PyCon 2014 Proposal

I submitted this proposal to PyCon 2014—win or lose, I hope to see you all there.

Submitted by: Greg Wilson
Category: Education
Python Level: Novice
Audience: scientists, educators, and community organizers
Objectives: Attendees will learn what we know about free-range teaching and learning, why very smart people still mostly can't program, what's wrong with MOOCs, and what the #1 priority for creators of new programming languages ought to be.
Duration: I prefer a 45 minute slot
Description: This talk will explain how Software Carpentry has grown to run over a hundred training events a year, what we've learned along the way, and how you can do it too.


Over the last 15 years, Software Carpentry has evolved from a week-long training course at the US national laboratories into a worldwide volunteer effort to raise standards in scientific computing. This talk explains what we have learned along the way the challenges we now face, and our plans for the future.


  1. Overview
  2. From Red to Green (or, why our first four attempts failed)
  3. What We Do Now (what a bootcamp looks like, and why)
  4. Small Things Add Up
    1. live coding
    2. open everything
    3. use what we teach
    4. meet the learners on their own ground
    5. collaborative note-taking
    6. sticky notes and minute cards
    7. pair programming
    8. keep experimenting
  5. Instructor Training
  6. TODO
    1. too slow and too fast
    2. finances
    3. long-term assessment
    4. installation, installation, installation
    5. teach on the web (and why not)
    6. what vs. how
    7. standardization vs. customization
    8. watching vs. doing
  7. How You Can Help

Speaker Bio

Greg Wilson is the creator of Software Carpentry, a crash course in computing skills for scientists and engineers. He has worked for 25 years in high-performance computing, data visualization, computer security, and academia, and is the author or editor of several books on computing (including the 2008 Jolt Award winner "Beautiful Code") and two for children. Greg received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Edinburgh in 1993, and presently works for the Mozilla Foundation.

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