Media and Arts Technology Students Software Carpentry Workshop

We ran a 2-day Software Carpentry course for Media and Arts Technology Programme students at Queen Mary, University of London on the 6/7 February. More than 25 students were around during the two days of the workshop. Whereas most Software Carpentry boot camps are organised and attended by volunteers, this experimental workshop was delivered as part of a departmental research-methods induction course.

Software Carpentry at QMUL

This workshop followed the usual syllabus of the Software Carpentry events. It was a 2-day workshop focusing on how to write and change software more easily, through straightforward software and data management practices. The syllabus comprised topics such as version control, Python programming, keeping track of data, task automation using the shell and principles of software testing.

This workshop was organised and delivered with the collaboration of Steve Welburn, of the SoDaMaT project, which delivered a module on Bash and another on Data Management.

All the material from the course is available online and can be found here.

In traditional Software Carpentry style, we rounded up the good and bad points of the workshop identified by participants at the end of the second day:

Good Bad
  • use of coloured stickies to ask for help
  • good choice of tools (Mercurial, Python)
  • second time around (had attended one of these before) helped consolidate
  • nice atmosphere, felt comfortable asking stupid questions
  • version control section was quite clear
  • shell/terminal explanation helpful
  • smooth start, from a basic level
  • acting as a helper was educational itself
  • good choice of examples and exercises (except one which went wrong)
  • explained answers to questions clearly and patiently
  • pretty good that everyone had more or less the same setup
  • more than one presenter to avoid boredom
  • too many windows, too hard to follow sometimes
  • some material too specific
  • sometimes too fast
  • could have done with an intro to "Why Python?"
  • would have preferred git to Mercurial
  • should have been longer
  • lost momentum and attention in one example which got stuck
  • each day involves too much teaching time
  • sometimes got lost
  • too hard to see screen from front of the room (craning neck)
  • compulsory module

Software Carpentry at QMUL

We're planning to organise another event like this at Queen Mary in the next couple of weeks, so please let us know if you have any ideas, suggestions or questions!

Updated please read Steve Welburn's post on this workshop here (external link to the SoDaMat blog page).