Note: Post co-authored with Auriel Fournier.
This week, I taught a Software Carpentry Workshop with Fan Yang and Auriel M.V. Fournier (Twitter, website) for intermediate learners in mechanical engineering. It had been a while since I worked with intermediate learners, but I think we all had a really good time!
- Class size: This was one of the smaller SWC workshops I've [AMW] been a part of. We had about 27 learners, and three instructors. All the instructors had some proficiency in each topic. This was a very good ratio, and we were able to help learners effectively.
- Class composition: The learners knew each other and felt comfortable asking their classmates for help. This meant that more advanced students were confirming their own knowledge through helping others, and less advanced students never had to wait for an instructor.
- Extra time with git: Intermediate learners need less of the syntax of languages and commands, and more information on the best practices. Spending more time on doing a merge, and doing a hands-on example gives them more practice with the skills that will be important in their development.
- About 15 minutes into the Unix lesson I [AMVF] realized that for many in the room this was review, and they seemed bored. This wasn't the best foot to start the workshop on since I didn't want to lose them right away, so I trimmed the lesson down as we went to make sure everyone got the base level but we didn't bore the others.
- Make: The Windows Installer wasn't working for Make. Our audience was about two-thirds Windows. So I [AMW] wrote an emergency lesson to plug the gap. I pulled some material from the UT biocomputing course and some from the Data Carpentry Data as Read-Only python lesson. The result was a lesson where we talked a bit about the os module and creating directories on the fly in Python, data management, and importing your own scripts as modules. I think this was useful, and would love to work with a partner to make this into a more complete lesson. The Windows Installer has now been updated, which should fix the issue.
- The room. I should have gone over to check out the power situation. We didn't have enough outlets.
- I [AMVF] had some major computer problems right before the workshop and used a friend's laptop to teach from, and didn't spend enough time checking to make sure I had everything installed, which caused a few hiccups.
- I [AMVF] should have spent more time reviewing general expressions so I could explain the WHY of the example I showed.
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