Carpentries Instructor Training

Feedback from the first Carpentries Instructor Training at the East Coast of South Africa

In March 2019, staff and students from UKZN, UNIZULU, MUT, UFH, Rhodes, and TENET participated in the sixth in-person Software and Data Carpentry Instructor Training in South Africa.

The first Carpentries instructor training on the East Coast of South Africa took place at University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in Durban, 18th - 20th March 2019. Carpentries instructor training in South Africa had previously taken place in the Western Cape, Gauteng, and North West. Although these events were open to everyone, Carpentries style data and computational skill workshops are still rare at institutions on the East Coast of South Africa. With over 30 new instructors trained from KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, we hope to influence a larger community in South African institutes. The participants came from UKZN, Fort Hare, University of Zululand, Rhodes University, Mangosuthu University of Technology, and TENET, and represented postgraduate students, lecturers, professors and support staff from computer, environmental, health, information and library, life, and social sciences.

The workshop was hosted by Prof. Francesco Petruccione, the Pro Vice-Chancellor for the UKZN Research Flagship in Big Data and Informatics, and co-sponsored by UKZN’s capacity development programme and RCCPII. The training was facilitated by Dr. Katrin Tirok (Durban), Ms. Samar Elsheikh (University of Cape Town), and Mr. Saymore Chifamba (Siyavula, Cape Town), who were joined by Dr. Malvika Sharan from Germany (EMBL).

During the workshop, attendees learned the basics of educational psychology and instructional design and looked at how to use these ideas in both intensive workshops and regular classes. The workshop was a mix of lectures and hands-on lessons and attendees had the opportunity to practice giving a short lesson using approaches learned and to implement some of the teaching techniques that were discussed. The group vibe was incredible throughout the workshop. Participants from the different institutions and disciplines actively engaged in classroom discussions. An efficient icebreaker and the networking event (see below), complemented with frequent breaks and refreshments facilitated more conversations beyond the classrooms. At the end stood a workshop planning session, where we grouped the participants as per their affiliation (i.e. institution). The participants were then asked to discuss the logistics and different stages of planning involved in organising a workshop. Our participants thoroughly enjoyed this part and presented their plan to the entire classroom. We are looking forward to see some of those plans to be put into practice.

A networking event on the 18th March gave our future instructors the opportunity to get to know each other and to meet with interested researchers at UKZN. Prof. Francesco Petruccione introduced his vision of Python as a language of instruction next to English and Zulu at UKZN. UKZN is currently building an active Carpentries community that will bring workshops to all schools and colleges across the campuses.

Highlights Instructor Training UKZN

    Software Carpentry Data Carpentry Instructor Training Train-the-Trainer