Walsh guided me through the best coffee sources on campus and beyond. He also helped presenting the Cognitive Load Theory module during the Instructor Training and talking about “flow state” whilst I was trying to stay awake. Jetlag finally let go when I crossed the Tasman Sea to arrive to Auckland where New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (NeSI) team organised the first in-person Instructor Training in the land of Kiwi bird (and fruit). The participants came from the institutions all over the country and I am now working directly with most of them…see below for details. Whilst I was hovering around the bottom of the map, Anelda van Der Walt was working incredibly hard putting together “A Programme for the Development of Computational and Digital Research Capacity in South Africa and Africa”. A part of her plan was to run the first in-person Instructor Training in South Africa (and in Africa) with myself as the trainer. Meanwhile, I fell in love with New Zealand so deeply that I wanted to live there and so I had to make one of the hardest professional decisions ever: I decided to leave UK and thus my job with the Software Sustainability Institute (SSI) and with the eScience Lab team at the University of Manchester, and join NeSI. I spent 3 years with the SSI and the Manchester team, and they taught me everything I know and more. It was also there where I became a Software and Data Carpentry instructor, a steering committees member and a trainer. But New Zealand is just like on the attached photo and I couldn’t resist it. Fortunately, in my new job I remain connected with the communities and projects I had worked with before. Preparing to move my life to another continent was pretty much full on but Anelda and I really wanted to make the Instructor Training in Africa happen. So in April 2016 I landed in Johannesburg (no jetlag!) and two days later I was with an incredibly inspiring and impressive group of trainees. Most of them were based in South Africa but we also had participants from Kenya and Namibia. We realized that most of them would be Software and Data Carpentry pioneers in their home institutions, or even countries, and thus they needed a lot of support from the Carpentry communities. Long story short, thanks to the leadership of two amazing women, Anelda and Belinda, with engagement from several of others, we saw one of the best outcomes of having an inclusive international community: guiding and supporting the newcomers through the initial stages of them joining the initiative and helping them make their membership sustainable. Right before I left Great Britain, in May 2016, I ran Instructor Training organised by the Software Sustainability Institute for trainees from UK universities as well as organisations such as the Met Office. We hosted in it Edinburgh, the first place I lived in when I moved to the UK in 2008. I co-run the workshop with my SSI colleague, Steve Crouch who recently has just been training up more instructors in the never-saturated-UK-research market. Another SSI-er and the UK SWC and DC Admin, Giacomo Peru was there as well to help and the SSI’s Director, my super-cool boss at the time, Neil Chue-Hong showed up too. Good times. Fast forward, it is December 2016. I am about to hit the road towards the NZ South Island (surrounded by Santas and Christmas trees glowing in the roasting sun…this still doesn’t compute). The intense past months took their toll - I certainly became less effective, erm…significantly less on the ball with my emails and not always managing to keep up with everything that is going on in Software and Data Carpentry (is there anyone who can?). I fell off the grid (which isn’t that difficult in New Zealand). But Software and Data Carpentry is quite a boomerang (see what I did just there?) so I think I am crawling to get back on the track. Wow. It’s been a year. Read More ›

Christmas Instructor Discussion
Raniere Silva / 2016-12-22
On December 20th we hosted our two last Instructor Discussion Session from 2016. We started 2016 with Post-workshop Instructor Debriefing Sessions that run twice (in different times) every two weeks and during the year we change its name to reflect the modifications made to better accomodate their inclusion on the Instructor Training pipeline as well as the increase of offers (twice every week). The Steering Committee is very grateful for all the work from the Mentoring Subcommittee as well all Instructor Discussion Session hosts without help would be impossible to provide all the hours of sharing experience among members of our community. The morning session on December 20th was hosted by me and Marian Schmidt. Markus Ankenbrand and Felipe Ferreira Bocca shared with us the experience of teaching, respectively, at the University of Würzburg, Germany and the University of Campinas, Brazil. Three future instructors attended from Europe and participated on a conversation about our R lesson. One of our future instructors asked us for advices of how to engage advanced learners who attended the workshop. This is, probably, one of the top five advice requests that we receive on the Instructor Discussion Session and, this time, we was gifted with the attendance of Greg Wilson who is the best person to help that future instructor. Shortly, because is impossible to put on paper any conversation that you have with Greg since he is always inspiring you to climb higher, Greg recommended to invite advanced instructors to help their peers on the current workshop and be a co-instructor on the next one. The “watch one, do one, teach one” phylosoph, from Paulo Freire, is what bring us, Software Carpentry, here and we are counting with your help to push it forward. The night session on December 20th was hosted by Kate Hertweck and me. Unlike the morning session, we didn’t have any instructor for debriefing but we have seven motivated future instructors from Europe and the United States. Kate marvellous leaded that session to answer questions about workshop organisation, instructor training checkout procedure, and our lessons. On both sessions we had questions about the challenges on our lessons. We have more challenges than any instructor can conver during the average duration of the workshop. Instructors should select the challenges they will use on the worksop based on the information they have about their learners. If you think that we should drop or replace any challenge, please create a pull request on GitHub or email us. We will return with the Instructor Discussion Sessions in 2017 after a short Christmas and New Year break. If you are looking for the next Instructor Discussion Session to complete your Instructor Training, keep a eye on this blog at the begin of 2017. We will be looking to see you next year in one of the Instructor Discussion Session and for now enjoy the holly season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Read More ›

Rayna Harris's Year in Summary 2016
Rayna Harris / 2016-12-19
A year in review I want to thank you for giving me the prilege to serve on the Software Carpentry Steering Committee. Here is a very brief recap of the year. Click this link to read my 2017 election post. A year ago, I said I would focus my efforts on: integrating data from the mentoring and debriefing sessions with the assessment surveys to understand the degree of workshop effectiveness discussing the above information with lesson maintainers, who can decide if lessons need revision or not integrating the above with instructor-trainers and instructor-mentors to improve lesson delivery and ultimately student success streamlining the above processes so that new trainees can easily be incorporated into these leadership roles Here is my recap of what we as a community have accomplished When subcommittees and subcommunities have an overlapping representation, it facilitates the transfer of ideas, concepts, and data across groups. I like to be in multiple groups so that I can better understand and identify shared challenges and opportunities. I’m excited to see some new and revamped programs for 2017 that are the results of share idea with members of the community. I’m really happy with the mentoring program, the communication revamp, monthly meeting, discussion sessions, newsletter, featured Data Carpentry Blogs. Lesson maintenance has undergone some changes for the better this year. Click here to read the October 2016 summary from Kate Hertweck. I unexpectedly jumped whole heartedly into the effort to integrate insight from the mentoring committee into the instructor trainer curriculum. Shortly after begin elected, I joined the ranks of the 20 instructor trainers. We had a crash course in training trainers and then were launched into teaching. I must say, I can now relate even better to the new instructors our there. I participated in 5 instructor training workshops and hosted about a dozen discussion sessions. The instructor training program is supported by membership agreements and grants, and I’m grateful we have the support and infrastructure to tranform research and education. We have elaborated the means to integrate new members into the community and into leadership roles. The community is always inventing and championing new ways to do what we do better. There are many pathways and vehicles for success in this organization, but sometimes its hard to navigate. We are working on improving all forms of communication, and we appreciate your patience and enthusiastic participation as we have navgated these growing pains. A little more reflection In the instructor training manual, one section compares self-directed learning and instructor guided learning. I believe I am constantly learning through mentored-learning and self-directed learning. I am fortunate to have mentors in this community that guide me with wisdom but also give the with support to explore uncharted territory. I think its important to know what balance of the two styles works for you. You could even make an analogy that our community learns and grows in a similar manner through mentored- and self-guided learning. This year, new staff joined the community to bring expertise and facilite our growth in a mentor-guided fashion. I love that volunteers spearhead many novel activities in this community, but its great to balance this will with the wisdom of colleagues how have experience in the area. I think the Bug BBQ and the Instructor Discussion sessions are two awesome examples where many individuals in the community took leaderships/mentorship roles to enhance our curricula and instructor training program. We’ve are also seeing the great benefit that Data Carpentry staff hires have on our curricula and workshops; their knowledge has really helped us to implement some of the practices we value and preach but were not always successful at implmenting . Communication is important and worth the effort. I’m trying to improve my communication in many ways. I’m glad I’m in good company of hundreds of people who also want to improve their communication, teaching, and research. I like that we can all make progress on this together as a community of geographically diverse members. I like hearing from you, and meeting in real life (IRL) is so awesome! I met Greg, Jonah, Belinda, Jason, Kate, Bill, and Maneesha in Cold Spring Harbour. I met Christina in Annapolis Maryland. Kate and I have used our departmental seminar resources to visit each other in Tyler and Austin, Texas. I met instructor trainees in Texas, Oklahoma, Maryland, Toronto, Washington D.C., Arizona, Seattle. Hopefully I’ll meet more of you in 2017! Check the meetup etherpad and add your travel plans. Thank you! I conclusion, I want to that you, the community, for giving me the opportunity to serve on the steering committee in 2017. Y’all have made significant contributions to my growth as a scientist. I volunteered a liiiiittle more time and mental effort to SWC than I anticipated, but it was so worth it. Either way, I want to take a moment to acknowledge that I am support by a fellowship from the The University of Texas at Austin Graduate School, which gives me considerable flexibility in my schedule to balance research in the Hans Hofmann Lab with volunteering for this amazing organization. Read More ›

2017 Election: Kate Hertweck
Kate Hertweck / 2016-12-19
I am excited to stand for election for the 2017 Software Carpentry Steering Committee (SWC SC). I hope you’ll consider supporting me in this year’s election so I may continue to serve our community. Previous experience with Software Carpentry: Some folks might consider it insanity for a tenure-track assistant professor to volunteer so much energy to the Carpentries, but in reality, the time I’ve spent on the SWC SC has been essential to my development of an effective model of leadership. The following points highlight my contributions to our community: Social media: Last May, I created a Facebook page for the Carpentries and have since posted the majority of content. Mentoring and discussion sessions: My SWC service originally started with the mentoring subcommittee; I’m pleased to have continued this work over the last year primarily by hosting discussion sessions. Lesson maintainers: I spent the early part of 2016 observing and learning about our lesson development and maintenance process. A few months back, I began leading this group through a process of reorganization and am excited to formally submit subcommittee proposals accordingly. Bridge committee and community calls: As part of my SWC SC responsibilities, I served as a liaison to the Bridge committee with Data Carpentry. This group took over organizing community calls in the latter part of the year, and I’ve been pleased to attend and participate in these community interactions. SC resolutions: I am gratified to have led discussions among members of the SC that resulted in what I believe are positive changes for our community. First, I helped the SC devise a policy to assist in continuity of the SC following elections, which was passed via community vote in October. Second, a motion I proposed at the end of November (and was subsequently passed by the SC) will continue availability of open online instructor training for members of our community at institutions that do not currently have access to training through joint organizational memberships. I believe both of these projects ensure stability and continued growth for SWC. Future goals for Software Carpentry: In retrospect, it took a solid six months for me to “hit my stride” as a member of the SC, and I’m eager to capitalize on this interia by continuing for another year. My experiences working with the SC and other committees described above have reaffirmed my commitment to providing strong leadership with the following goals: Clarifying responsibilities in leadership: SWC has matured a great deal since the first SC was elected two years ago. I am keen to solidify the specific roles best filled by not only the SC, but also the Advisory Council, staff, and other community leaders. Communication and community engagement: Our organization faces many challenges in terms of communicating with an intellectually diverse and geographically dispersed community. I want to do a better job of relaying information about choices made at the SC and subcommittee level back to the community, and balancing community input with steady movement towards decision making and progress as an organization. Streamlining operations with Data Carpentry: I am very excited to have worked closely with Data Carpentry staff this year, and am looking forward to continuing to integrate our operations to our mutual benefit. More about me: My current position is Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Texas at Tyler. I teach plant taxonomy, genomics, and bioinformatics, and also mentor undergraduates and graduate students in independent research. I’m happy to chat about knitting, science, teaching, and faculty life on Twitter or my blog, and you can learn more about my research on GitHub or my research/teaching website.  Read More ›

Software Carpentry workshop in severe conditions
Wolfgang Hayek, Aleksandra Pawlik / 2016-12-19
Usually the main struggles preceding Software and Data Carpentry workshops involve the laptop setup, signposting the room and making sure the washrooms are unlocked. But the recent workshop in New Zealand, held at National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) was facing much more extreme conditions. The day before the workshop New Zealand was hit by what is now known Kaikoura earthquake. Wellington, where the NIWA offices are, was also affected. Fortunately, NIWA buildings remained safe and the hosts, Fabrice Cantos and Wolfgang Hayek, decided to go forward with the workshop. However, the earthquake turned out to be not the only one force of nature that affected the area. Wellington experienced some extreme weather with gale-force winds and very strong rain that caused flooding in the city. Despite all these issues, the workshop still had almost full attendance and received very good feedback. 23 researchers participated in the event, that included NIWA staff from Wellington and other NIWA branches, as well as 3 external participants from the University of Canterbury The instructors (Andre Geldenhuis of Victoria University Wellington; Alexander Pletzer, Craig Stanton and Wolfgang Hayek, all of NIWA) taught the core Software Carpentry curriculum as well as an added-on introduction to HPC using Fitzroy, the supercomputer operated and maintained by New Zealand eScience Infrastructure. Every participant could use a personalised account on Fitzroy to follow the HPC session. 2 remote participants at NIWA Auckland joined for the Python session. Teaching was done through a video-conference system by sharing the presenter screen as well as room audio and video, which worked well. Despite the sever weather conditions and the overall post-earthquake concerns, the atmosphere was very relaxed, and participants asked numerous questions in all sessions. The workshop will be followed up next year with workshops on programming with C, C++, and Fortran, as well as parallel programming. Read More ›

2017 Election: Rayna Harris
Rayna Harris / 2016-12-19
I am really excited to stand in election for the 2017 Software Carpentry (SWC) Steering Committee so that I can continue to serve this amazing community. ##Software Carpentry Involvement I was first exposed to Software Carpentry by April Wright, who suggested that I attend the Instructor Training Workshop at UC Davis in January 2015. In 2015 I co-taught workshops at UT Arlington and New Mexico State University, I co-organized the Austin-based Instructor/Helper Retreat, served on the Mentoring and Assessment Subcommittee. In 2016, I was elected to the SWC steering committee and I was certified as an instructor trainer. You can read my year end summary from 2016 here. Without a doubt, my favorite Software Carpentry activity is hosting instructor discussion sessions. I learn so much when you share your experiences, and it has helped me become a better instructor and scientists. More importantly, synthesizing these community-shared experiences gives me an immense amount of energy and inspiration for continuing to engage in community-driven research education. ##Vision for 2017: open science and reproducible research The words “open science” and “reproducible research” occupy most of my headspace these days. In January, I’m going to a curriculum development hackathon for Reproducible Research using Jupyter Notebooks and then to a Moore Foundation Early Career Researcher Symposium to synthesize our ideas about reproducibility. I’m excited to see the progress we make in this area and I look forwards to more discussions on these topics. I have so many ideas in this realm that I’m happy to discuss with anyone who will listen. ##Vision for 2017: championing mentorship Successful research driven education programs find the perfect balance between instructor-guided and self-guided learning. We all fall at different places on the spectrum of self-taught to classroom-taught programmers and teachers. I’m excited that our organizations are championing mentorship programs to enhance and extend our existing training program. This provides multiple pathways to building better educators and scientists. I’m fortunate to have multiple mentors and role models in this community both locally and globally, and I’m looking forward to hearing mentoring success stories. ##Vision for 2017: integration across levels I hear the phrase “integration across levels” every week during seminars, papers, and discussions. I believe the concepts are quite relevant to Software Carpentry today. My continued vision is to promote integration across the organization and community so that we are better aware of the challenges and achievements of each other experiments. We’ve noticed some leaky pipes in our across levels communication, but improving this is a priority. Thanks Thank you for considering me for re-election for the Steering Committee. Software Carpentry has contributed vastly to my growth as an educator and scientist, and I look forward to contributing back to this excellent community in 2017 and beyond! Read More ›

Teaching Support IT Job at UCL Physics and Astronomy
Ben Waugh / 2016-12-15
We’re looking for someone with IT skills, and interests in teaching and physics, to work with us at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UCL (University College London). This is a system manager job with an emphasis on supporting our teaching, and will involve a wide range of responsibilities, including managing a Linux cluster and interfacing PCs to lab equipment as well as providing first-line support for the university Windows environment. The application deadline is Monday 2nd January 2017. Applicants must already have the right to work in the UK. Duties and Responsibilities A system manager is required to support Teaching and Learning in the Department, and to provide some support to administrative support staff. The balance is likely to be approximately 75% support for teaching and learning, and 25% other support. The Department has over 180 desktop computers in teaching labs. Most of these are installed with the standard UCL Windows Desktop environment, also available to students in other cluster rooms across the University, and permit each student to record their experimental work, analyse data, and engage in e-learning activities while in the lab. Additionally, we have around 30 individual PCs interfacing with lab equipment. We also have a Linux cluster available for student use: this currently has 19 PCs running Scientific Linux, supported by rack-mounted servers in a separate machine room, but this is likely to expand. Programming is an important skill for any scientist, as well as for many graduates who go on to work in other fields, and the computing strand of our degree programmes is continually being reviewed and updated. All Physics undergraduates learn programming in Python in their first term and, depending on their choices, may learn Mathematica, Matlab and Java in subsequent terms. Other courses, not focussed specifically on programming, are also increasingly making use of e-learning technology and some computing to carry out calculations and aid understanding of scientific concepts. These courses all rely on expert technical support to ensure that the relevant software is installed and configured correctly. Professional Services staff in the department use Windows PCs for a variety of administrative tasks using locally installed software and services provided by UCL’s central Key Requirements The successful applicant will have a proven ability to communicate and collaborate effectively with people of varying levels of technical knowledge, a demonstrable interest in and knowledge of physics and education, and excellent technical skills. A deep knowledge of either Linux or Windows is required, along with some experience of the other operating system and the willingness to learn more. Applicants should have knowledge and experience of some of the relevant technologies and tools. These include scientific software, programming, e-learning systems, networking, and deployment and configuration of computing hardware and services. Further Details Click here for full details and application form. Read More ›

Next Steps
Greg Wilson / 2016-12-14
Software Carpentry has accomplished an amazing amount over the past six and a half years, but a new opportunity has come up for me here in Toronto, and after a great deal of thought, I’ve decided to pursue it. At the end of January 2017, I will be taking a position as a Computer Science Education Lead at Shopify, where I will help with their CS education partnerships. I’m excited to have a chance to work for change locally, but also look forward to continuing to be involved in the Carpentries as a volunteer, and to many more discussions of teaching, open science, and how awful Git truly is. It has been a privilege working with you all: watching you turn a handful of lessons into a global organization empowering tens of thousands of researchers has been the best experience of my career. Thank you for everything. Read More ›

Community Service Awards 2016
SCF Steering Committee / 2016-12-13
We are very pleased to announce the recipients of the Software Carpentry Foundation's first community service awards, which are given annually to recognize work that improves the Foundation's fulfillment of its mission and benefits the broader community: After becoming an instructor, Christina Koch immediately started taking on extra responsibilities. She has taught countless workshops, been a lesson maintainer, played a major role in the mentoring committee, and become an instructor trainer.   Adrianna Pinska participated in her first workshop as a helper in November 2014, and then became certified as an instructor. Since then she has organized workshops in conjunction with events like PyConZA, going from four participants in the first to a full house most recently.   Jon Pipitone was our unofficial system administrator from 2010 to 2016. In that time, he managed our servers, took care of backups and mailing lists, and generally kept the lights on. Jon's work was not directly visible to most of our community, but was essential to keeping us afloat. Please join us in congratulating all three! Read More ›

Don't forget to submit your post to stand for the 2017 Steering Committee
Kate Hertweck / 2016-12-12
If you’ve considered running for the 2017 Software Carpentry Steering Committee, please submit your blog post announcing your intentions by December 23. More information about what to include in your post can be found in the original announcement. Read More ›

Feedback on Communications
Tracy Teal, Erin Becker / 2016-12-12
Software and Data Carpentry have at their core a collaboration-driven ethos, and communication is key to that collaboration. We’re reaffirming our commitment to open and transparent communication, because we know we can do better! We want to give community members opportunities to talk to each other, staff and Steering Committees, to get updates on efforts and activities and to generate ideas and participate in discussions. So, first, we want to hear from you! What ideas do you have about communication? What do you want to hear from us? What channels do you like to use for communication? Do you like email lists or forums that include every topic, or ones on particular questions, domains or regions? What do you like about communication now? What don’t you like? We’re going to be working on communication channels and strategies to promote and support these ideas, and continue to make the Carpentries a community that you are excited to be a part of, so please let us know what you think! Please respond as a comment to this post, or in our “conversations” repository on GitHub (we’re considering these our suggestion boxes) if you have particular topics. Thanks for your feedback! To be true to our ethos and effective in our mission, we need to be able to communicate effectively about both aspirations and ongoing efforts so that we can learn from each other, identify critical issues, recover quickly from mistakes, evaluate ideas and commitments, and make strategic decisions. As a community, we communicate in many ways and for different purposes. Community members take initiative to coordinate activities. Staff and committee members seek community input. Staff and committee members report actions and deliver products to the community. We know that we need effective ways for: Community members to propose ideas for new work or directions for ongoing work. Community members to organize work efforts around a particular issue. Community members to stay up-to-date on work going on in the community, including work done by staff members, Steering Committees and subcommittees and unofficial groups of community members. Staff to jointly decide on priorities, form productive collaborations and keep up-to-date on progress of projects. We also know that there may be other communication needs we have as an organization that we haven’t yet considered. We invite anyone who has experience in communications, in building open communities or who simply has thoughts about these issues to contribute as we work to develop an thoughtful, efficient and transparent communications strategy. We envision this blog post and our new “Conversations” repository as a first step in developing this strategy. To take part in the conversation about developing communication strategy - please respond to this post or to the GitHub issue. As we work to develop a communications strategy, Carpentry staff will actively monitor this thread and follow-up on issues. Read More ›

Instructor Training for Library Carpentry
Greg Wilson / 2016-12-08
We are pleased to announce that we are partnering with csv,conf (a community conference for data makers everywhere) to run an instructor training class specifically geared for people interested in Library Carpentry. The class will take place in Portland, Oregon, on May 4-5, 2017; for details, please see the full announcement. Read More ›

Making art with Python: Projects after Software Carpentry
Eleanor Lutz / 2016-12-08
This March I signed up for a Software Carpentry class and learned Python for the first time. I had a great time at the workshop, and I wanted to share one of the first Python projects I completed thanks to Software Carpentry. I originally signed up for the workshop for my PhD research in mosquito behavior. I needed to automate some video analysis tasks, and several friends recommended learning Python. I ended up making the video analysis work (thanks Software Carpentry!), but this blog is actually about a Python art project that I worked on right after finishing the class. One of my Python matplotlib animations, based on the public commons image Arabesques: mosaïques murales XVe. & XVIe. siècles. Coming into the class I had a little coding experience, but not much. I’d taken an introductory Java class four years ago (and barely used it since), and learned GitHub and HTML/CSS while making maps as a designer at Mapbox. Dave Williams and Jes Ford, the Python instructors for my class, did an amazing job of making the class accessible to beginners like me. I particularly appreciated how they took the time to set up their own computers to look exactly like what a beginner would see - no shell aliases or custom installs and appearance settings. In our class we worked on graphing the example “inflammation dataset” using matplotlib. I was impressed by the Seaborn graphics library shown in the class, and I wanted to see how far I could get using vanilla matplotlib for an art project. I needed a practice project to get better at Python, and as a former designer one of my favorite challenges is making art out of limited tools. For my project I wanted to make a browsable color palette website like Adobe Kuler, but with animated examples for every color palette. This was fairly straightforward once I figured out that matplotlib.patches will plot any shape given a list of points. After that I just needed to define a set of shapes and pass their location and size to each frame of the GIF. (I also turned the project into an open source Git repository, for anyone who wants to take a closer look.) Another Python animation, based on the public commons image Mosaik aus der Moschee des Galaon el Alfi auf der Citadelle zu Kairo (Friedrich Hessemer 1842) I learned a lot about Python while making this, so for me it was a really useful practice project. For example, by generating hundreds of figures and unintentionally causing a huge memory leak, I learned that matplotlib doesn’t have automatic garbage collection. It was also useful to carefully decide which parts of the project to write in Python, and which to write in HTML/CSS/Javascript. In the end my final color palette browser website uses a mix of original HTML/CSS/Javascript, automatically generated Javascript written in Python, and GIF images generated in Python. This was a fairly basic coding project, but I wanted to share it with the Software Carpentry community to show that I actually learned something useful from the class. I ended up really enjoying Python, and the structure of the class helped me quickly get a handle on the basics. Finally, I want to acknowledge everyone at Software Carpentry who helped me during the March 2016 workshop: Dave Williams, Jes Ford, Ariel Rokem, Allison Smith, Rick Riehle, Emilia Gan, Bernease Herman, Bryna Hazelton, Chris Suberlak, and Jeremey McGibbon. Thanks for all of your work helping beginners in coding! Read More ›

2017 Election: Sue McClatchy
Sue McClatchy / 2016-12-05
Hi, I’m a bioinformatician at a research lab in rural Maine, U.S.A. My path here has been winding, varied, and fraught with good luck. I had the good fortune to find Software Carpentry some years ago, and in my travels have never found anything quite like it. I’m honored to be part of this community and now want to give back by contributing my experience and expertise. Previous involvement I’ve been a certified Software Carpentry instructor since the spring of 2015. Since then, I’ve organized and taught 6 workshops, and have plans to teach 5 more in early 2017. I serve on the mentoring subcommittee and lead discussion sessions for new and experienced instructors. Presently, I’m working toward becoming an instructor-trainer, and expect to teach instructor training early in 2017 in addition to the 5 aforementioned workshops. This year I secured 4 years of partnership funding between [The Jackson Laboratory] (http://www.jax.org) and the Carpentries. The first year of partnership is funded by an internal grant, with succeeding years funded by a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). How I can contribute I bring an uncommon perspective from formal teacher training and an 8-year career as a K-12 teacher in the U.S. and Latin America. Diverse abilities and cultures in the classroom are the norm for me, and I have much to share with instructors about how to best meet everyone’s needs - the first thing being a focus on learners’ needs. My training instilled the idea that the learner, not the instructor, is the most important person in the room. A learner-centered approach to instruction responds well to diversity and arms the instructor with tools to adapt instruction to new situations and new people. Many of these tools work equally well with both child and adult learners, and work across cultures and abilities. I entered biomedical research in the early 2000s and have contributed my teaching expertise to the field since then. I’m well-acquainted with the need for improved computing and data analysis skills in research and know that the Carpentry approach promotes greater research productivity and happiness. I’ll bring this understanding to instructor training and mentoring to bolster instructional expertise within the Carpentry community. I will help Software Carpentry to expand its training and instructional footprint into new regions, especially in Latin America, by teaching and by mentoring instructors there. In January 2017 I will teach workshops at the Talleres Internacionales de Bioinformática (International Bioinformatics Workshops) in Cuernavaca, Morelos, México. I intend to follow this with further training in Latin American countries, and to support those already teaching in these countries. I will contribute grant-writing expertise to grow and sustain Software Carpentry by identifying and pursuing new sources of funding from foundations, government grants and institutional partnerships. I’m presently working on a NIH grant proposal and have shared the proposal with key NIH staff. I’m especially interested in pursuing funding that will broaden Software Carpentry into different communities than those it already represents well. My goals are the following: Bolster instructional capacity and expertise by training and mentoring new instructors in all disciplines. Broaden Software Carpentry’s reach into largely untapped regions, especially in Latin America. Build Software Carpentry into a sustainable, well-funded organization that reaches a diverse audience. More about me if you’re so inclined More about me on LinkedIn, Github, and an occasional tweet from @SueMcclatchy. I also have a minimalist instructor training blog. Read More ›

UCSF is Hiring
Ariel Deardorff / 2016-11-30
The UCSF Library’s Data Science Initiative is hiring! We are looking for a biomedical researcher with an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for programming in R/Python, bioinformatics, data curation, statistics, data visualization (or all of the above) to serve as the Scientific Lead for our Data Science Initiative. We are taking a broad approach to data science, and are looking for someone who will work to identify the data science needs of the UCSF research community, help build a Library-based hub for data science activities, develop programs and events, and teach workshops and classes. To find out more about this position please visit https://aprecruit.ucsf.edu/apply/JPF01144. Read More ›

15 - 30 November, 2016: Instructor Training, UCSF Library, Code of Conduct, Announcement List, Steering Committee minutes.
Martin Dreyer / 2016-11-30
##Highlights We are gratefull that Open Instructor training is going well with participants from all over the world. ##Jobs The UCSF Library’s Data Science Initiative is looking for a biomedical researcher, please visit the UCSF recruit site. ##Tweets Remember to abide by the Code of Conduct. Incase you missed it, the low volume announcements list is up, please sign up. Think of replacing awk with bioawk, you can contibute to the development. ##General Have a look at the Programming with GAP lesson on our website. The Steering Committee has uploaded the minutes of their third quarter to the Software Carpentry Foundation page as well as GitHub. Please contact Ranier Silva with any critics of suggestions. 19 workshops were run over the past 30 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops: December: Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, University of Campinas, Oxford University Department of Biochemistry, University of Victoria, UCSF,University of California, San Francisco, Deakin University. 2017: January 229th AAS Meeting, NERC / The University of Bristol,The University of Washington eScience Institute, LCG-Aula 1-2, Centro de Ciencias Genómicas, UNAM, NERC / The University of Bristol, ResBaz Hobart, Python Stream, ResBaz Hobart, R Stream. February AMOS / MSNZ Conference. Read More ›

Minutes of Steering Committee Meeting
Raniere Silva / 2016-11-21
The Steering Committee informs that the minutes of their third quarter are now linked on the Software Carpentry Foundation page as well on the README of the board GitHub repository. If you have critics and suggestions related to the minutes please send those by email to our Secretary, Raniere Silva, at raniere@rgaics.com. In the forth and last quarter, the Steering Committee will focus to wrap and documenting some procedures to make the transition to the next Steering Committee smoother than this year, something that started with the Amending Steering Committee Election Procedures that you voted last October. We are very excited by all this year achivements from our community, more details will be available later this year on our annual report, and looking for the amazing members from our community that will standing for this election to help shape the future direction of Software Carpentry. Read More ›

Open Instructor Training
Erin Becker, Greg Wilson / 2016-11-19
(Originally posted on the Data Carpentry blog.) After workshops and conferences, we frequently get questions from people who are interested in teaching with the Carpentries. We’re overjoyed by this interest and excited to bring more committed and enthusiastic instructors into our community. Unfortunately, until recently, we haven’t had the resources to open up our instructor training program, and have been holding training events primarily with Partnering institutions. In response to this sustained community interest, Data and Software Carpentry re-opened applications in July for anyone interested in instructor training, regardless of affiliation. This two-day intensive training covers aspects of pedagogy critical for teaching our target audience, including creating useful formative assessments, motivating learners, dealing with cognitive load, and understanding how subject-matter expertise is developed. We also teach signature Carpentry instructional practices, including live coding and the use of sticky notes to track learner progress. Within three weeks of calling for applicants we received 169 applications for 60 available seats. Applications came in from 22 countries spread across all continents except Antarctica. The Carpentry team reviewed applications on the basis of applicant’s previous involvement with the Carpentries, previous teaching experience and/or formal pedagogical training, and commitment to teaching workshops. In addition to these criteria, we looked for applicants from locations outside of our already established communities or with training in domains that are underrepresented among our current instructor pool, such as the social sciences and digital humanities. We were able to make offers to applicants from 13 countries representing the full geographical breadth of those who applied. Two training sessions have now been held, a third is taking place this week, and the fourth is scheduled for the second week of December. The feedback from the first two sessions has been very positive: we have had to adapt some of our exercises to account for the fact that the trainees are participating online rather than being physically co-located, but other than a few web conferencing glitches, things have gone surprisingly smoothly. If you were not selected for this round of instructor training, don’t lose heart: we have kept everyone’s application in queue, and hope to revisit our offerings in the new year. If you also have colleagues who are interested in teaching for the Carpentries, consider asking your institution to Partner with us! Partnering institutions receive multiple benefits, including reserved seats in instructor training events and discounted workshops. We are very grateful to everyone who applied, and hope that you will continue to be involved in the community. We welcome contributions to our lessons, which are all developed collaboratively by our community, and encourage you to help at our host a Carpentry workshop at your institution. Read More ›

Programming with GAP
Alexander Konovalov / 2016-11-18
Software Carpentry is more than just a set of workshops and lessons. It is also a way to develop lessons, one that we have used successfully to create a lesson on Programming with GAP. GAP is an open source system for discrete computational algebra. It provides a programming language with the same name; thousands of functions implementing various algebraic algorithms; and data libraries containing extensive collections of algebraic objects. GAP distribution includes its detailed documentation; even more materials on learning GAP and on using it in teaching a variety of courses are available on GAP homepage here. Throughout the history of GAP, its development has been supported by a number of grants, one of these being the EPSRC project EP/M022641 “CoDiMa (CCP in the area of Computational Discrete Mathematics”. This is a community-building project centred on GAP and another open source mathematical software system, SageMath. CoDiMa activities include annual training schools in computational discrete mathematics, which are primarily intended for PhD students and researchers from UK institutions. A typical school starts with the Software Carpentry workshop covering basic concepts and tools, such as working with the command line, version control and task automation, continued with introductions to GAP and SageMath systems, and followed by the series of lectures and exercise classes on a selection of topics in computational discrete mathematics. This naturally led to the idea of establishing a Software Carpentry lesson on programming with GAP. I started to develop it in 2015 for our first training school in Manchester. Since I have never been at any of the Software Carpentry workshops before and had not yet completed instructor training at that point (it is currently in progress), it was extremely beneficial for me to come as a helper to the first ever Software Carpentry workshop in St Andrews in June 2015, and obtain an insight into the Software Carpentry teaching methodology. I took inspiration from the core Software Carpentry lessons, in particular from those on UNIX shell, Python and R. All of them have a central story which goes through almost every episode. For the GAP lesson, I have imagined a common situation: a research student with no prior experience of working with GAP (and perhaps little or no experience with programming at all) is facing a task to find a way in the huge library of GAP functions in order to study some research problem. Along this way, they start to work with GAP command line to explore algebraic objects interactively; then use the GAP language to write some simple scripts; then create own functions. More advanced topics such as, for example, extending GAP with new methods for existing types of objects, or even new objects, or organising your code in the form of a GAP package, are not so obvious for the beginners, and I have made an attempt to create a lesson which will show the direction in which their skills should be developing, and also to cover the importance of testing their code. I started from picking up a research-like problem which may nicely expose all needed techniques and explain the mindset required to deal with it. A good candidate was the problem of calculating an average order of an element of the group, which once I’ve seen being used by Steve Linton to quickly demonstrate some GAP features to a general scientific audience. I have tried to expand this problem in my talk in Newcastle in May 2015 (see the blog post here), and thus the choice has been made. The resulting lesson leads the learner along the path from working in the GAP command line and exploring algebraic objects interactively to saving the GAP code into files, creating functions and regression tests, and further to performing comprehensive search using one of the data libraries supplied with GAP, and extending the system by adding new attributes. On this path, the learner will became familiar with basic constructions of the GAP programming language; ways to find necessary information in the GAP system; and good design practices to organise GAP code into complex programs (for a more detailed lesson overview, see my blog post here). Of course, it is not possible to cover everything in a several hours long course, but it fits really well into the week-long CoDiMa training school like this. It prepares the audience to hear about more advanced topics during the rest of the week: debugging and profiling; advanced GAP programming; GAP type system; distributed parallel calculations; examples of some algorithms and their implementations, etc. Also, staying for the whole week of the school, everyone has plenty of opportunities to ask further questions to instructors. What next? The lesson on GAP can be seen here, and it has been published via Zenodo here. So far I am only aware that it has been taught twice (by myself) at two annual CoDiMa training schools in computational discrete mathematics. I can surely teach it myself, but is it written clearly enough to be taught by others? Is it possible for the reader to follow it for self-studying? Is there any introductory material missing, or is there an interest in having more advanced lesson(s) on some other aspects of the GAP system? If you would like to contribute to its further development, issues and pull requests to its repository on GitHub are most welcome! Also, we invite collaborators interested in developing a lesson on SageMath: please look at this repository and add a comment to this issue if you’re interested in contributing. Read More ›

Software engineer position at The Jackson Laboratory
Sue McClatchy / 2016-11-15
A scientific software engineer position is available immediately at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, ME. This position reports to the Associate Director of Jackson’s Computational Sciences Scientific Computing (CSSC) team that is primarily responsible for developing software applications for scientific research programs. The individual in this position is responsible for developing software applications and systems to support genetics and genomics research including but not limited to web-based technologies and systems. A senior level candidate will lead development of complex projects, from high-level requirements, involving teams that may include other software developers, bioinformatics analysts, statisticians and scientists. The ideal candidate for this position has a BS or higher degree in computer science or bioinformatics and/or significant related job experience in the biomedical field or bioinformatics. Experience in identifying and developing software applications in the biomedical sciences and/or bioinformatics and implementing systems for analyzing large-scale scientific data e.g. Next Generation Sequencing data (NGS) is preferred. Experience with data exploration and visualization is a plus. For more information, please see this [position posting] (https://jax.silkroad.com/epostings/index.cfm?fuseaction=app.jobinfo&jobid=220385&company_id=15987&version=2&source=ONLINE&JobOwner=968882&startflag=1) Read More ›

Systems Biology Postdoc Position with The Jackson Laboratory
Sue McClatchy / 2016-11-04
The [Churchill Lab] (http://churchill-lab.jax.org/website/) at The Jackson Laboratory is seeking a Postdoctoral Fellow in systems biology. Our group applies a systems approach to study the genetics of health and disease. We develop new methods and software to improve the power of quantitative trait locus mapping and high throughput sequence analysis. We are especially interested in the genetics of aging and metabolic disorders. [The Jackson Laboratory] (http://www.jax.org) in Bar Harbor, Maine, USA, is recognized internationally for its excellence in research, unparalleled mouse resources, outstanding training environment characterized by scientific collaboration and exceptional core services - all within a spectacular setting adjacent to Acadia National Park. The Jackson Laboratory was voted among the top 15 “Best Places to Work in Academia” in the United States in a poll conducted by The Scientist magazine. Exceptional postdoctoral candidates will have the opportunity to apply to become a JAX Postdoctoral Scholar, a selective award addressing the national need for research scientists who are accomplished in the broadly defined fields of genetics and genomics. The award includes an independent research budget, travel funds, and a salary above standard postdoctoral scale. Applicants must have a PhD (or equivalent degree) in quantitative biology or another quantitative discipline such as computer science, physics, or applied mathematics. Experience in statistical genetics and gene expression analysis is strongly recommended, and applicants must have a commitment to solving biological problems and good communication skills. Expertise in scientific programming languages including R or Python is recommended. The successful candidate will work on the genetics of aging or metabolic disorders. Please contact Dr. Gary Churchill directly at gary.churchill (at) jax.org using the subject line “SWC postdoc ad”. Read More ›

Research Scientist Position at The Jackson Laboratory
Sue McClatchy / 2016-11-04
The Carter Lab at The Jackson Laboratory is seeking an Associate Research Scientist in the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease. [Our group] (https://www.jax.org/research-and-faculty/research-labs/the-carter-lab) is developing novel computational methods to derive biological models from large-scale genomic data. The strategies we pursue involve combining statistical genetics concepts such as epistasis and pleiotropy to understand how many genetic factors combine to control disease-related processes in neurodegeneration. We are therefore seeking an individual with expertise in epistasis analysis as it pertains to studies of Alzheimer’s genetics in humans. The [Jackson Laboratory] (http://www.jax.org) in Bar Harbor, Maine, USA, is recognized internationally for its excellence in research, unparalleled mouse resources, outstanding training environment characterized by scientific collaboration, and exceptional core services - all within a spectacular setting adjacent to Acadia National Park. The Jackson Laboratory was voted among the top 15 “Best Places to Work in Academia” in the United States in a poll conducted by The Scientist magazine. Broad skills in statistical genetics, the genetics of human disease, and Alzheimer’s etiology are required. Applicants must have a commitment to solving biological problems and communicating these solutions. Applicants should have a PhD. in the computational sciences, and postdoctoral experience related to bioinformatics and computational biology, particularly as it relates to Alzheimer’s disease. Candidates should have a record of scientific achievements including journal publications and conference presentations. Please contact Dr. Greg Carter directly at gregory.carter (at) jax.org using the subject line “SWC research scientist ad”. Read More ›

Computational Genetics Postdoc Position with The Jackson Laboratory
Sue McClatchy / 2016-11-04
The [Carter Lab] (https://www.jax.org/research-and-faculty/research-labs/the-carter-lab) at The Jackson Laboratory is seeking a Postdoctoral Fellow in computational genetics and systems biology. Our group is developing novel computational methods to derive biological models from large-scale genomic data. The strategies we pursue involve combining statistical genetics concepts such as epistasis and pleiotropy to understand how many genetic and environmental factors combine to control disease-related processes in animal models and human studies. We are especially interested in dissecting the genetic complexity of autoimmune disease, neurodegeneration, and cancer. The [Jackson Laboratory] (http://www.jax.org) in Bar Harbor, Maine, USA, is recognized internationally for its excellence in research, unparalleled mouse resources, outstanding training environment characterized by scientific collaboration and exceptional core services - all within a spectacular setting adjacent to Acadia National Park. The Jackson Laboratory was voted among the top 15 “Best Places to Work in Academia” in the United States in a poll conducted by The Scientist magazine. Exceptional postdoctoral candidates will have the opportunity to apply to become a JAX Postdoctoral Scholar, a selective award addressing the national need for research scientists who are accomplished in the broadly defined fields of genetics and genomics. The award includes an independent research budget, travel funds, and a salary above standard postdoctoral scale. Applicants must have a PhD (or equivalent degree) in quantitative biology or another quantitative discipline such as computer science, physics, or applied mathematics. Experience in statistical genetics and gene expression analysis is strongly recommended, and applicants must have a commitment to solving biological problems and good communication skills. Expertise in scientific programming languages including R, C/C++, Ruby, Perl, or Java is recommended. Expertise in cancer genetics, immunology, or neurological disease is desired but not required. Please contact Dr. Greg Carter directly at gregory.carter (at) jax.org using the subject line “SWC postdoc ad”. Read More ›

RStudio Training and Consulting Directory
Greg Wilson / 2016-11-02
RStudio maintains a directory of people who provide training and consulting for R using their flagship product. If you have taught R for Data Carpentry or Software Carpentry, have an established training and/or consulting practice, can provide some positive references from previous clients, please contact Garrett Grolemund about adding your profile. Read More ›

A Reproducibility Reading List
Greg Wilson / 2016-11-01
Prof. Lorena Barba has just posted a reading list for reproducible research that includes ten key papers: Schwab, M., Karrenbach, N., Claerbout, J. (2000) Making scientific computations reproducible, Comp. Sci. Eng. 2(6):61–67, doi: 10.1109/5992.881708 Donoho, D. et al. (2009), Reproducible research in computational harmonic analysis, Comp. Sci. Eng. 11(1):8–18, doi: 10.1109/MCSE.2009.15 Reproducible Research, by the Yale Law School Roundtable on Data and Code Sharing, Comp. Sci. Eng. 12(5): 8–13 (Sept.-Oct. 2010), doi:10.1109/mcse.2010.113 Peng, R. D. (2011), Reproducible research in computational science, Science 334(6060): 1226–1227, doi: 10.1126/science.1213847 Diethelm, Kai (2012) The limits of reproducibility in numerical simulation, Comp. Sci. Eng. 14(1): 64–72, doi: 10.1109/MCSE.2011.21 Setting the default to reproducible (2013), ICERM report of the Workshop on Reproducibility in Computational and Experimental Mathematics (Providence, Dec. 10–14, 2012), Stodden et al. (eds.), https://icerm.brown.edu/tw12-5-rcem/ // report PDF Sandve, G. K. et al. (2013), Ten simple rules for reproducible computational research, PLOS Comp. Bio. (editorial), Vol. 9(10):1–4, doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003285 Leek, J. and Peng, R (2015), Opinion: Reproducible research can still be wrong: Adopting a prevention approach, PNAS 112(6):1645–1646, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1421412111 M. Liberman, “Replicability vs. reproducibility — or is it the other way around?,” Oct. 2015, http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=21956 Goodman, S. N., Fanelli, D., & Ioannidis, J. P. (2016). What does research reproducibility mean? Science Translational Medicine 8(341), 341ps12–341ps12, doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf5027 The papers themselves are great, but what really adds value is the way they're ordered, analyzed, and connected. If you're trying to make sense of all this, or trying to help others do so, it's a great place to start. Read More ›

Tracy Teal on Research in Action
Greg Wilson / 2016-11-01
The latest podcast from Research in Action features Dr. Tracy Teal, Executive Director of Data Carpentry. In 33 minutes (plus a couple of bonus clips), Tracy talks about the mission of Data Carpentry, how it came to be, and how people can get involved as learners, instructors, and lesson developers. It’s a great introduction for newcomers, and has a lot of tidbits that long-time participants will find fun and interesting as well. Read More ›

Close Cousins
Greg Wilson / 2016-10-30
Our process for developing and maintaining lessons has grown and changed over time. Simultaneously but separately, an organization called the Programming Historian has crafted a diverse set of open, reusable lessons on computing skills for people working in the digital humanities (DH), and their process is different from ours in some interesting ways. The main elements of our approach are: A first version is created by: someone writing something on their own (or translating something they’ve written before), a group of people getting together at a hackathon to create a roadmap, or someone driving an open design process of the kind used for our new Python lesson or Zack Brym’s new visualization lesson. The lesson is put in a GitHub repository. Everyone is invited to submit enhancements and changes by filing issues and/or submitting pull requests, and to comment on other people’s submissions. This is a doubly-open process: both the submissions and the reviews are tied to the GitHub usernames of their creators, which in turn are usually tied to their actual identities. One or two people act as the lesson’s maintainers (a term we borrowed from open source software projects). Their role is primarily editorial: they either review PRs themselves or make sure that other people review them, and have final say over whether changes are merged or not. We publish our lessons twice a year by tidying them up and then archiving them at Zenodo, which gives each of them a DOI. Everyone whose work has been merged into the lesson is listed as a contributor, and the maintainers are listed as editors (because that’s a role everyone in academia understands). The strengths of this approach are that the community maintains the lessons (we’ve had about 400 distinct contributors in the past three years), while the editor-vs-contributor distinction allows us to recognize people who are doing extra work. Its weaknesses are that big changes are more difficult to make than they would be if there was a single author, and there’s no incentive for people to do reviews: someone’s name doesn’t show up in the bibliographic record for a lesson if “all” they did was craft hundreds of lines of thoughtful feedback. In contrast, the Programming Historian’s model is: A would-be author submits a proposal for a lesson, which is reviewed by two assigned reviewers as well as the general public. If the lesson receives a green light, the author writes it (using PH’s template) and submits it for peer review. The lesson is then reviewed as if it were a research publication. The review is doubly open, but only the original author (or less commonly, authors) make fixes in response. Once the lesson is done, it is published on the PH website. It is also published in the more traditional academic sense: the Programming Historian has status as an online journal, so their lessons are indexed in the usual scholarly way. The strengths of this approach are the review process and the fact that authors get credit in a way that academia finds digestible. Its main weakness is maintenance: while people may submit errata or make other comments, lessons continue to be maintained by their original creators, which can be problematic as other demands on their time grow, or as platforms and APIs change beneath the lesson’s feet. Could we hybridize these approaches to create something with the strengths of both? Could the Programming Historian start accepting updates via pull requests and adding people whose changes have been accepted to the lesson’s byline? And could we start using a more formal review process, either as lessons are being designed or when major changes are proposed? And in parallel, what should we both do about giving people credit for their work? Someone who writes thoughtful, detailed reviews of a lesson deserves to be recognized, but how should we count and weight that? Lots of groups are exploring exactly this question with regard to academic publications, software, and data; which of their answers could and should we borrow? If you’re interested in discussing this, please add your thoughts to this GitHub issue some time in the coming weeks. Read More ›

New Book: Tidy Text Mining with R
Greg Wilson / 2016-10-29
A new online book has recently been published that may be of interest to our community: Tidy Text Mining with R This book provides resources and examples for people who want to use tidy tools from the R ecosystem to approach natural language processing tasks. The intended audience for this book includes people who don’t have extensive backgrounds in computational linguistics but who need or want to analyze unstructured, text-heavy data. Using tidy data principles can make text mining easier, more effective, and consistent with tools already in wide use like dplyr, broom, and ggplot2. Topics covered in the book include how to manipulate, summarize, and visualize the characteristics of text, sentiment analysis, tf-idf, and topic modeling. The authors are still in the writing process and will be actively developing and honing the book in the near future, but it already contains many developed examples of using tidy data principles for text analysis. Julia Silge is a data scientist at Datassist where her work involves analyzing and modeling complex data sets while communicating about technical topics with diverse audiences. She has a Ph.D. in astrophysics, as well as abiding affections for Jane Austen and making beautiful charts. Julia worked in academia and ed tech before moving into data science and discovering R. David Robinson is a data scientist at Stack Overflow. He has a Ph.D. in Quantitative and Computational Biology from Princeton University, where he worked with Professor John Storey. His interests include statistics, data analysis, genomics, education, and programming in R and Python. If you are the author of a book that is related to Software Carpentry or Data Carpentry’s mission, and would like to announce it here, please get in touch. Read More ›

The Rest Is Yet To Come
Greg Wilson / 2016-10-29
I co-taught an instructor training workshop earlier this week, then taught a second one on my own a couple of days later. I made some pretty big mistakes in both: I kept interrupting my co-instructor in the first, while in the second, I told too too many stories, made jokes about hipsters and Javascript programmers when I’d told participants not to belittle people in class, and shut down discussion a couple of times when I had no authority to do so. I have another workshop this week. I’d like to do better, so I’m going to give myself two sets of three sticky notes each day. (Sticky notes are the duct tape of teaching…) Each time I stray from the schedule, I’ll take down one from the first set; each time I tell a story, I’ll take one down from the second. It’s no guarantee that I’ll do better, but not doing something proactively pretty much guarantees that I won’t. It’s never fun to find out that you still have work to do, particularly on something you’ve been working on for years. When it happens, I tell myself the same thing as Ben Orlin: (For more of Ben Orlin’s wonderful work, see Math With Bad Drawings.) Read More ›

What the Carpentries Mean To Me
Daniel Chen / 2016-10-26
October 26 marks my 3rd Github cakeday. It also marks my 3 year anniversary since my first Software Carpentry workshop as a learner. The icing on the cake (haha?) is that it’s also Open Access Week. My first computer science course was in high school. I got though the class with a healthy amount of struggling, but I never thought I’d make it in computer science because some of my fellow classmates got though the class so effortlessly. My rationale at the time was: if this is what it takes to be good at computer science, I’d never make it. I graduated with a BA in psychology/behavioral neuroscience, and minors in biology and computer science. Computer science? Didn’t I just say I would never do this again? Yes. But When I took my first computer science class as a junior in college, I realized that the class itself was relatively effortless for me. Why? I’ve seen all of this before. I’ve learned about conditional statements and loops in high school! The fact that the class used Python and not netlogo/scheme was a matter of syntax. I already knew how to think procedurally. I can make the argument that I was never really going to go into computer science to begin with, medicine and medical school was always my main goal. But, the fact I did not program from sophomore year in high school to junior year in college, could be traced back to my feelings of inadequacy in high school. We experience or see this discouragement all the time, just talk to Greg. Fast forward to October 26, 2013, where Justin Ely and Dave W-F taught my Software-Carpentry Workshop. I had already been dabbling around Linux and Python over the years, and just started using Git for my Master’s thesis, so I opted to take the ‘intermediate’ workshop. I learned bits of new things during the workshop, but my main take away was: “I can teach this too!”. I had my first TA position teaching intro epidemiology and intro biostatistics at the time, and found teaching extremely fun and rewarding. After the workshop, I emailed the admins, booked a bus to Boston, and ‘randomly’ showed up as a helper for a MIT workshop in January 2014 led by Aron Ahmadia and Randy Olsen. I’ve been teaching since then, and I absolutely love it. It didn’t occur to me until after I taught a few workshops, that I realized I was starting to master the topics I was teaching. Each workshop I taught got me more familiar with the material. As a side-effect, it became easier for me to pick up the next new concept to enhance my own knowledge. This ‘new’ knowledge can be conveyed to my own students, or for my own work. Now, 3 years since my first workshop, I look back at how much I’ve grown as a graduate student, an instructor, and person. Everything I know today can be traced back to my first workshop, the same can be said with all of my professional connections, and the great sense of belonging I have when I attend conferences. For that, I’m eternally grateful to the community. That’s what the Carpentries mean to me. Read More ›

Call for Candidates for the 2017 Steering Committee
Kate Hertweck / 2016-10-24
Software Carpentry will hold its annual election for the Steering Committee of The Software Carpentry Foundation on January 23-27, 2017. Please consider standing for this election to help shape the future direction for our commmunity. The roles and responsibilities of members of the Steering Committee are available here. If you are a qualified instructor who has taught at least twice in the past two years, or have done non-teaching work for the community, you can both stand for election and vote. Please visit the list of current members to see who is eligible to stand and vote in our election. If you believe you qualify as a member but are not listed there, please contact us as soon as possible. In order to stand for election we request that you write a blog post that introduces yourself to the community. The post: must be about 500 words can be written in any format (question and answer, paragraph etc.) must be titled “2017 Election: Your Name” must be submitted by December 23, 2016 You can submit your post as a pull request to this repository or by email. In the post, you should explain: your previous involvement with Software Carpentry what you would do as a member of the Steering Committee to contribute to the growth and success of the community Candidates will be given the opportunity to share their thoughts with our community, including ideas for continued involvement, at our two community meetings on January 19, 2017. Read More ›

Programming as Theory Building
Greg Wilson / 2016-10-23
I was recently reminded of a thought-provoking but often-overlooked essay by Peter Naur from 1985 called “Programming as Theory Building” (scan here, plain text here). He suggests that, “…programming properly should be regarded as an activity by which the programmers form or achieve a certain kind of insight, a theory, of the matters at hand. This suggestion is in contrast to what appears to be a more common notion, that programming should be regarded as a production of a program and certain other texts.” His thoughts on what programmers actually do, especially when modifying programs, seem directly relevant to most research software development. In particular, when the Jupyter Notebook and R Markdown are discussed as ways to make research more reproducible, I wonder if part of that is to encourage the programmer to make her theory of what she’s doing explicit. Read More ›

Library Carpentry is One Year Old
Greg Wilson / 2016-10-22
The indefatigable James Baker recently wrote a blog post summarizing what’s happened with Library Carpentry in the past year. It summarizes their lessons, their workshops, how Library Carpentry is managed, and much more. Announcements and initial discussion take place on Gitter, and new members are welcome to join–please check them out. Read More ›

A Comparison of Online and In-person Instructor Training Workshops
Rayna Harris / 2016-10-22
I have co-taught three instructor training workshops this year (one online and one in-person with Christina Koch and one online with Greg Wilson. Overview Too long to read? Here’s an overview in tabular form. Feature In-person Online networking excellent poor to very good Etherpad use poor excellent displayed on screen the web? slides? the instructor webcast view of other learners time commitment prep + class time + travel + paperwork prep + class time private communication in-person Slack & email technical difficulties medium high Networking In-person: I think the most amazing feature of an in-person workshop is the networking. There is something about face to face conversation during activities and over coffee, beer, and dinner that really solidifies personal relations. I became a certified instructor in January 2015 at UC Davis instructor training workshop taught by Greg Wilson, Tracy Teal, Bill Mills, and Aleksandra Pawlik; I consider all four of these people to be close colleagues now, and I’m going to be visiting a handful of other workshop participants in November when I visit California. Also, I regularly talk to SWC/DC instructors on-line, but there is something about meeting them in-person that feels like its the first time we’ve met face-to-face. Online: As for networking in the online workshops, I would say its a mixed bag ranging from poor (for anyone in a room by themselves) to very good (for groups of learners in the same room). The first time I noticed a lack of networking for the online classes was during a debriefing session earlier this week. It wasn’t until 45 minutes into the call that I realized that two of the participants were learners in one of my workshops! I’m glad I finally made the connection, but it made me realize how hard it is to recognize people when you only see a tiny image of them on your screen when you are teaching. On the other hand, I do see that the online workshops help foster cross-disciplinary networking between individuals at the same institution but from different departments, so thats awesome. See link to tweet from the MSU group. What does this mean for next time? I think next time I teach online, I’ll ask each learner to walk up to the camera to introduce themselves during one of the lunch or coffee breaks so I can better associate a name and face and make a more personal connection with each learner. Etherpad Use The great thing about the Etherpad (in my opinion) is that is allows everyone to answer every question. You can put answers in the chat (like a quick yes/no response) or in the main body (like personal experiences or faded examples) rather than just calling on one person to answer. In-person: During the last in-person session with Christina, we often asked students to answer questions out loud rather than using the Etherpad, and one of the comments at the end was that this form meant that a lot of people’s thoughts/opinions were never heard. Online: During the last online session with Greg, we used the Etherpad extensively, so I felt like participation was really high. Also, the extensive note-taking allowed Greg to visualize participation during one of the exercises he had to miss. What does this mean for next time? I think next time I teach in-person, I will use the Etherpad chat a lot more, especially for quick yes/no responses. What is displayed on the big screen? In-person: During the in-person class I taught, I struggled with what to display on the projector. I had to use it, right? I bounced back and forth between various webpages (the Etherpad, the lesson page, fun images, videos), but the whole time I felt like this was ineffective. It made me wish that I either had slides to use or could avoid using it all together. See link to tweet about mistakes as pedagogy. Online: During online workshops, the big screen projector is used for the webcast so that learners can see the instructor and the learners at other sites. I setup a whiteboard right behind my chair for drawing concept maps and other illustrations. Each student has their laptop open to the Etherpad, and they can easily open links to webpages or videos that we give them. Since the student never see anything projected except for my face and my white board, maybe this means that I can do the in-person classes without using the projector…. What does this mean for next time? Next time I teach in person, I’m going to try not using the projector at all on Day 1 and will encourage Etherpad notetaking, and then I’ll only use the projector on Day 2 only for live coding. For online workshops, I’ll highly recommend using a white board if you can write clear enough that it can be read. Time Commitment In-person: Even though I really enjoy traveling, saying yes to teaching a workshop in a different city is a huge time commitment. Instead of just saying yes to teaching from 9-4, I’m saying yes to being in a different city for 24 hours a day. I also have to devote a lot of additional time to planning the travel, traveling, and getting reimbursed for expenses. Online: When I teach online, I really only have to commit time to prep for the lessons and to teach them. I can make breakfast in my own home, eat dinner with friends, and even make it to meetings and lab meetings that happen on the same day in the same building. See link to instagram photo from one of Rayna’s teaching rooms. What does this mean for next time? All things considered equal, this factor alone makes me much more willing to say yes to co-teaching online rather than in-person workshops. Private Communication In-person: When co-teaching in-person, you can easily communicate privately with your co-instructor during the lesson and during the breaks. You never have to worry about wether you are muted or not or if the learners can hear you, and making decisions about wether or not to change the lesson plan on the fly is pretty easy Online: When co-teaching online, you have to have yet another application open on your computer for private communication. I like Slack a lot for communicating, but it was a little odd when I was screen sharing and some slack notifications came on the screen. Email also works, but then I can get distracted by other emails, so this is not ideal. Technical Difficulties In-person: I would rate potential for technical difficulties in the classroom as medium. There’s always a chance that the projector system isn’t optimal or that the internet connection is poor, but usually an expert in the room can come up with a solution or temporary fix on the fly. Online: This is a real pain and can eat into your teaching time. I’ve encountered all sorts of issues including bad sound, bad video, poor Etherpad accessibility, inability to screen share, among other things. I don’t have an answer for this. What does this mean for next time? I can’t help but wonder if we should cut 15 minutes of material from the syllabus for online workshops in anticipation of these technical difficulties Summary All in all, each format has its pros and cons. The data has shown slightly better success from the in-person workshops, but online workshops are successful! I like teaching both, so I’m gonna keep teaching both in-person and online courses. Read More ›

Ten Simple Rules for Digital Data Storage
Greg Wilson / 2016-10-20
We are pleased to announce the publication of a new paper whose author list includes several members of our community: Edmund M. Hart, Pauline Barmby, David LeBauer, François Michonneau, Sarah Mount, Patrick Mulrooney, Timothée Poisot, Kara H. Woo, Naupaka B. Zimmerman, and Jeffrey W. Hollister: “Ten Simple Rules for Digital Data Storage”. PLOS Computational Biology, Oct 20, 2016, http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005097. Their ten rules are: Anticipate How Your Data Will Be Used Know Your Use Case Keep Raw Data Raw Store Data in Open Formats Data Should Be Structured for Analysis Data Should Be Uniquely Identifiable Link Relevant Metadata Adopt the Proper Privacy Protocols Have a Systematic Backup Scheme The Location and Method of Data Storage Depend on How Much Data You Have We hope you find it useful, and encourage you to follow in their footsteps and write down what you know so that others can learn from your experience. As always, we are smarter together. Read More ›

Community Call on Assessment
Kari L. Jordan / 2016-10-20
Discussion of our workshop survey results Read More ›

Cambridge Instructor Training 19-20 September 2016
Steve Crouch, Laurent Gatto, Karin Lagesen, Greg Wilson / 2016-10-20
Last month, Steve and Karin taught an instructor training workshop at the University of Cambridge, sponsored by the R Consortium. The event was organized by Laurent Gatto, a Software Sustainability Institute Fellow, with help from Paul Judge and Gabriella Rustici from the University of Cambridge Bioinformatics Training facility. 25 trainees from a diverse set of backgrounds spent two days getting to know each other and learning how to teach, and several have already completed the checkout process. You can read a full write-up on the SSI website, and we hope to be able to organize a repeat in the new year. Read More ›

Software Carpentry at Oklahoma State
Jamie Hadwin / 2016-10-19
I recently instructed Git for the third time at a Self-Organised workshop on the Oklahoma State University main campus. I enjoy instructing and helping with the Software Carpentry workshops (and hopefully will get to do a Data Carpentry soon) and each workshop is always different from the last, so I was excited to participate again. Because of a scheduling conflict, we only had the lab for five hours on Day One. In five hours (with two 15-minute breaks), we went through the entire bash shell lesson without many hiccups. One thing we did create for the bash shell lessons was a series of three-question quizzes we launched live on Socrative before each break. The learners had good feedback about this and felt it was a good way to break up the lessons and provided a good review of concepts they had just learned. On Day Two, we started Python, but because of some delays, we started behind. Once we got started, lesson went well (not very many typos!) and we were able to get through a few episodes in the Python lesson, but we weren’t able to get through much of the material we had hoped to teach. We also decided not to issue the Python quizzes because we were behind. However, at this point, the learners seemed satisifed with their progress thus far! The coffee and donuts may have helped, too! Side note: many of the learners wanted more experience in Python. This was also reflected in the surveys. We are going to take this into account with future workshops in that we should plan to be more Python-heavy. Because we weren’t able to get to a lot of the material, we are offering an additional afternoon Python workshop to everyone who was at the Python session within the next two weeks. Luckily, all of our learners were local. After lunch, we started on Git - my lesson! For the third time teaching Git at a SWC workshop, it went the best it has ever gone! I was enthusiastic to get started. I had typed up my own notes and had a PowerPoint slide of images I wanted to use to demonstrate Git concepts. I even had some Git jokes up my sleeve to keep the class on its toes. I’ve found that with each time I teach Git I get more and more comfortable to the point that I can go “off script” and throw in extra jokes, tidbits of information, etc. What really helped the Git lesson go smoothly is that I had a Git “partner-in-crime” who has been helping me with the collaboration portion of the lesson since I first began teaching Git. If you break the class into pairs and are using two instructors to go through the local and remote steps, I find it helps to spend a minute or so making sure each member of each pair knows which instructor they are supposed to follow. We did this by writing “Partner A” and my name and the word “local” on the whiteboard. We also wrote “Partner B”, my partner’s name and “remote” on the board. I told the pairs that all the people sitting to my left (holding up my left hand) was a “Partner A”, and all those sitting on my right was a “Partner B.” Then I had all the “Partner A” learners raise their hands when I asked who was to follow me. Then my partner had all the “Partner B” learners raise their hands when she asked who was to follow her. Side note: I had also frequently used the word “local” in the lesson leading up to this point to describe our repositories on our own computers, so I think this helped establish the difference between “local” and “remote” well before we got to the Github/remote repository portion of the lesson. We started the Git lesson at 1:05 p.m. and ended the conflict portion of the lesson at 3:45 p.m. This gave us 15 minutes to briefly go over things like open science, licensing, citing & hosting as well as to encourage the learners to take the post-workshop survey while we answered questions and ended the day on an uplifting note. At the end, everyone was happy the workshop was over, but I think ending the workshop on Git is a good idea because the material is less “type-heavy” and more interactive. And again, the jokes! Find some Git jokes here If you’re interested in what happened leading up to the workshop, you can continue reading below. I want to mention that SWC and DC probably operate a little differently at OSU than most other institutions. Over the past year, we’ve built a solid “Carpentry team” consisting of six certified instructors, a plethora of helpers and a list of students, faculty & staff who want to become certified in the near future. We all meet monthly, and because of this, my experiences with planning, coordinating and instructing this workshop will probably be a little different than most. Planning: When the team met up at the beginning of the academic year in August, we knew we wanted to host a workshop fairly quickly. After looking over several dates, we decided on October 13-14 because classes were cancelled on the 14th for OSU’s fall break. We thought this might give students, faculty & staff an opportunity to attend the workshop all day on Friday. However, when we went to go book the computer lab we normally use for the workshops, it wasn’t available until noon on the 13th. After a little bit of discussing, we decided to go ahead and do a five-hour session for Day One, and then do the normal 9am-4pm schedule for Day Two. Coordinating: Because I’ve coordinated one of our local Self-Organised workshops, I helped a team member who was going to be more active with the coordination duties get this workshop set up. Once he filled out the SWC workshop request form, I helped him get an EventBrite registration page set up and recorded registrant information in a shared spreadsheet, while he worked on building the workshop webpage and Etherpad and communicated with Maneesha Sane at SWC. Pre-workshop: About a week before the workshop, all the instructors and several of the helpers met up to go over the gameplan for the workshop. The instructors discussed how we were going to prepare our lessons and what material to make sure to include and what we could leave out if we were running short on time. In previous workshops, we had one to two learners who fell behind the class and sometimes slowed the pace down to ask questions, so we picked a few more experienced helpers who said they were willing to help with any learners who might be falling behind. We suggested that helpers focus in on a section that way they wouldn’t be running into each other going from one side of the room to the other. Finally, we set some “expectations” for instructors and helpers, i.e., it is ok for the helpers to let the instructor know if they need to slow down/speed up based on their observations of the pace of the class. At this time, we also looked at our list of registrants from our EventBrite site to determine what fields of study or departments they were coming from and to gauge their experience levels and what type of data they might be working with. I would definitely suggest putting a few demographic questions in with your EventBrite registration. If you made it this far, I hope this was all helpful advice if you’re getting ready to coordinate your own workshop! Read More ›

Machine Learning with Python
Greg Wilson / 2016-10-17
A new book has recently been published that may be of interest to our community: Introduction to Machine Learning with Python Data driven approaches have taken over many empirical sciences and many business application. Machine learning algorithms are one of the most important tools for extracting knowledge and making decision based on complex datasets. This book takes a practical approach to machine learning, using Python and the scikit-learn library. Starting from the basics, it explains how and when to use machine learning, discusses common methods and points out pitfalls for beginners. Every method and example comes with code in the form of Jupyter notebooks. The book requires a basic understanding of the Python programming language and some familiarity with NumPy. Experience with matplotlib is helpful to gain a better understanding of the visualizations. Andreas Müller received his PhD in machine learning from the University of Bonn. After working on computer vision applications at Amazon for a year, he joined the Center for Data Science at New York University. He is a maintainer of and core contributor to scikit-learn, and has authored and contributed to several other widely used machine learning packages. Sarah Guido is a data scientist who has spent a lot of time working in start-ups. She loves Python, machine learning, large quantities of data, and the tech world. An accomplished conference speaker, Sarah attended the University of Michigan for grad school and currently resides in New York City. If you are the author of a book that is related to Software Carpentry or Data Carpentry’s mission, and would like to announce it here, please get in touch. Read More ›

October 2016 Maintainers' Meeting
Kate Hertweck / 2016-10-13
This week’s meeting of our lesson maintainers made some great progress in streamlining our decision-making process, and we hope to begin implementing some of the changes discussed in the next few weeks. The major highlights are: Creation of a developers’ subcommittee: We’re creating a new subcommittee that will be in charge of decision-making for template and style changes common to all lessons. Each maintainer will still be responsible for PRs/issues specific to their lesson. I will contact folks who indicated interest in participating, and am pleased we have folks from both SWC and DC; if anyone not currently acting as a maintainer would like to take part, please contact Kate Hertweck. Instructor notes: Quite a few of us are supportive of the proposed template for standardizing instructor notes; these headings will be added to the example lesson this week, and we’ll begin implementing across our core lessons over the next few weeks. I’ll engage the mentoring subcommittee to see if there are folks interested in these conversions, since they’ve spent a lot of time talking to new instructors and can offer some great insight. Minor changes to styles/lessons/workshop-template: There were no objections to a few outstanding changes, so these will be merged. Greg and François will wrap up the unresolved issue of inconsistency in paths to data files. Support for additional human languages: We still don’t have a workable solution for supporting lessons in languages other than English. At the very least, it would be nice to have a statement somewhere indicating our feelings on the matter, as we receive queries about this every few months. This will be one of the first items tackled by the new developers subcommittee. Defining core lessons: Quite a few folks were enthusiastic about moving from the inflammation R and Python lessons to lessons based on the gapminder data. The consensus was that quite a bit more work would be required before this could be an “official” decision. This is another issue that will be discussed by the developers, but will obviously require more communication with the lesson maintainers. As always, we’re grateful to the lesson maintainers for everything they do, and we hope these changes result in less email and more productivity. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Read More ›

In Memoriam: Hans Petter Langtangen
Greg Wilson / 2016-10-11
Hans Petter Langtangen’s books Python Scripting for Computational Science and A Primer on Scientific Programming with Python taught many of us how to do numerical computing with Python. He passed away yesterday after a long struggle with cancer; while I only had the privilege of meeting him in person twice, we corresponded frequently during Software Carpentry’s early years, and he was always helpful, insightful, and enthusiastic. He will be missed. Read More ›

Vote Next Week to Amend Steering Committee Election Procedures
Kate Hertweck / 2016-10-10
Last month, the Steering Committee announced a special election to amend the procedure for Steering Committee elections. The election itself will take place next week (Oct 17-21, 2016). All members will receive a ballot via email to cast their vote regarding this revision via electionbuddy. Please take a moment to check the current membership list and contact us by email to let us know of any omissions. As per our bylaws, our membership includes any certified instructor who has taught at least twice in the past two years (i.e., since October 2014) or has made other significant contributions to Software Carpentry in the opinion of the Steering Committee. Read More ›

Beth Duckles on the Practice of Measuring
Greg Wilson / 2016-10-10
Dr. Beth Duckles, who did a valuable study of our instructor community earlier this year, gave a talk at the recent Measuring the Impact of Workshops workshop titled “The Practice of Measuring”. It’s a very useful 50 minutes, particularly for those of us who have backgrounds in the physical rather than social sciences. Read More ›

Request for Review: ESIP's Software Guidelines
Greg Wilson / 2016-10-05
ESIP (the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners) has been developing research code/software guidelines for the earth observation and geosciences communities, and would appreciate feedback on the current draft before the end of October. If you have suggestions or feedback for: Interoperability Jupyter notebooks as code or documentation The proposed progression model Sustainability or adoption/reuse please chime in. (Look in the right margin of the browser page for the hypothes.is controls that will let you add and view comments.) As a taste of what they’re doing, here’s a table of their stakeholders’ user cases and desired outcomes: Stakeholder Use Case Desired Outcome Funder As a funding agency, we're interested in evaluating the software projects we fund. A functional evaluation system based on accepted metrics. Project Manager, Principal Investigator (manager in practice) As a manager, I'm interested in using the rubric/progression as a learning tool to help improve the development practices in my research group. A checklist or other informal assessment to help the research group meet funder's expectations and to determine the next steps for training or related activities in the research group. Principal Investigator As a PI, I would like a tool to assess our progress and to ensure we're meeting our funder's expectations for a software project based on the readiness level stated in the original proposal and as defined by the funder. A checklist or other informal assessment to help the research group meet funder's expectations, and to determine the next steps for training or related activities in the research group. This informal assessment would also provide aid for formal reviews. Science Software Developer, Researcher who codes As a science software developer, I'm interested in using the recommended practices to improve my own workflow and skillsets. A checklist or mentoring activity to help guide me towards training options to meet my research and skillset goals. Developer </td> As a developer, I would like community-supported guidelines to support requests to change our current dev team practices. A checklist or informal assessment to encourage my manager or PI to allow the development team to adopt appropriate practices. </tr> Grad Student, Post-Doc, Researcher interested in continuing code education </td> I've taken the introductory courses and want to continue to improve my skills but don't know what steps to take next, and I'd like guidance based on my skillset. A checklist or mentoring activity to help guide me towards training options to meet my research and skillset goals. Research Community We want to provide educational materials or other support for community members to meet their goals regarding research software implementation and career growth. A set of guidelines for technology assessment, and the framework for using those guidelines as educational tools. Read More ›

Python as a Second Language
Greg Wilson / 2016-10-04
Donny Winston, Joey Montoya, and I taught a one-day class for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on Python as a Second Language last week. As its introductory blurb says, “This lesson is an introduction to programming in Python for people who are already comfortable in some other language such as Perl or MATLAB.” The notes are still very much under development, but having delivered it twice, we’re pretty confident that it can actually be delivered in one day. We would be very grateful for feedback: please file issues in the GitHub repository to let us know what you think, to add more exercises and bullet points, or anything else. As well as delivering new(ish) material, we experimented with having one of the instructors teach via video conferencing with local helpers in the morning, while on-site instructors taught in the afternoon. Some of the feedback included: Positive On-line with local help worked very well. Mixed mode worked well for the first section because the material was easier, might have been more difficult for second half. Easy to follow, well written exercises. I thought remote instructor was great…having local instructors was a big part of that though. Plotting super helpful. Etherpad being read-only may have helped, so people didn’t mess it up. Cool, dense content, helpers are very knowledgeable. Negative Sometimes fast. Typing is hard to follow as it scrolls off screen. Pytest can’t install. For online instructor, dual screens may be useful, I’d like to see the Notebook longer. A bit fast at times, particularly due to the auto scrolling of the screen. Confusing if you fell behind for a second and the teachers would overwrite, rather than start new cell. I would have liked to see how python is more typically used, such as IDEs, command line, etc. Tell people that terminal functionality is needed in advance. A bit rushed through matplotlib, would have liked more practice plotting. Based on this feedback and what we heard in the previous round, we have moved the material on command-line scripts into the “Extras” section: there wasn’t time to get to it, and it requires yet another install for Windows users. Read More ›

Congratulations to Our New Instructor Trainers
Greg Wilson / 2016-10-04
We are very pleased to welcome Karin Lagesen and Anelda van der Walt to our team of instructor trainers. Karin and Anelda have been very active in all of our activities–Karin is now in her second year on the Steering Committee, and Anelda has been the driving force behind our growth in South Africa–and we are very grateful that they are willing to give even more to our community. Read More ›

And Now There Are Three
Greg Wilson / 2016-10-04
A new book has just been published that covers much of the same material as Software Carpentry, and a great deal more: Paarsch and Golyaev’s A Gentle Introduction to Effective Computing in Quantitative Research: What Every Research Assistant Should Know. It covers almost everything I would want to see in a one-semester course for new research students: the Unix shell, data organization, the basics of Python, data analysis, “geek stuff” (including hardware and algorithm analysis), numerical analysis, some worked examples, Python extensions, and preparing manuscripts with LaTeX. By trying to cover so much, this book necessarily spreads itself thin: I don’t think anyone who isn’t already familiar with Make or Git would be able to use them after these brief introductions. That said, this book deserves a place alongside Haddock and Dunn’s Practical Computing for Biologists and Scopatz and Huff’s Effective Computation in Physics, and I think anyone contemplating a graduate-level computing course would do well to explore it. Read More ›

Two Studies of Online Communities
Greg Wilson / 2016-09-30
Two recent papers may be of interest to this community. The first is from Adam Crymble at The Programming Historian a distributed group of digital humanities scholars that has built some excellent tutorials on software tools. Its title is Identifying and Removing Gender Barriers in Open Learning Communities, and its abstract reads: Open online learning communities are susceptible to gender barriers if not carefully constructed. Gender barriers were identified in The Programming Historian, through an open online discussion, which informed an anonymous user survey. The initial discussion pointed towards two barriers in particular: a technically challenging submission system and open peer review, as factors that needed consideration. Findings are put in context of the literature on gender and online communication, abuse, and online learning communities. The evidence suggests that open online learning communities such as The Programming Historian should work actively to promote a civil environment, and should listen to their communities about technical and social barriers to participation. Whenever possible, barriers should be removed entirely, but when that is not feasible due to financial or technical constraints, alternatives should be offered. Its findings are that the tools they use—that we use—may be a significant barrier to contribution: “Initial comments in the open conversation made it clear that the choice of venue (Github) was a gender-barrier, as Github is associated with male geek coding culture.” On the other hand, “…both men and women were overwhelmingly positive about open peer review (29 like, 6 neutral, 3 dislike, 9 skipped - no gender difference), with the caveat that moderating by an editor who stepped in to prevent ‘nastiness’ was crucial to a successful system of open peer review.” The second paper, by Ford, Smith, Guo, and Parnin, is “Paradise Unplugged: Identifying Barriers for Female Participation on Stack Overflow”: It is no secret that females engage less in programming fields than males. However, in online communities, such as Stack Overflow, this gender gap is even more extreme: only 5.8% of contributors are female. In this paper, we use a mixed-methods approach to identify contribution barriers females face in online communities. Through 22 semi-structured interviews with a spectrum of female users ranging from non-contributors to a top 100 ranked user of all time, we identified 14 barriers preventing them from contributing to Stack Overflow. We then conducted a survey with 1470 female and male developers to confirm which barriers are gender related or general problems for everyone. Females ranked five barriers significantly higher than males. A few of these include doubts in the level of expertise needed to contribute, feeling overwhelmed when competing with a large number of users, and limited awareness of site features. Still, there were other barriers that equally impacted all Stack Overflow users or affected particular groups, such as industry programmers. Finally, we describe several implications that may encourage increased participation in the Stack Overflow community across genders and other demographics. It found five barriers to contribution that are seen as significantly more problematic by women than by men: lack of awareness of site features feeling unqualified to answer questions intimidating community size discomfort interacting with or relying on strangers perception that they shouldn’t be “slacking” Surprisingly, “fear of negative feedback” didn’t quite make this list, but would have been the next one added if the authors weren’t quite so strict about their statistical cutoffs. The authors are careful to say, “…we are not suggesting that only females are affected by these barriers, or that these barriers are primarily due to gender, but rather that five barriers were seen as significantly more problematic by females than by males.” Read More ›

Perth Software Carpentry - A Tale of Three Trainers
Andrew Rohl, Matthias Liffers, Andrea Bedini / 2016-09-30
Andrew Perth’s journey into Software Carpentry began when Andrew Rohl attended eResearchNZ in 2014, for which he has to thank Nick Jones of NeSI for financial support. There he met the director of the Mozilla Science Lab, Kaitlin Thaney, and learned about the Software Carpentry movement. Fast forward to the end of the year and David Flanders was arranging a “Train the Trainer” Software Carpentry course in Melbourne and he even had funds to cover travel costs for those selected to attend! Andrew convinced Raffaella Demichelis, a fellow computational chemist, to also apply and they were both fortunate enough to be chosen. They enjoyed the training in February 2015, followed by the first Research Bazaar conference and returned to Perth enthused. Then the reality that they were now expected to teach Western Australia’s first Software Carpentry course hit! With only two instructors in WA and unaware of any other people who had even attended a Software Carpentry workshop, they searched for helpers and found Rachel Lappan and Chris Bording. Rachel had just attended a Software Carpentry workshop in Queensland as part of the UQ Winter School and Chris had started Software Carpentry training. Andrew and Raffaella convinced two other computational chemists to help: Bernhard Reischl and Marco De La Pierre. With the team now sorted, the first Software Carpentry workshop in WA was held on July 20 and 21, 2015 and was a big success. With 24 attendees the workshop proved itself popular but the team knew they could aim higher. They decided to sign up for ResBaz 2016 and to accommodate 80 registrants, running both R and Python streams concurrently. They desperately needed more instructors and helpers! Out of the blue, Lukas Weber, an Australian from WA who is studying in Switzerland, got in touch and agreed to come over as an instructor. Chris Bording had also finished his training and so was able to teach. But the team still wasn’t big enough! Matthias Matthias Liffers had been working in research data management for a couple of years and thought that something was missing in the training offered to researchers. It was all well and good to provide fancy eResearch facilities, but the learning curve to move from spreadsheets to processing huge datasets on supercomputers was just too steep. Matthias learned about the Software Carpentry movement by word-of-mouth and thought it was an excellent way for researchers to start learning these computing skills. He attended eResearch Australasia in late 2015 and discovered from Belinda Weaver and David Flanders that not only had Software Carpentry already been run in Western Australia, but that this Andrew Rohl chap was already planning a ResBaz in Perth! Amusingly, Matthias had already worked with Andrew but the topic of researcher training had never come up. Matthias then got in touch with him, offered his assistance in running ResBaz, and quickly found himself whisked to Melbourne to attend the Software Carpentry instructor training with Aleksandra Pawlik. As an experienced librarian, Matthias already had a good decade of training experience, but the discussions on pedagogy really changed the way he thought about the training he had already delivered. Another concept Matthias learned about at eResearch Australasia was HackyHour - an informal get-together that served the dual purpose of networking and providing post-training support to SWC/ResBaz attendees. It was in getting HackyHour off the ground that Matthias met Andrew’s new team of research computation specialists. Andrea Andrea Bedini’s journey started when he was a postdoc at the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Melbourne, where he would spend his days giving lectures and coding Monte-Carlo simulations. Andrea strongly supports the idea that science should be open and reproducible and found himself spending perhaps more time than he should thinking on how to put those concepts into practice. Around mid 2014, one of his students, Noon Silk, decided to organise an Open Science Workshop where students/researchers could learn everything about GitHub, iPython notebooks and SageMathCloud. Andrea didn’t hesitate to give a hand! The workshop was just awesome. While organising the workshop, Andrea and Noon got introduced to a group of people at Melbourne Uni who were working on a similar initiative, Software Carpentry. In this way Andrea met David Flanders, Damien Irving, and Fiona Tweedie. They had been running HackyHours at a local bar for a while and they were all very busy organising the first Research Bazaar conference planned for February 2015. Just before the conference, the group had organised for Bill Mills (then Community Manager for Mozilla Science Lab) to come over from Toronto to run a Software Carpentry instructor training course. Andrea attended both the instructor course and the conference, also helping Alberto Pepe and Nathan Jenkins with the classes on Authorea (a collaborative paper-writing tool, which is also awesome - check it out). Raffaella and Andrew also attended the training and ResBaz 2015 in Melbourne - that was a missed connection! Andrea was feeling he wasn’t enjoying his postdoc position any more and his wife suggested he look for a career change in her hometown, Perth. Little did he know that, at the same time, at Curtin University in Perth, Andrew Rohl was hiring a team of computational specialists with the hope they would support his efforts in increasing the presence of Software Carpentry in WA. The rest, as they say, is history… Read More ›

Software Carpentry Workshop Attendance: a New Zealand Perspective
Tom Kelly, Mik Black, Sung Bae, Wolfgang Hayek, Aleksandra Pawlik / 2016-09-28
Having taught and helped at a series of workshop over the past few months Tom Kelly, PhD Candidate in Genetics at the University of Otago, wrote up some of his reflections on the issues related to workshop attendance. This spurred further discussion via email among the New Zealand instructors. We decided to put these thoughts together in hope that this could help other sites struggling with the attendance problems. Please note that these are the authors’ views and thus they should not be treated as representative for their home institutions. Tom based his opinions after having taught at various workshops in Australia and in New Zealand, including Research Bazaar 2015 at the University of Melbourne, Research Bazzar 2016 at the University of Otago, University of Otago, University of Canterbury, and NeSI. There have been several other workshops in New Zealand facilitated by NeSI, in Auckland, Wellington, and Palmerston North over the past year. Main point Over the course of several workshops we’ve had relatively minor problems with “no-shows” (people signing up and not attending) or “drop-offs” (people not returning for future days or sessions). However, in the case of the oversubscribed workshops it was still somewhat frustrating. This has led to discussions about how we may address the issues related to the attendance to ensure that others who would have attended for the entire workshop, but ended up on the waiting list, do not miss out on places. Issue 1: No-shows At our most recent workshop in the University of Otago we had 21/25 attendees who signed up attending. At previous workshops this had also been a bit of an issue, being as high as 25% of no-shows in Christchurch in February 2015. I know that this issue is not specific to these sites or to New Zealand itself. Shortly after I got involved in Software Carpentry, I had a chance to talk to Bill Mills who was visiting from Canada to help boot-up the workshops and train some instructors. Bill did say that they usually have 25-30% no show in US/Canada so our attendance figures are not too bad compared to other free Software Carpentry events. Issue 2: Departures over time A larger concern to me is the number of participants who attend for the beginning of a multi-day workshop and do not return for the final sessions. Some participants may be leaving midway because it just doesn’t work for them (thankfully, this is rare). Some will be interested only in a particular session, such as biologists who may attend only for the R module, even if we are encouraging them to attend the full course. With others it may be difficult to address, particularly if they don’t leave any feedback on reasons why they left. Though, we can assume that some participants may have to leave early due to other committments such as running lab experiments or childcare responsibilities. So at our recent workshop at the University of Otago we tried splitting it into 3 shorter days, rather than 2 full ones. Approach 1: Registration Fee We discussed further no-shows with Bill Mills when we were doing ResBaz/SWC in Melbourne and Christchurch. He mentioned a solution suggested by Software Carpentry of applying a small registration fee to make sure those who register actually attend or cancel giving the organisers some notice. Based on the experiences of several hosts accross this usually results in no-show numbers dropping to below 5%. Whilst this is certainly an option to consider, in many local contexts this would not be possible. There are complications with the university local regulations. Some universities charge venue fees unless the event is free, run at cost, or for the benefit of staff and students. Another problem with charged events (even with a small fee) is that it may create disparity between research groups where some are funded from the lab and others need to foot the bill themselves due to financial or adminstrative constraints. Eventbrite makes it easier for the hosts in terms of handling payments and registrations but within the University system it would create issues for labs that want to pay (through Eventbrite) for their members to attend - not insurmountable, but just extra hassle. There are also some cultural aspects. For example, New Zealand may differ to other places where ticketed events have been tried. We don’t have a tipping culture, one of the largest home-supplies supermarket chains has the slogan “Where Everyone Gets a Bargain”, and another grocery supermarket chain proudly announces that it has “NZ’s lowest prices”. These stores are widely successful. It can be said that many of us see this as a good deal rather than appearing cheap, particularly among the university student population. Many people here view a bargain or freebie positively, so I don’t think the event is under-valued being free. However, it would be interesting to see if any other NZ sites have tried a paid ticketed event to boost attendance rates and how this compares to other countries. Approach 2: Catering Another suggestion to raise numbers is providing catering to boost numbers (possibly registration fees can be used for that) which we tried at Dunedin Research Bazaar last February. However, we had issues with overcatering for those did not stay for lunch and we still had dwindling numbers by the last day. I think the “come back for day 3” rate was higher in our most recent Otago workshop due to combined Git+Bash sessions on days 1 and 3. Unfortunately some participants did still give the impression of only wanting to attend the R session (or Python) but most seemed to give the rest a shot. And even the catering was not enough of an attraction. Dwindling numbers seems to be a bigger problem with longer (3 day) events but there are higher costs for catering an event this long. Reducing the length of each day was another approach we’ve tried as discussed here. Approach 3: Blacklist Another approach could be the hosts checking the actual attendance and keeping a record of people who habitually don’t show up without giving notice. They are then only able to sign up if there are places left right before the event. At the recent University of Otago workshops no one missed out due to no shows. Generally, we manage to let most of our waiting list in with cancellations anyway. It would be interesting to know if particular people (groups, or institutions) are signing up and not coming recurrently, but a blacklist (as some SWC sites have done) may be overreacting. This appears to be a rather drastic solution and thus needs to be treated with care. There are many other understandable reasons why a participant may not be able to attend at the last minute which would be difficult to monitor, such as illness or bereavement. There may be students who choose (or feel pressured) to prioritise their experimental research over the workshop on the day. It’s likely preaching to the choir to even mention how counterproductive this lack of training can be in the long-run. However, a punitive approach such as a blacklist is not an appropriate way to encourage engagement in our workshops over research activities. We consider a blacklist a last resort over the current first-come-first-served sign up system to consider only if people are repetively missing out. Perhaps a whitelist of people who missed out last time would be less punitive? We could either bump them up to the top of the waiting list or email them about the workshop in advance of public announcement. This would give potential participants more incentive to sign up even if the current workshop is full and may give a better indication of how much interest there would be in a future workshop. Approach 4: Overbooking This approach is notoriously used by some airlines. Many of you might have experienced a frustrating time at the gate when it has turned out that you actually don’t have a seat even though you do have the ticket. Then it gets to an exciting action when the airline tries to bribe the passengers with the allocated seat to give it up (for cash) and take one of the subsequent flight (possibly next day). Neither Software nor Data Carpentry are aiming to go that way but it may be tempting for hosts to allow for a high number of sign ups (say 45) with an assumption that there will be 20-30% no-show rate, particularly if a larger venue and additional helpers are available. In larger (parallel session) events, such as ResBaz, feedback has been overwhelmingly positive for the inclusion of ‘helpers’. They can somewhat mitigate issues with a larger group offering one-on-one assitance when needed and getting participants back on track so they can follow along after falling behind of technical problems. We encourage helpers to be proactive at larger events, or those covering more advanced content, checking on participants when they get withdrawn or quiet rather than waiting for the sticky notes. The larger a group, the wider the range of pace and learning styles will be there. If participants have raced ahead of the content this is also a good opportunity to encourage them to work with their neighbours, try out extension challenge questions, or discuss how the tools involved could be applied to their work. However, one problem that Wolfgang Hayek, NZ Instructor based at NIWA and NeSI, has seen, is that venues get very crowded if turnout is large, with attendees complaining accordingly in their feedback. Sticking to the recommended number of attendees is definitely a good idea. For example, in Wolfgang’s experience, the Wellington Victoria University ResBaz was a very relaxed event, at least partly due to its lower attendance. The Git session that Wolfgang has taught there was a lot more interactive than sessions that he had taught at other events, which made it quite enjoyable for everyone (many questions were asked and issues discussed, attendees participated more in the hands-on sections). While it is clear that we want to maximise efficiency of these events, there is also a positive side of having lower attendance, too. Approach 5: Establishing rapport with the participants Another alternative to the carrot and the stick is trying to establish close communication with the participants. Mik Black of the University of Otago said that him being a very hands-on person also helped with attendance numbers: particularly when co-ordinating the larger ResBaz event with parallel sessions. He sent repeated emails to registrants with reminders to tell the hosts if they couldn’t come as there was a waiting list. That was somewhat effective but there were still had no-shows (plus drop-offs after the first day). It also worked at the time because Mik needed to email about other ResBaz details at the same time (venue, schedule, laptop setup, etc) - he wasn’t just spamming them with “are you still coming?” every two days. Sung Bae of the University of Canterbury (and previously NeSI) who has hosted and taught at a number of workshops across New Zealand developed a habit of going around the participants with the guest list and making them a name tag on the spot (and checking the attendance at the same time). Sung found it was helpful to build up personal connections with them (that helped him to remember their names too) and he also produced attendance lists from events he led. It possibly could help mitigate the number of drop-offs on the subsequent days of the workshop. We recognise that there is no silver bullet to help us sort out the attendance issues. However, there may be various ways these problems can be mitigated. The experiences from Software and Data Carpentry workshops can also possibly translate to other training that many members of this community run. Read More ›

SWC: First Impressions
Leo Browning / 2016-09-28
This post is a simple telling of the beginning of my experience with SWC and hopefully first of many encounters with SWC as a community as well as a learning experience. I attended a session a couple of months previously and was very impressed by my experience. I had a chat to the other attendees and found that their experience as complete beginners was as positive as someone who had some experience in python, git and shell as I did. I have always held a firm belief that digital literacy in research and education is both vital and sadly lacking, my own experience is entirely self taught throughout a university education, so it is no surprise that myself and my fellow attendees were drawn to the SWC workshop to fill that gap. SWC addressed the digital gap in research, and had me so hooked that I just had to stay involved. Over the next couple of months I looked for any opportunity; I incorporated just the python novice material into an independent workshop that I ran on Python for data pipelines, and now I have just instructed my first SWC session. The more involved I get the more I feel like SWC is something that I want to be involved in, because it addresses an important need in research, and because it does so in a way that is accessible and tailored by its community. I think my experience with SWC is not unique, and that hundreds of people around the globe have been in the same boat as I was. In fact I am sure it is not unique, as every contact I have seems to be with people as interested as I am. Some of my favorite examples of “of the people, by the people, for the people” places on the internet are Stackexchanges, reddit maker communities and wikipedia. And without fail, when I have gotten involved with these communities they are all underpinned by a strong sense of community purpose tailored to a specific need. Although SWC seems to me to be a mix of online and in person community, I look forward to it being added to my list of the best of the best as I continue to be involved. I would love to hear particularly interesting or inspiring first experiences of other new or long time members, I am sure that there are many! Read More ›

Teaching Programming to the Blind
Greg Wilson / 2016-09-23
Andreas Stefik (who discusses what we know about the usability of programming languages in this entertaining podcast) has worked extensively on computing education and programming tools for the visually impaired. When asked earlier this week how to teach programming to the blind, he sent the response below. We’re grateful for his comments, and for Evan Williamson’s recent pull request to improve the accessibility of our lessons. If you are making any presentations, be sure to provide the powerpoints to the blind individual in advance if you can. Powerpoint is the “most” accessible, but if you have any images, you need to manually specify “alts” inside the presentation. It’s not hard, but most people don’t realize powerpoint has this feature. When actually presenting material, for any kind of diagrams, I find it helpful (if my audience is blind) to practice oral description of the images ahead of time. This is sometimes tricky in code, especially for things like linked structures or trees. So, if you are explaining those kinds of concepts, just be aware that it might take some practice. I’ve practiced this for years in my own presentations, but still find it challenging sometimes for highly visual content (e.g., we taught 3D gaming to blind people this summer, which was a real challenge). Same goes with code. If the person doesn’t read code coming in, screen readers don’t even output all of the special characters without special modes turned on (e.g., verbosity mode in JAWS). For example, if I have: a = a - b it might say “a equals a b” (notice the missing minus). Point being, depending on the experience level of the person coming in, and how comfortable they are with their screen reader, they might need some help getting used to the quirks. When presenting, you sometimes have to actually say the special characters or they won’t know they need to be typed. If you are using tools for programming, a great many out there don’t work for the blind. The best you can do here is make sure you get them to the person in advance if you know they work. If you don’t, you can either ask or at least have a fallback. A basic text editor and the console usually works on most systems, although that doesn’t mean that kind of setup is easy to use. We have some stuff that might help, but it depends on what you are teaching and your specific needs. Different languages can cause major issues for blind individuals. I could go into detail, but imagine things like white space in Python. Or, imagine hearing statements like, “for left paren int i equals semicolon i less than ten semicolon i plus plus right paren left brace” in C. Both can cause headaches for various reasons. Find out about their specific needs beforehand if you can and if they are willing to tell you. If they just need magnification and large print materials, this stuff is a lot easier. If they are a total, then braille can be helpful. But, crucially, you need to know whether they know Braille, and if so, which kind. Braille standards have changed in recent years and it matters for computer code because of the special characters. I’m not a Braille expert, but if this is an issue on your end, I can get you info from some experts. Finally, one thing I almost always recommend to do before hand, just to make sure you have a little bit of context, is to download a screen reader and give it a shot. On Windows, grab NVDA, or on Mac, just press APPLE F5. Even spending an hour going over a tutorial can help give you a little of context. Spending an hour programming blind on your own won’t make you an expert, but it’s such a different way of programming that it might help give a glimpse into that world. Read More ›

Teaching at the Board
Chris Hamm / 2016-09-20
This post originally appeared on Chris Hamm’s personal blog. Software Carpentry is a non-profit organization that teaches basic computer skills. The lessons for these courses assume no prior knowledge among the learners. I am a certified instructor for Software Carpentry and its sister organization, Data Carpentry. I have taught two Software Carpentry workshops at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, DC and they were very different from one another. Both workshops were successful but for very different reasons. This post explores the reasons why (I think) they were so different. The first course was held in late June and the learners were all relatively new employees and the level of lessons (shell, R, git, and more R) was appropriate for their skill level. The students were engaged, followed the materials, and it was an excellent workshop. The second course was held in late August and the learners for this workshop were all seasoned employees that had worked at the Fed for 2-3 years. After only 30 minutes into my R lesson I could tell that I did not have the students. I’ve taught this lesson ~10 times for Software Carpentry, I know the material very well and consider myself a good teacher. This was the first time I did not have any questions or learners in need of assistance. Something was up. I called an audible. I paused the lesson and started a discussion with the students to understand why the lesson was falling flat. The learners conveyed that they were all experienced with R and that this material we far too simple for them. Yet, their level of expertise was above that of Software Carpentry lessons. My co-instructor and I decided to alter the lessons so the learners could get something out of the course. I ditched the basic R lesson and went into more data manipulation, installing packages from source, interfacing R and SQLite, using the ProjectTemplate package and how RStudio integrates with git. My co-instructor changed her materials to focus more on data manipulation via the shell. We were lucky to be able to make adjustments and come up with new lessons, but this is not and should not be the standard for Software Carpentry lessons. It is important for potential leaners to recognize that we teach basic computer skills and to read workshop descriptions before signing up. Sticky notes (the learners write something that we could improve on and something that worked well for them) from my lessons are below: Intro to R Worked well: Thanks for noticing & adjusting to the level of the class: interested in for tomorrow: call stack, tidyr, split-apply-combine, vectorization I really enjoyed the small SQLite tutorial / everything was very clearly explained awesome explanation and super fun problem solving good changes at end loved interactive instruction I really benefited from doing exercises. It’s helpful to try things out yourself. Needs work: Too basic at first (but got better!) Git Worked well: Really liked going through ProjectTemplate w/git. I’m at the point in code, etc., where I’m thinking a lot more about organization etc. Although it was a little bumpy it wasn’t bad at all. On your own you run into errors and it was valuable to learn how to remedy them. Thanks for coming. I liked the shell parts & git Overall, I’m very glad I took the course. I’ll definitely adopt the RStudio, git, ProjectTemplate workflow. Great interaction / response to feedback from Day 1. very useful. having never used git, step by step Good git stuff, found it very helpful explanation of git basics were great, the repetition of commands was nice the git / unix classes are great. Very helpful. Needs work: Git demo became repetitive in the middle I might start with git and RStudio, then move to git in Linux because there are more visual clues to whats going on in RStudio More of a “Fed Board” problem but it would’ve been cool to work with the repositories already created in my section Why can’t we start at 9 Dimming the lights might make it easier to see the big screen. Thank you. Slow down the lecture please No complaints Read More ›

Systems Biology Postdoc Position with The Jackson Laboratory
Sue McClatchy / 2016-09-19
The Carter Lab at The Jackson Laboratory is seeking a Postdoctoral Fellow in computational genetics and systems biology. Our group is developing novel computational methods to derive biological models from large-scale genomic data. The strategies we pursue involve combining statistical genetics concepts such as epistasis and pleiotropy to understand how many genetic and environmental factors combine to control disease-related processes in animal models and human studies. We are especially interested in dissecting the genetic complexity of autoimmune disease, neurodegeneration, and cancer. The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, USA, is recognized internationally for its excellence in research, unparalleled mouse resources, outstanding training environment characterized by scientific collaboration and exceptional core services - all within a spectacular setting adjacent to Acadia National Park. The Jackson Laboratory was voted among the top 15 “Best Places to Work in Academia” in the United States in a poll conducted by The Scientist magazine. Exceptional postdoctoral candidates will have the opportunity to apply to become a JAX Postdoctoral Scholar, a selective award addressing the national need for research scientists who are accomplished in the broadly defined fields of genetics and genomics. The award includes an independent research budget, travel funds, and a salary above standard postdoctoral scale. Applicants for both positions must have a PhD (or equivalent degree) in quantitative biology or another quantitative discipline such as computer science, physics, or applied mathematics. Experience in statistical genetics and gene expression analysis is strongly recommended, and applicants must have a commitment to solving biological problems and good communication skills. Expertise in scientific programming languages including R, C/C++, Ruby, Perl, or Java is recommended. Expertise in cancer genetics, immunology, or neurological disease is desired but not required. Read More ›

Show Me Your Model
Greg Wilson / 2016-09-18
As far as I can tell, there are no published studies showing that version control is better than mailing files around or sticking them in shared drives. I believe it is–I wouldn’t work on a project that didn’t use version control–but nobody’s ever gathered data, compared it to a model, and published the result. One reason, I think, is that we don’t know how to measure the productivity of programmers. “Lines of code per hour” clearly isn’t right: good programmers often write less code, or spend their time on the parts of problems that have the highest thinking-to-coding ratio. Without some operationalization of “better” and “worse”, it’s hard to rank or compare alternatives. This problem came up again when I tweeted, “If anyone has data showing Excel is more error-prone than MATLAB/Python/R once you normalize for hours spent learning it, plz post.” It’s clear from the responses that most people on Twitter believe this, but I’m not really sure what “this” is: There are more errors in published results created with Excel than in results created with scripting languages like MATLAB, Python, and R. OK, but given that many more people use Excel, that’s like saying that people in China have more heart attacks than people in Luxembourg. Results calculated with Excel are more likely to be wrong than results calculated with scripting languages. This is what I had in mind when I tweeted, and I don’t think the answer is obvious. Yes, there are lots of examples of people botching spreadsheets, but there’s also a lot of buggy code out there. (Flon’s Axiom states, “There is not now, nor has there ever been, nor will there ever be, any programming language in which it is the least bit difficult to write bad code.”) And even if this claim is true, correlation isn’t causation. I think that people who do stats programmatically have probably invested more time in mastering their tools than people who use spreadsheets. The (hypothesized) differences in error rates could easily be due to differences in time spent in reflective practice. People who are equally proficient in Excel and scripting langauges are more likely to make mistakes in Excel. This formulation corrects the flaw identified above, but is nonsensical, since the only meaningful definition of “equally proficient” is “use equally well”. Spreadsheets are intrinsically more error-prone than scripting languages because they don’t show errors as clearly, they’re harder to test, it’s harder to figure out what calculations are actualy being done, or they themselves are buggier than scripting languages’ math libraries. These are all plausible, but may all be red herrings. Yes, it’s hard to write unit tests for spreadsheets, but it’s possible: Felienne Hermans found that 8% of spreadsheets included tests like if(A1<>5, "ERROR", "OK"). I’d be surprised if more than 8% of people who do statistics in Python or R regularly write unit tests for their scripts, so the fact that they could is irrelevant. To be clear, I’m not defending or recommending spreadsheets. But if programming really is a better way to do science than using spreadsheets, surely we ought to be able to use science to prove it and to figure out why. What I’m really hoping is that if we figure out how to answer an “obvious” question like this, we will then have the tools we need to tackle harder ones. Was the switch to Python3 worth making? Will Julia be better enough than the languages we’re using now to justify the hundreds or thousands of programmer-years it will take to build a comparable ecosystem? What about requiring people to do code reviews when they review papers–is that a better place for them to spend their time than having them pair-program as they’re developing their own code? We make decisions like this all the time, but victory seems to go to the loud and the lucky more often than to the righteous. Leslie Lamport once said, “Writing is nature’s way of letting you know how sloppy your thinking is.” Experimental design has the same effect: it forces you to clarify what questions you’re asking and how you’re answering them. So instead of asking if anyone has data comparing Excel to programming languages, I should have asked, “What experiment would you run to decide whether spreadsheets are more or less error prone than programs?” Answers to that would be very welcome. Read More ›

The Discussion Book
Greg Wilson / 2016-09-10
Hot on the heels of Small Teaching (which we reviewed last week) comes Brookfield and Preskill’s The Discussion Book. Its subtitle is “50 great ways to get people talking”, and that’s exactly what it delivers: one succinct description after another of techniques you can use in classes or meetings to get everyone talking productively. Each one is covered in three or four pages with the headings “Purposes”, “How It Works”, “Where and When It Works Well”, “What Users Appreciate”, “What to Watch Out For”, and “Questions Suited to This Technique”. I’ve used some of these before, like Circular Response, Think-Pair-Share, and Justifiable Pressure. Others seem less practical to me, but given how incisive everything else in this book is, I’m probably mistaken. Overall, it reminded me of Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion, and I think it deserves to be just as widely read. Read More ›

Community Service Awards
Greg Wilson / 2016-09-10
The Software Carpentry Foundation relies on volunteer efforts to achieve many of its goals. It is now inaugurating a Community Service Award as a way for its Steering Committee to recognize work which, in its opinion, significantly improves the Foundation’s fulfillment of its mission and benefits the broader community. Details are available on this page; nominations are welcome at any time, and we will make the first awards before the end of this year. Read More ›

September Carpentries Community Call
Tracy Teal, Kate Hertweck / 2016-09-09
Our next Carpentries Community Call (formerly called Lab Meeting or Town Hall meeting) will be Thursday, September 15 (September 16 Aus/NZ). These meetings will now be monthly on the third Thursday of every month. It would be great to see instructors there! These calls are a great chance to connect with other Carpentry instructors and get updates and information on important and interesting topics for the community. Times: 7am Pacific / 10am Eastern / 2pm UTC / 12am (Sept 16th) Sydney 4pm Pacific / 7pm Eastern / 11pm UTC / 9am (Sept 16th) Sydney Topics this month will include: New lesson template Policy committee and update on CoC IRB approval and updates on assessment Highlighting manuscripts from our community Election on rules for Software Carpentry Steering Committee Head over to the etherpad to let us know you’ll be attending one of the two sessions. Read More ›

17 August-12 September, 2016: Steering Committee, Google Summer of Code, rOpenSci, Small Teaching, Ten Simple rules.
Martin Dreyer / 2016-09-09
##Highlights We are amending the steering committee election procedures. Some members of our community co-authored research papers, and would appreciate some feedback. A very succesful Google Summer of Code 2016 has come to an end. Openness can still lead to a frustrating situation. You can now log in to the etherpad to let us know if you will be attending the monthly Carpentries Community Call. ##Tweets Excel might be to blame for your conversion mistakes. Software Sustainability Institute fellowship programme 2017 applications now open. Learn how to make your research analysis better and reproducible at PyConZA 2016. Read more about Academic archetypes. What would you like to have at the Brisbane Research Bazaar (ResBaz)? A good read on how to be a Modern Scientist. If you have innovative ideas for open science the arnold foundation may be the place for you. ##Vacancies rOpenSci is looking to employ a postdoctoral scholar to help with grant research. ##General For our Instructor Training Course, we would like to put together ten simple rules on how not to engage your students when instructing. University of California, San Diego’s first Library Carpentry workshop was recently run, and it was a huge success. Small Teachings as suggested by James Lang may make a big difference in your teaching. The Discussion Book can be a helpful tool to get people tlking productively. 17 workshops were run over the past 30 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops: September: University of Colorado,McGill University, Griffith University, University of Chicago, University of Waterloo, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, University of British Columbia - EOAS, University of Southern Queensland, James Cook University, Townsville, Nathan Campus, Griffith University, University Of British Columbia. October: Simon Fraser University, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Simon Fraser University, The River Club, Queensland Brain Institute, University of Colorado Boulder, UW Madison, University of Würzburg. 2017: AMOS / MSNZ Conference. Read More ›

Post-doc Position with rOpenSci
Karthik Ram / 2016-09-07
The rOpenSci project based at the University of California, Berkeley seeks to hire a postdoctoral scholar to work on the research activities funded by the grant titled “Fostering the next generation of sustainable software and reproducible research practices in the scientific community”. The project develops open source software to promote reproducible research practices in the scientific community. The postdoctoral scholar will focus on a research topic aligned with their own interests in order to better understand and improve scientific software practices. Possible topics include but are not limited to: Defining and evaluating sustainability for research software Improving the development process that leads to new, sustainable, reusable, and impactful software Developing recommendations for the support and maintenance of existing software: engineering best practices, transparency, governance, business and sustainability Building large and engaged user communities Understanding and recommending policy changes to software credit, attribution, incentive, and reward; issues related to multiple organizations and multiple countries, such as intellectual property, licensing, and mechanisms and venues for publishing software, and the role of publishers Improving education and training Studying careers and profession institutional changes to support sustainable software such as promotion and tenure metrics, job categories and career paths We expect the postdoc will disseminate their findings in the form of blog posts, technical reports, workshop and conference talks and papers, journal papers or software products, as appropriate for the work and the applicant’s own career goals. While experience in developing academic software may be helpful, many projects in the areas above need not require software development experience. The candidate can expect to work closely with mentors from the rOpenSci project aligned with their interests, such as Dr. Karthik Ram and Dr. Carl Boettiger (UC Berkeley), Dr. Jenny Bryan (University of British Columbia), and Dr. Daniel S. Katz (University of Illinois), as well as other members from the rOpenSci and UC Berkeley communities. This position will be based at UC Berkeley, but arrangements for working remotely may be available. This research is funded by the rOpenSci project through a grant from the Helmsely Trust. The initial appointment will be for 1 year, full-time (100%), renewable for another year based on adequate progress made in the first year. The position comes with a competitive postdoc salary plus benefits, as well as a generous yearly allowance for computing equipment, conference travel, and other research expenses. Expected start date is November 2016. Please contact Dr. Karthik Ram karthik.ram@berkeley.edu with any informal questions about the position before applying. Qualifications: Applicants must possess a PhD or equivalent degree by their start date (more details in the full job ad linked below). Applicants from natural or social sciences, computer science, statistics or related disciplines are all welcome. To apply, submit the following items online at https://aprecruit.berkeley.edu/apply/JPF01132. Read More ›

We Still Can't Have Nice Things Together
Greg Wilson / 2016-09-05
Last year I used YAML and Norway to explain why why we can’t have nice things. We’ve just stumbled over a problem that has forced us to re-do some of the work we did to publish our lessons a couple of months ago, and which illustrates how openness can still be frustrating to actually do. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin. GitHub can publish repositories as website. If the user’s ID is gloom, and the project’s name is despair, then the GitHub repository’s URL is http://github.com/gloom/despair. If that repository has a branch called gh-pages, GitHub automatically creates a website at http://gloom.github.io/despair. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than the web. As a result, sites and browsers need to take precautions, some of which affect us. Many sites (including GitHub) encourage people to use HTTPS (which is secure) rather than HTTP (which is not). In particular, newly-created repositories on GitHub will only serve GitHub Pages websites over HTTPS, and older sites are being pushed to switch over as well. This is often done using redirection: if you go to http://whatever (insecure HTTP), the website automatically redirects you to https://whatever (secure HTTPS). If a browser loads a page using HTTPS (secure), and that page then tries to load CSS stylesheets or Javascript files using plain old HTTP (insecure), the browser won’t do it. GitHub uses Jekyll to convert Markdown and HTML to published pages. If Markdown or HTML files in the gh-pages branch have the right kind of header, GitHub doesn’t publish them as-is. Instead, it uses a tool called Jekyll to translate them. Jekyll reads variables from a file in the project’s root directory called _config.yml and makes it available to pages as they’re being translated. For example, if the configuration file defines a variable called title, pages can refer to site.title. This lets people avoid repeatedly repeating information repeatedly. Our web pages need to know where to find their CSS and Javascript. Our lesson pages and workshop website pages have to refer to the CSS and Javascript we use to style them. The simplest way to do this is to use absolute references from the root like this: <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/css/pretty.css" /> The only part of this that matters for present purposes is the href URL. It looks like an absolute path (i.e., it starts with a slash), so web browsers will automatically put the name of the website’s domain in front of it. For example, if the website is http://woe.com, and the page is http://woe.com/misery.html, then the browser will convert /css/pretty.css to http://woe.com/css/pretty.css. But wait: if the GitHub repository’s URL is http://github.com/gloom/despair. its website is published at http://gloom.github.io/despair. The last part of that URL — despair — isn’t part of the domain name, so the browser cuts it out when following absolute references. For example, imagine that the GitHub Pages website contains a page called index.html, and that page has the CSS link above to pretty.css. The browser will convert the URL to http://gloom.github.io/css/pretty.css, which is wrong, because the despair part of the path has been chopped out. Oops. OK, let’s just add the domain name. One way to solve this is to use full URLs for resources instead of absolute paths. For example, instead of loading /css/pretty.css, our web page could explicitly refer to http://gloom.github.io/despair/css/pretty.css. That’s easy… …except we want to share page templates between many different websites, each of which has a different base URL. More specifically, we want to have a single HTML file (let’s call it _layouts/page.html) that specifies our pages’ fonts and color scheme, places the logo in the right place, and so on. We don’t want to have to edit that page for each website, because then we’d have to re-do all our edits each time we wanted to make a style change that affected all our sites. Variables to the rescue. We’re not the first people to run into this problem, so GitHub provides some help. When GitHub runs Jekyll to convert our pages, it gives Jekyll all the variables we define in our repository’s _config.yml file, and another bunch of variables that GitHub automatically defines for us. One of these is called site.github.url, and its value is exactly the URL we want: the sub-domain with the base URL of our website. In our running example, the value of site.github.url is http://gloom.github.io/despair. Our layout can then use: <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="{{site.github.url}}/css/pretty.css" /> to refer to things. The double curly braces tell Jekyll to insert the variable’s value, so the link here becomes what we want. Or not. Unfortunately, GitHub always sets site.github.url to be the HTTP version of the site’s URL, rather than the HTTPS version. Boom: if the page is loaded via HTTPS (secure), the URL for the CSS is just HTTP (insecure), so the browser refuses to load it, and the page appears without any styling. It gets worse. There’s another problem here. We don’t want our pages to have URLs that start with gloom.github.io — we want them to start with optimism.org, because that’s the name of our website. GitHub lets us do this using something called a CNAME. In brief, we can tell GitHub that we want gloom.github.io to pretend to be optimism.org, so that: If someone goes to http://gloom.github.io, they are automatically redirected to http://optimism.org. If someone goes to http://optimism.org, the pages are served from http://gloom.github.io, but the URL still appears to be http://optimism.org. Oops: if Jekyll used the variable site.github.url when creating the web pages, all the URLs for CSS and Javascript in those pages will have http://gloom.github.io/despair as their URL. If the browser thinks it’s going to https://optimism.org (with secure HTTPS), then it has two reasons to refuse to load the CSS: those files are coming from insecure URLs (HTTP instead of HTTPS), and they’re coming from a completely different domain. Let’s load the styles from a fixed domain. But hang on: there’s nothing wrong per se with loading files from another domain. Why don’t we do something like this for our CSS: <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="https://content.org/css/pretty.css" /> The difference here is that the URL always refers to a fixed site (in this case, content.org) and always uses HTTPS. As long as that site has a valid certificate for HTTPS, the browser will quite happily load this file. And since the URL is independent of which website is hosting the page, the configuration file can define a variable like site.content_url to be a fixed value, and everything can refer to that and it will all just work and we can go home. But suppose we want to do some more work on the subway ride home. We make a change to a page, run Jekyll to convert the page to HTML, open it in the browser—and the CSS doesn’t load, because we’re offline. This isn’t a big problem for people who are creating workshop websites (which is by far the most common use of our templates). It is a problem for people who want to contribute to lessons, though, since they will often want to preview their changes locally, and may well be doing that work on a plane or while otherwise disconnected. Let’s define our own variable. All right, let’s try another approach. Suppose each of our websites defines a variable called site.baseurl in its configuration file to be the name of the project with a leading /. All of our web pages can then refer to things using: <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="{{site.baseurl}}/css/pretty.css" /> which Jekyll expands to something like: <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="/despair/css/pretty.css" /> If we access the page using HTTPS (secure), everything is fine, because this now looks like an absolute path below the name of the domain. If we access the page using HTTP (insecure) and are redirected to HTTPS, this is still fine (same reasons). And if we are using a CNAME, and have mapped http://gloom.github.io to http://optimism.org, then: http://optimism.org/despair/index.html is mapped to http://gloom.github.io/despair/index.html. The browser translates the reference inside that page from /despair/css/pretty.css to http://optimism.org/despair/css/pretty.css. The web then finds that file at https://gloom.github.io/despair/css/pretty.css, which is exactly what we want. Yay! We’re done! We can— Wait. What about offline work? When we run Jekyll locally to preview pages, it starts up a little web server at http://localhost:4000, and tells you “please go to this URL to preview your pages”. That URL is wrong if we are using this site.baseurl trick: we actually need to go to http://localhost:4000/despair to get everything. Interlude: What’s standard may not be right for everyone. Defining site.baseurl is the standard workaround for the problem we’re trying to solve, but it’s not a good solution for us. First, many of our users are newcomers to HTML templating, web servers, and pretty much everything else we’ve been discussing. If we rely on site.baseurl, people will (quite reasonably) follow Jekyll’s instructions to go to http://localhost:4000, get a “page not found” error, and wonder what they’ve done wrong. (This is not speculation.) Second, if we rely on site.baseurl, then everyone who creates a new workshop website will have to edit that site’s _config.yml file as well as its index.html file. Given what we’ve seen in instructor training workshops, that will significantly increase people’s frustration quotient. Overriding variables. Here’s another approach. When Jekyll runs on GitHub, it reads its configuration from _config.yml, and only from _config.yml. When we run it on our desktops, though, we can tell Jekyll to read several configuration files, each of which can re-set variables set in previous files. We can therefore create a second configuration file called _config_local.yml (or any other name we choose) and have it define site.baseurl to be the empty string. When we want to preview locally, we pass Jekyll extra parameters to tell it to read this configuration file, and all the URLs are then correct for a local build. This works — until someone just runs jekyll serve on the command line as they would normally do (and as all the online documentation tells them to). Boom: the CSS isn’t loaded. Again, this isn’t speculation (though it probably affects fewer people). Let’s use relative URLs. What if we don’t use absolute URLs at all? What if we use relative URLs everywhere? If a page is in the root directory of our website, it can refer to the CSS files using: <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="./css/pretty.css" /> If a page is in a sub-directory, it can use: <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="../css/pretty.css" /> i.e., use .. instead of . as the first part of the path to the CSS file. That will always work; the trick is to get the path to the root directory of the website into each page. A sensible system would automatically give us a variable with the path to the project’s root directory. Jekyll doesn’t, but we can define a variable for ourselves in each page’s header. If the page is in the root directory, page.root is .; if it’s a level down, page.root is .., and so on. The layout pages can then link to the CSS using: <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="{{page.root}}/css/pretty.css" /> Requiring every single page to define a particular variable when almost all of those pages will give it the same value feels like sloppy programming practice. Luckily for us, Jekyll provides a way to set a default. If we add this: defaults: - values: root: .. to _config.yml, then every page gets a variable called root with the value ... This almost does what we want: when we compile the Markdown file melancholy.md, we are creating a page melancholy/index.html in the output directory, so that its URL is http://gloom.github.io/despair/melancholy/. (By convention, a URL that ends with a slash / is assumed to refer to a directory, and the file we actually want is the index.html file in that directory.) Thus, all of our pages are one level below the root directory in the output directory, so they all want page.root to be .. But there’s one exception: the home page of the lesson itself. This page is ./index.html, i.e., it’s the index.html file in the root directory of the whole lesson, so its page.root needs to be . rather than .. We can handle that by explicitly defining page.root in index.md, which overrides the default set in _config.yml. Once we’ve done that, our pages, layouts, and included HTML fragments can all use {{page.root}}/this/that to refer to whatever they want. It’s not ideal — we’ll have to explain it to people who’ve used Jekyll before, and if we ever create deeper directory hierarchies, it will quickly become as complicated as the alternatives we’ve discarded — but it’s good enough for now. How this got into production. The new template that we deployed in June 2016 uses site.github.url. We recognized the problem with HTTP vs. HTTPS early on, so the standard layouts shared by all the lessons do this: <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="{{ site.github.url | replace_first: 'http:', 'https:' }}/css/pretty.css" /> i.e., they convert the http prefix given in site.github.url into https. That solved the problem for pages served from github.io domains, but not for domains using CNAME: GitHub even says that they don’t support HTTPS and CNAME domains (paragraph 3). I didn’t spot this because I didn’t think to test pages on CNAME’d domains: once it worked for HTTPS on GitHub, I assumed it would work everywhere. I should have known better. Hacks like turning http into https always break, and if one of my GSoC students had tried to put something like this into production, I would have told them to think again. The real lesson from this episode is that we still can’t have nice things — or rather, we can’t have them all at once. GitHub Pages are a great way for people to build simple little web sites. Templating tools like Jekyll are great too, and HTTPS is essential, but when you try to combine them, you wind up with this. If we really want people to do open research, we have to make openness a lot less frustrating. Read More ›

Small Teaching
Greg Wilson / 2016-09-05
Elizabeth Green’s Building a Better Teacher changed how I think about teaching, and sparked some good discussion in our community. Therese Huston’s Teaching What You Don’t Know had a similar impact a few years earlier, and now there is James Lang’s Small Teaching. As its title suggests, Lang’s book focuses on little things that teachers can do right now to improve their teaching, rather than on big, systemic changes that might have larger impact, but which require larger effort (and probably buy-in from other people). To be included, a practice had to: have some foundation in the learning sciences, have been shown to have impact in real-world situation, and have been used or observed by the author. His suggestions are all either: brief (5-10 minute) classroom or online learning activities, one-time interventions in a course, or small modifications in course design or communication with students. Most importantly, they require minimal preparation and grading. Frequent low-stakes quizzes to prompt recall, interleaving different material, having students write a one-minute thesis or draw a concept map, making the assessment criteria clear, setting aside time for self-explanation and peer explanation—none of these should be new to anyone who has been through our instructor training course, but Lang does an excellent job of organizing them and connecting them back to research and theory. We do less than half of what Lang recommends in our workshops. I’m going to start suggesting Small Teaching as an auxiliary text in our training, and I hope that a year from now, some of our instructors will be able to tell us how these techniques have worked for them. Read More ›

Google Summer of Code 2016 ended
Raniere Silva / 2016-09-05
As announced in April, we had some Google Summer of Code Students working with us this year. Manage workflow for Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry instructor training Chris Medrela, under the mentoring of Greg Wilson and Piotr Banaszkiewicz, worked on AMY implementing instructor training workflow that is already in use as we reopened instructor trining. Result-aggregation server for the installation-test scripts for Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry Prerit Garg, under the mentoring of Piotr Banaszkiewicz and Raniere Silva, worked on a web server that receive and store information provided by the installation script. Other projects under NumFOCUS umbrella This year our projects were under NumFOCUS umbrella. We thanks NumFOCUS for their support and we want to highlight their other Google Summer of Code projects. Dynamic Topic Models for Gensim Bhargav Srinivasa, under the mentoring of Lev Konstantinovskiy, Radim Rehurek and Devasena Inupakutika, worked on Gensim that now supports Dynamic Topic Model. Upgrade to datapackage.json standard for EcoData Retriever Akash Goel, under the mentoring of Henry Senyondo and Ethan White, worked on EcoData Retriever that now is compatible with Datapackage.JSON standard when saving the scripts that retrieved the data requested by the user. Also, now EcoData Retriever works with Python 3. Improving the state of Optim.jl for JuliaOpt Patrick Kofod Mogensen, under the mentoring of Miles Lubin, worked on JuliaOpt that now has a faster implementation of Simulated Annealing solver. Also, now JuliaOpt’s documentation includes tons of examples. Presolve Routines for LP and SDP within Convex.jl for JuliaOpt Ramchandran Muthukumar, under the mentoring of Madeleine Udell, worked on JuliaOpt MathProgBase that provides high-level one-shot functions for linear and mixed-integer programming. Ramchandran’s work focus on the presolving the linear and mixed-integer programming problems, a important step to improve benchmarks. Categorical Axis for matplotlib Hannah Aizenman, under the mentoring of Michael Droettboom and Thomas Caswell, worked on matplotlib to reduce the code that users need to write when working with categorical data. Read More ›

Feedback Sought on Two Papers
Greg Wilson / 2016-09-02
We would be very grateful for feedback on two papers co-authored by members of our community: Taschuk & Wilson: “Ten Simple Rules for Making Research Software More Robust”. Wilson, Bryan, Cranston, Kitzes, Nederbragt, & Teal: “Good Enough Practices for Scientific Computing”. Each paper has a link at the top to send us email; we look forward to hearing from you. Read More ›

Election Announcement: Amending Steering Committee election procedures
Kate Hertweck / 2016-09-01
The Steering Committee will be holding a special election on October 10-14 regarding the following amendment to Steering Committee elections: “Following an election, the new Steering Committee will meet jointly with the previous Steering Committee for no less than 60 days. For meetings during the first 30 first days, the new SC will not have voting privileges. After 30 days, voting privileges are transferred to the new SC.” We believe this amendment is necessary to provide continuity in leadership following elections as the Steering Committee transitions to its new members. We envision the timeline as follows: November: Elections announced (90 days prior) January: Candidate applications due; lab meeting to discuss candidates February: Elections, first joint meeting, new committee nominates officers March: Second joint meeting, new committee elects officers, old committee attends meeting but no longer has voting rights April: New committee continues normal operations An elected member, therefore, is obligated from the February in which they are elected through March of the following year. This amendment does not change the time period during which an elected Steering Committee has voting privileges. To see how this amendment fits into existing governance rules, please go here. If you have questions regarding this amendment, you are welcome to add them to this pull request. Given that the current Steering Committee is only the second to be elected by the community, we are committed to continue developing procedures and guidelines to best serve our community. Please stay tuned for information on how to vote! Read More ›

Ten Ways to Turn Off Learners
Greg Wilson / 2016-08-19
PLOS has published a very useful set of articles called Ten Simple Rules that covers everything from effective statistical practice to winning a Nobel Prize. I’m just as interested in what not to do and what mistakes to avoid, so as part of our instructor training course, I’d like to put together a list of ten simple ways you can turn off your learners. My first five are listed below; if you’d like to add your own, comments would be very welcome. Sneer at what they’re doing right now by saying things like, “OMG, you’re using a spreadsheet!?” or, “If it isn’t open, it isn’t real science.” Most scientists have been doing first-rate work for decades with their existing tools and practices; we may think we now have better ones, but telling them they’ve been wrong all these years isn’t likely to make them listen. Trivialize their difficulties by saying things like, “Oh, it’s easy, you just fire up a VM on Amazon, install this variant of Debian, and rewrite your application in a pure functional language.” This stuff is genuinely hard; talking as if it’s not (and implying along the way that they must be stupid if they don’t get it right away) isn’t going to motivate them. Choose exciting technology. “There’s this cool new language I’ve been meaning to try…” should send the listener running: “new” usually means “rapidly changing” and “poorly documented”, and while that may be fun for the 5-15% who like computing for its own sake, it’s just an extra load for the majority. (See also Dan McKinley’s talk Choose Boring Technology.) Insist on doing everything the right way. You don’t draw architectural blueprints before you paint a wall. Similarly, you don’t need a cross-referenced design document (with appendices) for a twenty-line script that merges two bibliographies. Insist that people use a different operating system or package because it’s more convenient for you. They have to deal with the intrinsic cognitive load of the actual lesson material; don’t also impose the extraneous load of new keyboard shortcuts and unfamiliar menus. Read More ›

Teaching Library Carpentry to Librarians at UCSD
Juliane Schneider / 2016-08-17
I sort of knew what I was getting into. I’d done the excellent instructor training in February at UC Davis, which is a good thing, because I didn’t know the first thing about instruction. I didn’t know the first thing about organizing workshops, either, but I figured what the hell; my colleague and partner-in-crime Tim Dennis had reserved the big conference room in our library, which is really hard to get. If you’re in academia you know the first rule, which is never waste a reserved prime conference room. With lots of prompts and help from my colleague Tim Dennis, we put together a Library Carpentry workshop at UC San Diego. Since the instructors were all from the institution (UC San Diego), the host/instructor issue wasn’t much of an issue. The workshop website was https://ucsdlib.github.io/2016-07-18-UCSD/ The workshop ran from July 18-22, and because some library staff would be unable to attend the entire workshop, I allowed people to register by the day. The schedule ran: Day one: Fundamentals/Regex Day two: Bash/shell/command line Day three: Git/Github Day four: Open Refine Day five: Office hours There were 40-50 people on days one and four, and about 30-40 on days two and three. We had five or six people come to office hours for help with Open Refine after the workshop. I taught the Foundation/Regex and Open Refine, Tim Dennis and Reid Otsuji taught Bash/Shell, and Matt Critchlow taught Git/Github. We had at least two helpers per day who were indeed very helpful. What We Learned While Preparing It takes a lot of time to think through what you need as far as room setup, materials, refreshments, and publicity. I wish I’d made a list for what we needed each day, as requirements differed throughout the week (the first day needed pens and paper, for example). You can rarely overestimate the amount of coffee needed when librarians and coding meet. Also, savory snacks are a hit, although I think someone lost a hand in the scramble for Babybel cheese. What We Learned While Instructing Etherpad, etherpad etherpad! Mention the etherpad! There were a few obstacles to getting our attendees to collaboratively note-take. First of all, I think that the fact that our helpers were taking notes gave them an ‘official’ air that we didn’t mean to give. Secondly, especially during the Bash class, people were saying that with the Bash, Notepad, browser and etherpad open, it was too much. I think that next time, we’ll make sure to have a second screen with the etherpad on it, so that people can see that others are taking notes and they can reference it without having it on their screen if inconvenient. The helpers shouldn’t huddle together in one spot in the room. Scatter them around the room so that they spend their time interacting with the students, not each other. Audience Things The audience was very engaged, helping each other and answering questions. From some of the comments, though, I think we may have erred on the side of caution in the Open Refine lesson by pausing too long to let everyone catch up. Next time, I’m going to try to strike a better balance in the speed of the lesson and more actively encourage students to help each other (and encourage the practice of staying off of peripheral devices and suspension of Pokemon play during the class). Particular Things In the Open Refine session, I am going to try to create some exercises in order to break up the demo. I think that three hours of demo is hard for an audience to take in even if they’re following along in the tool, so perhaps creating a second, ‘test’ dataset that can be used for exercises will drive home the concepts while allowing some hands-on expermentation and thought processes/co-learner discussion about the tool’s context and use once outside the class. The librarians who made up the workshop participants struggled to find context for the Bash/Shell and Git tools in their work. Matt made the excellent observation that while librarians are great at using tools, they don’t really know how or have experience in how to use a computer. I think this lack of experience of using computers ‘as computers’, so to speak, makes it more difficult to understand how Bash and Shell can be used in their current tasks. Git, on the other hand, has the interesting problem of being a tool for collaboration, which usually takes two people, or maybe one person and their doppleganger. Learning the steps in setting up a repository took so much time that the application of the space was not able to be effectively examined. My thought was that if we taught it again, especially within the library, we could find people interested in the setup, and have Matt hold a pre-class to set up a repository for each department. Then, in the class proper, we could concentrate on the collaborative aspect of Git/Github and then let them all work with their department-specific repositories as departments in the class. This will emphasize the collaborative uses of the tool and perhaps uncover use cases for the various departments. Of course, this would only work with a workshop that was institution-centered. We’d rounded up a bunch of whiteboards for the classes to use, but we never really incorporated them. If, like us, you find yourself unable to get a second screen up for the etherpad, encourage the groups of students to use the whiteboards. They can be used to work out errors or roadblocks, write down commands, and record ideas which can then be transferred to the etherpad. Also, remind students that if they get an error message while working with a tool during an exercise or challenge, you can do a search for that error message and find solutions which they can then record on the etherpad or whiteboard. Giving Back to the Community Things After the workshop, all of us were inspired to improve current lessons, and create new ones. We sat down together the week after the workshop and Matt led us through the approved Software Carpentry method of adding materials to the Library Carpentry repository via Git. Some of the suggested new lessons are R for Librarians and an advanced Open Refine class concentrating on using Regex and GREL. We also want to work on the Git/Github lesson and the Open Refine lessons that currently exist. The Grand and Glorious Conclusion We had a great time teaching the workshop! There were no brawls, nor were we pelted with muffins or laptops, so the students seemed to find it useful, which was reinforced by the comments and sticky-note feedback we received. We got several inquiries about when we were going to hold another one, so ongoing Library Carpentry instruction is something that is definitely a need for UC San Diego. Note: The original Library Carpentry repository created by Dr James Baker is here. Reworked and updated lessons from the recent global sprint are here. They are the lessons prefixed with ‘library’. Read More ›

1 -16 August, 2016: Assessment Deputy Director, Policy Subcommittee, Code of Conduct, Workshop Resources, Bug BBQ, and Vacancies.
Martin Dreyer / 2016-08-15
##Highlights Dr. Kari L. Jordan has been appointed as Data Carpentry’s new Deputy Director of Assessment. Join the Policy Subcommittee and/or provide feedback on the Reporting Guide for handling potential Code of Conduct Violations. Data Carpentry has put together a terrific resource for workshop organisation. Read about our recent Bug BBQ that was held in the lead up to publishing our lessons. ##Vacancies NCSA at the University of Illinois are looking for applicants for the position of Training Coordinator. NumFOCUS is looking for a full-time Projects Director. ##Tweets @CISTIB is now hiring research software engineers. Find the Carpentries on Facebook. High Energy Physics software training for the 21st century inspired by the principles of Software Carpentry. You can now also order Software Carpentry apparel and accessories from Cafe Press. ##General Could we used the principles discussed in Michael Kölling and Fraser McKay’s Heuristic Evaluation for Novice Programming Systems to create an evaluation system for our lessons? How well do you understand open source licenses? A survey has been set up to investigate. Did you know that the skills you learn from Software Carpentry might be able to help you change careers. James Cook University’s first Library Carpentry workshop was recently run by two newly qualified instructors. The University of Toronto Libraries also recently hosted a Library Carpentry workshop. Seymour Papert - one of the inspirations for Software Carpentry - recently passed away. 14 workshops were run over the past 30 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops: August: Colorado State University, Michigan State University, Western Sydney University, University of Oklahoma, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Interacting Minds Centre & Cognition and Behavior Lab, Aarhus University, Johns Hopkins University, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Namibia, University of North Texas, Federal Reserve Board, University of Tasmania, University of Wisconsin, Madison. September: Griffith University, University of Chicago, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, University of Southern Queensland, James Cook University, Townsville, University Of British Columbia. October: Simon Fraser University, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, The River Club, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Würzburg. 2017: AMOS / MSNZ Conference. Read More ›

2016 Bug BBQ Summary
Tiffany Timbers / 2016-08-15
At the beginning of the summer, the Software Carpentry community joined forces hold their first ever Bug BBQ. The goal of this event was to squash as many bugs in our core lessons as possible before we published and shipped the new version (2016.06) of the lessons. In addition to the goal of getting a large amount of work done as quickly as possible, we also aimed to use this event to engage and connect with our world-wide community. In anticipation of the event, we worked with the lesson maintainers to identify and create specific milestones (issues and pull requests) that needed to be resolved before we could publish the new lesson versions. On the day of the event, our community worked hard to address these milestones, as well as to proofread and bugtest the lessons. The Software Carpentry community embraced the Bug BBQ event. We had 7 local sites spread across North America and Europe, as well as many many people participating remotely across the globe. On the day of the Bug BBQ alone, we observed a tremendous increase in the number of submitted, merged and rejected pull requests per day compared to the previous month. Analysis courtesy of Bill Mills. The new version (2016.06) of the lessons have now been published, and details about who contributed, and citations can be found here. We would like to thank all who contributed to the new versions of the lessons, including those who participated before, during, and after the Bug BBQ. Our materials are far from perfect, but we’re very proud of what our community has built. The Bug BBQ was organized by the Software Carpentry Mentoring Sub-Committee. The committee welcomes feedback and ideas for future Bug BBQs and other community events. To get in touch with us, please email us at mentoring@lists.software-carpentry.org. Read More ›

Training Coordinator Position at NCSA
Greg Wilson / 2016-08-10
The Computational Science and Engineering program and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign seek applicants for the position of Training Coordinator. This position will report jointly to the Director, CSE and the Assistant Director for Scientific Software and Applications at NCSA. The Training Coordinator will enable cutting-edge research involving the use and/or development of advanced digital software and hardware across all disciplines by delivering, coordinating, and administrating training programs for students and researchers at the University of Illinois and area institutions, including industry. The individual in this position will play a key role in the research life of the campus, identifying important computational and data science skills and technologies and demonstrating how they can be used to solve problems in computational science and engineering and other disciplines. For details, please see the full job posting. Read More ›

Resources for Running Workshops
Erin Becker / 2016-08-08
A successful workshop is the result of coordinated effort among many different types of participants, including instructors, helpers, hosts, learners and staff. Software and Data Carpentry offer two types of workshops: Self-Organised and Centrally-Organised. These workshop types differ in terms of instructor training requirements, fee structures, and participant responsibilities, with local hosts and instructors at Self-Organised workshops taking on administrative responsibilities normally handled by Carpentry staff. Instructors (both new and experienced) and workshop hosts often have questions about their roles in workshops logistics, especially with how their responsibilities differ between Self-Organised and Centrally-Organised workshops. To help clarify the roles played by the different participants, and the differences between self- and Centrally-Organised workshops, we’ve put together some resources to guide participants through the workshop organizational process. These resources are available on Data Carpentry’s “Host a Workshop” and “Self-Organised Workshops” pages and include: Checklists for: instructors hosts for Centrally-Organised workshops hosts/lead instructors for Self-Organised workshops and lead instructors for Centrally-Organised workshops Email templates for communicating with co-instructors, helpers, and learners An accessibility checklist A list of necessary equipment and A troubleshooting page We want these resources to be as useful as possible to our instructor, helper, and workshop host community. If you find that anything is unclear, incomplete, or would like to suggest an additional resource, please email ebecker@datacarpentry.org. Read More ›

Code of Conduct and Call for Volunteers for Policy Subcommittee
Erin Becker / 2016-08-08
The Carpentries are proud to share a common Code of Conduct (CoC), which outlines acceptable standards of behavior for our community members and those interacting with the Carpentries at in-person events and online spaces. Historically, however, we have not had an official process for reporting potential Code of Conduct violations or for adjudication and resolution of reported incidents. Thanks to input from our community, we recognize that defining these procedures is an important step in ensuring that any such issues are dealt with transparently in order to keep our community welcoming and safe for all. Members of the Carpentry Steering Committees and staff have been working on defining these policies, and have put together a Reporting Guide and Enforcement Manual for handling potential CoC violations. These documents are based on valuable insights gained from previous community discussions of this issue (especially here and here). While we have made every effort to represent the views voiced in these discussions, ultimately, the CoC impacts every member of our community. To ensure that these policies meet the community’s needs, we would like your input. The Carpentries are convening a joint Policy Subcommittee. Members of this group will be responsible for serving as advocates for the CoC, moderating Carpentry listservs, adjudicating reported CoC violations and developing and enforcing related policy as needed. If you are interested in serving the Carpentry community as a Policy Subcommittee member, please use this form to tell us about yourself, your involvement with the Carpentry community, and what valuable skills and perspectives you would bring to the Policy group. Applications will be open until Monday, August 15th at 5pm Pacific (Monday midnight UTC). Regardless of your interest in joining the Policy Subcommittee, we invite all of our community members to give us feedback on the CoC Reporting Guide and Enforcement Manual. These documents can be found here as a Google Doc. The finalized policy will take into account community comments, so please add your voice to the discussion! If, for any reason, you would be more comfortable communicating your comments privately, please feel free to email DC’s Associate Director Erin Becker (ebecker@datacarpentry.org) and I will ensure that your voice is represented in the discussion. The upcoming Lab Meeting will include a discussion of these issues. We encourage all community members to attend and share your thoughts. The Lab Meeting will be held Tuesday, August 16th at 1pm UTC and 10pm UTC. We greatly appreciate the diverse insights our community members have brought to this discussion so far and look forward to hearing more from you as we continue to engage on this important topic. Read More ›

Seymour Papert 1928-2016
Greg Wilson / 2016-08-02
Seymour Papert passed away on Sunday at the age of 88. I never had the privilege of meeting him, but Software Carpentry would probably never have existed if I hadn’t stumbled across his inspirational book Mindstorms. You can read more about his life and work here; when you’re done, please go and help someone learn something—I think he’d have liked that. Read More ›

NumFOCUS Project Director
Greg Wilson / 2016-08-02
NumFOCUS (the organization which shelters Software Carpentry, Data Carpentry, and several other open science projects) is seeking to hire a full-time Projects Director to develop and run a sustainability incubator program for NumFOCUS fiscally sponsored open source projects. This is the first program of its kind, with opportunity for enormous impact on the open source ecosystem. The learnings from this program will be public, meaning it has the potential to change how all open source projects are managed. For more information, please see the job posting. Read More ›

How Well Do Developers Understand Open Source Licenses?
Greg Wilson / 2016-08-02
You are invited to participate in a survey on software licensing designed to investigate how well software developers understand common open source software licenses. We are looking for software developers that have built or are currently building on open source software in their projects (and I am personally interested in hearing from people building open source software for research). The study is being conducted by Prof. Gail Murphy (murphy@cs.ubc.ca) and graduate student Daniel Almeida (daa@cs.ubc.ca); participating in the anonymous online survey will take approximately 30 minutes. If you are interested in participating, please go to: https://survey.ubc.ca/surveys/danielalmeida/software-licensing-survey/ If you have any questions, please contact us at daa@cs.ubc.ca. Read More ›

Heuristic Evaluation for Novice Programming Systems
Greg Wilson / 2016-08-02
I have recently been reading and enjoying a new paper by Michael Kölling and Fraser McKay titled “Heuristic Evaluation for Novice Programming Systems”. In it, the authors say: With the proliferation of competing systems [for novices], the problem [of evaluation ] has become more complicated. Not only should we ask the question whether such kinds of tools are helpful at all (which many instructors strongly believe them to be, even in the absence of hard evidence), but we need to decide which of a significant number of competing systems is “better” for a given task in a given context. Educators have to make choices, not only between using an educational IDE or not, but between a number of direct competitors. Studies evaluating the actual learning benefit of the use of a specific system are rare. This is not for lack of interest or realisation of the usefulness of such studies, but because they are difficult to conduct with a high degree of scientific reliability… Running two groups (experiment group and control group) in parallel is usually difficult to resource: the teacher almost doubles the workload and has to avoid bias. It also introduces an ethical problem: If we expect one variant to be superior, and the setting is an actual examined part of a student’s education, then we would knowingly disadvantage a group of students. However, if we run the two trials sequentially, it becomes very difficult to compensate for possible other factors influencing the outcome, such as difference in teachers or populations. They then propose 13 heuristic criteria by which programming systems presented to novices can be evaluated: Engagement: The system should engage and motivate the intended audience of learners. It should stimulate learners’ interest or sense of fun. Non-threatening: The system should not appear threatening in its appearance or behaviour. Users should feel safe in the knowledge that they can experiment without breaking the system, or losing data. Minimal language redundancy: The programming language should minimise redundancy in its language constructs and libraries. Learner-appropriate abstractions: The system should use abstractions that are at the appropriate level for the learner and task. Abstractions should be driven by pedagogy, not by the underlying machine. Consistency: The model, language and interface presentation should be consistent – internally, and with each other. Concepts used in the programming model should be represented in the system interface consistently. Visibility: The user should always be aware of system status and progress. It should be simple to navigate to parts of the system displaying other relevant data, such as other parts of a program under development. Secondary notations: The system should automatically provide secondary notations where this is helpful, and users should be allowed to add their own secondary notations where practical. Clarity: The presentation should maintain simplicity and clarity, avoiding visual distractions. This applies to the programming language and to other interface elements of the environment. Human-centric syntax: The program notation should use human-centric syntax. Syntactic elements should be easily readable, avoiding terminology obscure to the target audience. Edit-order freedom: The interface should allow the user freedom in the order they choose to work. Users should be able to leave tasks partially finished, and come back to them later. Minimal viscosity: The system should minimise viscosity in program entry and manipulation. Making common changes to program text should be as easy as possible. Error-avoidance: Preference should be given to preventing errors over reporting them. If the system can prevent, or work around an error, it should. Feedback: The system should provide timely and constructive feedback. The feedback should indicate the source of a problem and offer solutions. The full explanation of each criterion runs to half a page or more, and includes references to the research literature to clarify and justify it. As I read through these, a few things struck me: Most of the tools we teach in Software Carpentry score very poorly on these criteria. The Unix shell and Git, for example, are not engaging, are definitely threatening (in the sense that users quite reasonably fear the consequences of making a mistake), do not present level-appropriate abstractions or make system status clearly visible, (definitely) do not have human-centric syntax, and so on. (They do well, however, on edit-order freedom: both tools encourage tinkering and allow users to leave tasks partially finished and return to them later. On the other hand, Excel and OpenRefine score quite well: they’re engaging, there’s little redundancy, they present tabular data as tables (which programming languages could have started doing thirty years ago—but that’s a rant I’ll save for some other time), they make system status very visible, support edit-order freedom, and so on. Together, #1 and #2 make me think that there should be another couple of heuristics: authenticity (i.e., do practitioners use it in their daily work) and upper bound (i.e., how far can you go with the tool before you have to switch to something else). Git and the Unix shell score highly on both, as does OpenRefine, but Excel does less well. Tools like Scratch come up short on both counts: while it’s a wonderful way to teach programming to newcomers of all ages, most people quickly outgrow it. Having invented two more heuristics, though, I can’t help but wonder whether doing so is actually rationalization. I’ve said many times that if you can’t win, you should change the rules: it’s entirely possible that if (for example) Git had scored highly on Kölling and McKay’s heuristics, I wouldn’t have thought to suggest others. It’s interesting to compare RStudio and the Jupyter Notebook using these heuristics. In both cases, I think that when they do poorly it’s because they are containers for a purely-textual programming language: for example, neither does particularly well on the “human-centric syntax” heuristic, but that’s not their fault. I think RStudio does better than the Notebook overall, primarily because of its interactive debugger and continuous redisplay of the state of the workspace. One final thought: it would be really interesting to have a similar set of heuristics for evaluating lessons. Some criteria would transfer directly (e.g., engagement, being non-threatening), but others are thought-provoking: what’s are the equivalents of error avoidance and edit-order freedom for teaching materials? If anyone knows of a rubric like this, I’d be grateful for a pointer. See also this post from Mark Guzdial that identifies five principles for selecting a programming language for learners: Connect to what learners know Keep cognitive load low Be honest Be generative and productive Test, don’t trust Michael Kölling and Fraser McKay: “Heuristic Evaluation for Novice Programming Systems”. ACM Transactions on Computing Education, 16(3), June 2016, 10.1145/2872521. Read More ›

Data Carpentry's New Deputy Director of Assessment
Greg Wilson / 2016-08-02
Data Carpentry has just announced that Dr. Kari L. Jordan will be joining them as the Deputy Director of Assessment. Kari holds a PhD in STEM Education from Ohio State University, and has worked most recently at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, where her postdoctoral research focused on understanding factors that influence faculty adoption of evidence-based instructional practices. To learn more, please see the post on the Data Carpentry website or follow Kari as @drkariljordan on Twitter. Read More ›

Library Carpentry in Toronto
Greg Wilson / 2016-07-30
On July 28-29, a group of volunteers from the University of Toronto’s libraries ran a two-day workshop for thirty-five of their fellow librarians. People came from as far away as Sudbury, Ottawa, New York City, and even Oregon to spend two days learning about: regular expressions, XPath and XQuery, OpenRefine, programming in Python, and scraping data off the web. While there were inevitably some hiccups getting software installed on learners’ machines, everything ran pretty much on schedule, and the instructors got through most of the material they had planned to cover. What was particularly nice was the way the modules fit together: the Python lesson closed by showing people how to write programs using regular expressions, while the scraping lesson referred back to the XPath material. Kim Pham, Leanne Trimble, Nicholas Worby, Thomas Guignard, and a large roster of helpers did a great job organizing and delivering this event. The best part was the email that arrived an hour after it finished: Hey Kim (and the rest of the Software Carpentry Team), I just wanted to let you know that straight after the workshop, I went back to my office, scraped data off of a website and into OpenRefine and solved a problem that’s been plaguing me for a month. THANK YOU for such a great workshop, it’s already useful!! Read More ›

Library Carpentry workshop at James Cook University, Townsville
Jay van Schyndel / 2016-07-29
We held a two-day Library Carpentry workshop at James Cook University, Townsville on 14–15 July, 2016. The workshop was a first on several fronts - the first course run by Software Carpentry trainers Jay van Schyndel and Daniel Baird from the JCU eResearch Centre and the first Library Carpentry course run at JCU. Collin Storlie, the local QCIF eResearch Analyst, agreed to help out too. How was the workshop proposed? Clair Meade from the JCU Library contacted Jay van Schyndel (eResearch Centre) enquiring about Library Carpentry. After some discussion Clair quickly found 12 interested librarians. With encouragement from Belinda Weaver at QCIF, Jay and Clair organised the workshop. Given the-mid semester break, finding an empty room proved difficult, but luckily we found two empty rooms. With the rooms booked, dates sorted, it was time to create the workshop web page and start advertising. Very quickly we received 17 attendees. Excitement was building!! Day 1 of the workshop Jay van Schyndel, Collin Storlie and Clair Meade started early setting up the room. Jay and Collin quickly learnt that librarians are great at organising morning tea. The trolley came with tea, coffee, hot water urn, biscuits, cheeses, dried fruit. Great start to the day, thanks to Clair for organising the morning and afternoon tea. Very quickly the librarians arrived and started setting up their laptops. The morning started well with the jargon busting session being a good ice breaker. The section on Data Structures was covered quickly as librarians already understand the importance of well-organised and -structured data. This gave Jay more time to focus on Regular Expressions. Some feedback received on the session: “exercises were really useful in reinforcing the ideas we are learning :)” “Enjoyed the exercises it helped understand the different regexes. Struggling to connect the information we are learning and how I will be able to use it.” “Cheat sheet in the hand would be nice. Love the interesting websites and good exercises.” After lunch we started on Shell. Most people were using GitBash with a few people using Terminal in OS X. Some feedback received from this session: “awesome power of grep/pipe - shame some people had to leave because the ‘finale’ was great but people were also tired.” “very powerful!! So much to learn!” “playing with the program was great. Next time do a bit of a demo of what’s happening first, then get us to play along.” We did run over time to try to cover everything. It’s a fine line between covering the material but also ensuring the audience can keep up. Jay was very appreciative for the assistance provided by Collin and Clair during teaching day 1. Day 2, New Room This was actually much better as there were screens spread around the room and everyone sat at smaller tables. Daniel Baird presented the session on Git. Here is some of the feedback. “Git session: very useful + lots learnt. Blog session: not relevant for me, maybe too basic.” “Github: Good, able to follow, starting to make a bit of sense. Git: ditto, starting to make sense can see benefits.” “Good foundation of what it is and how it works. How can we use it in the library?” The last session was OpenRefine presented by Collin Storlie. The librarians quickly saw the usefulness of this tool. Here is some feedback received: “Great workshop!! Well explained and paced. Good to leave the window open so that we can see the steps taken. (and not open another window and tab to the other)” “Found this tool very interesting and keen to test out back in the office. Pace and delivery of the lesson was great and easy to follow.” “sessions structured well and very useful stuff included :) Open refine looks great!” In summary, Library Carpentry was well received at JCU. After reviewing the feedback, it is plain most people found the training beneficial in gaining new skills to assist in their daily tasks. We will happily run another course in the future. Jay and Daniel are now planning to run their first Software Carpentry course at JCU since qualifying as instructors. Collin will assist. A previous Software Carpentry R workshop was taught at JCU in 2015 by fly-in trainers Sam Hames and Paula Martinez from Brisbane. Read More ›

1 - 28 July, 2016: Lesson Publication, Instructor Training Open, Creating New Material, Revamped Lesson Template, and Instructor Testimonial.
Martin Dreyer / 2016-07-28
##Highlights Congradulations and thanks to everyone who contributed to Version 2016.06 of the Software Carpentry lessons which have just been published. You can now partner with Software and/or Data Carpentry to develop new lessons. Get in touch to discuss your ideas. Please take note of our new lesson template. ##Intstructor Training Apply now for online instructor training. Some frequently asked questions about the reopening of the Instructor training have been addressed. Why attend a Software & Data Carpentry instructor training workshop? About ten hours is all you will need to qualify as an instructor after the initial training event. ##General University of Otago held a three day workshop which allowed attendees to also have some “productive” hours afterwards. Robin Wilson suggested some changes one could show during teaching in order not to confuse and bombard students with too much information. Universtiy of Auckland held a succesfull two day Genomics R workshop despite some random challenges. Universtiy of Auckland also held a Python-based winter bootcamp and received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Full house attendance taught by newly qualified Australian instructors under the guidance of Belinda Weaver. Read about the suggested inclusion of real-world challenges. Three workshops took place in Brazil in Florianópolis,Campinas, and São Paulo. The feedback was postive, attendees learned a lot. Currently they are looking for sponsors to promote the First Brazilian Software Carpentry workshop for Women in Science and Engineering. 17 workshops were run over the past 30 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops: July: Colorado State University. August: RDA-CODATA Research Data Science Summer School, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Dept of Science, Information Technology & Innovation, Federal Reserve Board, University of Tasmania, Compute Ontario Summer School - University of Ottawa, Colorado State University, Cornell University, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Stony Brook University, Interacting Minds Centre & Cognition and Behavior Lab, Aarhus University, University of Edinburgh, University of Namibia, University of Rhode Island, Coastal Institute. September: European Molecular Biology Laboratory. October: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, The River Club, University of Colorado Boulder Read More ›

How Software Carpentry can help you switch careers
Marco Fahmi / 2016-07-27
You’ve heard how Software Carpentry is important not only to get your research done but also to make it better and thus more likely to be published. It might even get you a job in your favourite field of research. But, for those of us who do not like to do the same thing forever, Software Carpentry skills can help you switch to another career. But, first, let’s start from the beginning and look at what Software Carpentry is meant to do. Software Carpentry is primarily meant to teach you important analytical skills to think computationally: to break down research activities into simple steps, define how often to repeat certain tasks (and conditions to start and stop them) and how to deal with special cases. In addition, Software Carpentry introduces you to a suite of tools and languages that allow you to quickly and easily translate these activities into software code that you can run on your computer, run on the cloud, share with others, or even publish. However, none of this learning is specific to research and researchers. Anybody can benefit from a Software Carpentry course, except, perhaps a computer scientist … ;-) One can easily imagine educators using Software Carpentry to better analyse the performance of students in their schools. Journalists can use the skills to analyse data for investigative articles. Non-profit organisations can use them to crunch data on how well they serve their clients. In fact, a large number of fields and professionals are increasingly depending on empirical data in ways that are only now possible due to the increased ability to collect data electronically, the availability of volumes of open data through the Internet, and an increased emphasis on quantitative measurement of such things as performance and effectiveness. Some of these fields, such as the financial services industry, have long been leading in this domain for obvious reasons (Money!) For the rest, this is all still very new and those responsible for making quantitative evaluations often lack even rudimentary programming and coding skills. This is a great opportunity for anyone who does Software Carpentry to explore new ways to put their Software Carpentry skills to good use. Not only do they have the know-how to apply these skills to another industry, they also have the hands-on experience (from applying skills to their own research) to provide expert advice on what tools to use, how to use them and the pitfalls one needs to avoid. Are you a Software Carpentry instructor? Even better. Perhaps you could organise carpentry sessions for people in other industries. Just like in research, the point is not to turn learners in those industries into computer programmers (and the instructor is not meant to be a software guru). The purpose is to provide the necessary programming literacy to produce better and more reliable outcomes. Marco Fahmi is a Brisbane-based data scientist and former research project manager, with a strong interest in open data and data journalism. He tweets as dataronin. Read More ›

More on Instructor Training
Greg Wilson / 2016-07-26
Since we announced yesterday that we are re-opening applications for instructor training, several questions have come in by email and on Twitter. We’ve answered the general ones below, and will update this post as others arrive. Why are you running open-enrollment classes? Our primary goal is to increase our reach: many geographic regions and research disciplines are sparsely represented in our instructor pool, or not represented at all, and we are always conscious of the need to maintain and improve diversity. How does this relate to instructor training for partner organizations? Partner organizations are guaranteed a certain number of instructor training slots as part of their agreement with us, and those trainings are given priority over open-enrollment offerings. How many classes are being offered, and how many spaces are available? We are currently planning to run two classes, each for about 30 participants. Where will the training take place? These two classes will take place online, and will run over two full days. We will choose dates and times to accommodate as many people as possible. How are participants going to be selected? We will select participants based on previous involvement with Software and Data Carpentry, location, research discipline, previous teaching experience, ability to commit time to teaching and mentorship, and all of the other factors in the application form. When will selections be made? We will start notifying people in a few weeks (i.e., the second half of August). In what time zones will classes take place? We haven’t decided yet, but they will be aimed at different timezones so that we can accommodate the widest possible range of participants. Will you offer more open-enrollment classes in future? Yes. Wil people have to re-apply to take part? No: we will keep all applications, and contact people as spots become available to see if they’re still interested. Read More ›

Software Carpentry at Curtin
Matthias Liffers, Andrea Bedini / 2016-07-26
The first Software Carpentry workshop to be held at Curtin University (and the third so far in WA) started on Monday 18 July. We decided early to experiment with the timetable and spread the course over four half days. Monday was for the Unix Shell, Tuesday and Wednesday for Programming with Python and Thursday for Version Control with Git. We offered 40 places, and it was already fully booked with a couple of weeks to go. Most participants were from Curtin University, but there were also some attendees from CSIRO and other places. Matthias, Andrea, Philipp Bayer and Andrew Rohl took turns to instruct with a large group of friendly and enthusiastic helpers (thank you David, Janice, Kevin, Rebecca, Rob, Stef & Vicky). More thanks go to Shiv and Rebecca, who staffed the software installation help-desk on the Friday before. We find the software installation helpdesk to be an important part of a Software Carpentry workshop to help people with any problems. However, we found that only a few people take the opportunity to come along to a helpdesk organised before the main workshop. In light of some of the problems we had – on the first day we found out nano was not working on some Windows installations, and on the second day, we had some Python installation problems – we will move the helpdesk from a pre-workshop timeslot and make it part of the first day instead. The next Software Carpentry workshop held at Curtin will have an ‘installation party’ to kick off the workshop, helping us to figure out problems early on and ensuring the smooth running of the following lessons. Despite some minor hiccups with sticky notes that didn’t want to stick and some misbehaving software, everything went smoothly. We look forward to seeing some SWC graduates at CU Hacky Hour next week! The workshop was a collaboration between the Curtin Institute for Computation and the Curtin University Library. It couldn’t have taken place without volunteers from Curtin University and the University of Western Australia. Read More ›

Reopening Instructor Training
Greg Wilson / 2016-07-25
For the last ten months, the Software Carpentry Foundation has worked toward three goals for its instructor training program: Make the content more relevant. Increase the number of people able to deliver instructor training. Find a format that meets everyone’s needs in a sustainable way. We have made a lot of progress on all three, and are therefore now able to offer instructor training once again to people who aren’t affiliated with our partner organizations, but would like to teach Software Carpentry, Data Carpentry, or both (as the course is shared by both organizations). If you wish to apply to take part in one of the two open-enrollment classes we will offer this fall, please fill in the form at: https://amy.carpentries.org/workshops/request_training/ to tell us about yourself, what excites you about teaching, and how Software and Data Carpentry can help in your community. We will notify applicants as spaces become available. If you have any questions, please mail training@software-carpentry.org. If you would like to accelerate the process, check out our Partnership program. Organizational partners make ongoing commitments to supporting our organization and are prioritized for instructor training. If you need help making the case at your organization, feel free to contact us at partnerships@software-carpentry.org: we’d be happy to help. Please note that as a condition of taking this training, you must: abide by our code of conduct, which can be found at http://software-carpentry.org/conduct/ and http://datacarpentry.org/code-of-conduct/, agree to teach at a Software Carpentry or Data Carpentry workshop within 12 months of the course, and complete three short tasks after the course in order to complete certification. The tasks take a total of approximately 8-10 hours, and are described at https://carpentries.github.io/instructor-training/checkout/. For more information on Software and Data Carpentry instructor training, please see the course material at: https://carpentries.github.io/instructor-training Please also see this additional post, which answers some frequently-asked questions about this training. Read More ›

Showing Changes When Teaching
Robin Wilson / 2016-07-25
A key - but challenging - part of learning to program is moving from writing technically-correct code “that works” to writing high-quality code that is sensibly decomposed into functions, generically-applicable and generally “good”. Indeed, you could say that this is exactly what Software Carpentry is about - taking you from someone bodging together a few bits of wood in the shed, to a skilled carpenter. As well as being challenging to learn, this is also challenging to teach: how should you show the progression from “working” to “good” code in a teaching context? I’ve been struggling with this recently as part of some small-group programming teaching I’ve been doing. Simply showing the “before” and “after” ends up bombarding the students with too many changes at once: they can’t see how you get from one to the other, so I want some way to show the development of code over time as things are gradually done to it (for example, moving this code into a separate function, adding an extra argument to that function to make it more generic, renaming these variables and so on). Obviously when teaching face-to-face I can go through this interactively with the students - but some changes to real-world code are too large to do live - and students often seem to find these sorts of discussions a bit overwhelming, and want to refer back to the changes and reasoning later (or they may want to look at other examples I’ve given them). Therefore, I want some way to annotate these changes to give the explanation (to show why we’re moving that bit of code into a separate function, but not some other bit of code), but to still show them in context. Exactly what code should be used for these examples is another discussion: I’ve used real-world code from other projects, code I’ve written specifically for demonstration, code I’ve written myself in the past and sometimes code that the students themselves have written. So far, I’ve tried the following approaches for showing these changes with annotation: Making all of the changes to the code and providing a separate document with an ordered list of what I’ve changed and why. (Simple and low-tech, but often difficult for the students to visualise each change) The same as above but committing between each entry in the list. (Allows them to step through git commits if they want, and to get back to how the code was after each individual change - but many of the students struggle to do this effectively in git, and it adds a huge technological barrier…particularly with Git’s ‘interesting’ user-interface) The same as above, but using Github’s line comments feature to put comments at specific locations in the code. (Allows annotations at specific locations in the code, but rather clunky to step through the full diff view of commits in order using Github’s UI) I suspect any solution will involve some sort of version control system used in some way (although I’m not sure that standard diffs are quite the best way to represent changes for this particular use-case), but possibly with a different interface on it. Is this a problem anyone else has faced in their teaching? Can you suggest any tools or approaches that might make this easier - for both the teacher and students? Read More ›

Genomics R Software Carpentry workshop at the University of Auckland, New Zealand
Dan Jones, Vicky Fan / 2016-07-25
A two day Software Carpentry workshop with R was held at the University of Auckland Winter Bootcamp on 11-12 July. After a brief battle with the projector in the room, Day 1 consisted of an eventful morning session on Unix Shell, the spontaneous explosion of a glass door, followed by an introduction to programing with R. Dan Jones on Unix Shell. Dan’s talk on Unix Shell shatters the automatic door in the corridor. Day 2 consisted of the Git session, which was extremely relevant to our later bioinformatics-specific workshops, since these are also Git repositories. After the Git session, we had an open Q&A session where all the attendees could ask questions about any of the topics that we covered. The days 1 & 2 made for a great build up to the bioinformatics sessions that were run later in the week. As most bioinformatics-related software are optimised to run in the command line, the Software Carpentry sessions enabled researchers to build confidence with using a Unix terminal and R. The Genome Assembly, Annotation and Visualisation started with Dan Jones’ declaration, "I'm expecting everything go horribly wrong at setup" while setting up Virtual Box on the attendees laptops. Thankfully Dan’s prediction was completely incorrect. The workshop consisted of a virtualbox OVA file with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, test data, and preinstalled bioinformatics programs. Pro tip: Some intel chips on some computers will completely block all virtualisation in the BIOS! Once the participants had their shiny new virtual machine set up, we went through the process of assembling and annotating a new Eukaryotic genome from scratch. We made all the workshop materials available on GitHub. The associated virtual machine is available on request. Day 3 was a workshop on Transcriptomics, again using the virtual machine we have constructed. As before, this was a workshop delivered as a Git repository, using the Git wiki as the workshop material. It’s based (and forked from) the excellent workshop produced by the Griffith Lab, but was modified to allow us to make it a 1-day workshop, and to add handling of ERCC spike-in controls and to simplify some of the code. Again, the materials are on GitHub. Our excellent Metabarcoding workshop was run on day 5, with the objective being to take raw sequence data from the machine and produce from that a table of OTUs, with associated taxonomy. This workshop used a virtual machine and a set of premade scripts to work through the different steps required to take raw sequence data and transform it into a useable form for downstream analysis. We used QIIME and vsearch, which are two different sets of software for metabarcoding analysis, to do this. A big thanks to all the presenters and helpers who made this series of workshops run so smoothly: Dan Jones, Luke Boyle, Vicky Fan, Alex Stuckey and Nooriyah Lohani. Note: transcriptomics tutorial heavily modified from: Malachi Griffith*, Jason R. Walker, Nicholas C. Spies, Benjamin J. Ainscough, Obi L. Griffith*. 2015. Informatics for RNA-seq: A web resource for analysis on the cloud. 11(8):e1004393. *To whom correspondence should be addressed: E-mail: mgriffit[AT]genome.wustl.edu, ogriffit[AT]genome.wustl.edu Read More ›

A Tale of Two Workshops
Belinda Weaver / 2016-07-22
Brisbane and Toowoomba are 125 km apart in Queensland. Software Carpentry workshops were held in both cities a week apart (11-12 July and 18-19 July). I taught at both. The Brisbane R workshop was held at The University of Queensland. This was a tie-in workshop for the annual UQ Winter School in Mathematical and Computational Biology. Attendees are generally very keen to learn as they want to emulate the amazing computational work they have seen demonstrated during the week by the stellar speaker line-up at the Winter School. We had no trouble filling a workshop with 40 places, and no-one left the workshop. It was one of the best workshops I have organised - the buzz in the room was palpable and the feedback was overwhemingly positive. It was also our first workshop where women attendees outnumbered men. There were four female instructors as well. We were very lucky with our helpers - we had some R experts there, and Othmar Korn from Stemformatics even wrote a script in response to a problem one of the attendees posted in the etherpad. We will probably do that again - call for specific problems to be posted as attendees always want ‘real life’ solutions to consolidate what they have learned. The University of Southern Queensland hosted the Toowoomba Python workshop - their first ever Software Carpentry workshop. They have already requested a subsequent workshop on R. Again, the feedback was very positive. Newly minted instructor Francis Gacenga taught part of Git for the first time, while Leah Roberts taught Python for the first time, having taught her first session of Git at the Brisbane workshop a week before. Apart from Leah, the instructors for the Brisbane workshop were a mixture of experienced trainers - Areej Al-Sheikh, Paula Martinez, and me, with one newbie, Joshua Thia, who certified as an instructor this week, having trained in the same January cohort as Leah and Francis under the expert eye of Aleksandra Pawlik. At both workshops, we used a mixture of cloud - the DIT4C setup - and local laptops which caused a bit of confusion, especially in downloading the data to the right place for the shell and Python exercises in Toowoomba. The DIT4C cloud option does simplify matters for people who have struggled to get the software installed, or who find they can’t cut and paste easily from their Windows command line. But it is always difficult to cater for the different systems, so next time, we will print out the different data set up instructions for Mac, Windows and cloud and have those on tap. (Linux is never a problem.) Our other gotcha was the eduroam wireless we use for workshops. We had quite a few connection issues in Toowoomba, and my own wireless connection dropped out just as I tried to do a git push at the Brisbane workshop. The only way I could reconnect was to reboot the machine, which delayed things at a crucial point. I was wiser in Toowoomba, rebooting my laptop just before I had to teach the second part of Git. Git push still took three goes as the repository I was pushing to had not yet granted the necessary permissions. But it all worked out in the end, and people said they enjoyed the session. To help people keep up, we had the lesson open on one of the projector screens in the room, while the instructor live-coded on another. This really helped people stay on track and not get lost. We could not do this in Brisbane as we had only one screen to work with, but where there are multiple screens available, this can work really well. Toowoomba was the fifth city in Queensland where Software Carpentry has been taught since we ran our first-ever workshop here in 2014. We hope to clock up a sixth town with a workshop at the University of the Sunshine Coast later this year. Read More ›

Software Carpentry workshop at the University of Auckland - Winter bootcamp, New Zealand
Juliana Osorio-Jaramillo, Teererai Marange, Chen Wang, Kaitlin Logie / 2016-07-20
A two day Software Carpentry Workshop wiht Python was held at the University of Auckland 11-12th July as part of Winter Bootcamp. For myself,it was the first time helping with Software Carpentry training. It was a great experience to assist as a collaborator, helping others resolving problems with software installation and hands-on exercises, but also learning from all the unexpected situations that could happen with different people around the room, with different laptops, configurations, and different sets of skills. We happily managed to start training at 9:00 on 11th of July. The first topic covered was Unix Shell, presented by Sina Masoud-Ansari. We warmed up with some useful exercises for real life research or work. In the afternoon the Python session appeared to show its magic to assistants with Prashant Gupta as the presenter. On 12th July we start the day with the presentation of Cameron McLean on Git or “the lifesaver” as Cam himself defined it ;). During the afternoon participants were consulted about which topic they desire to go deeper. Python was the winner of the survey, and as a consequence we enjoyed another great afternoon in its company. Additional to SWC sessions, on Wednesday 13th of July a session on Research Data Management was held by Cam, with a different audience, and a more theoretical approach. In general the participants had some experience with the topic, which made for an engaged group, generating some discussions and more knowledge to share among all. An invitation to hacky-hour on Thursdays was extended to the participants of all the workshops and happily it was a totally success! To finish, I should say that was a very gratifying experience be part of this event, helping, empowering, learning and motivating others to be part of this exciting world of software development in research environments where world transformation could start! Some remarkable facts: Software Carpentry training was held in the context of the Winter Bootcamp at the University of Auckland. 75% of participants didn’t have any experience with programming or just basic skills, however they managed to go smoothly in all sessions. Approximately 40 assistants during three days. Some assistants were so excited learning new skills that they decided to start new online courses using websites as codeacademy and coursera. On Thursday 14th after the workshops, hacky-hour was packed, we needed to join three more tables than as usual to bring some space to all the new participants. Helpers around the room (we were 4 and sometimes 5) were essential to maintain the pace of the sessions. All the problems with not working exercises and software were addressed by ourselves allowing the presenter to focus in the topic and manage better the time. The learners were very active, asking questions and excited with the new knowledge seen in action :) We are thinking to include next time, an exercise that could cover all the topics solving a real life problem and finish the workshops with an example that is useful for later consultation of the participants. The last but not the least...we receive some great feedback from participants which inspires us to keep improving and running future sessions. Here is one of them: "...I found it extremely stimulating and very helpful as an introduction to effective methods and resources for coding in python. Have to say that I was impressed by the skill, humour, good nature and patience of all the eResearch team..." We hope to start soon on more exciting, empowering activities and workshops. :) Read More ›

Publishing Our Lessons, Version 2016.06
Greg Wilson / 2016-07-19
We are very pleased to announce the publication of Version 2016.06 of the Software Carpentry lessons. Thanks to a lot of hard work by their maintainers and Rémi Emonet (who has acted as release manager), we have: removed the need to build and commit HTML (everything except our R lessons is now pure Markdown); updated the appearance of the templates (including a top menu, a nicer color scheme, and previous/next links); and merged over 3100 pull requests from over 200 people. Our materials are far from perfect, but we're very proud of what our community has built. Please see the releases page for links to the archived release, and the main lessons page for links to the updated lessons. Publication Records Daisie Huang and Ivan Gonzalez (eds): "Software Carpentry: Version Control with Git." Version 2016.06, June 2016, https://github.com/swcarpentry/git-novice/tree/2016.06, 10.5281/zenodo.57467. Doug Latornell (ed): "Software Carpentry: Version Control with Mercurial." Version 2016.06, June 2016, https://github.com/swcarpentry/hg-novice/tree/2016.06, 10.5281/zenodo.57469. Christina Koch and Greg Wilson (eds): "Software Carpentry: Instructor Training." Version 2016.06, May 2016, https://github.com/swcarpentry/instructor-training/tree/2016.06, 10.5281/zenodo.57571. Greg Wilson (ed.): "Software Carpentry: Lesson Example." Version 2016.06, June 2016, https://github.com/swcarpentry/lesson-example/tree/2016.06, 10.5281/zenodo.58153. Mike Jackson (ed.): "Software Carpentry: Automation and Make." Version 2016.06, June 2016, https://github.com/swcarpentry/make-novice/tree/2016.06, 10.5281/zenodo.57473. Ashwin Srinath and Isabell Kiral-Kornek (eds): "Software Carpentry: Programming with MATLAB." Version 2016.06, June 2016, https://github.com/swcarpentry/matlab-novice-inflammation/tree/2016.06, 10.5281/zenodo.57573. Azalee Bostroem, Trevor Bekolay, and Valentina Staneva (eds): "Software Carpentry: Programming with Python." Version 2016.06, June 2016, https://github.com/swcarpentry/python-novice-inflammation/tree/2016.06, 10.5281/zenodo.57492. Thomas Wright and Naupaka Zimmerman (eds): "Software Carpentry: R for Reproducible Scientific Analysis." Version 2016.06, June 2016, https://github.com/swcarpentry/r-novice-gapminder/tree/2016.06, 10.5281/zenodo.57520. John Blischak, Daniel Chen, Harriet Dashnow, and Denis Haine (eds): "Software Carpentry: Programming with R." Version 2016.06, June 2016, https://github.com/swcarpentry/r-novice-inflammation/tree/2016.06, 10.5281/zenodo.57541. Gabriel Devenyi, Christina Koch, and Ashwin Srinath (eds): "Software Carpentry: The Unix Shell." Version 2016.06, June 2016, https://github.com/swcarpentry/shell-novice/tree/2016.06, 10.5281/zenodo.57544. Abigail Cabunoc and Sheldon McKay (eds): "Software Carpentry: Using Databases and SQL." Version 2016.06, June 2016, https://github.com/swcarpentry/sql-novice-survey/tree/2016.06, 10.5281/zenodo.57551. Greg Wilson (ed): "Software Carpentry: Workshop Template." Version 2016.06, June 2016, https://github.com/swcarpentry/workshop-template/tree/2016.06, 10.5281/zenodo.58156. Contributors Hakim Achterberg James Adams Joshua Adelman Aron Ahmadia Matthew Aiello-Lammens Joshua Ainsley Inigo Aldazabal Mensa Phillip Alderman Harriet Alexander James Allen Areej Alsheikh-Hussain Paula Andrea Alison Appling Jeffrey Arnold Sean Aubin Pete Bachant Sung Bae Daniel Baird Alex Bajcz Piotr Banaszkiewicz Pauline Barmby Diego Barneche Ewan Barr Greg Bass Radovan Bast Berenice Batut Rob Beagrie Erin Becker David Beitey Trevor Bekolay Evgenij Belikov Jason Bell Jared Berghold Mik Black Kai Blin John Blischak Simon Boardman Maxime Boissonneault Jessica Bonnie Madeleine Bonsma Jon Borrelli Azalee Bostroem Olga Botvinnik Andy Boughton Daina Bouquin Amy Boyle Ry4an Brase Rudi Brauning Erik Bray Matthew Brett Karl Broman Amy Brown Kyler Brown C. Titus Brown Eric Bruger Dana Brunson Orion Buske Abigail Cabunoc Mayes Gerard Capes Greg Caporaso Scott Chamberlain Jane Charlesworth Billy Charlton John Chase Kyriakos Chatzidimitriou Daniel Chen Jin Choi Garret Christensen Kathy Chung Richard Clare Liam Clark Sarah Clayton Peter Cock Ruth Collings Matthew Collins John D. Corless Marianne Corvellec Thomas Coudrat Steve Crouch Mike Croucher Remi Daigle Ryan Dale Harriet Dashnow Matt Davis Neal Davis Andrew Davison Harrison Dekker Raffaella Demichelis James A. Desjardins Gabriel A. Devenyi Catherine Devlin Matt Dickenson Deborah Digges Emily Dolson David Dotson Alastair Droop Laurent Duchesne Jonah Duckles Susan Duncan Stevan Earl Dirk Eddelbuettel Rémi Emonet K. Arthur Endsley Loïc Estève David Eyers Sean Farley Emmanouil Farsarakis Bennet Fauber Nicolas Fauchereau Noel Faux Filipe Fernandes Hugues Fontenelle Marianna Foos Talitha Ford Félix-Antoine Fortin Anne Fouilloux Auriel Fournier David Fredman Konrad Förstner Francis Gacenga Javier García-Algarra Stuart Geiger Noushin Ghaffari Heather Gibling Matthew Gidden Ivan Gonzalez Jan Gosmann John Gosset Alistair Grant Jeremy Gray Norman Gray Bastian Greshake Pip Griffin Marisa Guarinello Thomas Guignard Jessica Guo Jordi Gutiérrez Hermoso Jonathan Guyer Melissa Guzman Jamie Hadwin Ryan Hagenson Varda F. Hagh Denis Haine Mary Haley Sam Hames Chris Hamm Jessica B. Hamrick Nicholas Hannah Michael Hansen David J. Harris Rayna Harris Emelie Harstad Ian Hawke Fabian Held Donna Henderson Felix Henninger Martin Heroux Kate Hertweck James Hiebert Konrad Hinsen Johan Hjelm Xavier Ho Amy Hodge Toby Hodges Jeff Hollister Derek Howard Adina Howe Daisie Huang Fatma Imamoglu Liz Ing-Simmons Luiz Irber Damien Irving Yuandra Ismiraldi Michael Jackson Mike Jackson Christian Jacobs Elsie Jacobson Nick James Seb James Dorota Jarecka Michael Jennings Ben Jolly Luke W. Johnston Dan Jones David Jones Nick Jones Blake Joyce Zbigniew Jędrzejewski-Szmek Alix Keener Kristopher Keipert Tom Kelly David Ketcheson Jan T. Kim W. Trevor King Isabell Kiral-Kornek Justin Kitzes Sigrid Klerke Thomas Kluyver Christina Koch Alexander Konovalov Bernhard Konrad Alex Kotliarskyi Andrew Kubiak Avishek Kumar Mateusz Kuzak Kathleen Labrie Sherry Lake Benjamin Laken Hilmar Lapp Doug Latornell Mark Laufersweiler David LeBauer Kate Lee Joona Lehtomäki Michael Levy Jean-Christophe Leyder Peter Li Matthias Liffers Philip Lijnzaad Johnny Lin Gang Liu Tom Liversidge Andrew Lonsdale Catrina Loucks Julia Stewart Lowndes Eric Ma Keith Ma Andrew MacDonald Joshua Madin Mark Mandel Alexandre Manhaes Savio Camille Marini Carlos Martinez Kunal Marwaha Ben Marwick Sergey Mashchenko Fernando Mayer Dan Mazur Sue McClatchy Sheldon McKay Emily Jane McTavish Lauren Michael François Michonneau James Mickley Ryan Middleson Jackie Milhans Eric Milliman Bill Mills Amanda Miotto Nora Mitchell Jason K. Moore Kim Moir Tim Moore John R. Moreau Joaquin Moris Elise Morrison Sarah Mount Andreas Mueller Zakariyya Mughal VP Nagraj Joshua Nahum Hani Nakhoul Narayanan Fran Navarro Lex Nederbragt Ryan Neufeld Daiva Nielsen Matthias Nilsson Juan Nunez-Iglesias Adam Obeng Brenna O'Brien Aaron O'Leary Jeffrey Oliver Randy Olson Catherine Olsson Adam Orr Jeramia Ory Natalia Osiecka Nina Overgard Therkildsen Braden Owsley Kirill Palamartchouk Elizabeth Patitsas Aleksandra Pawlik Chris Pawsey John Pearson Frank Pennekamp Sam Penrose Fernando Perez Adam Perry Stefan Pfenninger Raissa Philibert Jon Pipitone Adrianna Pińska Timothée Poisot Pawel Pomorski Hossein Pourreza Timothy Povall Paul Preney Leighton Pritchard Andrey Prokopenko Diego Rabatone Oliveira Louis Ranjard Florian Rathgeber Joey Reid Timothy Rice Adam Richie-Halford Kristina Riemer Janet Riley David Rio Deiros Scott Ritchie Natalie Robinson Andrew Rohl Ariel Rokem Noam Ross Marjorie Roswell Halfdan Rydbeck Michael Sachs Mahdi Sadjadi Elliott Sales de Andrade Maneesha Sane Michael Sarahan Pat Schloss Sebastian Schmeier Hartmut Schmider Peter Schmiedeskamp Henry Senyondo Bertie Seyffert Genevieve Shattow Leigh Sheneman Jason Sherman Arron Shiffer Ardita Shkurti Beth Signal Raniere Silva Sarah Simpkin Gavin Simpson John Simpson Clare Sloggett Luc Small Arfon Smith Byron Smith Brendan Smithyman Nicola Soranzo Donald Speer Erik Spence Ashwin Srinath Karthik Srinivasan Joseph Stachelek Mark Stacy Daniel Standage Valentina Staneva Jim Stapleton Meg Staton Peter Steinbach Sarah Stevens Marcel Stimberg Brian Stucky Michael Sumner Sarah Supp Marc Sze Scott Talafuse Morgan Taschuk Cody Taylor Tracy Teal Bartosz Telenczuk Andy Teucher Florian Thoele Adam Thomas Ian Thomas Brian Thorne Tiffany Timbers Chris Tomlinson Giovanni Torres Danielle Traphagen Tim Tröndle Daniel Turek Stephen Turner Fiona Tweedie Drew Tyre Olav Vahtras Giulio Valentino Dalla Riva Roman Valls Guimera Thea Van Rossum Jay van Schyndel Edwin van der Helm Anelda van der Walt Ioan Vancea Steve Vandervalk Jill-Jênn Vie David Vollmer Philipp Von Bieberstein Jens von der Linden Andrew Walker Jordan Walker Alistair Walsh Josh Waterfall Ben Waugh Belinda Weaver Lukas Weber Derek Weitzel Daniel Wheeler Mark Wheelhouse Ethan White Tyson Whitehead Chandler Wilkerson Jason Williams Carol Willing Frank Willmore Greg Wilson Donny Winston Kara Woo Tom Wright Steven Wu Lynn Young Nick Young Lee Zamparo Qingpeng Zhang Naupaka Zimmerman Andrea Zonca Read More ›

Lesson Incubation
Greg Wilson / 2016-07-19
The Data Carpentry and Software Carpentry Steering Committees recently approved [a process for supporting the incubation of new lessons. The goal is to provide a clear path for creating new material and getting it into the hands of people who can teach it while taking into account the resources we have available and the need to maintain lessons as well as create them. If you would like to build something substantial for either of the Carpentries, we’d enjoy hearing from you. (Please also see the announcement on the Data Carpentry site.) Read More ›

Using RMarkdown with the new lesson template
François Michonneau / 2016-07-08
Our lesson template is getting a face-lift. Actually, it is a lot more than that: all the internal mechanics are also affected. What’s new with the template? The lesson maintainers have developed a new template that comes with features that have been repeatedly requested such as an easy way to navigate among episodes within a lesson: there are now “previous” and “next” arrows in each episode. This new template does not require having to use pandoc. Currently, the lessons are written in Markdown, and converted into HTML by our lesson maintainers using a wonderful piece of software called pandoc. Instead, the new template uses jekyll to take care of the conversion from Markdown into HTML. Lesson maintainers will still need to have jekyll installed to check that the website gets generated correctly, but the conversion from Markdown to HTML for our online lessons will be handled directly by jekyll on the GitHub servers. This means less work for our lesson maintainers and contributors, as they will only to change to the markdown files. It also means that we will not have to put the generated HTML files in the repository, which removes another common source of error and frustration. What does it mean for the lessons written in RMarkdown? For the lessons covering R, we still need to keep in the repository both the RMarkdown files and the Markdown files. We write our lessons in RMarkdown to ensure that all the code included in the lessons works correctly. Because of the organization of the files with the new template, a few details had to be adjusted but for the most part, writing lessons in RMarkdown with the new template should not be too different from the current template. Contributors to the lessons should edit the Rmd files, and the lesson maintainers will run make lesson-md to generate the corresponding Markdown files using knitr, before pushing these changes to the lesson repository. The Rmd files live in the ./_episodes_rmd folder, and their respective Markdown files live in ./_episodes. The Makefile takes care of calling knitr::knit() on each Rmd files in ./_episodes_rmd and writing the output in ./_episodes. It is possible to have Markdown files in ./_episodes that don’t have their counterparts in ./_episodes_rmd as long as their names are different. The required preamble Each episode needs to start with a chunk that includes: source("../bin/chunk-options.R") knitr_fig_path("01-") The first line ensures that all the knitr options required to make the output compatible with the template are set correctly. The second line adds the episode number in front of each figure file. Here I used 01- but it should be adjusted to the correct episode number. We can’t use the knitr function opts_chunk$set(fig.path="01-") here as it would place the figures in a folder that wouldn’t make them accessible to the template by overwriting the global definition of this variable. As currently configured, all figures generated by code included in the episodes will be prefixed with rmd-, such that figures generated by the first episodes will all start with rmd-01-, making it easy to identify the origin of each figure in the ./fig folder. Data files If the code in one of your episodes relies on data files (or other files), they will need to be placed in a sub-folder (e.g., ./_episodes_rmd/data). This allows contributors to work interactively with each episode, and the code included in the episode looks like how we ask learners to get setup. The new template in the wild If you want to see examples of the new template in action, you can check out: the rendered lesson-example episode about using RMarkdown and its source the r-novice-gapminder and its source that I converted to the new template Read More ›

Why attend a Software & Data Carpentry instructor training workshop?
Carrie Andrew / 2016-07-06
Note: the following post was written by Carrie Andrew, University of Oslo, after a request to write a testimonial of her participation in a Software/Data Carpentry instructor training workshop. The SWC/DC initiative is a cutting-edge program that promotes computer and data skills to those who need the greatest help, but are often the most put-out to learn: beginners. It is taught by an ever-increasing, diverse assemblage of people across private and public, academic and non-academic, research institutions. The common denominator is that all have an interest and motivation to promote computer and data skills within STEM organizations. Even more interesting: The program is designed to be self-destructing. Once educational and research organizations are globally saturated with keen, well-trained individuals who can stand-in as the SWC/DC person(s) for their institutions, the initiative promises to end. When the need is met, it self-destructs, thus promoting change from the bottom-up, a grass-roots initiative for our futures! SWC/DC are built on a volunteer network. This promotes a welcoming and positive atmosphere throughout the entire hierarchy, from teachers to students. People understand the need for computer and data skills. Meaning: anyone with even a novice skill set can contribute in teaching activities (from blogs, course content and rubric, helping and even being instructors)! The only stipulation, beyond interest and motivation, is that all who contribute in teaching must take an instructor training course. Wait. A course?! For the teachers?! Yeah… uhm… ….[sigh; glance away; tapping foot]….I’m kind of busy…. No, no, the SWC/DC instructor training course is highly worthwhile to take! At first it could seem like a potential barrier to building a volunteer network, who by definition are already volunteering time from their jobs for the inititive, and maybe have already taught. It’s not a barrier, however. It’s a bridge. Or a helping hand. Or a community that helps, so many helping hands. And, to remind, they are all so nice and positive, because they are volunteers. Nice, positive, helpful hands. Isn’t that what education should be? As you could learn in the workshop, they think so. There are many reasons to attend an SWC/DC training course: The instructional training is quality, to the point that it would be worthwhile to attend irrespective of future contributions to SWC/DC (but we all hope you do contribute). It opens discussion on pedagogy, teaching-types, technological advances, equality and stereotypes, and provides a wealth of reference material to continue the thoughts beyond the two-day workshop limits. Second, it is also a training course to become an instructor for the SWC/DC initiative. Want to contribute? Then attend the workshop! Third, it builds a network of computer and data people, from across institutions, and with as open and positive an atmosphere as possible. The instructor training course begins with a crash-course in pedagogy before gently corralling students towards the diving board of instructional experiences, teaching, with video-recording exercises. These exercises are stressful for most, but are designed to help elucidate good points, point out blemishes, and recommend new methods — all before standing in front of the classroom. What better way to find out you pull your hair whenever you are not sure about an answer? Or that your voice raises two octaves? Do you know your ‘tell’? Just think, you could learn about this in a safe, open atmosphere (as with the instructor training course), or you can wait for your next job, which might be teaching to undergrads who really don’t want to take the class. And you have to design the course. A little guidance would be nice in that situation, and this instructor workshop extends beyond the SWC/DC goals by providing that. And if you already have teaching experience, bring that with, discuss and learn how to tackle those issues that always bothered you! People seem constantly leave the instructor workshops satisfied, open to discussion and better equipped to converse and investigate teaching further. The final reason to take it: it’s free. You could easily pay for the same education elsewhere, but with more competitive and less-nice people. Just make sure to help out those who helped you, and contribute to the initiative after! Read More ›

Instructor Training Completion Times
Greg Wilson / 2016-07-05
How long does it take to complete instructor training once the class itself is done? Two dozen people who recently qualified told us this: Reading Lesson(s)Writing ExerciseDiscussion SessionLesson DemoTotal Min1. Ave4. Median4. Max16. There are a few outliers (which may be due to different interpretations of what time should be assigned where), but overall these numbers are pretty consistent, and will be shared with future training course participants. Read More ›

Software Carpentry workshop at the University of Otago, New Zealand
Mik Black, Tom Kelly, Murray Cadzow / 2016-07-04
A three day Software Carpentry workshop was held at the University of Otago from June 29 - July 1. The instructors for the course were Mik Black, Nick Burns, Murray Cadzow, David Eyers, Tanya Flynn and Tom Kelly, with Anthony Shaw and Riku Takei providing additional assistance as helpers. This was Tanya’s and Nick’s first time teaching at a SWC workshop, so it was great to add them to our Otago carpentry team. For the three day format, we reduced the number of contact hours per day so that we ran from 9am to 2:30pm - this gave our attendees with family commitments the ability to experience the whole workshop, and also meant that attendees with other work demands were still able to clock up some “productive hours” after the workshop finished each day. To better fit the three day format we also adjusted the order of our material a little - rather than teaching Unix shell, R and Git as discrete modules, we split the Shell and Git lessons into two, and gave an intro to these topics on day 1, then spent all of day 2 on R, then returned to Shell and Git on day 3, finishing with R functions at the very end. The goal was to show how all of the topics could link together as part of a single workflow - we didn’t quite get it right (next time we’ll use a single example that runs through all the modules), but it has definitely given us “food for thought” for our next Software Carpentry offering. The feedback overall was very positive, and there was certainly an improvement over our previous workshops, in particular with regards to pace, delivery and dealing with technical issues. We had a surplus of helpers so Tom became more involved in the “sharing” part working on the training materials, including a git lesson on branches and several pull requests to the Software Carpentry lessons repositories. It would be interesting so see whether others have had issues with the material where we did. It was valuable to have extra helpers avaiable at times (with technical issues springing up across the room). Favourite moments of Software Carpentry: Sitting with a learner helping her to find the errors in her code, and hearing her exclaim (something like): “Yes, it works! Now I mustn’t delete that. Wait, I’ll back it up with Git!” We’ll call that a victory for SWC. :) Scanning the Eventbrite bar codes with my iPhone. So fun! Having one of our learners adhere so closely to the “bring your own computer” requirement that she arrived with her 27 inch iMac desktop each day (admittedly she only had to carry it downstairs to the venue, but it demonstrated wonderful enthusiasm!) Having great gender ratios: 13 of our 19 learners were female, which is exciting given the traditional male-skew that we see in many computational fields. At the end of our final session we promoted ResBaz 2017 (it’s never too early to start spreading the word!), and our Otago Mozilla Study Group - many of our learners expressed interest in joining our regular informal training sessions, so hopefully our local community will continue to grow. Read More ›

Three workshops in Brazil
Raniere Silva / 2016-07-01
In Brazil, like in many other countries that we are starting to run workshops, there are many open questions that we need to answer such as how do we advertize our workshops? do we charge a registration fee? If yes, how much do we charge? how do we create a local community after the workshop? how do we get new partners after create a local community? Thanks to the work of many instructors like Anelda van der Walt, Belinda Weaver, Bill Mills, Lex Nederbragt, Selene L. Fernandez-Valverde, and Tiffany Timbers we are getting some hypothesis to the questions above across the world. In terms of Brazil, the three workshops that we ran in May added more data to help answering the questions. Workshop in Florianópolis This was the second workshop that we run in Florianópolis with more than one year between each. Our 20 seats sold out in a few days (we didn’t charge anything) but only four students attended all the sessions making this the workshop in Brazil with the smallest number of attendees. The low number of attendees can be due our workshop running at the same time as others activities of SciPy Latin America 2016 but I believe that the main reason was the missing of a local champion to motivate people to attend the workshop (in 2014 we had Diego Barneche Rosado). Workshop in Campinas This was the second workshop that we run in Campinas. The first one was an remote workshop last year. We had 40 seats available but we sold less than 20. At this workshop we charged R$100.00 (that at the time was something around US$25.00) per seat. A friend complained that the ticket was expensive but the workshops aren’t free of costs and if the host isn’t covering the costs we need to charge the attendees. Not having a full room helped a lot when we needed to find another one since the reserved room wasn’t available due an strike promoted by the Student Union. Workshop in São Paulo This was our forth workshop in São Paulo in the last three years making the place in Brazil with most workshops so far. All this four workshops had the support of The FLOSS Competence Center and I hope they will continue to support us. The 18 seats for this workshop sold out in a few days and we had a full room on all the sessions. This probably happend because our history of workshop lots of positive feedbacks. At previous events we had a waiting list filled to double the capacity, this time we did not because of less advertisement and the workshop was scheduled during a holiday. Learners feedback The feedback that we received on all three workshops were similar. The learners loved the friendly and welcoming learning environment that we provided, acquired and improved skills but also commented that the workshop could be longer than two days and be offer more times over the year. Pedagogical exchange In all three workshops we had a amazing team of instructors and helpers. Felipe Bocca, Diego Rabatone Oliveira, Filipe Pires Alvarenga Fernandes, Francisco Palm, Haydee Svab, Kally Chung, Monique Oliveira, Yuri Teixeira mentioned to learn something during the workshop that will help them when teaching the next one. We are seeking financial sponsors to promote the First Brazilian Software Carpentry workshop for Women in Science and Engineering to be delivery by Kally Chung, Haydee Svab and Monique Chung. We will be grateful for introductions to possible sponsors. Answers Coming back to the questions at the begin of this post, some possible answers: how do we advertize our workshops? Direct email to people on previous waiting lists works (and they say ‘thanks’ when attending the workshop) and asking help of local champions to invite learners is 100% effective. Messages on social networks can get you more learners. Ask your local host to put some flyers since this is the best way to reach out. do we charge a registration fee? If yes, how much do we charge? This is a case by case scenario. Having a basket of biscuits and some coffee and tea outside the room right before the breaks facilitate new collaborations and local community building so if you don’t have a sponsor I suggested that you charge for the cathering. how do we create a local community after the workshop? I don’t have a answer for this one yet. how do we get new partners after create a local community? I also don’t have a answer for this one yet. And the lack of funding on the current year budget makes this more challenge. But keep in mind that the Software Carpentry Foundation can provide you with letter of support for grant opportunities. Acknowledge I’m grateful for the support provided by the Software Sustainability Institute, Centro de Informática e Automação do Estado de Santa Catarina S.A., Espaco de Apoio ao Ensino e Aprendizagem, and FLOSS Competence Center to the workshops. Read More ›

1 - 30 June, 2016: Efficacy and Usefulness, Minutes, Discussions, Onboarding Documents, Teaching Undergraduates, and Library Carpentry Material
Bianca Peterson / 2016-06-30
##Highlights Have you previously attended a Software Carpentry workshop? Get involved with the follow-up study on “The Efficacy and Usefulness of Software Carpentry Training” by completing a survey. Feedback on your experience will be greatly appreciated! Minutes of the Steering Committee Meeting is available - suggestions to modify the workflow of the minutes are welcome! ##Discussions Please add your comments to the topics in ongoing discussions. There is a discussion on the mailing list about “onboarding” documents for laboratories or small research groups. Also see Lab Carpentry. Mexican/Spanish speaking instructors are needed for a Software Carpentry workshop later in the year. Please let us know if you’re interested to teach. Read about approaches and experiences on teaching python to undergraduate geoscientists. ##Other Huge progress was made on updating Library Carpentry material during the Mozilla Science Lab Global Sprint. Kally Chung wrote about their recent workshop with Raniere Silva in Brazil. Another successful Software Carpentry workshop was hosted in Palmerston North (New Zealand), also including a session on HPC. Belinda Weaver recently ran a Library Carpentry at the University of Queensland using the new materials. Call for submissions for the 4th Workshop on Sustainable Software for Science: Practice and Experiences (WSSSPE4) are open. The third Software Carpentry workshop were run at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand in June. 41 workshops were run over the past 30 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops: June: University of Otago & NeSI, Federal Reserve Board July: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, University of Auckland and NeSI - Winter Bootcamp - SWC with Python, University of Auckland and NeSI - Winter Bootcamp - SWC with R, R workshop - The University of Queensland, SciPy 2016, University of Oxford, The Jackson Laboratory, University of Southern Queensland, University of Zurich, Curtin University, South Florida Water Management District, Philippines August: Colorado State University September: European Molecular Biology Laboratory October: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Read More ›

Software Carpentry workshop at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Richard Clare, Paul Gardner, Constantine Zakkaroff / 2016-06-30
A two day Software Carpentry course was hosted at the University of Canterbury (UC) the 22nd and 23rd of June. The instructors, all of whom are from UC and are certified Software Carpentry instructors, were Paul Gardner (School of Biological Sciences), Richard Clare (QuakeCoRE), and Constantine Zakkaroff (Accounting & Information Systems). They were aided by three helpers: Christopher Thomson, Viktor Polak and Michael Gauland. Organising the event was greatly assisted by Sung Bae of the New Zealand eScience Institute (NeSI). NeSI also sponsored the refreshments for the coffee breaks during the workshop. The three courses taught were the Unix shell (Gardner), Python (Clare) and version control with git (Zakkaroff). The fourth session was used as an open discussion session. We had a total of 30 attendees, which was somewhat disappointing given that 40 had signed up and the event was listed as ‘sold out’ for the week prior to the workshop. The feedback from those that did attend was very positive of both the lessons and the instructors. The room we used (Kirkwood KE04), which has two independent projectors and can seat 40, was ideal. This was the third workshop at the University of Canterbury which also hosted the very first Software Carpentry in New Zealand back in 2013. We are looking forward to training more researchers in NZ and growing the community in the whole country. Read More ›

Minutes of Steering Committee Meeting
Raniere Silva / 2016-06-23
The Steering Committee informs that the minutes of their last meeting held last week are now available on GitHub. As the Secretary, I’m sorry for the delay to release the minutes of the meetings due some experiments on the workflow to write the minutes. Now I’m happy with the workflow that we have in place that will assign one ID for all our motions making easy for us to refer them. I still want to make a few improvements on the workflow to make the minutes more machine redable. If you critics and suggestions related to the minutes please send those by email to me at raniere@rgaics.com. Read More ›

Workshop Satisfaction Survey
Belinda Weaver / 2016-06-22
Calling all Software Carpentry workshop attendees! I’d like 10 minutes of your time to complete a survey about the Software Carpentry workshop you attended. Why should you bother? The data will be useful for Software Carpentry in the future planning of workshops. While individual Software Carpentry workshops are assessed at the time of delivery, no long term follow-up study has been done on the efficacy of the training delivered, nor of any impact the training might have had on attendees’ work practices, further skills acquisition, or subsequent career paths. I am now proposing to do that follow-up for an MPhil project at The University of Queensland entitled “The Efficacy and Usefulness of Software Carpentry Training”. The survey is the first phase of a two-phase study. All Software Carpentry workshop attendees are invited to complete it. It should take no more than 10 minutes to answer. It will capture information about workshops as well as demographic information (confidentiality is assured, and people don’t have to identify themselves if they don’t want to). Space is provided for attendees to write at length (if they want to) about their experiences, both good and bad. The second phase will involve in-depth interviews with people prepared to talk further about their experiences of Software Carpentry training. If that is you, I would love to hear from you. You can contact me directly at thesiscarpentry AT gmail.com Thank you in advance ! About me I am a certified Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry instructor, based in Brisbane Australia. I was recently elected to the Software Carpentry Steering Committee, and have served on the Mentorship Committee. I am really hoping this research will provide useful insights into what Software Carpentry does well, and where it could improve. I tweet as cloudaus. Read More ›

Teaching Library Carpentry
Belinda Weaver / 2016-06-22
Teaching Library Carpentry I ran a two-day ‘Library Carpentry’ workshop for librarians at The University of Queensland on 13-14 June. The class covered jargon-busting and data structures writing and using regular expressions command line tools to find data in files version control OpenRefine for data cleanup Eighteen people from six organisations attended, out of a pool of 26 who intially expressed interest. (In the small lab I was using, I only had room for 18.) Because of my wish to spread these skills far and wide, people were only welcome to attend if they agreed to teach the material to others within 12 months – to teach some of it at least. Despite some degree of trepidation among attendees, pretty much everyone signed up for that. Though I am a certified Software Carpentry instructor, this was my first time teaching the full Library Carpentry curriculum, so I was learning it myself as I went along. The material was developed by Dr James Baker, Owen Stephens and Daniel van Strien. This material was updated by a team during the recent Mozilla Global Sprint - see blog post, so there are updated lesson repositories sitting on GitHub under data-lessons as well (which made preparing for the workshop tricky). Teaching someone else’s material is always a challenge, and I made many blunders, but this helped people relax about their own mistakes. In the end, my lack of familiarity did not prevent my teaching at least some of the material efectively, which is worth noting. A little knowledge can be useful! I did warn attendees that the material would be challenging. If you have never used the command line before, it can seem an unforgiving place. I likened it to learning to drive, where nothing is familiar or intuitive, and you have to remember to do complicated things in the right sequence. Some people loved that section and could see uses for both grep and sed, which I covered in detail. People also enjoyed the jargon busting and regular expressions challenges from the first session. The most popular session was definitely OpenRefine. This tool was the one most attendees said they would use after the workshop. Some of the suggested uses included: Tidying up EndNote libraries by identifying where data is missing Wrangling data for bibliometric benchmarking exercises Cleaning up and standardising free text fields from surveys Anonymising sensitive data Turning messy, unstructured data into categorised data Using regular expressions to locate specific words or concepts within messy data Combining course feedback from different courses The Git session was run only through the Web interface. People created a blog using JekyllNow, and also created files to for a repository we set up at the workshop. This gave them the opportunity to fork and branch repositories and do pull requests in a visual-friendly environment. I was very fortunate to have the assistance of Marco Fahmi at the workshop. He knew regex backwards and came up with lots of good ideas to encourage greater involvement and input by attendees, and to use the tools later. He also helped people who got stuck at different points, not least me! He dug me out of the many holes I got into because of my inexperience with the material. Would I do it differently next time? I would. I learned it is vitally important, up front, to establish how people will use the different tools post-workshop. While we did brainstorm ideas for this in the workshop, it would help to have more ready-made examples at the start. Certainly the ideas for OpenRefine will be incorporated into the updated lessons, as will other examples from the workshop. But my key message really is : Just do it! Even if you are not an expert, you can teach this material, or learn it with others as a group. The full curriculum is available, including notes, handouts, challenges, scripts, quizzes and slides. Skills like these will only become widespread if people take responibility for sharing them. Have a go. If you want to be part of developing and refining the material, or if you just want to be in touch with others in this area, join our chatroom. I hope I’ll see you in there. Read More ›

Ongoing Discussions
Greg Wilson / 2016-06-20
We've been using GitHub issues to manage discussions for the last eighteen months or so. It's working pretty well: when something on the main mailing list looks like it's going to run for a while, we push the conversation over to GitHub so that people who want to go into more detail can do so without flooding other people's mailboxes. I've being going through those discussion issues while tidying up our lessons for their next release, and found a few that are still relevant, but which never reached a resolution. If you have thoughts on any of these, please go ahead add your comments—if your ideas don't get folded into the lessons this time, they will next. Debug in notebook Managing data analysis pipelines Adding prompt with CSS Get rid of humandate How to motivate use of licenses Citing studies of open access Storing instructors' notes online Read More ›

Teaching Python to undergraduate geoscientists: A summary of our approaches and experiences over the years
Christian T. Jacobs, Gerard J. Gorman, Huw E. Rees, Lorraine E. Craig / 2016-06-18
In 2010, a new course commenced at Imperial College London that aimed to teach undergraduate geoscience students how to program in Python. Over the course of five years (2010 to 2014 inclusive) our teaching methodology evolved significantly in response to student feedback and examination performance. The course lecturers (Gerard Gorman and myself, Christian Jacobs) along with several of our Teaching Assistants also undertook Software Carpentry instructor training which offered a fantastic pedagogical insight into how to effectively teach novices how to program. As a result, many of our teaching techniques were influenced by this which helped to greatly improve our course. In this blog post we summarise what we changed throughout the five years and why, in the hope that this will benefit other instructors currently offering, or planning to offer, an undergraduate computer programming course. To give a bit of context, each class normally comprised about 80-90 geoscience undergraduates, most of whom had no prior knowledge of computing. All teaching took place in a computer lab during a 3-hour time slot each week, for a total of 8 weeks. Initially we decided to adopt a traditional ‘talk and chalk’ lecturing style in 2010, spending most of the 3 hours describing theoretical concepts with very little time for practical exercises. The formal, summative feedback from the students at the end of the course (rating both the lecturer and the content via an online form) indicated a high level of student satisfaction. This was most likely because the traditional lecturing style was what the students were used to. Surprisingly, the examination marks painted a very different picture; a low mean mark of 50.5% in the final exam indicated that the learning outcomes were poor, despite the positive feedback. We quickly realised that, since programming is a practical skill, just like learning to ride a bike or learning how to swim, more time must be allocated for practice. The main change in 2011 was therefore to introduce an additional 3-hour practical workshop. Significantly more positive comments were received from the students regarding the quality and quantity of support on offer, and the overall high score from the summative feedback was maintained. However, while the mean examination mark of 68.9% was a significant improvement over the previous year, the amount of extra time allocated was unsustainable for future years; this highlighted a common problem of trying to fit in more computing into an already full curriculum (a point that was also noted by Greg Wilson in his SciPy 2014 talk). Furthermore, the trending issue indicated by the students’ comments was that of the pace being too fast. In 2012 we moved away from traditional lecturing and instead introduced online YouTube videos to deliver the course content. This successfully addressed the aforementioned issue of pace by allowing students to work at their own speed and watch the videos again if necessary. Yet in the summative feedback at the end of the course we realised that the students did not feel supported by this unfamiliar method of content delivery. The students gave the content and lecturer a considerably lower score this year, and largely negative comments were received along the lines of ‘the lecturer is not lecturing us’. It also became clear from the mean mark of 60.3% that this approach offered no benefit to learning outcomes. After taking Software Carpentry instructor training we became aware of the flipped classroom approach, which we implemented in 2013. This is a type of blended learning in which a brief lecture is given to establish context, followed by a much longer practical session in which the students tackled exercises within IPython Notebooks. The learning outcomes were significantly improved, with examination marks (74.5% mean) being greatly skewed towards the positive end of the scale. Positive summative feedback was received with respect to both support and pace. On the other hand, the majority of the negative feedback was about lecturing style, which once again did not match student expectations. In light of the success of blended learning we continued to use this approach in 2014, but justified the approach to students and emphasised the benefits throughout. Students felt reassured, resulting in only positive comments regarding lecturing style. We also implemented several other changes: Rather than having one long practical session, we split up the workshop into ‘bitesize chunks’. This mixed short lectures (10-15 minutes) with multiple, in-class exercise sessions (30-40 minutes) so that students did not become exhausted. We introduced the use of ‘sticky notes’, a technique frequently used by Software Carpentry workshops. Students were given one red and one green sticky note at start of class. Each student posts the green note on top of their computer monitor when they complete a particular exercise, which acts as a visual indicator of progress. The student posts the red note if they require assistance; this alerts the lecturer and TAs, and allows the student to continue working without keeping their hand raised, thereby improving productivity. Both the green and red notes were also used to provide positive and negative feedback at the end of each workshop. Once again the exam marks were positively skewed in 2014, and most students did very well in meeting learning outcomes. Overall, we feel that we have converged on an effective teaching methodology involving blended learning and formative student feedback. We hope to conduct a more formal, quasi-experimental pedagogical study in the future using a planned method of data collection from the outset, unlike the present study which was more retrospective in nature. All of our teaching material is available on GitHub (https://github.com/ggorman/Introduction-to-programming-for-geoscientists) under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC-BY 3.0) licence. Feel free to adopt/tailor it to your needs! Further details, including additional student and course data, can be found in our paper that has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Geoscience Education: C. T. Jacobs, G. J. Gorman, H. E. Rees, L. E. Craig (In Press). Experiences with efficient methodologies for teaching computer programming to geoscientists. Journal of Geoscience Education. Pre-print: http://arxiv.org/abs/1505.05425 Read More ›

Software Carpentry and HPC class hits Palmerston North (New Zealand)
Ben Jolly, Hannes Calitz, Markus Mueller, Wolfgang Hayek / 2016-06-16
On 7th and 8th June 2016 we gave a Software Carpentry training consisting of four blocks. We started with bash (presented by Markus, Landcare Research Hamilton), Python (Ben, Landcare Research Palmerston North), went on to git (Hannes, Massey University) and finally had a session around using High Performance Computing (HPC) as it is offered by the NeSI, the New Zealand eScience Infrastructure (Wolfgang, NIWA Wellington and NeSI). This last session is not one of the official SWC modules, but was taylor-made and rounded up the training very well, as it used the skills acquired during the preceding three sessions. It included hands-on training, working remotely on the NeSI Pan cluster in Auckland; all attendees managed to log on and submit jobs to the SLURM scheduler successfully. This was a very successful workshop with almost 40 attendants, organised and presented by a mixed team of new and more experienced instructors. The participants were very responsive and there was a lot of learning happening for the attendees and for instructors. The feedback was mostly positive and the negative feedback was very constructive. An aspect mentioned by several participants was that the number of attendees was probably too large, possibly with respect to the venue size - something we have to consider in the future. The logistical support with refreshments, received from the Massey in the person of Colleen Blair, was behind the scenes, but timely and well prepared. So we had a hydrated group, and a lot of fun was had by all. The new friendships made will hopefully lead to more cooperation between colleagues. Hannes’ favourite critique was: “It is impossible to listen and type as well!” – Note to self :) Many attendees were very positive about the tools and approaches presented, seeing applications for them in their current work or study. We received very good feedback about the number of instructors and helpers and their attited towards teaching and helping participants; most smaller and larger problems that people had could be sorted out relatively quickly. A number also expressed interest in on-going engagement through the likes of ‘hacky-hour’ type weekly meetups. Read More ›

Workshop at Unicamp
Kally Chung / 2016-06-13
A Software Carpentry workshop took place at Unicamp (State University of Campinas, Brazil) on May 23rd and 24th. Raniere Costa was the host and lead instructor, while Felipe Bocca, Monique Oliveira, and I completed the instructor’s team. Day 1: Although we had issues with the first booked classroom due to the student’s strike against budget cuts in public university education, Renato Santos gave the Unix shell lesson without problems. To solve the complication with facilities, we found an available computational lab to continue the workshop with the help of professor Doctor Francisco de Assis Magalhães Gomes Neto, IMECC’s director. After lunch, Felipe Bocca taught some R and then Raniere Costa taught RMarkdown. Day 2: We had the pleasure of welcoming Jonah Duckles, executive director of the Software Carpentry Foundation. I gave the first lesson on Git, and after lunch Raniere Costa continued with the lesson. A final lesson on R—the last of the workshop—was given by Felipe Bocca. To finish, Jonah Duckles encouraged the students to continue the learning started in the workshop and also spoke about how to contribute and participate in the Software Carpentry community. Conclusion: Despite of the initial facility problem, we managed to settle in and continue the workshop without loss in quality. All of the instructors did their best to attend the student’s needs and expectations. The feedback received from them was positive and most of them were interested in the Data Carpentry workshops. Read More ›

Updating Library Carpentry
Belinda Weaver / 2016-06-06
A global team worked to update the Library Carpentry curriculum and lesson material at this year’s Mozilla Science Lab Global sprint. The work kicked off in Brisbane, where Clinton Roy, Natasha Simons and I worked with Carmi Cronje in Sydney to start the ball rolling. Matthias Liffers came online in Perth two hours later. At 5.30 pm our time, we handed over to teams in South Africa, the Netherlands, and the UK, led by Anelda van der Walt, Mateusz Kuzak, and James Baker respectively. James, with his colleagues Owen Stephens and Daniel van Strien, were the original developers of the Library Carpentry material. During the sprint, James developed a new regex quiz, while Owen helped update and migrate the OpenRefine material. Jez Cope volunteered as a maintainer for the git lesson. Canadian and US teams began work as the sun moved around the globe. These included Juliane Schneider from UCSD working on OpenRefine and Gail Clement from Caltech, working on Author Carpentry. Laurel Narizny and Robert Doiel also signed on from Caltech. Cam Macdonell seemed to be up all hours and was a key driver for getting the material migrated into gh-pages and the new lesson templates. The original four-module lesson (covering shell, regular expressions, git, and OpenRefine) has now become seven, with a new SQL module (based on the Data Carpentry lesson) being added, along with others for persistent identifiers and computational thinking. Draft learning objectives were created for most of the main lessons which are linked from here. Material for five modules was migrated to the new Data Carpentry lesson template. Library-based datasets were swapped in to make the lessons more relevant to librarians. During the sprint, all the Library Carpentry action was co-ordinated through a dedicated chat room and via daily evening Hangouts where the day’s work was reported, before being handed over to the incoming team, rather like a baton being passed in a relay race. We hope to continue the conversation through the chat room as we continue to develop the material. This was a really great experience, and I thank all the amazing people who dedicated their time to the project, and who have volunteered as maintainers into the future. There is still a lot of work to be done, but we made huge progress. I hope Anelda, Cam, James, Mateusz and some of the other participants will also chime in with their own stories and achievements. My take is only partial. Please also correct any errors I have made. Thanks again all - what a fantastic effort. Read More ›

9 - 31 May, 2016: The First Bimonthly Report, Instructor Data Analysis, R Instructor Training, Measuring the Right Stuff, RSE Conference, and a Bug Barbeque
Bianca Peterson, Anelda van der Walt / 2016-05-31
##Highlights The 2016 Steering Committee’s first bimonthly report provides an overview on happenings in the community in the past two months. The joint partnership agreement with Data Carpentry is now available, together with a written version of the instructor training model, a call for subcommittees and task forces, and an official space on Facebook. Make sure to read the Code of Conduct in support of our welcoming, friendly, and diverse community. ##Instructor training The results from the first analysis of instructor training data is now available. Also see the discussion on the discuss mailing list. If you have a suggestion for further analysis, please share your thoughts! Applications for R instructor training in Cambridge, UK, are now open. Beth Duckles have recently published two reports on Software Carpentry instructors’ experiences and views. In a more recent blog she’s asking whether we are measuring the things that we actually care about. ##Events Are you a Research Software Engineer? Apply to attend the First Conference of Research Sofware Engineers. Reminder: the bug BBQ is coming up on 13 June. ##Other The Brisbane Software Carpentry community has expanded over the past few years and invite all newcomers to upcoming events. For an interesting take on Software Carpentry Workshops, see Christopher Lortie’s Common Sense Review. Attendees can make or break a workshop. Read about Paula Andrea Martinez’s experience of the First Data Carpentry workshop in Darwin, Australia. Read Cathy Chung’s post on what digital humanists do if you are curious about real-life digital humanities projects. Want to run a workshop for Women in Science and Engineering? These tips and tricks by Aleksandra Pawlik might help you! Still not sure what is good and not-so-good practices when teaching workshops? Watch these videos by Lex Nederbragt for demonstrations. David Andersen posted a great summary of how to apply what he has learned in Google’s Visiting Faculty program in academia. 25 workshops were run over the past 22 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops: May: Central Queensland University (CQU), University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez June: McGill University, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Federal Reserve Board, Berkeley Institute for Data Science, Great Plains Network, Université Bishop’s, Massey University Albany & NeSI, Massey University, Palmerston North, University of Cincinnati, Elizabeth City State University, LANGEBIO-Cinvestav, Online, Online, University of Wisconsin - Madison, National Institutes of Health - FAES, Cornell University Statistical Consulting Unit (CSCU), University of Washington - Seattle, SRRC, USDA-ARS, New Orleans, LA, The University of Leeds, iHub, SIB @ University of Lausanne, University College London, University Library Basel, The University of Leeds, Materials Physics Center - University of the Basque Country, NERC / The University of Leeds, NERC / The University of Leeds July: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, R workshop - The University of Queensland, SciPy 2016, University of Southern Queensland, Philippines August: Colorado State University September: European Molecular Biology Laboratory October: UC San Diego Read More ›

Further Analysis of Instructor Training Data
Greg Wilson / 2016-05-31
Following Erin Becker’s analysis of our instructor training data, Byron Smith has done another analysis using survival statistics. The three key figures are: Long story short, about half of instructors teach within 200 days of certifying, and about half of those teach again with 100 days. If anyone has similar stats from other volunteer teaching organizations, we’d be grateful for pointers. Read More ›

What Digital Humanists Also Do
Kathy Chung / 2016-05-30
Following up on an earlier post, here are two more user stories from digital humanists to help us figure out what they need and how we can help. Gamma Gamma is a senior scholar working on two projects. The first looks at communities of workers and architects in the Medieval and Renaissance eras, and relies on records of specific buildings, diaries of artisans, sketches, and building plans (some of which are very large: the width of a sidewalk, and the length of a city block). The end goal is to learn about the people who created the buildings, who they did the work with, the processes they used, what they were paid, and so on, and more broadly to understand the social network of people involved in creating the great buildings of the time. Gamma spends a lot of time in archives, copying and studying various original manuscripts (many of which have never been digitized). Since many of the buildings are still standing, they can also take photographs (which they have to do for mason’s marks, which can’t be represented in any existing font). There’s a lot of textual description to keep track of, and a lot of linkages between items as well. Delta Delta studies metalwork objects used to store religious relics. The research questions center around the designs, which can be used to identify regions and creators. Who saw the objects? Who used them? What was their sphere of influence (i.e., how far did they travel)? What influence did they have on the design of other things (like buildings)? This work also involves storing and managing lots of images and the relationships between them. There’s also a lot of map work: with 4000 objects in one collection and 5000 in another, finding out what was where, when, can help determine what might have influenced what. There are a few useful databases for this, but mostly Gamma has documents (containing text, images, and citations) in various folders on a hard drive. Epsilon Epsilon started the interview by saying, “I am hopeless with technology,” and like many people, has stuck to out-of-date versions of software rather than risk breaking anything. Their dissertation topic is the pictorial tradition for illustraing the late Medieval story “The Three Living and the Three Dead”, which was recorded in a number of languages by different poets. Their goal was not a comprehensive catalog of every image, but to characterize how the image was understood in continental Europe, and when and why differences arose between northern and southern Europe. 13th and 14th Century images tend to come with a copy of the poem; by the 15th Century the images took on religious meanings of their own. A growing number of these images available in Google search, and smaller libraries are also beginning to digitize their collections, but collecting images was still hard work, and costly (so much so that Epsilon eventually restricted the search to France, Germany, and the Low Countries). It was also hit and miss: institutions might commission more detailed descriptions of items in their collections, and even digital reproductions, but if no textual description from an archive or museum said “three living and three dead”, those images might never turn up. At the same time, while it’s easy enough now to take pictures with a phone, managing those is difficult, since there’s no easy way to add annotations directly on the phone. There is FADIS (the Fine Arts Digital Imaging System), but it can’t use it for personal research on a personal computer. Read More ›

What Digital Humanists Do
Kathy Chung / 2016-05-25
I have started gathering user stories from humanists to give us a better sense of what they do and how (or whether) our kind of skills training might help. Two of these are summarized below; there’s a lot to think about, but the most important observation is that DH really is different in important ways from what Software and Data Carpentry have been doing so far. Alpha Alpha is studying the meeting of cultures in a text which mixes vernacular (Judaeo-Provençal) and Hebrew. The text’s author was a physician, and says in the introduction that the vernacular was for women and children, while the Hebrew was for men. The text exists in only one hand-written manuscript from 1401, which is based on the book of Esther used in the Purim holiday. The original is at the Bodlein Library in Oxford, but is available on microfilm, and weighs in at about 22 folio pages. (Alpha heard that there was another copy in Italy, and obtained digitized copy, but the original was in such bad shape that they can’t even tell if it’s the same manuscript.) There are also two 18th Century handwritten copies, and a much later 19th Century copy from the Balkans, all of which have variations from the original. The first task was to transcribe the document, which meant learning the quirks of the scribe’s handwriting. (The good news is, those quirks can help to date the manuscript.) Once it was transcribed, the next step was to track down and record the sources of its Biblical quotations. Luckily, there’s already a database of Biblical and other religious texts from different periods, so this can be done with keyword searches. Determining the significance of the choices of quotations is a harder task, but necessary for writing a scholarly edition of the work. This obviously relies on the Medievalist’s expertise, but good bibliography management tools are essential. Step three was to translate the whole document for personal use, then do a better translation of the bits actually used in the Medievalist’s dissertation. The end product was based on the 1401 version, but included variants in an appendix; those variants were also used to fill in gaps in the original. (The author of the original documen wrote a colophon as an acrostic, which probably doesn’t matter from a software skills point of view, but is still pretty cool.) Alpha’s data management challenges mostly revolve around tracking different formats: microfilm, digitized images, PDF versions of a microfilm, and so on. Each page is a different image, so this has to be done page by page. The other major component is the critical analysis, which requires linking discussion of the literary, cultural, religious, and medical context of the work back to the original. Beta Beta has already used some computer tools in their MA research (described below), and tried to take a Software Carpentry workshop but was unable to schedule it. A friend introduced them to Markdown and Pandoc and they use it to write all their work now. They also uses Zotero. Their MA research revolved around everyday use of vernacular medical manuscripts in late Medieval England. These contain a lot of text about everyday small-time medieval practices, but not much about everyday life. Their starting point was a single manuscript made up of several booklets which are full of marginalia. The first task was to transcribe all the marginalia with important metadata (the folio, the marginalia’s location, the color of the ink, the date, the hand it was written in, the beginning of the associated medical recipe, etc.). The result was 700 lines of marginalia data, which they ended up analyzing using a pivot table in Excel. The analysis revolved around classifying and grouping comments; 700 records is a manageable number, but obviously doing this with a computer is a lot faster. (It turns out, by the way, that the most common subject was headaches, but this was probably influenced by the content of the main text.) Beta is now working with several other people on a content management system for DH projects. This relies on the International Image Interoperability Format, which they explained as “like DOIs but for images”. It links metadata to images so that you can open any image with an IIIF-compliant viewer, then add more metadata, and the original image holder can decide if they want to incorporate the new data or not. Their main goal is to help people produce authoritative scholarly editions of manuscripts. Lots of people will be involved in editing and annotating, and these will be used in many ways that the original creators cannot anticipate. One interesting challenge is how to handle variants: if there are 25 slightly different versions of a text, what do you print and how? And how much of the original appearance do you try to preserve? As noted in Alpha’s story, the handwriting can be as important as the actual text, and in Beta’s MA research, the physical location or ink color of comments mattered too. Read More ›

Darwin Data Carpentry at Charles Darwin University
Paula Andrea Martinez / 2016-05-23
##First Data Carpentry workshop in Darwin Australia## The COMBINE Data Carpentry R workshop at Charles Darwin University was filled with joy, enthusiastic attendees and extra degrees of warm. This was a Self-Organised workshop led by COMBINE with help of local organisers mainly from the Menzies School of Health Research. After some emailing back and forth, three months before the workshop, we planned to have an R data carpentry workshop based on the answers of a custom-made survey (prepared by Steven). Then, two COMBINE instructors were called, so Westa and I volunteered for this workshop and started with preps. The workshop was capped for 30 people with a nominal fee to cover for catering ($50 AUD). People were well-disposed and a good sign was that 45 days before the workshop the registration reached its limits. Later on, there were 2 dropouts and we were able to add 2 people from the waiting list. ##The workshop## Westa and I arrived to warm Darwin at around midnight and saw an amazing starry sky. It was going to be our first workshop together, coming from two different institutions (University of Sydney and The University of Queensland. We had COMBINE in common and a few prep chats. On the first day, we arrived 45 min earlier to the location and found Amar and Zuli organising morning tea and setting up the Menzies seminar room at Charles Darwin University. People started to arrive and everyone came in with friendly smiles. We had close to zero installation problems, on day one. Attendees actually did install all the software and this must be highlighted as most of them used Windows laptops. Our schedule was focused on teaching R in RStudio, with a bit of data management and version control. From the 30 registered attendees, there was a 50-50 ratio between females and males. About half of the attendees were from Menzies, the other half from other CDU schools. We had a group of mostly PhD candidates, but also masters and undergraduate students, one third were Drs (PhDs), with one Associate Professor and one Professor. All very smart people. Also, a bit less than one-third of the attendees were already using R. It was definitely one of the best workshops I’ve taught at and participated in. Why was that? Well, because of the group. You guys made it work out by asking questions, by being creative with the answers to challenges, and by sharing with your neighbours. In summary, by enthusiastically interacting, which is the essence of a Software/Data Carpentry workshop. Another thing I really appreciated with this group of people was the constant feedback. We had comments during the lesson, breaks, and after the workshop. This only showed how involved everyone was and how much they were enjoying the new learning. The first day, we did not finish just because the workshop did. Although we gave them voluntary exercises for the next day, we also invited them for the first COMBINE meetup in Darwin! We had some nibbles and refreshments from COMBINE and Sam/Beachfront. It ended up being a very bonding experience - I got to ask about their projects and about Darwin. I discovered that many people actually do not come from there, that there are crocs everywhere, and that we were in the best season weather of the year! At the end everyone was happy to say: “see you guys tomorrow!” The second day, we did some plotting and it was nice to hear all those “WOWs”, “That’s beautiful”, “Ahhhhs” and so on, and so on. I think, and from the feedback I can say that everyone had a good time plotting and finished with a thirst for more! Our last part of the workshop involved interacting with Git. We had some trouble connecting Git with RStudio, although everyone had it installed. Windows laptops were very troublesome - at the end probably about 4 people were not able to link these two due to administrative restrictions on their laptops. Finally, we showed them how to use Git from the command line and from RStudio. Also we managed to produce the first version of the R scripts they wrote during the workshop. We tried to uplift the motivation with a few individual examples and then shortly afterwards, we wrapped up the workshop. I loved that crowd and I will be happy to return (wink), also I have unmet expectations of visiting Kakadu (wink, wink). ##Acknowledgements## Funding from the Australasian Genomic Technologies Association (AGTA) through a COMBINE workshop development scheme. To COMBINE former and current presidents: Harriet Dashnow and Jane Hawkey for setting this up, and Westa Domanova as co-instructor in this workshop. To Menzies School organiser and helper [Amar Aziz] (https://twitter.com/s_lump). To everyone who helped with organising locally - Steve, Jess, Jess, Linda, Erin, Zuli and Sam. To all awesome attendees, you made this a real success!!! ##Highlights## This workshop was included as part of the Charles Darwin University Research Enhancement Program (REP), from which PhD students benefit - they need to attend a number of these workshops during their candidature. The first day of the workshop May 12, we had the first Darwin COMBINE meetup, where all attendees were welcomed plus all other interested in Bioinformatics/Computational Biology. It was a great night, with high chances to be repeated. #### I hope you enjoyed this experience as much as I did. Read More ›

First Analysis of Instructor Training Data
Greg Wilson / 2016-05-20
Following up on Wednesday’s post about instructor training stats, Erin Becker (Data Carpentry’s new Associate Director) has posted an analysis. I was very surprised to discover that less than 20% of people trained over a year ago haven’t taught yet: I believed the number to be much higher. 51% of those trained in the last 12 months haven’t taught yet, but that’s less surprising, since in many cases there simply hasn’t been time. Overall, we seem to be doing pretty well… Read More ›

Looking for a Model
Greg Wilson / 2016-05-18
Updated: this CSV file has information on who taught when. The three columns are the person's unique identifier, the date on which they first qualified, and the dates on which they taught. (If someone has taught multiple times, there is one record for each teaching event.) People who haven't taught at all are at the bottom with empty values in the third column. Erin Becker's analysis of this data is posted on the Data Carpentry blog and discussed here. We rebooted instructor training in October 2015, and things have been going pretty well since then. If we average over all 23 new-style classes, it looks like two thirds of people who take part actually qualify as instructors within four months of finishing the class: Date Site(s) Days Since Participants Completed Percentage Cum. Participants Cum. Completed Cum. %age 2015-10-15 online 170 48 30 62.5% 48 30 62.5% 2015-12-07 Paris 162 7 7 100.0% 55 37 67.2% 2015-12-07 Potsdam 162 5 5 100.0% 60 42 70.0% 2015-12-07 Thessaloniki 162 4 4 100.0% 64 46 71.8% 2015-12-07 Arlington 162 10 4 40.0% 74 50 67.5% 2015-12-07 Vancouver 162 5 4 80.0% 79 54 68.3% 2015-12-07 Wisconsin 162 7 5 71.4% 86 59 68.6% 2015-12-07 Australia 162 3 2 66.6% 89 61 68.5% 2015-12-07 Curitiba 162 3 3 100.0% 92 64 69.5% 2015-12-07 Toronto 162 14 12 85.7% 106 76 71.7% 2016-01-05 Oklahoma 133 19 5 26.3% 125 81 64.8% 2016-01-13 Lausanne 125 20 16 80.0% 145 97 66.9% 2016-01-18 Brisbane 120 20 14 70.0% 165 111 67.2% 2016-01-21 Melbourne 117 27 6 22.2% 192 117 60.9% 2016-01-21 Florida 117 25 8 32.0% 217 125 57.6% 2016-01-28 Auckland 111 20 7 35.0% 237 132 55.7% 2016-02-16 Online 91 26 8 30.7% 263 140 53.2% 2016-02-22 UC Davis 85 23 9 39.1% 286 149 52.1% 2016-03-09 U Washington 69 14 2 14.2% 300 151 50.3% 2016-04-13 online 34 33 1 3.0% 333 152 45.6% 2016-04-17 North West U 31 23 0 0.0% 356 152 42.7% 2016-05-04 Edinburgh 13 15 0 0.0% 371 152 40.9% 2016-05-11 Toronto 6 27 0 0.0% 398 152 38.1% One of our goals for this year is to lower the majority completion time from four months to three; another is to increase the throughput from two thirds to three quarters. What I'd really like, though, is some help figuring out what statistical model to use for the other important aspect of our training and mentoring: how many of the people we train go on to actually teach workshops, and how quickly. The data we have includes the following for each person: unique personal identifier (we can easy anonymize individuals) date(s) of the instructor training courses they took (someone may enroll, drop out, enroll again, and so on) date(s) on which they were certified (they may have qualified for Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry at different times) the date on which they taught their first workshop (if any) "Mean time to teach first workshop" isn't a good metric, since roughly 1/3 of the people we've trained haven't taught yet. Should we use an inverted half-life measure, i.e., how long until the odds of someone having taught hit 50%? Or would something else give us more insight? Whatever we choose needs to be robust in the face of a big spike in our data in January 2016, when we retroactively certified a big batch of Data Carpentry instructors. If you have suggestions, comments on this post would be very welcome. Read More ›

A Common Sense Review of a Software Carpentry Workshop
Christopher Lortie / 2016-05-18
Re-posted with permission from the author's blog. Rationale This Fall, I am teaching graduate-level biostatistics. I have not had the good fortune of teaching many graduate-level offerings, and I am really excited to do so. A team of top-notch big data scientists are hosted at NCEAS. They have recently formed a really exciting collaborative-learning collective entitled ecodatascience. I was also aware of the mission of Software Carpentry but had not reviewed the materials. The ecodatascience collective recently hosted a carpentry workshop, and I attended. I am a parent and use common sense media as a tool to decide on appropriate content. As a tribute to that tool and the efforts of the ecodatascience instructors, here is a brief common sense review. ecodatascience software carpentry workshop Spring 2016 What You Need to Know You need to know that the materials, approach, and teaching provided through software carpentry are a perfect example of contemporary, pragmatic, practice-what-you-teach instruction. Basic coding skills, common tools, workflows, and the culture of open science were clearly communicated throughout the two days of instruction and discussion, and this is a clear 5/5 rating. Contemporary ecology should be collaborative, transparent, and reproducible. It is not always easy to embody this. The use of GitHub and RStudio facilitated a very clear signal of collaboration and documented workflows. All instructors were positive role models, and both men and women participated in direct instruction and facilitation on both days. This is also a perfect rating. Contemporary ecology is not about fixed scientific products nor an elite, limited-diversity set of participants within the scientific process. This workshop was a refreshing look at how teaching and collaboration have changed. There were also no slide decks. Instructors worked directly from RStudio, GitHub Desktop app, the web, and gh-pages pushed to the browser. It worked perfectly. I think this would be an ideal approach to teaching biostatistics. Statistics are not the same as data wrangling or coding. However, data science (wrangling & manipulation, workflows, meta-data, open data, & collaborative analysis tools) should be clearly explained and differentiated from statistical analyses in every statistics course and at least primer level instruction provided in data science. I have witnessed significant confusion from established, senior scientists on the difference between data science/management and statistics, and it is thus critical that we communicate to students the importance and relationship between both now if we want to promote data literacy within society. There was no sex, drinking, or violence during the course :). Language was an appropriate mix of technical and colloquial so I gave it a positive rating, i.e. I view 1 star as positive as you want some colloquial but not too much in teaching precise data science or statistics. Finally, I rated consumerism at 3/5, and I view this an excellent rating. The instructors did not overstate the value of these open science tools – but they could have and I wanted them to! It would be fantastic to encourage everyone to adopt these tools, but I recognize the challenges to making them work in all contexts including teaching at the undergraduate or even graduate level in some scientific domains. Bottom line for me – no slide decks for biostats course, I will use GitHub and push content out, and I will share repo with students. We will spend one third of the course on data science and how this connects to statistics, one third on connecting data to basic analyses and documented workflows, and the final component will include several advanced statistical analyses that the graduate students identify as critical to their respective thesis research projects. I would strongly recommend that you attend a workshop model similar to the work of Software Carpentry and the ecodatascience collective. I think the best learning happens in these contexts. The more closely that advanced, smaller courses emulate the workshop model, the more likely that students will engage in active research similarly. I am also keen to start one of these collectives within my department, but I suspect that it is better lead by more junior scientists. Net rating of workshop is 5 stars. Age at 14+ (kind of a joke), but it is a proxy for competency needed. This workshop model is best pitched to those that can follow and read instructions well and are comfortable with a little drift in being lead through steps without a simplified slide deck. Read More ›

R Instructor Training Applications Open
Greg Wilson, Laurent Gatto / 2016-05-16
Thanks to generous sponsorship from the R Consortium, Software Carpentry is running a two-day R instructor training class in Cambridge, UK, on September 19-20, 2016. If you are active in the R and/or Software and Data Carpentry communities, and wish to take part in this training, please fill in this application form. We will select applicants, and notify everyone who applied, by June 30, 2016; those who are selected will be responsible for their own travel and accommodation. If you have any questions, please mail training@software-carpentry.org. Please note that as a condition of taking this training: You are required to abide by our code of conduct, which can be found at http://software-carpentry.org/conduct/. You must complete three short tasks after the course in order to complete certification. The tasks are described at https://carpentries.github.io/instructor-training/checkout/, and take a total of approximately 2 hours. You are expected to teach at a Software Carpentry or Data Carpentry workshop within 12 months of the course. For more information on Software and Data Carpentry instructor training, please see https://carpentries.github.io/instructor-training. Read More ›

Software Carpentry in Brisbane
Belinda Weaver / 2016-05-14
Brisbane Software Carpentry sputtered into life some time in 2014 when scattered local supporters finally met and began to form a group. Having heard about the initiative via Twitter, I managed to contact Nathan Watson-Haigh who got me on to the Aus/NZ mailing list. Then I met Philipp Bayer (now in Perth) and we started planning our first workshop at The University of Queensland. PyCon Australia was coming up in Brisbane and we were able to get Damien Irving from Melbourne and Tim McNamara from New Zealand to teach for us as they were in town for that. So we ran our first ever Software Carpentry workshop with Python at UQ in July 2014. Helpers included Nick Coghlan and Dan Callaghan from RedHat, and Kaitao Lai and Michal Lorenc from Dave Edwards’ bioinformatics group. In February 2015, five Brisbaneites – Amanda Miotto, Sam Hames, Areej Al-Sheikh, Mitch Stanton-Cook and Paula Andrea Martinez - went to Software Carpentry instructor training in Melbourne. Areej had been an attendee at the July 2014 workshop, along with Darya Vanichkina. Both were keen to train as instructors. Darya and I trained online with Greg Wilson during early 2015, so Brisbane was suddenly rich in instructors. Areej, Mitch, Paula, Sam and I ran a Python bootcamp in July 2015, and there was a second one in late September. Paula and Sam flew to Townsville in Queensland later that same week to run an inaugural R bootcamp there, and four attendees there registered interest in instructor training. We were lucky to have the services of Python wizard Caleb Hattingh at both the July and September workshops. Heidi Perrett and Kim Keogh from Griffith University helped at the September workshop, and liked it so much they decided to train as instructors. Aleksandra Pawlik ran instructor training for 20 people in Brisbane in January 2016, so our instructor pool has grown a little bigger, though not by 20. Many of the attendees were from other states (NSW, ACT) – and one, Selene Fernandez Valverde, has gone on to trailblaze Software Carpentry in Mexico. However, in addition to Heidi and Kim, we now have Leah Roberts, Nouri Ben Zakour and Anup Shah, though we will lose Nouri to a research job in Sydney soon (boo hoo). We have already said goodbye to Darya who has moved to Sydney for a job. Sam, Paula and I taught an R bootcamp at the Translational Research Institute late last year, and then ran concurrent Python and R bootcamps at the fabulously successful Brisbane Research Bazaar in February, where many of our new instructors got their first chance to teach. Amanda, Kim and I taught an R bootcamp in April for Queensland government staff in the Department of Science, IT and Innovation. A week later, the first ever Software Carpentry bootcamp was run at Griffith University. Our next scheduled workshop is the R bootcamp on 11-12 July, a tie-in for the UQ Winter School in Mathematical and Computational Biology. Areej Al-Sheikh taught Software Carpentry in Bali last year, and Mitch Stanton-Cook taught Software Carpentry in Nanning in China. Sam taught five workshops in his first year since certifying as an instructor, flying to Adelaide and other places to spread the word. Paula is off to Darwin next to run a Data Carpentry class, since she, Sam and I have all certified as Data Carpentry instructors as well. Tim Dettrick has been a great supporter for Brisbane Software Carpentry, letting us use his DIT4C cloud option for workshops. This gets around knotty installation problems which really helps when many attendees bring Windows laptops over which they have no admin rights. Hacky Hours, informal get togethers where people can brush up on skills, or follow up on questions after Software Carpentry workshops, are held weekly at both UQ and Griffith University. We hope to extend these to other universities soon, just as we plan to run Software Carpentry workshops at other Queensland universities. Workshops are a fertile recruiting ground for new instructors and helpers. Four people expressed interest in instructor training after the July 2015 workshop, while six wanted to train after September’s workshop. The Brisbane Software Carpentry community welcomes newcomers. Please get in touch if you want to come to a workshop, or find out about upcoming events. Or come to a Hacky Hour. Our next get together will probably be a welcome for Steering Committee member Kate Hertweck, in town for a fortnight with Sugar Research Australia. Watch Twitter for details of her talk on 17 May. Read More ›

First bimonthly report from 2016 Steering Committee
Raniere Silva / 2016-05-11
On May 8th and 9th the Steering Committee had an in-person meeting at Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory to conclude the discussions during the first two months and make plans for the next ten months of activities. In the following weeks we will write more about the results of the in-person meeting on the blog but for now we want to give you an overview. Partnerships Our Executive Director is doing an amazing job increasing the number of Software Carpentry partners. Last year, we were asked to provide a join partnership agreement with Data Carpentry and after months of work this agreement is now available. Instructor Training Last year we tried several models for Instructor Training that now are more stable and are available here thanks to the work of our Instructor Trainers. We will continue improving our Instructor Training programme and increasing our capacity to high demand. Subcommittees and Task Forces Last year we accomplished many things only because of our amazing community. This year we can help you, including financially, to shape Software Carpentry and for that we opened a call for subcommittees and task forces. Communication Communication is our greatest weakness and we are going to work really hard to improve it. (This post is part of this goal.) Something that we decided during the in-person meeting was provide an official space on Facebook because on some countries and some audiences this is the first place that they will look for us. We will also create an Instagram account to display and share photographs from Software Carpentry workshops and activities. Diversity We will continue to support a diverse community and healthy spaces for communication. We have a Code of Conduct to help with that. Future Directions We will continue to work close with other communities that are aligned with our vision and mission. Read More ›

First Conference of Research Software Engineers: Call for Participation
Simon Hettrick / 2016-05-10
The RSE Conference on September 15-16, 2016, in Manchester will be the first conference to focus exclusively on the issues that affect people who write and use software in research. We’re looking for submissions that will investigate and communicate ideas and expertise from the RSE community. This is not a standard academic conference! We welcome researchers, but we also want to hear from people who may not typically attend conferences. From running a workshop, sharing your ideas or simply attending, there are many ways in which you can participate. We want to hear from you about the new technologies and techniques that help you in your work. We want your opinions on what will make the conference even more useful. And, of course, we want you to attend! For more information, please see the full announcement. What is a Research Software Engineer? Are you employed to develop software for research? Are you spending more time developing software than conducting research? Are you employed as a postdoctoral researcher, even though you predominantly work on software development? Are you the person who does computers in your research group? Are you sometimes not named on research papers despite playing a fundamental part in developing the software used to create them? Do you lack the metrics needed to progress your academic career, like papers and conference presentations, despite having made a significant contribution through software? If you answered ‘yes’ to many of these questions, you may be an RSE. To learn more, visit http://www.rse.ac.uk/. Read More ›

24 April - 4 May, 2016: Subcommittees and Task Forces, Partnerships, Instructor Training, A Vacancy, Lab Meeting, Bug Barbeque, Discuss, and New Videos and a Book
Bianca Peterson, Anelda van der Walt / 2016-05-09
Highlights The 2016 Steering Committee invites you to help organize and develop resources and activities to support our community members by proposing new initiatives in the form of subcommittees and task forces. Full instructions on the proposal process can be found here. The Steering Committee will gladly help! Also check out the subcommittee listing for information on existing and past subcommittees. Joint partnerships are now offered by Data Carpentry and Software Carpentry! Read the partnership information on how to become a partner and get in touch. Vacancy Data Carpentry is hiring a Deputy Director of Assessment. Visit the Data Carpentry jobs page for a full job description and application procedure. Events Tune in to the Software Carpentry Lab Meeting on May 10th to discuss what’s new and upcoming in the community. Check out the Lab Meeting Etherpad for the schedule and connection details. Join the worldwide Software Carpentry Bug Barbeque on June 13 to help fix bugs in Version 5.4 of Software Carpentry lessons before publication. All contributors will receive credit for your hard work with a citable object. Conversations A recent conversation on the discuss mailing list prompted the creation of two new issues open for discussion in GitHub: How should we deal with high-volume discussions on the mailing list? Is the Code of Conduct saying what the community want/need it to say and how should it be enforced? Videos and Books Greg Wilson published a video of “things not to do while teaching”. The material is great to use during instructor training to demonstrate to instructor trainees what we’re trying to avoid when teaching and is based on suggestions made in this discussion on GitHub. Support Data Carpentry by buying the book How to Be a Modern Scientist written by Jeff Leek. The book includes guides for reviewing papers, reading papers, career planning, and giving talks. Iñigo Aldazabal Mensa (CSIC-UPV/EHU) provided a video of him explaining Software Carpentry in great detail at the 2016 HPC Knowledge Portal Conference - Software Carpentry: teaching computing skills to researchers. Other Did you recently participate in a Software Carpentry workshop and had questions that weren’t answered by the lessons? Do you teach workshops and hear questions from participants that can’t be addressed by the existing materials? Please add these questions to this post. What have we learned from our lesson discussion sessions so far? We welcome all new instructors to provide feedback about their experience of the sessions by commenting on the post. Aleksandra Pawlik recently blogged about her experience when she visited South Africa for the first face-to-face Software and Data Carpentry Instructor Training in Africa. Planning on running a Software Carpentry workshop with R? Read how three sticky notes and chocolates helped participants in the Sotware Carpentry workshop at Griffith University. Staff members from iDigBio gave their perspective on attending a Software Carpentry workshop. They encourage all researchers who’d like to work with the iDigBio datasets to particpipate in a workshop near them or request one at their own institution. 16 workshops were run over the past 16 days. For more information about past workshops, please visit our website. Upcoming Workhshops May: University of Toronto, Bancroft Building - University of Toronto, Charles Darwin University, University of British Columbia, University of Cambridge, CSDMS Annual Meeting, Royal Holloway - University of London, SciPy Latin America, UBC Koerner Library, University of British Columbia, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Oklahoma State University, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, McMaster University - Kenneth Taylor Hall (KTH) B121, Colorado Special Libraries Association @ CU Boulder, Lund University, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Standards and Technology, South Florida Water Management District, University of Toronto, Centro de Competência em Software Livre June: University of Wisconsin - Madison, University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, Université Bishop’s, University of Cincinnati, NeSI-Massey Albany Software Carpentry, LANGEBIO-Cinvestav, University of Wisconsin - Madison, SIB @ University of Lausanne, University Library Basel, Materials Physics Center - University of the Basque Country, NERC / The University of Leeds, NERC / The University of Leeds July: R workshop - The University of Queensland, Philippines October: UC San Diego Read More ›

Our Code of Conduct
Jonah Duckles, Tracy Teal / 2016-05-09
The amazing Software and Data Carpentry community of instructors and learners is the foundation of our organizations. We have more than 500 instructors from 30 countries and have had over 20,000 learners in our workshops. Software and Data Carpentry are community driven organizations. We value the involvement of everyone in this community - learners, instructors, hosts, developers, steering committee members, and staff. We are committed to creating a friendly and respectful place for learning, teaching and contributing. All participants in Software and Data Carpentry events or communications are expected to show respect and courtesy to others. Core to our organizations is creating a friendly and welcoming community. Therefore, we would like to reiterate that anyone participating in Software and Data Carpentry activities must comply with our Code of Conduct. This code of conduct applies to all spaces managed by Software and Data Carpentry, including, but not limited to, workshops, email lists, and online forums. We are so fortunate to have such a strong and supportive community of contributors, instructors, and learners and we are committed to supporting and maintaining that community! Read More ›

Software Carpentry with R at Griffith University
Amanda Miotto / 2016-05-04
We had 27 people register to attend, with 22 attending the first day. We offered these workshops free of charge so we had been cautious about drop-out numbers. I had 2 who had previously mentioned they were only coming to partial sessions and one dropped out the next day. We accepted everyone who registered and attempted the software install (our capacity was 30). The attendees were quite interactive and attentive and seemed to pick it up quite well - even by the end of the second day. We had one or two hurdles - mostly in the way of French keyboards which turns out are quite tricky to code on. Two students had firewall issues with eduroam but had been quite prepared and downloaded all the programs and data so it didn’t slow them down until the Git tutorial. We trialled a few new things this workshop: Firstly, we used three sticky notes instead of two - ‘I’m going okay’, ‘please go slower’, ‘help’. We had the thought afterwards that we should have gone green, orange and red for these respectively (similar to traffic lights). Secondly, we bribed them with chocolates. We used Freddo frogs as prizes for those who got answers correct or had really good questions. This was extremely popular. Towards the afternoons as well we were quite generous with the chocolates in the thought that a sugar kick was probably quite welcome. Thirdly, we ended up skipping the etherpad and just including all links and links to data in the workshop page. I included all direct data links for our pages and how to unpack the zips for the data, and the direct link for the lessons for each section. I also included the link to the Resbaz cloud that we used as a back up. That way, everything was in the one place that was going to stay online for a while. Fourthly, I created a registration page via Google Docs that asked them what class they were attending, whether they were a staff/student or had eduroam and what operating system they were using, then presented them with customised install instructions. These custom instructions were then emailed to them along with a confirmation, location for the class, pre-workshop survey and the github information page. This gave us a final number of attendees and helped us gauge how people went with the initial install, and made the start of class a bit speedier. I’m more than happy for anyone to steal the code for this - It’s just done up in a Google form. As a follow-up, the attendees were emailed with the post-workshop survey and links to Hacky Hours and the HPC/data storage services (as these seem to be often the high priority with those researchers who are learning to code). Some quick fun stats: 2 attendees were UQ, the rest from Griffith Uni 57% hadn’t attempted to code in R before the workshop 71% hadn’t attempted to code in Bash before the workshop 89% hadn’t attempted to code in Git before the workshop Read More ›

Software Carpentry Bug BBQ
Bill Mills, Tiffany Timbers / 2016-05-04
Software Carpentry is having a Bug BBQ on June 13th Software Carpentry is aiming to ship a new version (5.4) of the Software Carpentry lessons by the end of June. To help get us over the finish line we are having a Bug BBQ on June 13th to squash as many bugs as we can before we publish the lessons. The June 13th Bug BBQ is also an opportunity for you to engage with our world-wide community. For more info about the event, read-on and visit our Bug BBQ website. How can you participate? We’re asking you, members of the Software Carpentry community, to spend a few hours on June 13th to wrap up outstanding tasks to improve the lessons. Ahead of the event, the lesson maintainers will be creating milestones to identify all the issues and pull requests that need to be resolved we wrap up version 5.4. In addition to specific fixes laid out in the milestones, we also need help to proofread and bugtest the lessons. Where will this be? Join in from where you are: No need to go anywhere - if you’d like to participate remotely, start by having a look at the milestones on the website to see what tasks are still open, and send a pull request with your ideas to the corresponding repo. If you’d like to get together with other people working on these lessons live, we have created this map for live sites that are being organized. And if there’s no site listed near you, organize one yourself and let us know you are doing that here so that we can add your site to the map! The Bug BBQ is going to be a great chance to get the community together, get our latest lessons over the finish line, and wrap up a product that gives you and all our contributors credit for your hard work with a citable object - we will be minting a DOI for this on publication. Read More ›

Save the Date: Software Carpentry Lab Meeting May 10
Bill Mills / 2016-05-03
Software Carpentry’s next Lab Meeting calls will be at 14:00 UTC and 23:00 UTC, May 10th; all are welcome to join in to discuss what’s new and upcoming in the Software Carpentry community. Connection details are on the Lab Meeting Etherpad. Our first feature for the month is the new Subcommittee and Task Force program, recently announced by the 2016 Steering Committee. Following on the success of our subcommittees in 2015, the Steering Committee has decided to open up the process of proposing and running projects and committees that advance Software Carpentry’s mission and enrich our community to all of our community members. More details on the proposal process can be found here; tune into the Lab Meeting to here more comments and ask questions from the program designers. Also this month, we’re excited to announce Software Carpentry’s first ever Bug Barbeque, coming up worldwide on June 13. It’s almost time to publish Version 5.4 of all the Software Carpentry lessons listed here, and we need your help to polish up all the details. We’ll be getting together or working remotely worldwide on June 13 to get ready for publication; after version 5.4 is finished, we will be minting a DOI so that all contributors get a citable reference to add to their CVs. Watch this space for a blog post coming shortly, or see more details on the Bug BBQ Website. Check out the schedule on the etherpad and add your name if you will be attending. Feel free to add points of interest and goings-on you’d like to mention to the community under the non-verbal updates section there, too. We hope you’ll join us! Read More ›

New Joint Partnerships with Data Carpentry
Tracy Teal, Jonah Duckles / 2016-05-02
We’ve been hearing of the interest of organizations to build local capacity for training and to be able run both Data and Software Carpentry workshops. We are excited to announce that Data Carpentry and Software Carpentry are now offering joint partnerships! These partnerships will give member organizations the benefits of running workshops from either the Software Carpentry or Data Carpentry community. At the Silver and above tiers there will also be instructor training and capacity building services provided. Partnership Information There are four tiers of Partnerships: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. We wanted to provide opportunities for organizations to run multiple workshops, but who aren’t currently planning to train instructors (Bronze) and help organizations build local capacity with instructor training, coordinated workshops and Self-Organised workshops (Silver, Gold). There is also a flexible tier for organizations who are advancing beyond just capacity building and on to sustainment and wide adoption of our methods across disciplines (Platinum). In all Partnerships, some coordinated workshops are included, so that organizations are freely able (with a small travel budget) to bring in outside instructors to help mentor new instructors and continue to encourage cross-connections of instructors across organizational boundaries. Also, all Partner organizations can run as many Self-Organised workshops as they like. All currently in-place partnerships with the Software Carpentry Foundation will be grandfathered into a joint partnership consistent with their current contract until the current partnership expires, at which time they can select to have a joint partnership or a standalone Software Carpentry or Data Carpentry partnership as they choose. Interested in a partnership or want more information, please get in touch! Read More ›

Buy This Book and Support Data Carpentry
Jeff Leek / 2016-04-29
Thanks to the efforts of Len Epp at Leanpub and Tracy Teal at Data Carpentry, 50% of the royalties from the book How to Be a Modern Scientist will be donated to Data Carpentry. The book is pay what you want with a suggested price of $10. I am very excited to help support the efforts of Data Carpentry since I believe data science education is a fundamental need in the modern scientific era. About the book: The face of academia is changing. It is no longer sufficient to just publish or perish; we are now in an era where Twitter, Github, Figshare, and Alt Metrics are regular parts of the scientific workflow. Here I give high level advice about which tools to use, how to use them, and what to look out for. This book is appropriate for scientists at all levels who want to stay on top of the current technological developments affecting modern scientific careers. The book is based in part on the author’s popular guides including guides for Reviewing papers Reading papers Career planning Giving talks The book is probably most suited to graduate students and postdocs in the sciences, but may be of interest to others who want to adapt their scientific process to use modern tools. About the author: Jeff Leek is an Associate Professor of Biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is a co-founder and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Data Science Specialization on Coursera that has enrolled over 3 million aspiring data scientists. His research has helped contributed to our understanding of the genomic basis of brain development, blunt force trauma, and cancer. He is blogs at Simply Statistics and can be found on Twitter at @jtleek and @simplystats. Read More ›

Summarizing Our Lesson Discussion Sessions
Greg Wilson / 2016-04-29
For the first four months of this year, we ran hour-long lesson discussion sessions to give people going through instructor training a chance to ask questions of people who had taught our material several times. Trainees told us they were useful for getting information and as a way to meet more of the community. We have now decided to merge those sessions with our weekly workshop debriefing sessions in order to turn up the volume on both aspects, so this seems like a good time to summarize what we’ve learned so far ourselves. It was helpful to frame the session as a confidence building exercise rather than a test. Equally, conveying enthusiasm and answering basic questions seemed really useful, which has us asking yet again if we should record some model workshops. Aleksandra Pawlik’s guidelines were very helpful, and have now been folded into the instructor training course’s guidelines. Organizing things through an Etherpad is easy but error-prone. We are responding to this by building support for the instructor training process into AMY. The breadth of questions asked was challenging. Some people had many very specific points about certain challenge questions or pieces of demo code, while others wanted more general information about teaching, and it was sometimes difficult to satisfy both sets of needs in a single session. (Ironically, many participants’ primary concern was how to handle workshops when learners have diverse backgrounds.) The intermittent demand meant these sessions often weren’t an efficient use of instructors’ time. In particular, people often hosted sessions with only one or two people, or tried to host a session only to have scheduling issues with the one attendee who needed a host. We’re addressing this by setting a regular weekly time, which in turn makes it feasible for us to have more than one host. Despite these problems, some attendees were very happy to have one-on-one attention where they felt comfortable asking questions they feared others might find too basic. It was good to know that these new instructors weren’t falling through the cracks. Some instructors wound up fielding questions about lessons they had never taught themselves, or even ones they had never seen taught. When this happened, they tempered their advice with comments along the lines of, “You’ll come to own the lesson after you’ve taught it a couple of times.” Some instructors found that people have a somewhat passive attitute to the material, i.e., they see themselves as a vehicle for delivering set material rather than as innovators and interpreters. Most importantly, some trainees had low awareness of what actually goes on in a workshop. For example, people asked questions like whether or not people would have their own laptops, whether they were supposed to ask the challenge problems in class, and so on. This was surprising, given that most trainees are now workshop alumni, but clearly signals that we need to spend more time covering nuts and bolts in the training course. Timezones make events difficult to schedule, while daylight savings time may be the most egregiously stupid idea our species has ever implemented (and I say this as a professional programmer). My thanks to Kate Hertweck, Bill Mills, Neal Davis, Naupaka Zimmerman, Sue McClatchy, Harriet Dashnow, April Wright, Karin Lagesen, and everyone else who helped make these sessions possible. Comments from new instructors who participated in these sessions would be very welcome. Read More ›