Reflections about serving at Software Carpentry Steering Committee in 2015

This post is a personal reflection of my activities during 2015 for Software Carpentry community as a member of the Steering Committee.

Archive

You can read of my initial plans at https://software-carpentry.orgblog/2015/01/scf-nomination-silva.html

Giants

Thanks to all the giants that allow me to stand on their shoulders.

Child on the shoulders of giants.

“Hitching a lift” by Sami Paju is under CC-BY-NC-ND and available at https://flic.kr/p/kGYFSX.

Workshops in Latin America

In 2015 there was 6 workshops in Latin America:

  • Federal University of Paraná (thanks to Abel Siqueira)
  • University of Campinas (remote)
  • Federal University of Ceará (thanks to Daniela Ushizima)
  • University of São Paulo
  • Federal University of Bahia (thanks to Filipe Fernandes)
  • Colegio Universitario Hotel Escuela de Los Andes Venezolanos (thanks to Francisco Palm

This was the same number of workshops in 2014 but with a large geographic coverage and more diverse group of instructors.

Note

The number of workshops in 2014 was high because of the tour that I and Alex Viana made running 4 workshops in two weeks.

Instructor Pool in Latin America

Note

The numbers in this section aren’t 100% acurate.

At the begin of 2015 Software Carpentry had five Brazilian instructors and I was the only one living in Brazil. Others Latin America countries were in similar situation, i.e. with some instructions aboard.

With the many rounds of instructor trainings that Software Carpentry offered during 2015 the number of Brazilian instructors increase to 10 where more than half are living in Brazil. Geographic coverage is a issue but at least now we have enough instructors that could flight for delivery the workshops.

The number of instructors in others Latin America countries also increase. I have to salute Francisco Palm that is the first instructor in Venezuela and responsible for the first workshop in that country.

I’m aware that EREN, the Ecuadorian Research and Entrepreneurship Network, is trying to get the first instructors in Ecuador trained inspired by The Research Bazaar.

Translations

Wall with letters.

“Language” by Jurek d. is under CC-BY-NC-ND and available at https://flic.kr/p/qJHt7n.

Language is a big barrier for Software Carpentry discovery and spread in Latin America. Although most of the workshops in Latin America were taught in the local language the fact that the online lessons are only available in English demotivate and exclude many learners. Unfortunately, translate the lessons and keep the translation updated is a lot of work that can only be accomplished with a larger community or financial support of universities and research centers.

Sustainability

There are some negotiations going on to increase the number of workshops in Brazil in a sustainable way but the universities aren’t in a good financial period because “the Agency for Higher Education Development (CAPES) announced a 75% cut in its Postgraduate Research Support Program (PROAP)”, from http://www.editage.com/insights/economic-freeze-in-brazil-directly-affects-research-funding-and-expenditure.

Mentoring

Mother and children walking.

“Practising walking” by Janet McKnight is under CC-BY-NC-ND and available at https://flic.kr/p/d5FtCy.

At the Steering Committee I was in charge to lead the mentoring activities that is best represent by the debriefing sessions. The Mentoring Subcommittee was responsible to host more than 20 sessions that could be translated in more than 40 hours on Google Hangout plus others 40 hours to report the debriefings to the community as blog posts.

The Mentoring Subcommittee also meet online more than 15 times during the year to discuss the debriefing session, the AWESOME Software + Data Carpentry Instructor & Helper Retreat (thanks a lot to Bill Mills and Tiffany Timbers), the Pre Workshop Help Session and the activities for new instructors that will start in 2016.

Communication

The internal and external communication of Software Carpentry still need to improve a lot. The main complain is that there are too many blog posts, emails, GitHub issues, ... and is hard to keep update. Software Carpentry learn a lot during this year and will probably work hard to improve their communication in 2016.

2016

If you read until this point you should be asking if I will be stand for election again next year. Be on the Steering Committee was great and fun but I don’t know yet because (1) there are many amazing people in the community that can contribute a lot on the next Steering Committee and (2) I want some time for personal things. Independent of it I will continue contributing with Software Carpentry.