2015 Post-Workshop Instructor Debriefing, Round 13

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

Last week the mentorship team ran the 13th round of instructor debriefing session and received feedbacks from the workshops at Brigham Young University (check Belinda's post about it), Johns Hopkins University, Notre Dame University, Pennsylvania State University, the Jackson Laboratory, the University of Queensland, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the University of Toronto - Women in Science and Engineering (check Pauline's post).

Workshops seen to be going as usual: learners are enjoying the lessons and instructors are having

  • small installation problem, normally not more than one or two learners, that can be solved with the help of the cloud (people from The Research Bazaar used it), virtual machines, extra machines and similar alternatives;
  • dealing with a few learners with internet connection due lack of credentials or use of proxy and sometimes slow connection to everyone;
  • and complains about too fast or too slow due mix of completely novices and "intermediate" learners at the same room.

Congrats to everyone for the amazing job and specially for those teaching the first workshop.


One of the suggestions at this debriefing session was to have a checklist for workshops. We actually have checklists, you can find them here. Unfortunately is hard to find it and this problem will only be solved when we rewrite our website. What we can do as a workaround is copy the checklist to our workshop template.

If you will be teach one workshop soon and want to take a few minutes to send us a pull request with the checklist will be fantastic.

Starting and closing the workshop

This is usually what instructors do but Sheldon highlighted that when planning the workshop you should save 10 minutes at the begin to explain what is Software Carpentry, what are the sticker notes for and how the etherpad works if you are going to use it. You also should save 5 minutes at the end and request that participants fill the post-workshop survey before they leave the room.

Sticker notes and etherpad

Sometimes learners are a little shy in using the sticker notes and the etherpad. If there is a etherpad for the workshop, instructors should break the ice around the etherpad at the begin of the workshop. Lead instructor should suggest that the helpers remind the learners to use the sticker notes.

R and ggplot

Some instructors are teaching R plotting package, ggplot, at R based workshops and they commented that will be nice to have a structured Software Carpentry lesson on it, within the main R lesson. The inflammation version of the R lesson doesn't cover ggplot but the gapminder version does and you should check it if you are going to teach ggplot.

What we can remove?

Most of the time instructors doesn't have enough time to cover the lessons completely, for example shell scripts, grep and find aren't taught in some workshops. This isn't a big problem but if you have a suggestion of something that we can drop or reword please contact us by email or open a issue at one of our repositories on GitHub.

Dialogue & Discussion

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