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Instructor Training: North-West University

Apr 17-20, 2016

9:00 am - 5:00 p.m.

Trainers: Aleksandra Pawlik

Helpers: Anelda van der Walt, Maia Lesosky

Software Carpentry and Data Carpentry's mission is to help scientists and engineers get more research done in less time and with less pain by teaching them basic lab skills for scientific computing. This hands-on two-day workshop covers the basics of educational psychology and instructional design, and looks at how to use these ideas in both intensive workshops and regular classes. The workshop is a mix of lectures and hands-on lessons where you practice giving a short lesson using approaches learned and implement some of the teaching techniques which we will discuss. This is training for teaching, not technical training; you do not need any particular technical background, and we will not be teaching that. This workshop is based on the constantly revised and updated curriculum.

Who: The course is aimed at everyone who is interested in becoming a better teacher. In particular, this training is aimed at those who want to become Software and Data Carpentry instructors, run workshops and contribute to the Carpentry training materials. You don't currently have to be an instructor or a teacher to attend this workshop, but you do need to be willing and committed to becoming one and to improving your teaching techniques.

Application details:

  • The workshop is open to researchers and postgraduate students currently affiliated with research institutions in South African as well as other African countries.
  • Applicants will have to demonstrate familiarity with the Software and Data Carpentry materials and models of teaching either through previous participation in a workshop or through selfstudy of the following materials:
  • Interested individuals have to apply in groups of at least two but not more than four.
  • Applicants will have to commit to co-organise and teach a Software or Data Carpentry workshop at their home institution within 12 months of the instructor training workshop.
  • Upon request, applicants will have to provide proof of support from their institutes to run a Software or Data Carpentry workshop within 12 months of the instructor training.
  • The workshop organisers aim to provide 50% of the available spaces to women to encourage broader diversity in computational communities.
  • An online application form should be completed by each applicant individually.
  • Applications close on 20 March 2016.
  • Successful applicants will be notified by the latest 27 March 2016.
  • Where: Potchefstroom Campus of North-West University. Get directions with OpenStreetMap or Google Maps.

    Requirements: Participants should bring a laptop that is Internet connected and has a functioning browser. If you have it, a device for recording audio and video (mobile phones and laptops are OK) is useful as throughout the two days, we are going to record one another teaching in pairs or threes. It does not have to be high-quality, but it should be good enough that you can understand what someone is saying.

    Please also read the Preparation section below. You will also receive some further information before the workshop so please check your email.

    All participants are also required to abide by Software Carpentry's Code of Conduct.

    Contact: Please email for more information.


    Sunday, 17th April, 2016

    18:00 Registration in the foyer
    18:30 Dinner
    19:30 Participant's presentations
    before 21:00 Close

    Monday, 18th April 2016

    08:30 Arrival and welcome
    09:00 Introduction to study groups
    09:45 Topics for study groups
    10:15 Setting up study groups
    10:15 Recap and discussion
    10:30 Coffee break
    11:00 Developing study groups
    12:00 Mozilla Science Lab Study Groups by Aurelia Moser
    12:30 Lunch break
    13:30 Instructor Training overview: key concepts
    13:45 Formative vs. summative assessment
    15:00 Coffee break
    15:30 Teaching as performance art
    16:30 Wrap-up

    Tuesday, 19th April 2016

    08:30 Recap and homework review
    09:00 Concept maps
    10:00 Cognitive load theory and faded examples
    10:30 Coffee break
    11:00 Reversed instructional design & Bloom's taxonomy
    11:30 Learning objectives
    12:00 Motivation and demotivation. Diversity. Indifference.
    12:30 Lunch break
    13:30 Teaching as performance art - part 2
    14:30 Setting up and running a workshop - part 1
    15:00 Coffee break
    15:30 Setting up and running a workshop - part 2
    16:00 Introduction to Data Carpentry by Tracy Teal
    16:45 Wrap-up

    Wednesday, 20th April, 2016

    08:30 Live coding and active learning
    09:00 Live coding exercise
    09:30 Coffee break
    10:00 Live coding exercise - continued
    10:30 Training materials - how to contribute
    11:30 Next steps
    12:00 Close

    We will use this Etherpad for chatting, taking notes and sharing URLs.


    Please see this website for the course material, or follow the links below:

    1. Introduction
    2. Terms
    3. Mental Models
    4. Lesson Study
    5. Mapping Expertise
    6. Managing Memory
    7. Lesson Design
    8. Teaching Practices
    9. Motivation
    10. Demotivation
    11. The Carpentries


    1. Please read Porter et al's "Success in Introductory Programming: What Works?", which is a good recent summary of results specific to teaching programming, and Mark Guzdial's "Top 10 Myths About Teaching Computer Science", which is a nice overview of things that are not true, but are widely believed.
    2. Please also pick up a copy of "How Learning Works", which is currently the best summary of research in education. It is full of useful insights, and a lot of how we teach is based on the findings it reports.
    3. Finally, please go to Software Carpentry's lessons page and Data Carpentry's lessons page to see what is currently taught by each.

    If you are interested in doing more reading, Huston's "Teaching What You Don't Know" is a lot of fun - many will recognize themselves in these stories. Past participants have also enjoyed "Building a Better Teacher", which is a well-written look at why educational reforms in the past 50 years have mostly failed, and covers what we should be doing instead.