CodeRefinery teaching strategies and the future of teaching

This is the index page of the Future of Teaching series.

In early 2020, global teaching got disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Countless courses struggled to maintain interaction and teaching, but CodeRefinery found that by embracing the times, our teaching could become even better. This series of blog posts will discuss what we did and how you can learn from it.

So, what is the future of teaching? For type of practical, hands-on learning, we could try to classify learning situations into three types:

  • Very large courses and massive open online courses (MOOC),where individual interaction isn't possible.
  • Small-medium courses, 10-30 people, with traditional classroom-type interactions.
  • One-on-one or small-group mentoring.

Before Covid, CodeRefinery was in the middle category with exclusively in-person classroom sessions over a few days. During Covid, we focused on very large online courses, which incidentally corresponded with the rise of Research Software Engineering services in some of our communities. This produced an interesting effect: The middle layer got squeezed out: very large courses (with the proper tools) were better at conveying information, and mentoring and co-working was best for supporting people outside of these courses. These two things combined seemed to greatly reduce the need for traditional medium-sized courses. At the same time, the total effort became less as we scaled up, which we'll talk about later.

Of course, you can't move medium in-person courses to large online courses without adjusting how you teach. However, once we did adjust, we were quite happy. We want to take some time in these posts to informally discuss what we did, sort of as a guide to the other information which can be found in our manuals.

The strategies we have developed have revolutionized the way we teach. We no longer have limited attendance because of room sizes, mandatory registration, or instructor monologues. We don't want to "return to normal", and we think that others should start learning of our developments as well.

But we realize that not everyone can go all the way that we have gone. It takes a lot of effort to put on a livestream course with tens of staff (but still many of our strategies can be adapted by others). Medium-sized courses are still great for medium-sized communities and provide a good way for a few people to reach an audience - especially if it is local. We hope to explore the ways that what we have learned can be adapted to this kind of teaching, too. And of course, we will continue supporting medium sized courses where someone wants them, especially as a "reverse hybrid" with remote instructors but in-person exercises.

Future blog posts in this series could include the following (this list will be updated and future blog posts will be linked below, this is the "start page" of the series):

See also


CodeRefinery is a project within the Nordic e-Infrastructure Collaboration (NeIC). NeIC is an organisational unit under NordForsk.


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