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Discussion Session on Slack #73

tobyhodges opened this Issue Nov 29, 2018 · 5 comments


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tobyhodges commented Nov 29, 2018

When hosting discussion sessions, I've noticed that instructors who don't have easy/affordable access to a fast/reliable internet connection have difficulty participating in discussions on Zoom. (I see this most often with instructors and trainees based in Africa, but it's not limited to any single geographical area.)

One way that I can think of to help those folks to benefit from discussions with other members of our community and to have the opportunity to reflect on their workshop experiences etc, is to occasionally run discussion sessions on some text-based platform (e.g. The Carpentries Slack) instead of Zoom.

What do you think? Should we introduce monthly Slack-based discussion sessions, where anyone who wants to attend joins the discussion on a dedicated channel in The Carpentries Slack at the specified date/time?

For extra credit: I am very aware that this approach doesn't solve what I would argue is the bigger problem: that, without a consistently good internet connection, it's very difficult for people to take part in our online teaching demo sessions. Do you have any suggestions for how we might address that? Is this an unsolvable problem?


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sstevens2 commented Nov 30, 2018

I like the idea of a Slack based discussion to help overcome connection issues. To be most successful I think we might want to think carefully about how best to format such a discussion. I imagine it might be hard to keep track of what is being discussed with many people typing in questions and thoughts at the same time. While threads can be a useful solution to this issue, in my experience most people don't use them very much (possibly due to not knowing they exist or how/when to use them).
I'm wondering if the etherpad might be a good way to communicate together? With the etherpad discussion topics and thoughts could be grouped by the host.
One other potential difficulty that might come up is that people who type more slowly might struggle to get into the conversation.
In any case, I think it would be interesting to try this out and see how it goes. With plans for getting feedback about how well it went from participants.


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laufers commented Dec 5, 2018

Bring back the IRC days :) I like this idea, generally a smaller group. Here at work, for an active chat session as opposed to a general room we find 5 or less makes it doable. Anything more than that can be a problem as some start up side discussions and then you have multiple discussions that makes it difficult. It can also help those that are not quick at typing or where the primary language used in the room is not the members first language.

As to the demos, I just tested and Zoom can record a solo room. I need to check to see if you need to have a paid account to record, but I am thinking you do not. What my thought is that a soon to be minted instructor can make a 5 minute demo. The issue is that we need to trust that the person is not attempting 20 trail runs and submitting their best. We could work out the workflow, say in zoom with a checkout instructor have the person make their video and then submit it. Then the part of the lesson would not be known and the person has a small bit of time to make the recording which could then be uploaded. At lot of issues still but I am trusting of my fellow instructors to not game the system.

Both are worth a shot and that is what carpentries preaches, concept -> try -> feedback -> revise. Repeat and rinse.


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karinlag commented Dec 9, 2018

We could solve the chat situation by actually dividing into channels with a set number of people in each room, and we could also call out all to type in an answer to a question.

I like the recorded zoom idea too. We could maybe let them know the day before what part they would be doing, so they have a bit of time to figure out the recording part? I too am assuming that people won't be cheating, but well... what can you do. You have to trust people at some point.


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tobyhodges commented Dec 10, 2018

Thanks all for the feedback. I think that we should try a few out early in 2019 - perhaps once with Slack and once in the etherpad, to see how well each one works. @sstevens2 would you be happy to share hosting duties with me for these? It would be helpful to have someone to compare notes with after each session. If so, please send me an email and we can discuss suitable dates/times.


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sstevens2 commented Dec 12, 2018

Hi @tobyhodges. I'd be happy to try this out and share hosting duties. Beginning Feb might be a better time for me.

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