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Training update: taster sessions, notebooks and lots of workshops

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Training update: taster sessions, notebooks and lots of workshops

Aleksandra Pawlik

Aleksandra Pawlik

SSI fellow

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Training update: taster sessions, notebooks and lots of workshops

Posted by n.chuehong on 21 October 2015 - 11:17am

By Aleksandra Pawlik, Training Lead.

Training Taster sessions

In September the Institute delivered a series of Taster Sessions based on Software and Data Carpentry materials. We started with a set of Taster Sessions at the British Science Festival on 7th and 8th September. Two sessions covered data visualisation with Python and data management with SQL. Both sessions proved to be popular with the Festival participants. However, we were unfortunately interrupted by a fire alarm on the second day. Most importantly, this this training was a great opportunity to practice teaching techniques for two Software Carpentry volunteers: Anthony Harrison  and Dave Jones. Anthony has already completed Software Carpentry Instructor Training. Dave is planning to do so as soon as possible. 

The next Taster Session was held at the 5th Student Conference on Complexity Science, on 10th September. The session was organised by one of the Institute’s Fellows, Oliver Laslett. Two parallel sessions were run: one on version control with Git (taught by Aleksandra Pawlik) and the other one on introduction to shell run by Jan Kim of The Pirbright Institute. Similarly to Anthony’s approach with the Taster session at the British Science Festival, Jan was keen to practice his skills as an Instructor without the pressure of having to run the full-size workshop.

Currently the Institute is helping to organise a similar session - one day introduction to Python for London Royal Holloway in November. This session is organised by the Institute’s Fellow Bethan Davies. The instructor will be Kwasi Kwakwa.

The Taster Sessions were very successful and it is likely that there will be an increasing demand for such events. The Institute is now discussing with the Software and Data Carpentry Steering Committees whether and how such sessions could be of benefit for the growing instructor pool. 

Jupyter and IPython Notebook workshop

After piloting the training in Jupyter and IPython Notebook in May this year, the Institute helped running another workshop on these tools at the University of Manchester. In collaboration with one of the Institute’s partners, ELIXIR UK, we run a day-long hands-on training event. The attendees were researchers, primarily from life sciences domains interested in using Jupyter and/or IPython Notebook for their everyday tasks as well as for teaching.

The workshop received positive feedback. The preparations of the workshop were much easier thanks to the fact that we could reuse and re-purpose materials provided by Software Carpentry and the Jupyter/IPython Notebook core development team. The Training activities which the Institute could then focus on would be advocating for and listing best services for shareable and open training materials for open science.  

Preparing for ARCHER Data Carpentry in Leeds

The Institute is continuously working together with ARCHER to deliver training for researchers across the UK. The next upcoming event is Data Carpentry hosted by the University of Leeds on 29-30 October. The workshop will cover topics such as data organisation, data cleaning in Open Refine, manipulating and visualising data in R and data management with SQL. One of the instructors will be Krzysztof Poterlowicz of the University of Bradford who is attending the ELIXIR-UK supported Instructor Training 8-9 October. It is indeed very good timing allowing newly trained instructor to hone his teaching skills soon after being trained. 

We are hoping that this Data Carpentry workshop will also be an opportunity for to popularize the idea of Data Carpentry workshops. So far the Institute has helped to organise several of these in the UK primarily for life scientists. However, we are hoping to expand the target groups and provide other disciplines, such as social sciences, with training for best practices in working with research data.

Software Carpentry workshops for Women in Science and Engineering

ARCHER is supporting another training event, Software Carpentry for Women in Science and Engineering organised collaboratively by the Institute and Women in HPC initiative. The event will be hosted in Manchester on 14th-15th December 2015. The workshop with be the first one of the series of similar events which will be organised on regular basis across the United Kingdom. ARCHER and Women in HPC are happy to support this idea which should help achieve sustainability and address the gender imbalance in STEM.

Software and Data Carpentry Virtual Instructor and Helper Retreat

The Institute will host one of the sites for the Software and Data Carpentry Virtual Instructor and Helper Retreat which event will take place on 14th November. The Institute’s site will be at the University of Manchester. Aleksandra Pawlik, the Institute’s Training Lead will host the event. The other UK site will be run by the Imperial College London.

Centre for Doctoral Training Industry Day at Newcastle

On 18th September the Big Data Centre for Doctoral Training (BDCDT) at Newcastle University hosted an event during which the doctoral students presented their work to a number of industry representatives. The Institute was also invited to attend which provided an opportunity to discuss potential collaboration between the Institute and the BDCDT at Newcastle. 

Workshop organisation

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

  • 9th-10th November at Cullham
  • 16th-17th November at the University of Manchester (supported by CoDiMa project)
  • 25th November in Edinburgh
  • 16th-17th January in Bristol (NERC)
  • 18th-19th January in Leeds (NERC)

Giacomo has been following up several leads which should bring even more workshops in the UK in 2016. One of them is the SSI workshop offered as a CDT Training package. The administrative tool for workshop management, which was one of the  Google Summer of Code projects, allows for much more effective work. 

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