Survey on workshops for for-profit organizations

Authors: Tracy TealErin BeckerHilmar LappKaren CranstonKarthik Ram BLOG

Requesting community feedback on workshops for for-profit organizations

Data Carpentry’s vision is “building communities teaching universal data literacy”. All our activities are focused on working towards this vision.

One of our signature activities is running and teaching workshops. Except for two, we have so far run such workshops only for non-profit organizations - universities, non-government non-profits and government organizations. We have also been assessing the idea of running workshops for for-profit organizations. One goal would be to raise additional revenue to subsidize workshop fees at non-profit institutions and to support long-term sustainability for Data Carpentry. Another is to provide Data Carpentry training and perspectives to people conducting research in industry. We’re still evaluating this idea, and before making any long-term policy we wanted to run pilot workshops and survey the instructor community on their thoughts about workshops for for-profit organizations.

We have completed the workshop pilots, running workshops for two for-profit companies. We charged these companies $5000 per workshop, four times the $1250 fee at that time. We conducted our standard learner surveys and solicited feedback from the instructors who taught these workshops and the hosts who ran them. Overall these workshops were well received by learners, instructors and hosts. Learners really appreciated the training, as they struggle with many of the same data challenges as those faced by their peers in not-for-profit organizations. Instructors appreciated the opportunity to visit a company and make connections outside of the academic environment. Hosts were happy with the materials and the enthusiasm and expertise the instructors brought to the training.

Software Carpentry has already made the decision to teach for for-profit organizations. While Software and Data Carpentry generally coordinate policies, teaching at for profit organizations would represent a shift in the community that Data Carpentry has traditionally served. It is the instructors who make these workshops possible, so we need your feedback!

Instructors contribute to the community in numerous ways, including teaching workshops, serving on subcommittees, mentoring new instructors, and maintaining lessons. Another option could be volunteering their time to teach at workshops that bring in additional revenue. However, is it fair to generate this additional revenue using volunteer effort? Or is it fair only if the added revenue is tagged for specific activities, other than simply improving the prospects for Data Carpentry’s longevity (for example, by earmarking it for fee-waivers for underserved communities)? Do these workshops align with our goal of training researchers to work more effectively and reproducibly with data? Should we be running workshops for for-profit organizations at all? Are there potential benefits to instructors to teach at for-profit organizations? If so, what are they? As instructors get to choose where and when to teach, how many instructors would be interested in teaching at for-profit institutions? These are all important questions as we think about these workshops going forward.

If you currently are or anticipate being involved in Data Carpentry in any capacity, we want to learn more about your interest and support for teaching for for-profit organizations! Please fill out this survey and help guide Data Carpentry.

Data Carpentry community survey about workshops for for-profit organizations

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