How we're getting things done

This post originally appeared on the Software Carpentry website.

Adopting work cycles

The Data and Software Carpentry staff have been working together to make progress on projects that are important for our community. To help us do this, we’re trying out a new work process based on BaseCamp’s six week work cycle. You can read their blog post if you’re interested in the details of how structuring a work cycle works. We’re picking a small handful of projects to focus on for each six week cycle, with each staff member working on one or two projects. For each project, we’re setting realistic goals we know we can accomplish before the end of the cycle and holding ourselves accountable to meeting those goals. We’re spending the first two weeks of the cycle planning those goals, dividing up the work into teams, and setting timelines to make sure we stay on track. We envision this workflow having some specific advantages, including:

  • Reducing clutter and letting us focus on making progress.
  • Making it ok to say “we can’t tackle this right now, but that’s an important project, can we do it next cycle”?
  • Making it possible for busy community members to be involved without having to commit time indefinitely. (No commitments after the cycle ends!)
  • Bringing staff time and resources together with community enthusiasm.
  • Giving us a structure for regularly communicating what we’re working on with the community at large.
  • Providing passionate community members more opportunities to get involved.

We’re still working out some of the details of how working in cycles will work for us, but we’re excited to share our plan for the first round. If there’s something you’re excited about for the next round, let us know! If you’d like to join (or organize) a team for one of the next few cycles, let us know! Please post an issue on our conversations repo or email

Our first cycle - Cycle Prometheus (January 23rd - March 17th)

Our first cycle started at the end of January and goes through the middle of March. Here’s what we’re hoping to accomplish in our first cycle.

Planning for Data Carpentry Ecology Lessons Release

Tracy, François Michonneau, and Erin are working on Data Carpentry’s first lesson release! In addition to starting the process for releasing our Ecology lessons, we’re also working on setting up a process for future lesson releases. Based on Software Carpentry’s success with the Bug BBQ last year, we’re planning an Issue Bonanza to coordinate community effort on preparing the lessons for release. Keep your eyes peeled for announcements and ways you can contribute!

Streamlining Process for Instructor Training

Erin and Maneesha are continuing Greg’s instructor training work and are updating the instructor training program process for organizing training events and tracking trainee progress from training through checkout. We’re simplifying how we schedule instructor training events and putting together resources for instructor trainers. We’re also streamlining the process of tracking instructor trainees to make more efficient use of our staff and volunteer time. Lastly, we’re exploring our needs for new instructor trainers and planning the recruitment and training process. If you’re interested in becoming an instructor trainer, please email Erin so we can keep you in the loop about future plans.

New hire

Tracy, Jonah and Kari are working a new hire for Software and Data Carpentry. Posting coming Monday, February 20th, so keep your eye out for more information!

Setting an Assessment Strategy

Kari is developing a strategy for both near-term and long-term assessment of Data Carpentry workshops. She’s putting together new pre- and post-workshop surveys for learners at Data Carpentry workshops that will be piloted starting in April, as well as a long-term assessment for learners from previous workshops to be piloted by mid-March. She’s also cleaning up code and formalizing a template for regular quarterly data releases on assessment efforts. We need more Data Carpentry workshops to pilot our new surveys! Please consider organizing a workshop at your institution in April. Let us know what we can do to support you in getting a workshop set-up. Please email Maneesha.

Lesson Contribution Guidelines

Erin, Mateusz Kuzak, Aleksandra Nenadic, Raniere Silva and Kate Hertweck are working on making it easier for new instructors and other community members to contribute to lesson development. We’re reaching out to the community to understand roadblocks people may have with the development process, and then developing new documentation and resources to help reduce these barriers. We’re collecting feedback from all of the various discussion threads and GitHub issues. Please keep commenting there, and stay tuned for more opportunities to give us feedback!

Continuing Work

We’re also continuing to work on our many ongoing projects, including (but not limited to):

  • Publishing our monthly newsletter
  • Running our blogs
  • Maintaining our websites and lessons
  • Coordinating workshops and instructor training events
  • Teaching at workshops and instructor training events
  • Hosting discussion sessions and instructor teaching demos
  • Speaking publically about Data and Software Carpentry
  • Running our Virtual Assessment Network
  • Organizing our Mentorship Program
  • Serving on the mentoring subcommittee, trainers group and bridge subcommittees

If you’re interested in helping with any of this ongoing work, or would like to make suggestions about what to tackle in our next cycle, let us know! Please post an issue on our conversations repo or email

Our next two cycles will be:
Cycle Deimos - March 20th through May 12th
Cycle Phobos - May 15th through June 23rd

Dialogue & Discussion

Comments must follow our Code of Conduct.

Edit this page on Github