Mozilla Science Lab Week in Review, Sept. 22-28


Many thanks to our hosts at the University of Virginia for the second-ever live Software Carpentry Instructor Training event this past week, and to all our students that made the event a success; it’s your effort and engagement that let these workshops happen, for which you have our sincere gratitude.

Thanks also to Damien Irving and the rest of the Research Bazaar group for posting a collection of their recent SWC videos for everyone’s perusal; these are great examples of workshop instruction, and a valuable start to our exploration of teaching feedback for all our instructors.

Last but not least, my personal thanks to Rachel Sanders of PyLadies and Naupaka Zimmerman from SWC for their enlightening comments at Instructor Hangouts, and to all those that attended; I always come away from our conversations with too many ideas to keep track of!

In & Around the Lab

Bill Mills was off adventuring at the University of Virginia early in the week, sitting in on the SWC Instructor Training course on the 23rd and 24th. Each time we observe this course and take its ideas out in the wild, a picture of reaching students becomes clearer; stay tuned for more thoughts & take-home lessons on this work over the coming weeks.

This week was also round two of Instructor Hangouts! Detailed thoughts from our roundtable were posted here yesterday; to summarize, after comparing notes with PyLadies, a picture is emerging of the crucial value of students teaching students in the spirit of peer instruction, the PyLadies study group model, and as an answer to the bugbear of serving a class of students who arrive at many different skill levels. Later in the conversation, we explored the idea of taking reverse instructional design’s practice of imagining student knowledge profiles (a guess at what a student knows before they come to class, so the instructor can teach to that foundation), and expanding it to include the student’s more general experience, so that reactions to opinions, demeanors, and framing can be anticipated, and instructors can predict how to deftly meet not only knowledge, but professional perspectives and emotional needs, too.

We also tried our first instructor video review at the Hangouts this week – but sadly no one came out to that event. Let us know in the comments, by email or on our brand new discussion forum how we can facilitate useful feedback sessions for instructors going forward!

Next Week’s Forecast

We’re just crossing t’s and dotting i’s on Interdisciplinary Programming, our pilot project to bring a diverse collection of science coding & design projects to you. You saw some previews of our projects at the Mozilla Science Sprint and Codefest – we’re hoping to have a solid (and imminent) launch date for the full program in the coming days.

Bill has been doing a lot of thinking lately about the practice of not just writing code, but building software to do the science you want to do; over the coming weeks, he’ll be launching a battery of blog posts and lesson material on what he’s learned on the topic. The first lands next week!

Also next week, Mozilla Science’s new discussion forum will be in full effect! No need to wait for us – the forum is up, feel free to start posting now – but we’ll be starting a spectrum of conversations, feedback threads and fun challenges to go along with all our offerings next week. Check back soon!

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