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»Data Carpentry« is non-profit organization that develops and provides data skills training to researchers.
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    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.

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  • 06/28/17--17:00: The Magic of Minute Cards
  • They only take a minute (hence the name: minute cards), but their benefits last a lot longer. During instructor training workshops, we use minute cards to get feedback from learners. They provide formative assessment for the instructors since the cards tell instructors what they are doing well (or not so well) so class teaching can be adjusted accordingly.

    Minute cards can alert instructors to questions and misconceptions that have arisen. They are also useful post-workshop to help instructors reflect on how they teach, and what improvements they might need to make in the future either to the lesson itself, or to how they teach it.

    Importantly, minute cards tell the instructors what they are doing well, and what things learners are excited about, which is very inspiring for an instructor. So, what is it with minute cards?

    What are minute cards?

    Cate Pickens introduced the idea of minute cards to Software Carpentry. The idea is that you have an index card, or your handy green and red sticky notes, and before each break, you ask learners to write ‘one thing you learned or liked’ on one side/on the green note and ‘one thing you’re confused about’ on the other side/on the red sticky note. Minute cards are the ‘ticket’ people turn in before they go out for lunch or leave the workshop. Feedback is hand-written on the notecards/stickies and is meant to be anonymous, since this encourages franker responses. (For online instructor training events, we collect this feedback through a Google form).

    Negative and positive feedback

    How to use minute cards during workshops

    So, you get all this valuable feedback. Now what? With your co-instructor, go through the notes. Pull out the awesome or funny ones and smile. Other notes might have suggestions that can be immediately addressed. For instance, if you see a few notes asking you to slow down, then you have a better understanding of the pace of the room, and it would be a good idea to teach the next part more slowly, with more checking for understanding as you go.

    Once people are back from break, consider taking a few minutes at the start to review whatever learners were confused about. Some notes may raise specific questions. If you see the same question more than once, try to address that question directly. Framing it as ‘many people raised this’ reassures people that they’re not alone with an issue, which helps build their confidence. Sometimes there might be issues that only one person raises, but it’s a fundamental enough concept that is is worth addressing for the class as a whole.

    Where a single question is intertesting but is outside the workshop scope,answer it in the workshop etherpad.

    Overall, minute cards are a great way to make sure you’re on track with your teaching during the workshop. You also get to hear about the things people are excited about learning. Tapping into their enthusiasm keeps your own enthusiasm levels high.

    After the workshop

    Once the workshop is over, we have to switch our attention back to answering all those emails that have piled up over the last two days. However, the notes are still really valuable pieces of information. Here are some ideas for your minute cards:

    • Use the information to inform your personal teaching strategies or style.
    • Add an issue to the lesson that the note references. For instance, if a few people mention things that they wish they had learned, or things that seemed out of order, file an issue on that lesson to let people know this suggestion. This is super helpful for the instructors who will be teaching this lesson after you!
    • Add an issue to a lesson that explains what people liked about the lesson. Knowing what is working well is just as important as knowing what is not working!
    • Share them on Twitter! Tweet a picture of the feedback and tag it @datacarpentry. Of course the positive ones are great, but if a more negative one provides constructive feedback, those are great too!
    • Put the happy sticky notes up on the wall in your office. Remember the positive impact you’re having on people, especially for those days when you get comments back from Reviewer number 3.

    Minute cards are more than just pretty pieces of paper. They’re useful pieces of feedback for you as an instructor and for the community as a whole.

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  • 07/07/17--17:00: Meet the Folks
  • Conferences can be lonely places, especially for first-timers who don’t yet have solid networks in place. The bigger the event, the worse the problem. With so many people milling around, how do you find like-minded people, much less start a conversation?

    The issue can be compounded if you’re in a minority. When you’re from an under-represented group, conferences can seem even more intimidating.

    At the upcoming SciPy 2017, Tracy Teal from Data Carpentry will address that and other issues around inclusivity when she speaks at the Diversity Luncheon on July 13.

    SciPy 2017 will be the 16th Scientific Computing with Python Conference. It aims to advance scientific computing through open source Python software for mathematics, science, and engineering.

    Held from 10-16 July in Austin, Texas, this year’s SciPy has a packed program of tutorials, hackathons, and presentations where participants can showcase projects, learn from skilled users and developers, and collaborate on code development.

    That’s a lot of moving parts for newbies to navigate. To help Software and Data Carpentry people find each other at SciPy, the event has been posted on our meetups page. Some Carpenters have already indicated they’ll be attending and have provided their details. Feel free to add your own details to the list. That way, you can all find each other at the conference. Encourage others attending to sign up too. You can even indicate if you think there should be a more formal Carpentries gathering there.

    If you’re looking to find people in real-time, the Carpentry Slack channel, the Software Carpentry Twitter feed or Data Carpentry Twitter feed are good places to look. Also, feel free to reach out to other people you see on the meetups page before you go to the conference. Knowing there’s at least one friendly face to look for is helpful, and that person might also have good advice on what talks to attend or where the best coffee can be found.

    You can use our meetups page to flag other upcoming events. Think of it as your tool to find people to talk to, and make all your conference-going more productive (and friendlier!)

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    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 help the Trainer community update 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!

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    A new version of the Carpentry Instructor Training curriculum is scheduled to be published on 10 August.

    To prepare for this release, we ran an Issue Bonanza on 13-14 July to identify bugs and issues such as typos and broken links. Now that these issues have been organised into a plan of work, we plan to resolve them with a Bug BBQ on 3-4 August. Help make sure the final product is polished and complete by getting involved.

    How do I help?

    We’ll be gathering online to tackle this project starting at this time: You can see more information about how to get involved in the Bug BBQ on the event Etherpad. Please sign up to let us know you’re coming!

    Why a new release?

    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 10 new Instructor Trainers to our community, with 15 more coming on board in September. We’ve learned a lot over the past six months so we want to incorporate what we’ve learned into our next release. If you’ve ever made a contribution to the Instructor Training materials, you’re already an author, so please come and help us get things straight.

    Why is the material important?

    This 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!

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    My name is Rachel Smart and I’m a graduate assistant for Digital Research and Scholarship (DRS) at FSU. I was adopted by DRS in mid-March when the Goldstein Library was reamed of its collection. It was devastating for the 2% of the campus who knew of its existence. Bitterness aside, I’m very grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given by the DRS staff who warmly welcomed me to their basement layer; here I’m being swiftly enthralled by the Open Access battle cry. The collaborative atmosphere and constant stream of projects never fails to hold my interest. Which leads me to Data Carpentry

    In May of this year, I met with Micah Vandegrift (boss and King of Extroverts) regarding my progress and the future direction of my work with DRS. He presented me with the task of running a data workshop here in our newly renovated space. Having never organized something this scale before, I was caught off guard. However, I understood the importance and need for data literacy and management trainings here on campus, and I was excited by the prospect of contributing to the establishment of a Data Carpentry presence here at FSU. Micah was kind enough to supply me with a pair of floaties before dropping me into the deep end. He initiated first contact with Deb Paul from iDigBio, a certified Data Carpentry instructor, here on campus and I joined the conversation from there.

    It took a few weeks of phone calls and emails before we had a committed instructor line-up, and we were able to apply for a self-organized Data Carpentry workshop in April. Instructors Matthew Collins, Sergio Marconi, and Henry Senyondo from the University of Florida taught the introduction to R, R visualizations, and SQL portions of the workshop. I was informed that you aren’t a true academic librarian until you’ve had to wrestle with a Travel Authorization form, and I completed them for three different people, so I feel thoroughly showered in bureaucratic splendor. However, the most obstructive item on my multipart to-do list of 34+ tasks was finding the money to pay for food. DRS has an event budget with which we paid the self-hosting fee and our instructors’ traveling expenses, but we were not allowed to use it for food. This delayed the scheduling process, and if it weren’t for the generous assistance from iDigBio, we would have had some very hungry and far fewer attendees. If I were blessed with three magical freebies for the next potential Data Carpentry event, I would use the first to transform our current event budget into food-friendly money, and I would save the other two in case anything went wrong (ex, a vendor never received an order). This may seem overly cautious, but just ask anyone who has had to organize anything. We are perfectly capable of completing these tasks on our own or with a team, but some freebies for the tasks which fall beyond our control would come in handy.

    Workshop photograph

    The event ran smoothly and we had full attendance from the 20 registered attendees. As busy as I was in the background during the event, attendees came up to me and let me know how well the workshop was going. There were also comments indicating we could do things a little differently during the lessons. I think most of the issues that sprung up during the event were troubleshooting software errors and discrepancies in the instructions for some of the lessons, for example, the SQLite instructions were written using the desktop version of the program and not the browser plugin everyone was using. The screen we used to display the lessons and programming demos was the largest we could find, but it was still difficult for some people to see. However, adjustments were made and attendees were able to continue participating.

    The most rewarding element of the experience for me were the resulting discussions among participants during planned collaboration in lessons and unplanned collaboration during breaks and long lunch periods. The majority of our participants have various backgrounds in the Biological Sciences, but as individuals they had different approaches to solving problems. These approaches frequently resulted in discussions between participants about how their various backgrounds and research impacted their relationship with the tools and concepts they were learning at Data Carpentry. On both days of the event, participants came together in our conference room for lunch and rehashed what they had learned so far. They launched into engaging discussions with one another and with DRS staff about the nature of our work and how we can work together on future initiatives. This opportunity to freely exchange ideas sparked creative ideas relating to the Data Carpentry workshops themselves. On the second day, an increased number of participants brought their own project data to work with in workshop exercises.

    The future of Data Carpentry here at FSU looks bright, whether I will be there for the next workshop is unknown. Thank you, Deb Paul, Micah Vandegrift, Emily Darrow, Kelly Grove, and Carolyn Moritz for helping me put this workshop together, and thank you to everyone who participated or contributed in any way.

    This post originally appeared on Rachel’s own blog. We thank Rachel for allowing us to replicate it here.

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    My name is Ivo Arrey and I am a graduate student at the University of Venda, South Africa. I first encountered a Carpentry-style workshop in 2015 when I was still part of the South African Earth Observation Network and its Graduate Student Network (SAEON-GSN) committee that organised the annual Indibano. Like it has been the culture of previous meetings, we usually set aside a slot for a workshop that teaches a new skill to delegates. I had my first encounter to a new way of automating repetitive tasks using Git and Unix Shell which was a mouth-watering experience and later R for new methods of data analysis to explore. Then came the opportunity to attend the instructor training with Software and Data Carpentry in North-West University, Potchefstroom campus which I immediately knew was the best way to consolidate my hands-on for these new skills which I had begun to grapple with for some time now.

    On 15-17 May 2017, we ran a self-organised Data Carpentry workshop at the University of Venda, South Africa, the second of its kind in the institution since my becoming a qualified instructor last year. We had delegates from a range of fields including social sciences, ecology, environmental sciences, auditing, natural sciences and hydrology and water resources. Given that this side of the country is under-represented in the Carpentry community, it was the first time for such an involvement for most of the participants.

    We started out with an introduction to caveats of data analysis in spreadsheets and then to OpenRefine using a data set from ecology. The response to these lessons were generally good. Most of the participants requested more time to digest the material. The last part of day one was spent on introducing some R. During breaks, many people expressed excitement in using these skills with their research data.

    On day two, we started with manipulating and analysing data with dplyr and then later moved to data visualisation with ggplot2. Just like what we experienced in the previous workshop, these two lessons took more time than expected. As a result, we cancelled the lesson on SQL. Like the Carpentries teach in instructor training, it’s more important to be sure learners learn than to cover all the material!

    On day three we had planned to provide the opportunity for participants to bring specific problems related to their research data and later introduce the aspect of community building with a Study Group on campus. This led to the birth of the Univen Study Group which had its very first meetup on 9 June, 2017.

    Our first Study Group meetup was really exciting as we got to hear from people how they have been exploring the newly learned computing skills. However, the bulk of the discussions were centred on establishing our study group repository on GitHub and making house rules. As such, we had a lesson on version control with Git and GitHub for collaboration. At this time, we have agreed to meet every fortnight to share and learn new ideas on doing reproducible research.

    Our journey with the Carpentries has just begun and we are looking to make waves as more members aspire to become qualified instructors in the near future.

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  • 08/02/17--17:00: Work Cycle Phobos Wraps Up
  • We’re wrapping up Cycle Phobos. 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!

    Communication around Assessment

    What did we do? Data Carpentry launched new pre- and post-workshop surveys. These surveys include skills-based questions and the ability for respondents to provide a unique identifier so that we can run paired analyses. We are in the process of phasing out the old surveys, and the new surveys have been added to Data Carpentry’s workshop template. An R-Markdown report of our old pre- and post-survey data was drafted during this work cycle. During the next work cycle, the report will be completed and the data archived for our website.

    Additionally, during this work cycle, Kari Jordan completed her analysis of Software Carpentry’s post-workshop surveys. Check out the blog post for more details about this report and the corresponding repo. Jonah Duckles plans to present the results of this report to the 13th IEEE International Conference on eScience in Auckland, NZ, this October.

    Lastly, the Carpentries’ long-term assessment report has been posted on GitHub. During the next work cycle, Kari will lead a small team who will write a formal paper about the results of these analyses.

    How can you help? If you are interested in getting involved with our assessment efforts, you’re invited to join the virtual assessment network Google group.

    Data Carpentry Genomics Lesson Release

    What did we do? To ready the Data Carpentry Genomics lesson for release, we put out a call and were overwhelmed with volunteers. To plan the work, we created guidelines for both lesson maintainers and the lesson advisory committee. Then, to start the work, we ran a mini bug BBQ on the lessons at the recent UC Davis instructor training event. The Genomics lessons are now all in the new workshop template, which involved combining some lessons (and retiring others) to create a coherent curriculum. We now have a Genomics workshop page that links to the appropriate lessons.

    How can you help? We welcome feedback on the changes made. We encourage instructors to teach the lesson and report back on how it went. We welcome further changes and suggestions for improvement.

    Recruit New Trainers

    What did we do? To help meet the ever-growing demand for instructor training, we put out a call for new trainers. From the 39 applications we received, 15 new trainees were accepted. They began their eight-week ‘Train the Trainer’ program in early July and should finish soon. Thanks to the Trainers who helped design the application form and assisted with candidate selection.

    How can you help? We want to keep building our Trainer group. We hope to open a new round of applications sometime between September and December this year. When the call goes out, please help us spread the word. If you are already an instructor, consider becoming a Trainer.

    Open Instructor Training

    What did we do? To try to manage our large backlog of instructor training applicants, we planned four open training events to run through July and August. This will help 82 new trainees get their instructor badges. The four events cover the United States (both western and eastern time zones), Europe and Africa. Despite these big numbers, a backlog still remains. If you are still waiting to train, we have not forgotten you! We hope to run more open training, although these events need to be balanced by the needs of partners and potential partner sites for training. We also have a finite number of Trainers, though numbers are increasing.

    How can you help? We always have more applicants than we can find places for. Accordingly, we have developed a scoring rubric to help us select candidates. If you are interested in helping us select candidates for the next rounds, please get in touch.

    Instructor Training Curriculum lesson release

    What did we do? A working group of trainers and instructors met to plan the August 10 release of the Software and Data Carpentry Instructor Training curriculum. To ready the materials for the release, an Issue Bonanza was held on 13/14 July to identify bugs, issues and broken links. The bonanza yielded a range of issues to be fixed. These have now been assembled into a plan of work, which will be addressed by a Bug BBQ on 3/4 August.

    How can you help? Join us for the Bug BBQ. Help is welcome from interested instructors, trainers and supporters. You don’t have to commit a huge block of time (though you can if you want to). All help is appreciated.

    Our next cycle - Cycle Ganymede - July 31st through September 22nd

    Stay tuned for an announcement of what’s coming up! As always, if there’s something you’re excited about and would like to see, post your idea to our Conversations repo or get in touch.

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  • 08/06/17--17:00: Reflections on Assessment
  • As I approach my one-year anniversary on staff with Data Carpentry, I’m reflecting on what we’ve accomplished this year. I came into this role with no data science experience whatsoever: self-efficacy had been the focus of my doctoral dissertation and post-doctoral work. That background knowledge made for an exciting time exploring our workshop survey data and letting the community know what our learners think about our workshops.

    I’ve come a long way this year, partly because of my ability to transfer learning, but mainly because of our community. Looking back at the first report I wrote about Data Carpentry’s workshop impact, compared to my recent report about the impact of Software Carpentry’s workshops, you’ll see that I’ve learned a lot about using R. For that, I owe thanks to all the community members who responded to my tweets for help, hopped on Zoom calls with me, and contributed to my GitHub repositories. I truly feel that I belong to this community, and am living proof that having a growth mindset can lead to success in whatever field you’re passionate about.

    Thanks to that help from this great community, I was able to develop a long-term assessment strategy that includes the launch of our new skills-based pre- and post-workshop surveys, and our joint Data and Software Carpentry long-term survey.

    Let me stress the importance of our pre- and post-workshop surveys. We know anecdotally that our workshops help learners improve their skills and confidence. We see it when the faces of learners light up during workshops. We hear it during instructor discussion sessions when participants can’t hide their excitement about what they’ve achieved and how much they look forward to teaching. We know that new instructors are fielding requests to run workshops. However, without hard evidence that proves we do indeed enable learners to quickly apply new skills to their daily research practice, we run the risk of missing out on opportunities to effect change in the data science space.

    Survey links have been pre-loaded into Data Carpentry’s workshop template, but we need you, our instructors, to encourage learners to complete those surveys. Even the best-designed survey is useless without responses. So, how can you help?

    • Include the survey links in both your introductory and post-workshop follow-up e-mails.
    • Ask learners to arrive 15 minutes early to complete the pre-survey, and stay a few minutes after to complete the post-survey (This is not ideal, as it doesn’t allow instructors time to calibrate the workshop to attendees’ skill levels, but it is better than nothing).
    • Add the survey links to your workshop Etherpad or Google Doc.
    • Explain how these surveys not only push learners to take responsibility for their own learning, but also help them track their progress towards their learning goals.
    • Tweet the survey links before and after your workshop.

    These are just a few ways you can support our assessment efforts. We also invite you to join the virtual assessment network. We created this network to provide a space for those interested in assessment in data science to collaborate and share resources. We meet quarterly - our next meeting is in November. Check out what we’ve already achieved, and feel free to join us!

    I am very proud of the work we’ve done, and excited about what’s to come. I’d love to hear from you. Tweet your thoughts to @datacarpentry and @drkariljordan.

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    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 the 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.