What We Cover in Instructor Training

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

The sixth round of our online training class for Software Carpentry instructors is kicking off this week with 28 participants. Our main text is How Learning Works, an up-to-date summary of research results in educational psychology and instructional design, along with the chapter Mark Guzdial wrote for Making Software explaining why teaching programming is hard. Over the next 14 weeks, participants will work through both, and do the following:

  1. Create a concept map for a ten-minute lesson of their choosing.
  2. Create some assessment questions to distinguish novices from competent practitioners, and competent practitioners from experts (again, for one small topic).
  3. Make a three-minute screencast (which always takes a lot longer than people expect), and critique an existing screencast.
  4. Give someone technical help online (e.g., via screen sharing), and reflect on how that mode of teaching compares to teaching live and to recorded video.
  5. Work through our "driver's license" exam to demonstrate mastery of core Software Carpentry tools and concepts.
  6. Teach a topic at a bootcamp and post reflections on how it went.

Participants are sometimes surprised that we spend so little time on the Software Carpentry material, and so much on general theory and practice. The reason is simple: instructors must constantly adapt to new audiences and new needs, and knowing the principles behind good teaching is a lot more useful for that than intimate familiarity with our lessons on regular expressions.

The next round of training—our seventh—will start in early October. If you would like to take part, please send us email and we'll add you to the contact list.

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