Greg Wilson

Greg Wilson

Years ago, I lost my temper while arguing with my brother, and said, "Jeff, I could teach you everything I know and you'd still be an idiot." Please keep that in mind as you read this site.

Co-founder of Software Carpentry
Editor and author of books on computing and teaching
(and for children)
Ph.D. in Computer Science
Parent, spouse, and proud Canadian

The Third Wall

Dec 8, 2018

My brother Jeff used to say that the third wall’s the hardest. What he meant was that when you’re painting a room, the first wall goes well because you’re excited about getting started, and the second wall’s OK because you’ve found your rhythm, and the last well isn’t bad because the end is in sight, but the third wall—that’s the hard one. You’re tired, you’re bored, and you still have a lot to do. That’s when you make your mistakes.

Three Courses

Dec 6, 2018

People who’ve known me for a while will have heard all this before, but since some of you haven’t, here’s what I would put in the core of a modern undergraduate software engineering curriculum. Each proposed course is one semester (13 weeks).

Analyze That! Very Preliminary Results

Dec 6, 2018

What questions do people who teach computing most want computing education researchers to investigate? A few months ago, Brett Becker, Michelle Craig, Paul Denny, and Greg Wilson decided to find out. Inspired by Begel and Zimmermann’s “Analyze This! 145 Questions for Data Scientists in Software Engineering”, we contacted several hundred people through mailing lists, discussion forums, and other channels, then divided them at random into two groups. One group proposed questions, which we sorted and merged. The second group then ranked those questions from “very unimportant” and “unimportant” through “indifferent” to “important” and “very important”. We still have a lot of analysis to do, so this list may change, but here are the ten questions that most people thought were most important:

Teaching Workshop on March 2, 2019

Dec 5, 2018

I’m very pleased to announce that we’re offering a one-day workshop on how to teach tech (and other things) at the Toronto Public Library on March 2, 2019, and that the workshop will be co-taught by Stanford’s Amy Hodge. Registration will officially open on February 2; details will go up on this page, and I’ll reannounce here. This workshop is open to the general public, and we hope to see you there.

One Last Step

Dec 2, 2018

I’ve been saying for a while that within a few years, most people who are analyzing data will be doing it in JavaScript. It has an enormous user base, great tooling, libraries for doing almost everything else, much higher performance than most people realize, and will soon (thanks to Arrow) have bindings to a high-performance SIMD calculation engine.

OER Landmines

Dec 2, 2018

Some great discussions this past week with some new friends in the Open Educational Resources movement. A few things that came out of it:

Learning from McMaster

Dec 2, 2018

The medical program at McMaster University is one of the best in Canada. While everyone likes to toot their own horn, they’re simply telling the truth when they say:


Nov 30, 2018

Somewhere out there, in this universe or another, there’s a third Aliens movie in which we discover that the monsters from the first two films are precursors to an intelligent, civilized species. When they want to colonize a new world, they drop a few eggs on it and let the gnarly beasts eliminate potential threats, then turn into a third phase that has poetry and technology and what-not. What drives the film is Ridley’s reaction to this discovery: can she set aside the horrors she has been through and make peace (however grudging) with the aliens, or is the trauma too much to overcome?

Lesson Installation

Nov 30, 2018

Teaching as a Telenovela

Nov 29, 2018

I have never been a fan of a daytime soap opera (that I’m willing to admit in public), but I once had a chance to see one being filmed, and I came away with nothing but respect for their writers, actors, directors, and crew. Five hour-long episodes a week, year after year, is a hell of a slog: where a Broadway actor might have weeks to learn her lines and get into character, a headline character in a telenovela gets one read-through before being put in front of a camera.