By Aleksandra Pawlik, Training Lead.
It’s been a busy month in the training team, despite the holidays, with a lot of strategic planning, new instructor training being organised, dabbling in taster sessions, and workshops being organised.
Institute’s face-to-face meeting in Edinburgh
The Institute’s Training Team focused primarily on working on protocols supporting administration of Software and Data Carpentry workshops. A draft of an administrative flowchart was produced. Further work on the document is planned which should align with the efforts to produce documentation underpinning the Software Carpentry Programme Coordinator and Foundation Steering Committee activities.
Software Carpentry Foundation Steering Committee face-to-face annual meeting
Aleksandra Pawlik, the Institute’s Training Lead, attended the first annual meeting of the Software Carpentry Foundation Steering Committee. The meeting took place at the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory on 12th and 13th August. Over these two days the Steering Committee worked on developing the strategy for the project for the next months. The key focus is on expanding the international network of partnering organisations, strengthening the existing strategic relationships (among them, with the Institute), increasing the outreach and solidifying the model for further expansion and franchising. The Committee also discussed the sustainability of the Foundation and prepared for the hiring process of the new Executive Director.
The interviews for this post took place in the second half of August. The announcement about the new Executive Director for the foundation will be released in due course. The current ED, Greg Wilson, will gradually be focusing more on Instructor Training programme. This programme is strongly supported by the Institute and we will be co-running a number of sessions with Greg in the coming months, in the UK.
Expanding Instructor Training
At least three sessions of Data and Software Carpentry Instructor Training are planned in the UK before the end of 2015. University of Leeds, as a Software Carpentry partnering site, will host Instructor Training for the N8 consortium in early October. ELIXIR UK is supporting two instructor training workshops. The first one will be held at the University College London on 8-9th October. The second one will be hosted by the University of Manchester on 23-24 November. The ELIXIR UK-supported training is addressed primarily at candidates for instructors who are working in the life sciences area. This will help build the pool of instructors within ELIXIR project and scale up the number of Data and Software Carpentry workshops.
Training Taster sessions
Aleksandra Pawlik has been preparing to run Software Carpentry taster training sessions at the 5th Student Conference on Complexity Science, on 10th September. The goal is to provide the conference participants an opportunity to experience the model of teaching practiced at Carpentry workshops and, obviously, to learn practical computing skills. Two sessions will be run in parallel. Aleksandra will teach version control with Git and Jan Kim of the Pirbright Institute will teach introduction to command line. The Conference and the taster sessions are co-organised by the Institute’s Fellow, Oliver Laslett.
Another set of Taster Sessions will took place at the British Science Festival on 7th and 8th September. This audience is different to the one typically present at the workshops. The Festival is addressed at members of general public aiming to bring them closer the contemporary approaches to research. The sessions run by the Institute cover Data Manipulation and Visualisation.
Engaging newly trained instructors
With the increased number of Instructor Training workshops the pool of certified Software and Data Carpentry instructors has grown significantly. However, a significant number of these newly trained instructors go on to teach at workshops. The Institute’s Training Team is thus working on engaging more these instructors by trying to pair them up for workshops with experienced lead instructors. The plans for developing the Instructor Training programme will consider a number of solutions to mitigate this issue in order to provide newly trained instructors opportunities to teach and get involved.
After several successful Software Carpentry Workshops for Women in Science and Engineering in US, the Institute is working on organising a similar event in the UK. The effort is supported by EPCC. Most likely the UK WiSE training workshop will take place at the end of the year in Manchester. Further announcements will be made as soon as more details about the event have been confirmed.
As a part of the efforts focusing on supporting ELIXIR UK training leadership in ELIXIR project, Aleksandra Pawlik has been helping to co-organise ELIXIR Belgium Data Carpentry workshop.
Data Carpentry materials
Some effort was also spent on improving Data Carpentry materials. The SQL materials have been finally split into separate lessons. There are also some ideas on collaboration on further development of the Open Refine materials.