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CodeRefinery instructor training: Institutional partnerships and sustainability

Overview

Teaching: 20 min
Exercises: 10 min
Questions
  • How to support CodeRefinery?
  • What will happen after the end of CodeRefinery-2?
Objectives
  • Learn CodeRefinery sustainability plan.
  • Discuss on how to become a CodeRefinery partner.

Sustainability plan

In October 2018 CodeRefinery entered the second phase of the project, with funding from NeIC until autumn 2021. A key objective for CodeRefinery 2.0 is to render the project largely self-sustained after October 2021.

Public documents

Documents relating to the management of the CodeRefinery project, including project directive and project plan, are available on the NeIC website.


Vision

  • After phase 2, travel and accommodation for workshops will be financed by the hosting institution, similarly to the Carpentries model.
  • The lesson material will be maintained by the community, volunteers, and in-kind staff time.
  • Employers will be encouraged to allow instructors across Nordics to participate in-kind in 1-2 workshops/year.
  • A completely self-financed organization may not be realistic, but we aim to arrive at a project which can continue using 0.5-1 FTE/year for coordination.

Reaching this goal will depend on developing institutional recognition for the project. But how do we get there?


Benefits

Universities, e-Science initiatives and other organizations need to be convinced to support or otherwise endorse CodeRefinery.

The pitch can be quite simple - continuity of the CodeRefinery project will lead to:

  • More competent scientists and researchers
    • Software development is a core part of research for many scientists and researchers
    • CodeRefinery contributes to an increased competence in software development tools and techniques among scientists and researchers
    • Preparation and delivery of workshops is also a great learning opportunity for the instructors
  • Better science
    • Reproducibility of research code
    • Reusable and extensible code
    • Collaborative learning and knowledge transfer

Challenges

In theory, everyone is happy with training. In practice, once it is no longer free, how will it continue?

  • Minimum effort needed for a workshop:
    • Coordination in months before workshop
    • Three instructor travel and accommodation for three days
    • Time to prepare, time to teach.
  • Will institutions be able to budget for staff costs?

Example: Recurring workshops

Aalto University and soon KTH and Trondheim provide examples of recurring workshops:

  • A well-defined and connected target audience
  • Local workshops twice a year
  • One or two local (non-CodeRefinery staff) instructors locally
  • Zero or one remote CodeRefinery instructors travel (and one or two CodeRefinery instructors already in the city).
  • Workshops have been made “routine” - minimal advance discussion needed.

Option 1

  • Routine workshops
    • A host institution provides 1-2 local instructors
    • Host institution pays for 1-2 remote instructors to travel, but no salary
    • Host institution sends 1-2 instructors to some other remote workshop at a different partner.
  • Bootstraping new members
    • Other sites kickstart a new institution by sending more instructors and demonstrating a full workshop. Initial instructor training begins.
  • Coordination
    • Central coordination, new institutions can easily join.
    • .5-1 FTE funded by NeIC or by partner fees?
  • Training and meetings
    • Yearly meeting and training funded somehow…

Option 2: peer to peer

A smaller way to start would be to take a core group of institutions (e.g. Aalto and KTH) and they agree to send an instructor back and forth twice a year for networking and teaching a workshop. Possibly as part of NordicHPC and other collaboration? This would require less central coordination, and eventually merge into option 1.


Building a community

Building a community will be another essential requirement to reach sustainability.

Several avenues should be pursued:

  • Train-the-trainer program
    • Promote, train, and certify future trainers at annual train-the-trainer workshops
  • Symbiosis with The Carpentries and PRACE advanced training centers
    • CodeRefinery can be positioned as the second step after attending a Carpentry workshop
    • Coordinating with PRACE advanced training centers, embed CodeRefinery workshops within PRACE?
  • Symbiosis with local units
    • Partner with universities to bring workshops to their community as a default service
    • Aalto Science IT to serve as perfect model
  • Research software engineer (RSE) community in the Nordics
    • CodeRefinery can serve as a hub
    • Bi-annual or annual conferences, inspired by UK-RSE

What can you do?

  • First and foremost: teach workshops!
  • Spread the word. Tell friends and colleagues about upcoming workshops and encourage them to become instructors.
  • Contribute new material or ideas for new material and/or suggestions for existing material.
  • Talk to your higher-ups. Is your employer willing to contribute in-kind?

Discussion

  • What do you think will be needed to reach sustainability?
  • How do you think the lesson material should be maintained after project funding ends?
  • What type of partnerships do you think are possible?

Key points

  • CodeRefinery sustainability plan