How The Carpentries Core Team is adjusting to better support each other and our community at this time
Online instruction is likely to be our new normal for some months. The key priority for our Core Team has always been, and will always be supporting our community. As we shift from in-person to virtual instruction, we acknowledge that this shift will impact all of our programs, but most heavily the Workshop Administration and Instructor Training programs. To provide space for this work, the Core Team has de-prioritised non-essential work, including many projects that we are all excited to work on. With the likelihood of reduced Core Team time due to illness and caregiving duties, we will use our time in the most efficient way possible to support our community in this transition.
For the next few months, we are planning for significantly reduced efficiency in our Core Team and reduced ability of our community to commit to work. We have designated a back-up person for each essential process and will communicate broadly about increased turn-around times on communications.
Our standard leave policies were developed with everyday life in mind, and are not appropriate for a global health crisis. Even if none of our Core Team members get sick, we are all likely to experience disruptions in our ability to carry on work as usual — whether from diminished childcare, changes in housing and/or workspace availability, or caring for sick loved ones. To accommodate these changed circumstances, we instituted several actions, including allowing team members to adjust working hours. We also opened a Core Team well-being Slack channel — a space for team members to ask questions, hold discussions, and share strategies and resources to help individuals on the team learn and exchange holistic approaches on the physical, mental, and social/collaborative aspects of remote working and work-life balance.
How our infrastructure is evolving to support community activities at this time
We are aware that there are learners who are unable to install software that is required for use in our workshops. The Curriculum Team has been working on piloting cloud infrastructure to help alleviate this issue and ensure learners are able to follow along while learning in the context of an online workshop.
Information about cloud instances that are now available as backup for learners with installation issues can be found in our recent blog post—Scaffolding Installation for Online Workshops. We are open to feedback to improve the instructions for Instructors and learners to make this as easy as possible to use. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions
The Infrastructure Team is also working to ensure that our services are operating normally. If you have noticed that something is not working as expected or if you have suggestions on tools or solutions that could help our community while we teach our workshops online, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
Accommodations to better support our Member Organisations
Elizabeth Williams, Director of Membership, has been working closely with the Instructor Training and Workshop Administration Teams to address the individual concerns of Member Organisations and the Community Development Team to establish dedicated communication channels to efficiently spread information specifically useful to Member Organisations as our Core Team and community continue to develop resources and send out updates.
We acknowledge the extensive delays caused by COVID-19 in different spheres. At present and by request, The Carpentries is offering to extend the term of membership for any organisation.
Regional Coordinators and Instructor Support at this time
The Regional Coordinators (RCs) play an important role in organising Carpentries workshops. The Workshop Administration Team has onboarded all of the Regional Coordinators into HelpScout, the mailing system used to keep track of emails. With this change, the Core Team can assist RCs with organising workshops and/or answering questions about workshops without a hassle. If an RC has to step away from their role, any member of the Core Team can pick up the conversations with Members/Workshop Organiser/Instructors/Community Members without the worry of impacting a Carpentries workshop.
The Workshop Administration Team (WAT) has been working closely with Core Team members whose work impacts any area of a Carpentries workshop. We want to provide as much support as possible to the Instructors and prepare them for teaching a successful workshop. To do this, the WAT recently published a blog post detailing How to Organise Carpentries Online Workshops. If Instructors have any concerns regarding a Carpentries workshop, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support for Carpentries Trainers
Our community relies on an amazing team of Instructor Trainers to bring new Instructors on board. In addition, in the midst of all the upheaval, many of these Trainers have been leading their communities and ours in the charge to translate The Carpentries teaching practices used in our technical workshops to function online.
Because many of our Trainers have reduced availability right now, we are offering a limited Instructor Training schedule for the upcoming quarter, with increased support from Trainers on our Carpentries Core Team. We will also be piloting a 4-half-day instructional schedule for these workshops to facilitate participation for Trainers and trainees with overlapping family responsibilities.
Despite reduced predictability in scheduling, there has been a strong interest within this community in actively supporting the move into online training. We are organising our efforts to support this interest, with additional meeting opportunities and a new platform for conversation on this topic.
Changes to bring CarpentryCon 2020 to the global Carpentries community
After our 1 April 2020 announcement on the cancellation of our in-person summer conference in UW-Madison, CarpentryCon @ Home was set up to provide an opportunity for the community to share resources and engage in virtual sessions. We appreciate that planning an event takes time. For optimal engagement and to extend flexibility to community members leading the effort to plan for the virtual conference, CarpentryCon @ Home is slated to take place over a two-month period from July 2020. We hope that this will allow both community members involved in planning and attendees to participate more. Any ideas and suggestions you have are welcome and can be sent to email@example.com.
Thank you to our supporters and funders
We extend our gratitude and thanks to our granting organisations (the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Mozilla Foundation and the Moore Foundation) for their continued support of The Carpentries. As the coronavirus pandemic evolved, our grant supporters immediately recognized the impact it might have on our team and community. They reached out to share their support in adjustments we all may need to make to support each other and our programs during this time. We appreciate their support in offering flexibility around timelines and deliverables, as needed. Thank You!
Supporting Learners in The Carpentries
A vast majority of the members of our community first encounter The Carpentries through workshops. One of the most important questions to answer for a learner before a workshop has been, how best can I prepare for the workshop? At this time, as we work to figure out how best to run Carpentries workshops online, we are keen to support learners. Here are some highly recommended resources that learners can tap into:
Before a workshop, read this blog post by Darya Vanichkina to help you prepare adequately -Having a Great Online Learning Experience: A Guide for Students
After attending a workshop, we encourage community members to join our community on Slack and TopicBox, and to feel confident to ask questions as they navigate our community spaces. The Carpentries is a welcoming community and we are excited to hear from you. Remember, you belong in The Carpentries!
For community members needing to take a break
Thank you SO MUCH for all you are doing as a member of The Carpentries community. We acknowledge that this is not an easy time, and should you need to take a step back from any of your steering, leadership, or facilitation responsibilities in The Carpentries community, please write a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make sure that your docket is covered for as long as you need.
For community members looking to engage more at this time
One of The Carpentries’ Core Values is ‘We value all contributions’. Now more than ever, community members are reaching out to each other for advice and sharing tips for teaching and learning online. Here are some of the ways you can be a part of this:
We are aggregating links to these community-contributed conversations and resources centrally in our Handbook, and updating the page regularly. You are welcome to contribute to it by opening an issue or submitting a PR in our Handbook repository.
If you are attending a workshop online, invite a friend or colleague to participate with you so that you have someone to interact with about the material post-workshop.
read a few posts in our blogs and suggest relevant tags for them, to help make them more discoverable!