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Hertweck Cascadia R Conference 2019

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Hertweck Cascadia R Conference 2019

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R meetups and communities are thriving in cities around the world, but even identifying other R users at your workplace can be surprisingly difficult. While it's possible to develop expert-level R coding skills in isolation, it's much easier (and far more fun!) to improve your coding skills in cooperative communities of practice, encompassing users of various skills levels and working on different types of problems. What does it take to develop communities of practice at an institution or company? How do you assess what members of a community need or prefer? In this talk, I'll discuss my experiences supporting emerging communities of practice for coding skills at a large non-profit organization with many R users. I'll identify common impediments to community development, but also provide specific recommendations for facilitating and encouraging investment and cohesion in cooperative learning. (presented at Cascadia R Conference in June 2019, https://cascadiarconf.org)

R meetups and communities are thriving in cities around the world, but even identifying other R users at your workplace can be surprisingly difficult. While it's possible to develop expert-level R coding skills in isolation, it's much easier (and far more fun!) to improve your coding skills in cooperative communities of practice, encompassing users of various skills levels and working on different types of problems. What does it take to develop communities of practice at an institution or company? How do you assess what members of a community need or prefer? In this talk, I'll discuss my experiences supporting emerging communities of practice for coding skills at a large non-profit organization with many R users. I'll identify common impediments to community development, but also provide specific recommendations for facilitating and encouraging investment and cohesion in cooperative learning. (presented at Cascadia R Conference in June 2019, https://cascadiarconf.org)

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Hertweck Cascadia R Conference 2019

  1. 1. R we there yet? Building communities of practice around R and topics in biology Kate L. Hertweck Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center @k8hert and @fredhutchio
  2. 2. Acknowledgements Carly Strasser Fred Hutch Sidney Bell Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Greg Wilson RStudio (co-founder of Software Carpentry)
  3. 3. We teach foundational coding and data science skills to researchers worldwide. https://carpentries.org
  4. 4. fredhutch.io educates researchers about reproducible computational skills to facilitate scientific discovery 1. Teaching short courses on reproducible research methods 2. Facilitating use of computational resources at Fred Hutch 3. Coordinating with other training opportunities 4. Developing cooperative communities of practice http://www.fredhutch.io
  5. 5. fredhutch.io educates researchers about reproducible computational skills to facilitate scientific discovery 1. Teaching short courses on reproducible research methodsR statistical programming Python programming Intro to Git and GitHub Data for Data Science
  6. 6. fredhutch.io educates researchers about reproducible computational skills to facilitate scientific discovery R coding group Software design group Data visualization group 4. Developing cooperative communities of practice
  7. 7. Why is R unique in the context of these tools? ● R as a programming language is especially accessible to newcomers ● The R community is especially inclusive ● R tools in development are appealing to users in other communities
  8. 8. Intro to R R: Data visualization R: Statistics R: Programming R: Machine Learning R: Bioconductor Novice Level of course participants Competent practitioner Expert
  9. 9. Intro to R R: Data visualization R: Statistics R: Programming R: Machine Learning R: Bioconductor Formal courses are less able to serve advanced users Specificity of content Number of students Difficulty to produce and maintain content
  10. 10. What is a community of practice? “a group of people who share a particular craft” Hacky Hour Study groups Code review groups Hackathons Book clubs (un)conferences https://cookbook.carpentries.org
  11. 11. Why are communities of practice difficult to cultivate? ● Adult participants require adaptable learning strategies ● Participants may represent all levels of expertise ○ Novices may be inadvertently deterred ○ Experts may be difficult to recruit
  12. 12. Why are computational communities of practice difficult to cultivate? ● Many computational experts are largely self-taught ● Methods are rapidly developing ● Best practices may not be well understood or communicated ● May require both top-down and bottom-up recruitment https://ropensci.github.io/dev_guide/
  13. 13. The Coop: Fred Hutch Bioinformatics and Data Science Cooperative Training: ● Short courses ● Seminars ● Panel discussions ● Communities of practice Communication: ● Newsletter ● Calendars ● Listserv ●
  14. 14. What does it take to develop communities of practice? ● Clearly communicated expectations for participants ○ What type and amount of work is required? ○ Culture and conduct of the community ● Recruitment, training, and support of community leaders ● Consistency and perseverance
  15. 15. Parting thoughts... ● The reasons we choose to work with R are the same reasons we should work to make R skills available to everyone. ● It takes a lot of time and energy to create and maintain communities of practice. ● Supporting a community through education strengthens the entire community. Even community builders need community! @k8hert and @fredhutchio

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