Lesson Programs

The Carpentries supports and maintains Lesson Programs. Lesson Programs are collections of lessons comprising one or more Carpentries workshops, serving distinct goals and audience, and the leadership guiding their development and implementation.

From The Carpentries Bylaws:
*A Lesson Program within The Carpentries possesses the following characteristics:

  • Intention and purpose for lessons that align with The Carpentries mission and vision

  • Goals and objectives for lessons and/or workshops that are distinct from other Lesson Programs

  • Service to a particular audience of learners and instructors

  • Evidence of community member commitment to Lesson Program governance (see below), lesson maintenance, and curriculum development*

Adoption as an official The Carpentries Lesson Program is the last step of Lesson Program incubation as outlined in the Lesson Program Incubation Roadmap

This Policy outlines the Roles and Responsibilities of the Lesson Programs and The Carpentries.

Lesson Program Policy

Roles and Responsibilities of Lesson Programs

  • The Lesson Program maintains a Lesson Program Committee of a minimum of 3 members to serve as community governance body and act as a point of contact with The Carpentries Executive Council and staff.

  • The Lesson Program Committee provides the Executive Council with an annual report of Lesson Program operations based on a template provided by The Carpentries.

  • The Lesson Program follows all general policies as outlined by The Carpentries, including, but not limited to, the Code of Conduct.

  • The Lesson Program workshops are conducted and administered as outlined in The Carpentries handbook, including tracking activities and using at least one certified instructor per workshop.

  • Assessment of Lesson Program workshops and activities are conducted through, and in coordination with, The Carpentries assessment efforts.

  • Lesson Program workshops follow The Carpentries instructor training procedures and guidelines as outlined in the instructor training curriculum.

  • The Lesson Program has at least one articulated, established core curriculum for a workshop and guidelines on what is required for it to be called a Lesson Program workshop.

  • The Lesson Program maintains documentation with information about its goals, workshops and curriculum.

  • The Lesson Program coordinates with The Carpentries to release and publish lessons with permanent identifiers on a regular basis.

  • The Lesson Program develops all content collaboratively and openly with a Carpentries approved open license.

  • The Lesson Program maintains and develops lessons in accordance with Carpentries guidelines as outlined in The Carpentries Curriculum Development Handbook.

  • The Lesson Program uses Carpentries templates and curricular guidelines for workshops and lessons.

  • The Lesson Program has a workshop fee structure and Member Organisation engagement plan consistent with The Carpentries.

  • The Lesson Program promotes its curriculum so that workshops are taught regularly.

  • The Lesson Program will follow the procedures and guidelines of The Carpentries administrative and financial management structure.

Roles and Responsibilities of The Carpentries

  • The Carpentries staff and affiliates will coordinate Lesson Program workshops in accordance with standard workshop coordination practices as outlined in The Carpentries Handbook.

  • The Carpentries will enable the Lesson Programs to make use of all The Carpentries infrastructure, including workshop coordination tools and database.

  • The Carpentries will provide the Lesson Programs access to all lesson and workshop templates. The Carpentries will include representatives from the Lesson Program on task forces or committees tasked with updating and maintaining these templates.

  • The Carpentries will support development opportunities for the Lesson Program, including grants, donations and other revenue opportunities. Funds brought in for Lesson Program activities will go to support that work.

  • The Carpentries will include Lesson Programs in the regular lesson release and publication cycle, coordinating between the Lesson Program maintainers and The Carpentries staff and affiliates.

  • The Carpentries will include the Lesson Programs in assessment efforts, including survey development and data analysis.

  • The Carpentries will ensure the instructor training program addresses the training needs of the Lesson Program, incorporating examples and exercises targeted towards the communities served by the Lesson Program.

  • The Carpentries will prepare Trainers to work with trainees from the Lesson Program.

  • The Carpentries Instructor Training recruitment and retention strategies will include building communities of Instructors in domains and communities served by the Lesson Program.

  • The Carpentries will include the Lesson Program in all community efforts, including but not limited to the activities of the Instructor Development committee, Mentorship program and BugBBQs.

  • The Carpentries programmatic and assessment reports will include Lesson Program activities. The Lesson Program will also have access to data specific to its activities.

  • The Carpentries Organisational Membership program will include The Lesson Program.

  • The Carpentries will provide an annual financial report to the Lesson Program Committee, including an assessment of the financial stability and sustainability of The Carpentries.

  • The Carpentries general revenue through Memberships, workshop coordination fees and general grants or donations, will support the ongoing work of the Lesson Program - running workshops, diversity and inclusion efforts, instructor training, lesson maintenance and community engagement.

  • The Carpentries maintains and documents an administrative and financial management structure that supports the Lesson Program.

Lesson Program Incubation Roadmap

The Roadmap describes the three phases of a Carpentries Lesson Program: Pre-incubation, Incubation as a Lesson Project, and Adoption as a Lesson Program. Advancement from one phase to the next requires a proposal and approval process involving both staff and the Executive Council. Approval of a new Lesson Program requires substantial investment from both the applicants and The Carpentries. In the case of the previous applicant for Lesson Program (Library Carpentry), the process was aided by a grant supporting a full-time staff member, and took about a year (though the community existed for several years prior). Details for each phase are described below.

Phase 1: Pre-incubation

Pre-incubation is the initial phase of development of a lesson program during which a group of individuals come together to develop a new curriculum or Lesson Project to teach a specific set of skills to a targeted audience of learners. Groups that are developing Lesson Projects often come together organically for discussions regarding audience, need, learning objectives, and content. This phase is often quite long, possibly years.

Not all Lesson Projects will achieve the level of development or community commitment necessary for consideration for Incubation as a Lesson Program. Some groups may not consider this a goal and may prefer to consider the development of lessons within the Carpentries Labs or Carpentries Incubator programs as an alternative to becoming a full-fledged Lesson Program, as the latter requires significantly more overhead and commitment from their community. If the Lesson Project intends for their work to eventually lead to an application for Incubation as a Lesson Program, they should keep in mind that the goals and objectives of their lesson and/or workshops should be different from those of existing Lesson Programs and should have a distinct audience. If this is not the case, they may want to consider whether it is more appropriate to include the new lessons as options within the curriculum of an existing Lesson Program.

Outside funding or other external support may be required for the Lesson Project to develop their materials and community to the point where they would qualify for Incubation as a Lesson Program and to allow them to complete the steps required during the Incubation phase in order to gain full approval as a Carpentries Lesson Program.

During the Pre-incubation phase, activities by the Lesson Project will likely include most of the following:

  • Development of a community interested in developing and teaching the lessons

  • Identification of a distinct audience that will be served by the lessons/workshops. If they intend to eventually apply for application as a Lesson Program, the target audience should not currently be served by another Carpentries Lesson Program.

  • Statement of the goals of the Lesson Project, similar to a mission or vision statement

  • Definition of the scope of the lessons

  • Completion of draft versions of lesson content, including learning objectives

  • Early test runs of the lesson material at workshops with actual learners

  • Results from Carpentries short-term surveys if appropriate and possible

Application and Approval for Incubation Phase

As the Lesson Project develops and undertakes the activities listed above in the Pre-incubation Phase, it may consider applying for Incubation as an official Carpentries Lesson Program. Application for Incubation requires the submission of a report from the Lesson Project that must include:

  • Description of the community that is working on the Lesson Project

  • Description of domain knowledge required for instructors to teach the material, so that we can determine to what extent our existing instructor pool may possess these skills and be able to teach these workshops

  • Description of the community that the Lesson Project serves with their workshops

  • Goals of the Lesson Project

  • List of the lessons developed or under development and what a two-day workshop would include, along with access to the materials for Carpentries review

  • Information about when and where at least some of the materials have been taught, even if as smaller modules and not yet a full-fledged 2-day workshop

  • Assessment information from the teaching events regarding number of attendees and learner feedback about the workshop(s), either using The Carpentries standard surveys or custom survey questions

  • How the Lesson Project feels that becoming an official Carpentries Lesson Program will benefit the Lesson Project, The Carpentries, and the broader learning community.

The Carpentries Executive Council will then review these materials to determine whether the Lesson Project has met the core criteria for Incubation:

  • Intention and purpose for lessons that align with The Carpentries mission, vision, and values

  • Goals and objectives for lessons and/or workshops that are distinct from other Lesson Programs

  • Service to a particular audience of learners and instructors

  • Evidence of community member commitment to Lesson Program governance, lesson maintenance, and curriculum development.

The Executive Council will decide on one of the options below:

  • Approve the application and recommend the Lesson Project for the Incubation phase

  • Recommend revisions to the application or work that needs to be undertaken before the application can be approved or before it can be resubmitted for consideration, whichever the Executive Council specifies.

  • Reject the application for Incubation, providing reason(s) for rejection if appropriate.

Phase 2: Incubation

Once approved for Incubation, the Lesson Project must accomplish specific requirements within a defined time frame to be agreed upon between the Lesson Project and The Carpentries. The Carpentries will also have specific responsibilities toward the Lesson Project during this time.

During the Incubation phase, the Lesson Project will complete the following tasks:

  • Establish a culturally and linguistically diverse Lesson Program Committee (LPC) of at least three people to serve as a governance body and point of contact with The Carpentries.

  • The LPC should meet at least quarterly to oversee Lesson Project activities.

  • The LPC should create a document describing this group’s roles and responsibilities.

  • The LPC must demonstrate experience having discussions and making decisions by providing The Carpentries with access to open versions of meeting minutes.

  • The LPC must agree for the Lesson Project to be included in Organisational Membership agreements.

  • Agree to abide by The Carpentries Code of Conduct (CoC)

  • Assign at least three maintainers to maintain each of the lessons

  • Create an onboarding document and process for existing Carpentries instructors so that they can determine whether or not they should consider teaching these lessons

  • Create a plan to recruit additional instructors for the program

  • Agree to have at least one trained instructor for each workshop

  • Run pilot workshops

  • Collect and analyse post-workshop feedback

  • Complete and refine core curriculum, incorporating relevant workshop feedback

  • Assign one or two leads for workshop coordination and communications work

  • Agree to The Carpentries workshop fee structure

During the Incubation phase, The Carpentries will:

  • Provide the Lesson Project with access to our database system (currently AMY) for workshop tracking

  • Allow the use of our survey infrastructure (currently Typeform)

  • Post information on The Carpentries website regarding the Incubation of the Lesson Project as well as through other communication channels and at instructor training workshops

  • Provide a Carpentries team member to meet with the Lesson Project for feedback or advice on a regular basis, with the frequency to be determined mutually by the Lesson Project and The Carpentries.

Application and Approval for Official Lesson Program Adoption

At the end of the agreed upon Incubation time period, or prior to that if the Lesson Project feels it has completed all the listed tasks, the Lesson Project’s status will be reviewed by the Executive Council. The Lesson Project should submit a request to The Carpentries documenting how it meets the criteria listed above. The Carpentries Executive Council will review this application and evaluate whether the criteria have been met.

The Executive Council will decide on one of the options below:

  • Approve the application and adopt the Lesson Project as an official Carpentries Lesson Program

  • Recommend revisions to the application or work that needs to be undertaken before the application can be approved, or before it can be resubmitted for consideration, whichever the Executive Council specifies.

  • Reject the application for Incubation, providing reasons for rejection if appropriate.

Phase 3: Adoption

Once The Executive Council has approved Adoption, the new Lesson Program will be listed as such on The Carpentries website and will be included as part of the standard workshop offerings. The Lesson Program should be committed at this point to maintaining their lesson materials and their community and to working with The Carpentries on long-term sustainability and the fulfillment of its roles and responsibilities in accordance with the Lesson Program Policy.

Once adopted, The Carpentries will update operations and documentation across the organization to reflect the addition of the new Lesson Program. The Carpentries will also fulfill its roles and responsibilities in accordance with the Lesson Program Policy.


Update log:

  • Approved 2018-11-01 by the Executive Council

  • Updated 2019-12-29 to include Lesson Program Incubation Roadmap