Lesson Pilot Workshops

Purpose

Teaching a lesson for the first time is very rewarding but the experience of the Instructors and learners also identifies opportunities to address and further clarify parts of the content. This makes these early runs through a lesson, which we refer to as lesson pilots, crucial milestones in the development of a high-quality lesson. As well as teaching new and exciting skills to learners, the additional purpose of pilot workshops is to collect information and feedback that can be used to polish content and make the lesson more reusable by other Instructors e.g. by recording accurate timings for episodes and exercises, expanding Instructor Notes, etc.

Alpha and Beta Pilots

The lesson development process includes pilot workshops at two different stages, which we refer to as alpha and beta pilots. Alpha pilots are the first workshops where the lesson is taught, almost always by some or all of the original developers of the lesson.

After the feedback from these alpha pilots has been used to improve the lesson, it can enter the beta stage, where other Instructors - who did not have a major part in the previous development of the lesson - teach it and provide feedback.

For more information about these pilots, and the requirements for piloting official Carpentries lessons, see the Lesson Life Cycle chapter of The Carpentries Curriculum Development Handbook.

Information for Lesson Developers

Finding Hosts for Beta Pilots

If you are developing a new official Carpentries lesson - a lesson developed based on prior agreement with The Carpentries, and which is intended to become another lesson/curriculum offered in centrally-organised workshops - the Curriculum Team will help you find hosts and Instructors for pilot workshops.

If you are developing a lesson in The Carpentries Incubator, you can recruit pilot hosts by putting out a call via the discuss TopicBox list, the general channel on The Carpentries Slack workspace, by publishing a post on our blog, and/or by any other communications channel that you think appropriate (e.g. the mailing list of a specific community likely to be interested in the lesson topic). You may find this template blog post and/or this template email message helpful starting points. If after taking these steps, you find that you need help finding hosts to pilot your lesson, or if you have any questions about the lesson pilot process for lessons in The Carpentries Incubator, you can contact incubator@carpentries.org.

Collecting Feedback on the Lesson

Feedback from learners will be a valuable source of information about and suggestions for how your lesson could be further improved after the pilot. The standard Carpentries pre- and post-workshop surveys do not support lesson pilots so you will need to create your own surveys to send out before/after a pilot workshop. Although surveys for pilot workshops will frequently include questions that are specific to the particular lesson being piloted, there are some standard feedback questions that can be asked after a pilot to assess the design and flow of the lesson. This template post-pilot workshop survey can be copied and adapted to suit the needs of your lesson, and shared with learners in place of the standard post-workshop survey.

It is also important to gather information about the lesson while it is being taught. Check the Lesson Life Cycle chapter of The Carpentries Curriculum Development Handbook for a list of things to take note of during the pilot workshop. We recommend assigning a specific person or people to keep track of these points, e.g. an Instructor or Helper.

Information for Hosts

Recruiting Instructors for Beta Pilots

If you are hosting a pilot of a new official Carpentries lesson - a lesson developed based on prior agreement with The Carpentries, and which is intended to become another lesson/curriculum offered in centrally-organised workshops - the Curriculum Team will help you find Instructors for pilot workshops.

The Carpentries is also keen to support the development and piloting of lessons in The Carpentries Incubator. If you are hosting a pilot of a lesson in the Incubator, we ask that you first try to find Instructors for pilot workshops yourself. Often, hosts are able to recruit certified Instructors from their local community with relevant knowledge of the lesson topic, but in some cases this will not be possible. If you wish to recruit Instructors for a pilot workshop, try putting a call out on local/regional community mailing lists, any relevant channels on The Carpentries Slack workspace (the lesson authors may be able to direct you to these), and/or by publishing a post on our blog. Please do not post calls for Instructors to the general or instructors channel on Slack, or the discuss and instructors lists on TopicBox: any messages to recruit Instructors will be removed from those channels. If after taking these steps, you find that you need help finding Instructors for your lesson pilot, you can contact incubator@carpentries.org for assistance.

Creating a Pilot Workshop Webpage

The Carpentries workshop webpage template supports the creation of webpages for pilot workshops. See the Customisation page of the template documentation for instructions on how to configure the webpage for a pilot workshop.

If you are piloting a new official Carpentries lesson - a lesson developed based on prior agreement with The Carpentries, and which is intended to become another lesson/curriculum offered in centrally-organised workshops - please register your pilot as a Self-Organised Workshop. If you do not see the lesson/curriculum being piloted listed as one of the choices on that form, please contact The Carpentries Core Team.

For workshops teaching lessons in The Carpentries Incubator, you should create a workshop webpage but should not submit the workshop details to The Carpentries team via the form linked above. Instead, if you want to tell the community about your event you can do so by filling in the form under Workshops on The Incubator homepage. Workshops submitted there will be processed by the Curriculum Team and will be listed in the table on that page.