The best way to design a course is to describe the things students will be able to do when it's over; the best way to do that is to specify graduation exercises. Ours are listed in the <a href="http://softwarecarpentry.wordpress.com/goals/">Goals</a> page on the new <a href="http://softwarecarpentry.wordpress.com">Software Carpentry</a> blog. We would be grateful for feedback: are these the things you want to be able to do? What did we forget? What could we take out to make room for things you care about more? Please leave your comments on the page itself; we'll update it regularly based on what you say.
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