July 20, 2020

Taking The Carpentries workshops online

A conversation with Karen Word, The Carpentries

The Carpentries logo


The Carpentries has a tried and true program and instructor training for their two-day in-person workshops. They are very community-oriented and rely on an instructional team composed of instructors and helpers. The co-teaching aspect works particularly well because the instructors can observe each other and improve their practice. It is a very successful format that makes it easy to onboard new instructors.

How they’re going virtual

There has been past interest in running online workshops for students who are unable to travel, but they’ve resisted doing it because their hands-on format is not easy to translate to an online setting. Now, however, they are investing effort into making the transition. They’ve put together a task force of staff and community members who are well-versed in the organization’s philosophy and core values, are leaders in the community, and have some experience teaching online. This group has created an initial set of recommendations for instructors and is working on an additional module for instructor training focused on online teaching.

Pro tips

Recognize that shifting online is hard and it isn’t going to work the same way as in-person workshops. It’s important to have experienced people on the organizing team, have satisfaction from both instructors and students, and figure out how workshops fit into the administrative workflow. Use whatever online platform you’re comfortable with. Teach students and instructors how to use the platform and have a back channel for instructors to communicate. Be intentional about modes of communication for learners and keep screen real estate in mind - not all students have access to dual monitors.

Learn more about The Carpentries' shift to online workshops by reading community experiences and pre- and post- workshop discussions. Find upcoming opportunities here!