Wrapping Up the STScI Course

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

The online portion of our work with learners at the Space Telescope Science Institute wound up today. 6 of the 14 people who took part in the on-site workshop submitted "graduation exercise" videos, and three more sent apologies (time pressure, technical difficulties, etc.), which I think is a pretty good completion rate. As always, we finished up by asking everyone to give us one good and one bad thing about the class:

Good Bad
  • Test-driven development
  • Got some experience teaching in a new setting (from my on-site helper)
  • Exercises incorporated a lot of ideas (saw things in context)
  • Liked emphasis on "philosophical" parts: how to share work with colleagues, etc.
  • Liked the way the exercises were structured (e.g., the hints)
  • Useful to see how instructor worked through a problem from scratch
  • Changed the way I think about coding
  • Now breaking code into smaller chunks
  • Course has made me more aware of how I program
  • Now believe that good code should not need to be commented
  • The stuff on SVN was very useful
  • Needed to take personal time to do class
  • Disappointed by the narrowness of topics
  • Frustrated trying to get started (didn't have relevant background)
  • Course repeated a lot of things I'd seen before
  • N-body problem exercise was a biiiig jump
  • Would have liked assignments earlier
  • Time set for this meeting was inconvenient
  • Wanted more tips and tricks, psychology of programming, etc.

Some of the apparent contradictions in the "Bad" column reflect the diversity of learners' backgrounds; once again, I think this was the biggest challenge we faced. Overall, though, it was an interesting contrast to my experience running a class through P2PU. I've taught the content of Software Carpentry dozens of times over 14 years, so I had something immediate to draw on for the folks at STScI. On the other hand, I've never completed a course online myself, so I didn't have relevant personal experience to bring to bear at P2PU. I hope that by engaging local helpers in future bootcamp follow-ups, we'll help to grow a pool of people who can do that kind of teaching better.

Dialogue & Discussion

Comments must follow our Code of Conduct.

Edit this page on Github