software carpentry teaching

Software Carpentry Workshop, Oxford, 9-10 January 2017

Earlier this week I instructed the first Software Carpentry workshop run by the Reproducible Research Oxford project. This is a one-year project supported by the IT Innovation Challenges Fund and the Social Sciences Division. It is led by Laura Fortunato and I’m a member of the project team. One of the main aims of the project is to embed Software and Data Carpentry within the University of Oxford. The workshop was held at The Oxford Research Centre for Humanities and we had around 25 learners from a wide range of backgrounds, ranging from clinical medicine to the Bodlean library.

There are only a handful of qualified instructors within the University – my co-instructor was Iain Emsley who you can see at the right in the photo above – and so one of the main objectives of the project is to train additional Software and Data Carpentry instructors to allow workshops like these to become self-sustaining. For me, one of the key defining characteristics of Software Carpentry is that “everyone was a learner once”, in other words, yesterday’s learner is today’s helper who is tomorrow’s instructor. So creating a core of instructors, along with running a series of workshops will, we hope, bootstrap the process within the University.

If you read the About page on the Software Carpentry website it says

Since 1998, Software Carpentry has been teaching researchers in science, engineering, medicine, and related disciplines the computing skills they need to get more done in less time and with less pain

I don’t agree with this; I think researchers in the Humanities and Social Sciences have just as much, if not more, to gain from learning some of the skills we teach. Reaching academics from these disciplines will give this project a unique “Oxford flavour” and I anticipate may move us to develop bespoke material, much as has been done by Data Carpentry.

By Philip Fowler

Philip W Fowler is a computational biophysicist studying antimicrobial resistance working at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

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