Software Carpentry

Helping scientists make better software since 1997

Post-Mortem

Today was the last day of the course, so we spent the morning talking about what had gone well and what had not. The high and low points were:

Good

  • The course was fun.
  • The TAs were fantastic.
  • The format (one hour of lecture plus two hours of lab, twice a day) worked well.
  • Enjoyed the parts where the instructors programmed live.
  • Liked the emphasis on working practices that complement coding.
  • Liked the spread of topics, and the variability of things that are useful in all the different fields.
  • Liked the pair programming.
  • Welcomed exposure to standard libraries that weren’t necessarily covered in the course.
  • Liked the pre-arrival questions about what people knew, were doing, and wanted from the course.
  • The examples were good.
  • So were the donuts.

Bad

  • Three weeks is too long.
  • Some of the later topics were not as useful.
  • Would have preferred to use standard libraries for the image processing lecture and exercises instead of simplified libraries.
  • Too little coverage of too many subjects.
  • The formatting of the slides leaves much to be desired.
  • Too many lectures ran over time (which was particularly hard in afternoon sessions).
  • Divided attention in FriendFeed is a problem.
  • The less applied stuff (e.g., computational complexity) wasn’t as useful or as interesting.
  • Students weren’t given enough time to work on their own projects.
  • Didn’t feel encouraged to make suggestions or provide feedback.
  • Not enough on shell programming.
  • Too much shell programming.
  • A/V between Toronto and Edmonton was crude by modern standards.

Changes

  • More on object-oriented programming.
  • More feedback on the students’ solutions to the exercises—they didn’t get the equivalent of grading.
  • Put the exercises up before the class, so that students know what the lecture’s going to be leading them to.

It’s been a good three weeks—I enjoyed getting to know the students, and look forward to seeing what they do with what they’ve learned.

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Written by Greg Wilson

2009/08/01 at 00:26

2 Responses

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  1. Something I forgot to mention at the post-mortem session: I would’ve loved to see more GUI programming using python and tkinter. I considered the GUI session was too superficial and we were clueless as how to solve an specific problem during the lab session.

    Francisco Jimenez

    2009/08/03 at 18:19

    • Agree with Francisco!

      While i missed the review session, i had a couple of comments on the course structure. Guest lectures were a waste of time for me, to be honest. I was expecting more skill-development-training than theoretical orientation (as in regular university courses). Too many things squeezed into one hour lecture and pace was just too fast for me (as a novice programmer).

      Shreeram

      2009/08/05 at 18:59


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