If you’ve never heard of The Carpentries before, you may be confused - have I gotten into woodworking?! (No… but I have gotten into knitting - the real kind, not the RMarkdown kind).

From the horse’s mouth, here’s what The Carpentries is all about:

Vision: Our vision is to be the leading inclusive community teaching data and coding skills.

Mission: The Carpentries builds global capacity in essential data and computational skills for conducting efficient, open, and reproducible research. We train and foster an active, inclusive, diverse community of learners and instructors that promotes and models the importance of software and data in research. We collaboratively develop openly-available lessons and deliver these lessons using evidence-based teaching practices. We focus on people conducting and supporting research.

-– The Carpentries - About Us

How I got involved with The Carpentries

My first semester of my MSLIS, I took an Intro to Python class with Elizabeth Wickes. After completing the class, Elizabeth (an Instructor Trainer with The Carpentries and an elected member of the Executive Council since 2018) encouraged me to take the Carpentries instructor training class and get involved with the local UIUC chapter of The Carpentries… but it took me another year before I felt comfortable enough with my technical skills to feel like I could teach them. In December 2019, I finally took the instructor training class with Elizabeth Wickes & Neal Davis. It was a 2-day class that prepared new instructors to teach Carpentries workshop - with a special emphasis on how to teach while live-coding. As with all things Carpentries, the Instructor Training course is also freely available.

I had the chance to be a helper for one in-person workshop in early 2020 before… the pandemic happened. Then, everything went remote. I was a helper for another workshop series online, before I finally felt comfortable enough to teach a workshop for myself in Summer of 2020 - the SQL lesson, which remains my favorite lesson to teach!

Why I love The Carpentries

The Carpentries is something special. For one, all of the workshop lessons are freely available - so anyone can use the lesson plans to teach or learn for themselves. The lessons live in GitHub repos, so they can be collaboratively developed. Anyone can develop their own Carpentries lesson using the provided template and submit the lesson to the Carpentries Incubator, so there are a ton of lessons out there beyond the core set. All of the lessons follow a similar pedagogical philosophy live coding throughout the workshop, getting learners to a place of being able to use their new skills as quickly as possible, and being as inclusive and supportive as possible. This reflection blog post details some of the pedagogy that is the foundation of all Carpentries lessons.

The Carpentries is also all about community. Some instructors are based at a university and have the support of their local chapter, but even if instructors don’t have a local chapter, they can be supported by the global online community. There are community discussions via Zoom and a Slack workspace so instructors can stay connected and learn from each other, and many instructors are active on social media, like Twitter. There’s also CarpentryCon!

So if you’re interested in getting involved with The Carpentries, go for it! I cannot emphasize enough how much I have learned and benefited from being a part of The Carpentries community.