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Instructor Training: Online

Feb 16-17, 2016

9:00 am - 4:30 pm

Trainers: Greg Wilson


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.

Where: Online. 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.


Day 1

09:00 Welcome and introductions
09:30 Overview: key concepts and training goals
10:00 Formative vs. summative assessment
10:30 Coffee break
11:00 Teaching as performance art
12:00 Lunch break
13:00 Discussion on the exercise on teaching as performance art
14:00 Concept maps
14:30 Coffee break
15:00 Concept maps - continued
16:00 Motivation and demotivation. Diversity. Indifference.
16:45 Wrap-up
17:00 Close

Day 2

09:00 Recap and homework review
09:30 Alternative formative assessment techniques
10:30 Coffee break
11:00 Live coding and active learning
12:00 Lunch break
13:00 Overview of Software and Data Carpentry infrastructure
13:30 Setting up and running a workshop
14:30 Coffee break
15:00 Overview of existing materials; how to contribute
16:00 Next steps
16:45 Wrap-up
17:00 Close



  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.