pydoit half-day workshop debrief


Earlier today I taught a half-day workshop introducing students to doit for automating their workflows and building applications. This was an intermediate-level python workshop, in that it expected students to have operational python knowledge. The materials are freely available, and the workshop was live-streamed on YouTube, where it is still available.

This workshop was part of a series being put on by our lab the next few quarters. A longer list of the workshops is at the dib training site, and Titus has written on them before.


Overall, I was happy with the results. Between the on-site participants and live-stream viewers, our attendance was okay (about ten people total), and all students communicated that they enjoyed the workshop and found it informative. Most of my materials (which I mostly wrote from scratch) seemed to parse well, with the exception of a few minor bugs which I caught during the lesson and was able to fix. As per usual, our training coordinator Jessica did a great job handling the logistics, and we were able to use of the brand new Data Science Initiative space in the Shields Library on the UC Davis campus.

Thoughts for the Future

We did have a number of no-shows, which was disappointing. My intuition is that this was caused by a mixture of it being the beginning of the quarter here, with many students, postdocs, staff, and faculty just returning, and the more advanced nature of the material, which tends to scare folks away. It might be another piece of data to support the idea of charging five bucks or so for tickets to require a small amount of activation energy and thus filter out likely no-shows, but we’ve had good luck so far with attendance, and it’d be best to make such a decision after we run a few more similar workshops (perhaps it would only need to be done for the intermediate or advanced ones, for example).

We also had several students with installation issues, a recurring problem for these sorts of events. I’m leaning toward trying out browser-based approaches in the future, which would allow me to set up configurations ahead of time (likely via docker files) and short-circuit the usual cross-platform, python distribution, and software installation issues.

I really enjoyed the experience, as this was the first workshop I’ve run where I created all the materials myself. I’m looking forward to doing more in the future.


ps. this has been my first post in a long time, and I’m hoping to keep them flowing.