The Future of CarpentryCon and Community Programming

Upcoming changes to professional development and community building offerings

CarpentryCon, The Carpentries’ conference, was initiated as a biannual event to offer professional development and networking opportunities for our community members. The first in-person event occurred in Dublin, Ireland in 2018 and the next one, planned for Madison, Wisconsin in 2020, was transitioned to a virtual space in response to the pandemic. The most recent CarpentryCon was also held online and occurred from 1-12 August 2022. Over the years, we have learned a lot about the ways in which virtual and hybrid events significantly increase accessibility and how we can best support the community through our event offerings.

Most recently, we collected feedback by distributing a survey to CarpentryCon 2022 participants and to planning committee members to get feedback on their experience, and by having Core Team members reflect on the recent event to identify areas for improvement. From these data, an evaluation report was published that highlighted some key recommendations for hosting future events. Here, we highlight four of the recommendations made and provide information on how we plan to take action on those recommendations.

Assess community and Core Team capacity to support events

The first recommendation stated that we need “to fully assess the capacity of the community and Core Team to support an event. Doing this will help identify the appropriate scope that builds in contingencies to adjust the event size, considering community engagement and availability of Core Team members.”

Over the past few months, members of the Core Team have been discussing community needs, priorities, and our organisation’s capacity to support an international event in 2024. It had been announced at the end of CarpentryCon 2022 that the next conference would be in South Africa in 2024. However, following our assessment,** we have made the decision to host the next CarpentryCon in South Africa as a hybrid event in 2025 instead of 2024. The remainder of this post outlines how we plan to support the community during this year-long hiatus from CarpentryCon planning.

Increase professional development offerings

A major goal of CarpentryCon is to offer professional development opportunities for our community members. The conference program is currently limited by what sessions are proposed by members of our community, and we only had eight proposals submitted in the skill-up category in 2022. However, skill-up sessions and breakout discussions were some of our most attended sessions, averaging 23 and 36 attendees, respectively. Therefore, another recommendation included in the evaluation report was to increase professional development offerings for our community as part of CarpentryCon but also as part of our organisation’s ongoing programming.

In April of 2023, the Core Team will be releasing a new process for the community to propose and lead CarpentryCon-type programming throughout the year. This will support right-place-right-time programming that will hopefully be more accessible and impactful to the community. A blog post will be published next month that outlines this process. Core Team members are also identifying and developing skill-up programming to further support community professional development and networking.

Pursue more opportunities for community interaction

Another major goal of CarpentryCon is to offer networking opportunities for our community members. Informal meetups will be one of the session types the community can propose through the new proposal process. In addition to this, community coordinators will be encouraged to host local events, or CarpentryConnects, to bring community members together in person. The Community Development Team will host a skill-up session on leading local events that builds on the CarpentryConnect Planning Kit. Members of the community who have run events will be invited to participate to provide their insights and perspectives.

Continue and enhance activities that support event accessibility

Several respondents to the CarpentryCon 2022 post conference survey wrote of the importance of having in-person events in the future. We do intend to return to host the event in person in 2025, and a virtual option will be kept to follow the recommendation to “continue and enhance activities that support event accessibility.” We are also looking into the option of hosting regional satellite events, like CarpentryConnects, that could be coordinated at the same time to support building community across scales. There could be a regional host for the satellite event so the culture of the region could be built into a theme, with sessions and videos highlighting the region. Hybrid and satellite events require extensive planning to be successful and equitable so all participants have a similar experience. This hiatus period will allow us to adequately plan and prepare for what we hope will be a successful hybrid event that highlights the work and accomplishments of our community members in Africa and across other continents.

Share your thoughts with us!

The Core Team continuously strives to make improvements to our programs to support our community. If you have any questions or concerns about these changes, we would love to connect with you. You can attend one of the Director of Community’s three office hours in March, where the theme will be “community programming.”

You can also send us an email at any time.

Dialogue & Discussion

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