Our training plans for Q1 & Q2, 2016

When I decided to move to UC Davis, I was also seizing the opportunity to dramatically expand my training efforts. At Davis, it was made clear to me that I could substitute skills training -- in whatever guise I chose -- for my for-credit teaching; in consequence, I'd asked for money for a training coordinator in my startup offer, to give me space to organize workshops while figuring out an organizational & recharge model.

I started at UCD in January 2015, and moved in June, and I hired a training coordinator, Jessica Mizzi (@jessicamizzi), in August. So far she and/or I have run about 15 events in 2015. These events have mostly been 1- or 2-day workshops, on top of the two-week summer workshop that we did at MSU; I've done about half the teaching, with volunteers and others doing the rest. I also taught my first Data Carpentry workshop at Caltech in November.

The events have been a bit of a mixed bag for me. While the content has been well received (people seem happy on assessments, and most of the workshops are oversubscribed), one- and two-day workshops take up a lot of time (not to mention the two week workshop :). While the time to do this is more or less OK from my point of view, it turns out that during the term grad students, postdocs, staff, and faculty have a tough time taking even a full day off of their regular job. We also didn't really account for the exhaustion factor - teaching for two days in a row pretty much takes me out of commission for another day. Finally, because we were new on campus, we didn't get much of a chance to plan ahead - finding rooms was sometimes a scramble. Our main priority was just figuring out what might work as a general strategy.

So the whole thing was pretty helter-skelter and not that well thought out, and some things didn't work.

But! We've adjusted and are going to try new things for Q1 and Q2, 2016!

First: we really liked the three half-day workshops that we piloted in December, and we're going to run 27 of them from January to June. Roughly half will be "local-only" workshops like the Shell workshop, and the other half will be "local+remote" workshops, like Emily Dolson's d3.js introduction. All of the workshops will run from 9:15am-12:15pm Pacific time. We think this will be a much more workable time frame and length for many people; our Python and Shell half-day workshops were heavily oversubscribed. Unlike most *Carpentry workshops, we aren't flying in instructors, so we aren't constrained by travel cost per workshop in the same way, either.

You can see the list of upcoming workshops here - it being the holidays, we haven't done too much yet, but we have made github issues for the upcoming remote ones so you can subscribe to those.

Second: in an attempt to build out the local community for data intensive biology and computational research "done right", we will be running "Data Therapy" sessions at the UC Davis Data Science Initiative, every Wed from 3-5pm, starting on Jan 13 (and going through the end of June). Exactly how these will work is still a bit up for grabs, but we would like them to be "co-working" hours at which we provide coffee or tea along with friendly expertise. We're hoping to avoid "help desk" problems by inviting only those who have taken one of our workshops, and we'll see how that goes. I'm thinking about starting with little 15-minute research vignettes on things like Amazon Web Services, Docker, ImpactStory, etc. etc., and then seeing where that goes.

And, apart from that, I'm publicly promising to limit my training events so that I can get on with my research :). Well, in addition to the week-long Intermediate workshop in February, that two-day Docker workshop at Berkeley in January, a week of Data Carpentry in March, and a lesson development workshop in June. But other than that I will stand firm. Probably.

--titus

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