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The Carpentries at the University of Toronto

The Carpentries @ the University of Toronto

There is now a local Carpentries community at the University of Toronto! This community began forming in 2019, as the result of a project funded by a Chief Librarian Innovation Grant.

We support inclusive learning communities for novice learners at the University of Toronto to acquire foundational data and computational skills through a unique pedagogy, guided by a vision to strengthen collective knowledge, inspire innovative thinking, and bolster research power.

The University of Toronto Carpentries community equips current and future researchers with these necessary foundational skills through a variety of ways. One is to promote existing learning opportunities at the University. Another way is to connect instructors and learners sharing similar values of empowerment and collaboration within the University community and beyond. Yet another way is through organizing or hosting modular, localized workshops by request. Regardless of the approach, the aim is to give novice learners from all backgrounds:

  • the confidence to learn fundamental skills in a low-risk, collaborative environment;
  • the ability to continue to build upon the skills they have gained; and
  • a connection with peers to continue to build a supportive learning community.

The Carpentries supports three general learning tracks to the novice learner, depending on the need: Data Carpentry, Library Carpentry, and Software Carpentry. These tracks are highly adaptable and can be used to inform local curriculum development. Key to the ethos of the Carpentries community is how technical skills are taught; instructors are committed to optimizing inclusivity and being sensitive to barriers to learning as much as possible for the novice learner.

Data Carpentry

Data Carpentry workshops are domain-specific, to ensure we are teaching researchers the foundational skills most relevant to their domain and using examples from their type of work. 

Note: The University of Toronto offers other types data-related learning opportunities on a regular basis. To access workshop offerings in the near future, be sure to check out:

Library Carpentry

Library Carpentry workshops teach people working in library- and information-related roles how to:

  • Cut through the jargon terms and phrases of software development and data science and apply concepts from these fields in library tasks;
  • Identify and use best practices in data structures;
  • Learn how to programmatically transform and map data from one form to another;
  • Work effectively with researchers, IT, and systems colleagues;
  • Automate repetitive, error prone tasks.

The Core and Extended Curricula include lessons that introduce terms, phrases, and concepts in software development and data science, how to best work with data structures, and use regular expressions, the Unix command line, shell navigation, and other skills to streamline work.

Software Carpentry

A Software Carpentry workshop integrates three core topics: the Unix shell, version control with Git, and a programming language (Python or R), and may be supplemented with other lessons selected from the Data Carpentry or Library Carpentry curricula.

Summer 2021 Instructor Training Call for Applications

University of Toronto Libraries, in partnership with the Critical Digital Humanities Initiative and Faculty of Information, is pleased to announce available funding to train 50 Instructors to teach technical skills workshops through The Carpentries, an organization dedicated to teaching foundational coding and data science skills to researchers. Their programming encompasses three streams that can be customized for a wide range of disciplines—Data CarpentryLibrary Carpentry, and Software Carpentry

The plan for this year’s Carpentries membership is to train 50 instructors to teach technical skills workshops*, two cohorts of 25 participants each. The first cohort is scheduled for this summer, and the next is planned in the fall or winter term.

If you are interested in learning pedagogy for effectively teaching basic technical skills, please consider this call for applications for the summer cohort of Carpentries Instructor Training and save the dates. The call is open to students, staff, faculty, librarians, and community members in any area of research, study, or interest across the three campuses. Other considerations will include the applicant's 1) willingness to complete certification and 2) capacity to respond to emerging coding and data science needs at the University of Toronto. 

Successful applicants will be immersed in a virtual two-day training on the pedagogy of teaching foundational coding and data science skills to novice learners. Participants will also learn more about The Carpentries community and the process of completing certification. To learn more about the curriculum for the Carpentries Instructor Training course, please visit the course page

Carpentries Instructor Training event details:

Dates: August 31-September 1, 2021

Time: 9am-5pm each day

Instructors: Jordan Pedersen, Amanda Charbonneau

Location: The training will take place virtually on Zoom. Details will be confirmed with successful applicants closer to the training dates.

Applications will be accepted until August 8, 2021. Applicants will be notified of their status no later than August 17.

Please contact May Chan for any questions.

*This project is made possible by the 2021-2022 Chief Librarian's Innovation Grant, the Critical Digital Humanities Initiative and the Faculty of Information.

Upcoming Workshops

TBA. Stay tuned for upcoming events.

For more information about future workshops, or to request a workshop, please contact libraryhelp@utoronto.ca. Important Note: Please indicate you are asking about “The Carpentries” in your email subject/body to ensure your email reaches the appropriate contact.

Project Timeline & Key Successes

2019-2020 Chief Librarian Innovation Grant

Through funding from the 2019-2020 Chief Librarian Innovation Grant, the U of T Carpentries project team was created to facilitate the training of Carpentries instructors at the University of Toronto, and begin building a core community of instructors across its interdisciplinary communities from all three campuses.

This community has been designed to collaborate with U of T librarians and library staff to support faculty, researchers, staff, and students interested in acquiring and/or teaching fundamental computational and data science skills in a low-risk, collaborative environment. The U of T Carpentries team sought to build relationships throughout the diverse communities of U of T and beyond.

July 18-19, 2019: Carpentries Instructor Training

After an overwhelming response to a call for applications from the U of T community, we invited a group of 24 researchers, staff, and students to participate in the highly sought after Carpentries Instructor Training. Applicants selected were based on diverse representation of disciplines and indication of some familiarity with The Carpentries.

Over the course of two days, the 24 U of T community members learned best pedagogical practices for teaching technical skills to novice learners in a safe, positive, and inclusive learning environment. The workshop set the foundations for ongoing collaboration in a highly supportive community of practice. Instructors continue to learn from each other and make cross-institutional connections through Carpentries activities and workshops.

As a result, we now have a core community of instructors across all three U of T campuses that are available to provide flexible support to teaching and learning of data and computational skills to the wider U of T community and beyond.

Interested in becoming an instructor? Please contact libraryhelp@utoronto.ca. Important Note: Please indicate you are asking about “The Carpentries” in your email subject/body to ensure your email reaches the appropriate contact.

January 8-9, 2020: UTSC Library Carpentry Event

On January 8th and 9th, 2020, the UTSC Library hosted the University of Toronto’s first Library Carpentry workshop.

This Library Carpentry workshop gave University of Toronto librarians and information professionals an opportunity to learn foundational coding and data science skills, as well as to build a connected community of learners among participants.

Graduate students, staff, and librarians from UTSC, UTL, and UofT’s Faculty of Information attended the workshop, along with participants representing Ontario Tech University, Centennial College, and Western University’s Faculty of Information & Media Studies.

February 10-11, 2020: UTM Data Carpentry for Social Sciences Event

On February 10th and 11th, 2020 the Collaborative Digital Research Space (CDRS) and the UTM library co-hosted the University of Toronto's second Carpentries workshop organized by librarian Mike Serafin and Senior Research Associate Elizabeth Parke with support from Jessica Carlos (RGASC, Graduate Student Support Strategist).

This Data Carpentry workshop gave University of Toronto researchers from a range of disciplines – from health sciences to historical studies – an opportunity to learn foundational coding and data science skills, as well as to build a connected community of learners among participants. It also marked the first Carpentries event at UTM featuring two newly minted Carpentries instructors as well as long-time instructors independently involved in the Carpentries and the U of T Coders Club. Graduate students, staff, and librarians attended the workshop, along with community participants.

CDRS is the first research hub primarily focused on fostering interdisciplinary, team-based research in the Humanities and Social Sciences at UTM and will be piloting more computational workshops and co-coding drop-in sessions in the months to come.

February 20-12, 2020: UTSG Software Carpentry Event

Over Reading Week, UTL hosted a Software Carpentry workshop on the St. George campus. The workshop included lessons in the Shell, Python, and Git, which were taught and supported by graduate students, librarians, and researchers.

Twenty learners came from across campus: graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and librarians from many disciplines, including engineering, business, arts & sciences, information studies, and medicine.  Participants appreciated hearing from instructors how they applied these skills in their research and were eager to start integrating their new skills into their own work.

We also hosted a special guest volunteer during this workshop – Matt Strimas-Mackey, a U of T alum at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – who visited so that he could learn about hosting and organizing a Carpentries event and bring back what he learned to Cornell.

Future Events

TBA.

For more information about future workshops, or to request a workshop, please contact libraryhelp@utoronto.ca. Important Note: Please indicate you are asking about “The Carpentries” in your email subject/body to ensure your email reaches the appropriate contact.

To see what technical skill training is available at U of T in the near future, remember to check out the Map and Data Library's workshop offerings as well as the weekly Toronto Data Workshop.

The U of T Coders Club also has regular program offerings and includes an inclusive peer learning environment that welcomes novice learners.