More thoughts on my recent 12 hours of Software-Carpentry-inspired teaching: one feedback card that I will keep in my rainy-day folder said the learner liked my jokes.
The jokes came in after the second break on the first day, before I figured out that 15 minutes was the right length for the break. I was trying to bring the group back together after only 5 minutes off, and having trouble. “Knock knock,” I said, not too loudly. “Who’s there?” answers some handful of learners who heard me over the racket. Now the room was starting to focus on this. But what did I have to deliver? “Isabel,” I offered, thanks to my 7-year-old neighbor.
Do you know this one? I need to get some Python-relevant material for future courses. Anyway, more of the class was now working with me on it. “Isabel who?” they politely offered. “Is a bell necessary on a bicycle?” Definitely a winner… you never know what will go over until you try it on stage.
I’ve recently completed 12 hours of teaching Introduction to Python and SQL for an audience of new Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) staff and fellows. SWC is a gem! (I have been thinking this for a while.)
In retrospect, what worked and what might I do differently next time?
Some SWC mechanics that worked well: Live coding, Hands-on exercises, Sticky notes, Jupyter notebooks, and friendly teaching assistants.
Some things to change: Remember to give the big-picture framing for each section, Do more explanation of solutions after hands-on exercises, Share the syllabus ahead of time, and emphasize that this is *introduction* material.
Some changes that I made mid-stream: longer breaks (15 minutes every hour or so), connect the examples to IHME-specific domains.
I also did not use an etherpad until we got through Creating Functions (Section 6 in the Python Inflammation Lession). That might have been too much typing in the first two sessions, and it was definitely appreciated.
I’m working on conflict epi stuff again, and it is a challenge. Here is a short film that I ran into which tells some of these stories a different way than our numbers.