Outcome of October Community Discussion for Nordic and Baltic Countries

Best practices on online teaching compared to in-person? How to build more visible community network? Nordic and Baltic community is moving forward

This blogpost is repost of a blogpost at CodeRefinery and is based on the notes made on Carpentries Community Discussion Etherpad on the 30th Oct. 2020.


The Carpentries say “never touch learners keyboard”. Should instructors rigidly follow this advice in online workshops or should we be more flexible in order to overcome the challenges of teaching online?

On October 30th 2020, a Carpentries community discussion was held with discussion focused on Nordic and Baltic countries. The host was Annika Rockenberger (Carpentries instructor trainer). Including the host and the co-host, totally 15 participants joined: 6 from Norway, 3 from Sweden, 3 from Finland, 2 from Denmark, and 1 from Bangladesh (Thanks for joining, all!). A complete list of the participants can be found below.

First, experiences from 2 online workshops were shared. The theme above was raised as a part of the discussion. The active discussion left little time for other topics, but we had a positive and creative suggestion for further collaboration and community building for Nordic and Baltic region: There was a suggestion for running a joint workshop on AR technology and the idea to create a mapping of expertise in the region to facilitate cross-border collaboration.

There are ongoing initiatives to develop Nordic community further. Among other things, information about the Nordic Research Software Engineer initiative and its first online get-together event on 30th Nov. - 2nd Dec. was announced.

Workshop debriefing

Experiences from two recently held online Carpentries workshops were shared and discussed:

Sweden, Stockholm – Mix and Match (SQL, OpenRefine, Python programming and plotting)

A Self-Organised workshop by KTH, Stockholm University, and Karolinska Institute

  • (Lina, instructor of this workshop) Felt it was hard to teach online, as she was unsure if it reached to the audience. But it went fine.
  • (Radovan) (In his experiences from teaching online workshops in CodeRefinery) Jumping into breakout rooms to see how the participants did in exercise sessions helped a lot. Also being able to ask/answer questions asynchronously via HackMD hopefully lowers barrier to ask (does not delay others).
  • (Annika) Even being able to see helpers’ faces would help despite having all the learners camera off. Also, when breakout room size is small, it is easier to get impression of the learners.

Norway, Bodø – DC social science

A Centrally-Organised workshop at Bodø University

  • (Lars, instructor of this workshop) Breakout rooms helped as it enhanced dialog. One of the key issues in the Carpentries. Remote control function worked well. The other instructor used this function to help a learner in the main room. It took some time to build trust.
  • (Anne) “Taking over learner’s keyboard on an in-person workshop should never happen”, the Carpentries says! But this concept could be too rigid. This should be given back as feedback to the Carpentries.
  • (Lina) Depending on the context?
  • (Annika) Communicating the principles and the important parts for not leaving participants behind in critical situation would be the essential thing to consider when taking over keyboard or not.
  • (Joakim) Important thing is not give pressure on instructors.
  • (Lina) Letting learners take over instructor’s screen would be interesting.
  • (Lars) Polls for ice-breakers as well. Easy to rush through, but important not to, especially when you cannot see faces as feedback.
  • (Radovan) Hopefully useful tips for online teaching learned from CodeRefinery workshops: https://coderefinery.github.io/manuals/

Community building, collaboration, and ongoing initiatives in the Nordic and Baltic region

  • (Tobias) Is planning to run a workshop on AR “Let’s build an augmented reality web app!” based on a full-day workshop given at the research bazaar at the University of Oslo earlier this year:
    • goal: making 3D holiday greeting card using HTML and JavaScript: https://arworkshop.teebusch.repl.co/card1.html
    • The lesson material is all there: https://repl.it/@Teebusch/arworkshop
  • (Joakim) Suggestion of a repository of Carpentries Nordic/Baltic community members with specialities and skills
  • (Annika) Google Sheets for this?
  • (Anne) EOSC Nordic claims to be a knowledge-hub
  • (Radovan) Is also working on mapping.


  • Nordic RSE (research software engineers) online get-together (Nov 30 - Dec 2): https://nordic-rse.org/events/2020-online-get-together/
  • Local-nordic Carpentries mailing list: https://carpentries.topicbox.com/groups/local-nordic
  • CodeRefinery workshop in November 17-19, 24-26 (registration closed): https://coderefinery.github.io/2020-11-17-online/

Participant list

  1. Annika Rockenberger (host, Norway, Oslo)
  2. Naoe Tatara (co-host, Norway, Oslo)
  3. Kerstin Lenk (Finland, Tampere)
  4. Lars Kjær (Denmark, Copenhagen)
  5. Tobias Busch (Norway, Oslo)
  6. Lina Andrén (Sweden, Stockholm)
  7. Mohamed Abdelhalim (Norway, Oslo)
  8. Annajiat Alim Rasel (Bangladesh, Dhaka)
  9. Joakim Philipson (Sweden, Stockholm)
  10. Thomas Arildsen (Denmark, Aarborg)
  11. Radovan Bast(Norway, Tromsø)
  12. Samantha Wittke (Finland, Helsinki)
  13. Olav Vahtras (Sweden, Stockholm)
  14. Anne Fouilloux(Norway, Oslo)
  15. Richard Darst (Finland, Helsinki)

Thank you for all the contributions!

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