Our First Workshop - Bioinformatics Hub of Kenya

Originally posted on the Bioinformatics Hub of Kenya website, this blog post highlights learnings from the BHKi's first R workshop on 24 and 25 March 2021

This blog post was originally posted on the Bioinformatics Hub of Kenya website. The Bioinformatics Hub of Kenya aims to bridge the gap between well-established bioinformaticians and aspiring ones through peer training and mentorship, so as to enhance collaborations to foster quality scientific research and innovations and promote the sharing of data, skills, and codes.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” That is what we can say about our first R workshop, which was also our first workshop as the Bioinformatics Hub of Kenya (BHKi). We gathered the knowledge and experience we all had as a committee and put it together to deliver the two-day workshop. It happened on the 24th and 25th of March 2021, and it was such a journey. So let us take you through it.

The Planning

The idea was in mind and we had conversations with The Carpentries for months. The assistance was impeccable, special thanks to Angelique Trusler, without whom we would not have managed to move with the grace we did. All that was left was the execution. We first set our dates and began our planning. We approached our very capable trainers, Benson Muite, Jennifer Shelton, and Beatrice Waweru. Cut to amazing women in data science, it was such an honour to have two female instructors. They graciously accepted the call and we were set on instructors. Curriculum development was step two. The Carpentries curriculum was modified to fit our curriculum, with additions and removal of some items to ensure the best learning outcome for our trainees. Find our curriculum and program at the Bioinformatics Hub of Kenya website. The call to our members was the next step. We designed a registration form to call out for attendees which had an amazing response. Our Twitter analytics showed massive responses from the platform which says something about how we can reach more people and expand our network. The applications were also quite diverse in terms of fields of study, which speaks volumes about the need for R knowledge in several fields.

Pre-training days

Before the actual training, we did a pre-training on the 22nd and 23rd of March, to install the necessary software and to interact with our trainees to understand them better in terms of skill. This was useful in ensuring the two days were solely dedicated to the curriculum material.

The Training

Both workshop days began on time at 9:00 AM EAT. The pre-training was a big help as there were few technical hitches with the trainees. The teaching assistants were on standby and had breakout rooms for the trainees who had issues. The trainers’ tag teamed awesomely, picking up where the other left off quite smoothly in the training schedule. One of our trainers had some issues with their audio but this was sorted on the second day. We used a live HackMD document where we wrote the codes and the challenges as the trainers used in the sessions. This was helpful for the trainees in case they had internet troubles during the sessions. This was also made available on GitHub. The first session was fast according to the trainees but they caught up as they got the basics according to the post-workshop survey.

Big Thank You

Thank you to The Carpentries for the assistance to conduct the training and we look forward to more collaboration.

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