Carpentries at Harvard Symposium

July 12, 2021

We are excited to announce a Carpentries Symposium featuring Dr. Kari Jordan, Executive Director at the Carpentries, as the Keynote speaker!

This symposium will be a virtual meeting to share experiences, innovations and foster wider discussions among the various groups at Harvard using The Carpentries content and/or their pedagogy. Join us for an afternoon of speakers and breakout sessions focused on growing the Carpentries community at Harvard. This event is free and open to the entire Harvard community.

This event is co-sponsored by the Countway Library of Medicine, the Harvard Chan Bioinformatics Core, and the Harvard Library Research Data Management Program

Program below updated with video recordings (2021-08-05).

Keynote | Video Recording

Dr. Kari Jordan, Executive Director, The Carpentries
Title: The Carpentries Response to a Global Pandemic | Community Notes 
Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic limited travel and in-person workshops. As a result, The Carpentries method of delivering two-day in-person workshops no longer met the needs of the community. As early as March 2020, Carpentries community members began informally sharing their strategies and tips for teaching workshops online, and it became clear that online instruction was likely to be the norm, indefinitely. The Carpentries response to online instruction expanded and resulted in lessons learned that are shaping the future of the organization. In this talk, Dr. Kari L. Jordan (Executive Director) will highlight various strategies the organization employed to support the Carpentries community in the shift from in-person to online instruction. This forum will be an opportunity for attendees to share ideas and ask questions related to The Carpentries response to a global pandemic, in an effort to build the local Carpentries community at Harvard.


Lightning Talks | Video Recording

1. Hugh Truslow, Head, Social Sciences and Visualization, Harvard College Library
: Learning from Library Carpentry: An Instructor's Perspective | Community Notes
Abstract: When a few seasoned data trainers for the Digital Scholarship Support Group joined forces with the library's research data management program to offer a two-day Library Carpentry session in January 2019, there were lessons to be learned and insights gained from bringing the Library Carpentry model in as a means to meet the library's goal on increasing data skills among staff. Hear what they learned about the benefits of the Carpentries approach, the advantages of the existing lessons, and how they both facilitated collaboration.

2. Mary Piper, PhD, Research Scientist, Associate Director of Training, Bioinformatics Core, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Title: Optimizing NGS-based Data Analysis Training using the Carpentries | Community Notes
Abstract: The Harvard Chan Bioinformatics Core provides consulting and training services to the Harvard community. Six years ago, we initiated a new training program designed to empower researchers not only to understand next-generation sequencing, but also to perform analysis of their own data. Many of the elements used to build the foundation of this program were drawn from organizational ideas, material formatting and content of the Carpentries. We will explore how the Carpentries have aided us in achieving our goal of making NGS analysis accessible to experimental researchers. From the organizational perspective, we have utilized strategies based on Carpentry workshops such as using red and green stickies to denote whether or not there are problems during the workshop and post-workshop surveys to assess workshop satisfaction and areas for improvement. Also, critical to our mission and success of our program has been the design of our workshop material, which is based on Carpentry design. We have strived to teach solely from markdown lessons so that participants can follow along and easily catch up if they fall behind; however, this design has also allowed for participants to return to the material in the future for additional review. Fortuitously, the markdown design of lessons allowed us to easily pivot to a flipped-classroom workshop format during the Covid-19 pandemic, which allowed us the flexibility to have participants do much of the self-learning on their own, while we addressed questions and ran through exercises during shorter ‘in-class’ Zoom sessions. Finally, much of the content for our early workshops for R and the command line used the Carpentry material as a base to build from. Many of the main pedagogical methods from these lessons continue to be incorporated in our workshops, including the insertion of exercises throughout our lessons and the focus of interactivity. The Carpentries have been key for the set-up and success of our program, and we were fortunate to have had the Carpentries as our base from which to build.

3. Jeremy Muhlich, Director of Software Engineering, Laboratory of Systems Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School Department of Systems Biology
Teaching a Customized Version of Plotting and Programming in Python | Community Notes
Abstract: In 2016 and 2017, we organized two-day SWC workshops on shell and Python for our own lab. As these learners tried to apply the lessons and write their own Python programs for day-to-day data analysis over the subsequent months, we were able to observe first-hand where they struggled and hear what they later wished had been covered in the course. I will discuss how another software engineer and I redesigned the lesson to address these issues and taught it ourselves to another cohort in 2019.

4. Lindsay Whitacre, Digital Content Management Librarian, Monroe C. Gutman Library, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Title: Drawing on Carpentries Training for Data Cleaning | Community Notes
Abstract: As librarians and archivists we spend a lot of time working with and sifting through data. We have spreadsheets and naming conventions and most often those don’t line up in a way that play nicely with each other. OpenRefine is a free, open source tool that is effective in quickly cleaning and exploring datasets in tabular form. It allows the user to import data from a spreadsheet and quickly clean up messy data; everything from standardizing names and extensions to bulk renaming items. It is a powerful tool for harnessing your data. I will be walking through some basic functions in OpenRefine as well as creating a simple GREL (Google Refine Expression Language) script to show how quickly you can transform your data.

5. Bob Freeman, PhD, Director, Research Technology Operations, Research Computing Services, Harvard Business School
: A Wrinkled in Time; or Carpentries-Informed Approaches in Practice | Community Notes
Abstract: A young, idealistic researcher approached Greg Wilson about Software Carpentry lessons many moons ago. Since then, we've seen The Carpentries mature to have international influence, add Data and Libraries Carpentries (among others) to the portfolio, and inform how Research Computing Services at HBS builds and conducts its teaching framework(s). We'll visit specific points in time to see these past and present changes.


Birds-of-a-Feather Discussion Sessions

1. Online Training with The Carpentries | Community Notes
2. How to Grow a Community | Community Notes
3. Assessing Effective Training Impact | Community Notes