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Suggestion: less changing of data files? #802

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diyadas opened this Issue Jun 12, 2018 · 2 comments

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@diyadas

diyadas commented Jun 12, 2018

I taught this lesson yesterday and we spent a lot of time changing data from episode to episode:

  • episode 2: north-pacific-gyre/2012-07-03/
  • episode 3:
    • create thesis directory
    • two examples of data/filesystems that learners don't have in front of them
  • episode 4: This is the one that was utterly confusing.
    • molecules
    • data directory for one exercise
    • molecules
    • data directory for another few exercises
    • north-pacific-gyre/2012-07-03
  • episode 5:
    • creatures
    • an exercise using molecules
    • creatures for an example
    • an exercise using molecules
    • creatures
    • north-pacific-gyre/2012-07-03
    • exercises using molecules
  • episode 6:
    • molecules
    • exercise using data/animal-counts/
    • north-pacific-gyre/2012-07-03
    • exercise using data-shell/molecules
    • exercise using north-pacific-gyre/2012-07-03

I understand that there is value in

  1. demonstrating how to change directories repeatedly
  2. showing learners that these functions can be applied to many types of data

but I think this might underestimate the cognitive load of maintaining an understanding what types of data are in each file - what was the experiment conducted. I spent a lot of time reintroducing data sets rather than functions.

Maybe each episode could pick a single dataset to focus on? That way we do change directories and work with different types of data, but also have the opportunity to focus on the functions within episodes.

@r-barnes

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r-barnes commented Jun 12, 2018

I taught part of the same lesson and whole-heartedly agree with @diyadas 's comments.

In addition to her thoughts, I find the organization of the directory a bit ridiculous in a workshop in which we're teaching good practices. The main directory contains data/ there's also writing/data. molecules and creatures both contain data, but are not labeled as such.

My prefered organization would be to have a structure more like:

projects/
  north-pacific-gyre/
    writing/
    data/
      2012-07-03/
  biodiversity/
    data/
      basilisk.dat
      unicorn.dat
  seminar-reading/
    solar.pdf

Perhaps other projects could be added to capture the types of data used by other disciplines. I feel like the foregoing is a defensible organization. There could even be a brief section were we reorganize Nelle's files so they're better organized.

Also note that animals.txt should be animals.csv, planets.txt should be planets.csv, and sunspot.txt should probably have an extension as well.

I feel as though this lesson lesson's overarching story got diluted as we moved through the episodes.

As someone who has a more improvisational pedagogical style, this was particularly challenging for me. The current organization does not lend itself to anything other than rote following of the written lesson plan. Having a clearer progression through the directories/files would allow me put more of my attention into teaching and less into trying to figure out where we're going next.

@gcapes

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gcapes commented Jun 13, 2018

Many good points raised above.
In addition to organising the files better, there are a number of unused files which I would be in favour of deleting:

  • notes.txt
  • pizza.cfg
  • solar.pdf

in the root directory, and others in various subdirectories.

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