Training update: further development of instructor training, WiSE workshops, and supporting teaching

Posted by n.chuehong on 28 January 2016 - 10:09am

By Aleksandra Pawlik, Training Lead.

The end of the year 2015 was full of training events building up towards the coming months. The Institute is working towards scaling up the number of Data and Software Carpentry events in the UK by growing the instructor pool. Also by working with the Steering Committees of both organisations we are making sure that research community in the UK can benefit from this training.

Software and Data Carpentry Virtual Instructor and Helper Retreat

The Institute hosted one of the sites for the Software and Data Carpentry Virtual Instructor and Helper Retreat on 14th November at the University of Manchester. Aleksandra Pawlik, the Institute’s Training Lead hosted the event which was attended by Anthony Harrison and Dave Jones who co-run the Software and Data Carpentry taster sessions at the British Science Festival in September 2016; and Andy Walker and Martin Callaghan (both University of Leeds) who have organised and taught at a number of workshops. Dave and Andy led a session on “Making friends with Python 3”. The retreat was also attended by MIreya Paredes, a PhD student at the University of Manchester who completed the Instructor Training on 23-24th November and was a helper at the first UK Software Carpentry Workshop for Women in Science and Engineering.

CoDiMa Software Carpentry workshop at Manchester

The CoDiMa project (Computational Discrete Mathematics), co-led by SSI Fellow Olexandr Konovalov, in collaboration with the Department of Mathematics at the University of Manchester organised a Software Carpentry workshop between 16th and 20th November. The core Software Carpentry workshop was followed by 3 day CoDiMa First CoDiMa Training School in Computational Discrete Mathematics. There are plans for more CoDiMa workshops in 2016. It is a great example of combining Software and Data Carpentry training with additional teaching and skills development.

ELIXIR UK Software and Data Carpentry Instructor Training

The Institute has been working with ELIXIR UK on growing the pool of instructor certified to teach Software and Data Carpentry. In the second half of 2015 we coordinated and promoted training workshops for these instructors, taking advantage of the fact that the founder of Software Carpentry and the creator of the Instructor Training Programme, Greg Wilson has been in the UK for a short sabbatical.

On 23-24th November, the Institute co-organised with ELIXIR UK Instructor Training at the University of Manchester. The workshop was taught by Greg Wilson with support from Aleksandra Pawlik, the Institute Training Leader and Karin Lagesen from the University of Oslo. The workshop was attended by 25 participants from the UK and several institutions in continental Europe.

The collaboration with ELIXIR UK will carry on in January when Aleksandra Pawlik will co-run another Instructor Training workshop in Lausanne, Switzerland (13-14th January 2016). Together with the Data Carpentry Executive Director, Tracy Teal, Aleksandra will train 21 new instructors from several ELIXIR Nodes. This should allow ELIXIR increase a number of Software and Data Carpentry workshops in the coming months. The Institute’s support for the ELIXIR UK training activities is very beneficial for fulfilling the Nodes mission to lead training in the ELIXIR project.

Software and Data Carpentry Instructor Training online

Apart from the face-to-face Software and Data Carpentry Instructor Training workshops,  a two-day long online version of the training was held on 8-9th December. Four training groups took part and one of them was taught by Steve Crouch, the Institute’s Research Software Group Leader. Steve has been undertaking training to become an instructor trainer to be able to run Instructor Training with Aleksandra Pawlik (who already is a trainer).

Further development of the Instructor Training programme

The Instructor Training Programme is undergoing further development with inputs from several members of the Software and Data Carpentry community. Apart from developing and publishing the materials for the Instructor Training programme, the Mentoring Subcommittee proposed a Checkout Procedure and is working on a plan for long-term support for instructors to help those newly trained in gaining experience and running their first workshops.

The Institute will work with Software and Data Carpentry in implementing these plans in the UK to support the instructor pool in the UK. These best practices for training are also useful to be propagated for other training activities supported by the institute.

Data Carpentry Steering Committee Face to Face meeting

Aleksandra Pawlik, attended the Data Carpentry Steering Committee annual face-to-face meeting held on 11-12th November 2015 at the University of Florida. The Steering Committee discussed plans for further development of the project, refined the scope and mission and defined actions which needed to be undertaken in order to fulfill them.

2nd Reproducible Science Hackathon for curriculum and material development

The  Data Carpentry  Steering Committee meeting was preceded by the 2nd Reproducible Science Hackathon for curriculum and material development. The event was held at iDigBio at the University of Florida and was a part of a larger project of developing and delivering workshops on Reproducible Research. The participants of the hackathon worked on a number of topics from setting up Travis CI for building up lesson websites, developing instructor notes to restructuring lessons to match the general template. Aleksandra Pawlik took part in the hackathon and  focused mainly on streamlining and cleaning up the lesson on automation working together with its original author, François Michonneau.

The Reproducible Research materials and workshops are potentially a good idea to be taught in the UK.

First UK Software Carpentry workshop for Women in Science and Engineering

With a lot of support and effort from ARCHER and d Women in HPC initiative, the Institute organised the first UK Software Carpentry for Women in Science and Engineering  workshop. The event was hosted at the University of Manchester on 14th-15th December 2015. 34 participants attended 2-day intense training which also included a panel discussion at the end of the first day which was then followed by a hot buffet allowing for more informal networking.

The workshop was the first of a series of similar events which will be organised on regular basis across the United Kingdom. The event was generously sponsored by Intel, Bank of America Merrill Lynch​ and ELIXIR UK.

Workshop organisation

Giacomo Peru, the Software and Data Carpentry UK Admin, has been working on organising a number of upcoming workshops in the UK:

  • Software Carpentry 11-12th January 2016 at the University of Huddersfield
  • Software Carpentry 16-17th January 2016 at the University of Bristol (NERC funded workshop)
  • Software Carpentry 18-19th January 2016 at the University of Leeds
  • Software Carpentry 8-9th March 2016 at The Genome Analysis Centre
  • Software Carpentry 10-11th March 2016 at the CDT In Regenerative Medicine, University of Manchester
  • Data Carpentry 19-20th January 2016 at the Natural History Museum
  • Data Carpentry (exact date TBC) at The Genome Analysis Centre
  • Data Carpentry at the Natural History Museum (exact date TBC)


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