The DataUp Workshop – Instructor Training: Inspiring Professional Development & Capacity-Building

Faculty teams from the DataUp program during the Instructor Training Workshop on Nov 6 & 7, 2018.

Society is increasingly becoming more data-driven and data-literate. It is vital every institution has the capabilities and infrastructure to engage and develop learners prepared to interact and succeed in such a society. Numerous studies have identified the expanding data divide between institution types and the need to develop successful bridge initiatives. The South Hub begin to address this need by creating a 3-part program, DataUp. Through this program, the South Hub is directly impacting each participating institution’s data science education capacities.

The first component of the program is a hosted 2-day data or software workshop presented by the Carpentries. This provided an opportunity for each participating institution to engage in a workshop that specifically addressed their data knowledge gaps (for more information on these workshops, Click Here). Exposing students to these intensive workshops, students are able to gain hands-on training and exposure to principles and tools, such as shell and JupyterHub. Removing the associated ‘fear factors’ empowers learners to employ and address challenges with data. The second component of the DataUp program is a 2-day pedagogy intensive instructor training.

On Nov 6 & 7, 2018, The DataUp program welcomed participating institutions for the instructional training. During this instructional training workshop, faculty teams engaged in a pedagogy intensive to learn best practices concepts for data science education.  Many instructors noted the timeliness of this training for not only their students but for faculty overall professional development. One faculty member noted the ‘workshop is great to teach techniques [necessary] to teach concepts like these [at my home institution]. In [a] purely doctoral program, they don’t teach pedagogy’. The workshop did not include analytical software training but discussed mindset cultivation, participatory live coding benefits, managing diverse classrooms, and more. The workshop also included multiple participatory experiences for faculty teams to practice and commit to memory techniques and best practices needed to actively engage learners and complex concepts.

Here are a few points from the workshop:

    • Most students/learners approach computational and analytical concepts with a fixed mindset.  Typically these mindsets are negative.  It’s not that they can’t learn the skills, they simply start thinking they are unable to learn the concepts and their actions begin to follow their mindset
    • Participatory live coding is great for demonstrating, reinforcing, and engaging all learning styles.  Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Through imperfection, learners can watch and learn proper troubleshooting techniques.
    • Patience is key.  Don’t expect students to learn and understand at your pace.  Move at the speed of the class. The goal is competence, not speed.

The workshop also provided faculty members the opportunity to learn use case scenarios involving the interactive notebook, JupyterHub.   JupyterHub is an open web-application that allows for creating and sharing live code, equations, visualizations, narrative text.  Faculty from numerous institutions noted a challenge to teaching data and analytical concepts is the lack of institutional infrastructure to support these initiatives.  One faculty member stated, ‘we are a small institution and don’t have the large IT [department] to help set up [or troubleshoot]’.  Utilizing JupyterHub helps to alleviate this issue.  Typically, to teach a lesson, instructors would need to ensure each student has the correct software versions and updates installed on their computers.  If an issue arises, this takes valuable instructor time away from actually teaching the lessons, to troubleshoot any challenges.  Students may become less engaged in the lesson or believe the concepts and lesson to be cumbersome.  Either way, this does not encourage students or faculty to utilize analytical software.

For institutions with limited or no infrastructure, JupyterHub provides a great alternative that alleviates the challenges of setup, increases classroom instruction time, and enhances participatory learning.

The third programmatic component requires participants to utilize the pedagogical best practices, learned during the instructor training, to teach either a bootcamp, workshop, seminar, or 2-day training to their institution in 2019.  Check back for information for their 2019 self-directed workshops.

To view photos from the event, click here.

For more information regarding the on-campus workshops, please click here.  

DataUp Workshop – Old Dominion University: A Melting Pot of Learners and Perspectives Creates an Impactful Workshop


Learners, instructors, and ‘workshop helpers’ from Old Dominion University pose after a collaborative and engaging 2-day workshop with shell, git, R, and JupyterHub.  

The DataUp program visited Old Dominion University on Oct 25-26 to introduce shell, git, R, and the JupyterHub. The workshop included students, faculty and staff eager to engage with the analytical tools. This workshop brought together a ‘melting pot’ of faculty, staff, and students from various corners of the university to engage in a 2-day workshop. The concepts were chosen by ODU as Unix Shell & R are utilized in their High-Performance Computing Center. Even though intensive, one student noted, ‘it’s like drinking from an 8-hour firehouse, but the information is great. I knew nothing before Day 1 and [now I feel] more confident [after the first day]’. The 2-person instructor team led the traditional Carpentries curriculum, but their instruction was magnified by multiple ‘workshop helpers’. In training workshops such as these, learners have various expertise levels and learning styles. Multiple ‘workshop helpers’ and instructors reinforced the concepts as the diverse point of views benefited the wide range of learning styles. This was especially beneficial to a professor who noted that she learned to code about 15 years ago and was very nervous to retool herself but, ‘this workshop helped [her] to remove her fear [of coding]’. Continue reading

The DataUp Workshop- Johnson C. Smith University: Harnessing Faculty Curiosity


Johnson C. Smith faculty and staff flanked by the Software Carpentries instructors.  Faculty and staff members explored shell, git, Matlab, and JupyterHub during the Oct 18-19, 2018 workshop.

Oftentimes, learning and education are discussed from the perspective of students. Unintentionally, excluding the fact that faculty have a natural interest in and curiosity for lifelong learning. Johnson C. Smith University’s DataUp institutional workshop attracted faculty and staff from diverse departments, including Psychology, Mathematics, and Library Services and IT. Over a two-day workshop, attendees discussed shell, git, and the interactive notebook JupyterHub. One learner noted that ‘it is [always] great to attend new workshops…it reminds you how students feel when learning new topics’. Many learners were new to the concepts but were eager to ask questions and find points of connectivity for their respective departments. By the middle of the first day, laughter and collaboration erupted throughout the session as individuals became more open to the concepts and asking questions.  Continue reading

DataUp Workshop – Texas A&M – Kingsville: Building Student Capacity

Learners, faculty members, and Carpentries instructors at the close of the Texas A&M University – Kingsville’s (TAMUK) Python/JupyterHub 2-day workshop.  The DataUp program will host a 2-day workshop at each of the 8 participating institutions.

On September 28 – 29, the DataUp program hosted a 2-day workshop at Texas A&M University – Kingsville, a historically Hispanic serving institution in Southern Texas. Arriving on the first day, a sense of eagerness buzzed throughout the classroom. Not only from the learners but also from the hosting faculty members. Faculty member, Dr. Min Zhoung, Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering, noted that oftentimes learners tend to stray away from analytical or data science opportunities because of a ‘math or computational’ fear. The Carpentries instructors provided engaging and supportive hands-on Python & SQL tutorials and exercises utilizing the shared notebook, JupyterHub. Although there were learners of varying stages of coding knowledge and expertise, numerous students stated their excitement and gratitude for the workshop. One young woman who works in the TAMUK’s President’s office noted that her “projects took considerable time to set up and run, but with the tips from the workshop she can cut her project time down significantly”. The DataUp program’s mission, in part, is to increase capacities for and usage of data science tools. Learners noted that similar workshops moved either too fast or too slow, but this workshop provided the opportunity for all learners to ask questions and learn subtleties to maximize Python and JupyterHub. This workshop was timely for a young man attending a job interview the following week providing him the opportunity to ‘brush up on his verbiage and techniques’. Continue reading

DataUp Workshop – University Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras: Students Buzz with Excitement for Data Science

The South Hub created the DataUp program to enable researchers and educators to teach data science students and prepare them for future data-intensive and data-enabled environments.  On August 18, 35 learners packed the room, at the University of Puerto Rico- Rio Piedras (UPRRP), to participate in a hands-on workshop focused on data management and analysis for genomics research.  Students learned best practices for the organization of bioinformatics projects and data, use of command line utilities, use of command line tools to analyze sequence quality and perform variant calling, and connecting to and using cloud computing.   This workshop, taught in English and Spanish, created such a buzz that a waitlist was created.  The waitlist included 13 individuals! Continue reading

Call for Papers: Special Journal Issue on Social Cybersecurity

The South Big Data Hub Security, Network Analysis, and Social Media Working Group organized a workshop in March and recommended a special issue on social cybersecurity as a deliverable. From that recommendation, Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory has announced a special journal issue on social cybersecurity with the working group co-chairs as editors.

Kathleen Carley, PhD, of Carnegie Mellon University, Nitin Agarwal, PhD, of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and Lea Shanley, PhD, of the South Big Data Hub invite submissions for consideration. A letter of intent should be sent to Dr. Carley at kathleen.carley@cs.cmu.edu by August 1, 2018 for consideration.

If you are interested in joining the South Hub Security Working Group, please email Nitin Agarwal or Karl Gustafson, and be sure to indicate why you are interested in membership in your request to join.

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South Big Data Hub partners on development of new nationwide data storage network under NSF grant

The Open Storage Network will enable researchers to manage data more efficiently than ever before.


The South Big Data Hub is one of four regional big data hub partners awarded a $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the initial development of a data storage network over the next two years. A collaborative team will combine their expertise, facilities, and research challenges to develop the Open Storage Network (OSN). The OSN will enable academic researchers across the nation to work with and share their data more efficiently than ever before, according to the NSF announcement.  Continue reading

Strategies for hiring and maintaining a diverse data scientists workforce

RTI’s Kristina Brunelle (left) moderates a panel discussion with Amy Roussel, RTI (center); Gracie Johnson-Lopez, Diversity and HR Solutions (right); and Sackeena Gordon-Jones, Transformation Edge and NC State University (on screen).

Data science is hot. That’s good news for workers with data science skills. It also means organizations competing to hire data scientists need to understand how to recruit talent that will solve their data science challenges and contribute to creating a productive and diverse workforce.  Continue reading

Master of Data Analytics Program at UCF hosts first ever Women in Data Science Conference

Dan Eilen, associate director  of the UCF  MS Data Analytics Program, and Shafaq Chaudhry, assistant director of Research Information Systems, at the recent Women in Data Science conference

ORLANDO, FLA – The University of Central Florida Master of Science in Data Analytics program hosted its first ever Women in Data Science Conference on March 5, 2018. This technology conference was held on the university campus and afterwards talks from Stanford were live streamed at over 100 satellite locations. The panel discussed data science research, career opportunities, as well as tips, tools and knowledge in hopes of educating and encouraging other women in data analytics.  Continue reading

Reflections on the NIST/IEEE/ORCA Federated Cloud Workshop

Both the South Big Data Hub and West Big Data Hub provided sponsorship for the NIST/IEEE/ORCA Federated Cloud Workshop, held on March 21-22, 2018, in Gaithersburg, MD. The workshop was chaired by:

  • Robert Bohn, Program Manager, NIST Cloud Computing Program (NCCP) Federated Cloud Conceptual Architecture, and Chair IEEE P2302;
  • Craig Lee, Chair, NCCP Federated Cloud Conceptual Architecture, and The Aerospace Corporation; and,
  • Khalil Yazdi, Chair of Open Research Cloud Alliance (ORCA).

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