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Web-based Tools for Teaching and Research: Jupyter Notebooks and GitHub

Ended Sep 10, 2021
12 credits

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Full course description

Term: Fall 2021

Date: September 9th & 10th, 2021

Time: 8:00am - 1:00pm both days

Location: The Skelton Center

Instructor: Susanna Werth & Sarah Stamps

Presented By: Academy of Data Science and led by the Department of Geosciences



Due to the topic, this workshop is intended for Faculty only (including Post-docs and faculty researchers)

This is an Academy of Data Sciences sponsored in-person workshop for faculty (including researchers and postdoctoral scholars) at Virginia Tech that aims to enhance our community’s expertise in two web-based tools for teaching and research: Jupyter Notebooks and GitHub. Both Jupyter Notebooks and GitHub are valuable tools for teaching courses that include data analysis projects that require computer programming. Both platforms, together, provide a practical toolbox for distribution, execution, retrieval, visualization, and even grading of data analysis tasks. The knowledge of these tools will make it easier for faculty to integrate computer programming into teaching and to create open-source software to accompany publications.  For research, these tools provide a means to create reproducible science. This workshop consists of two four hour blocks on two subsequent days, which will take place in 9-10 September 2021 from 8 am - 1 pm (including lunch) at the Virginia Tech Inn Skelton Center. The workshop will be open to 30 participants, and there will be a social gathering at Rising Silo at 4 pm on Friday, September 10th.

The first day will focus on Jupyter Notebooks. Jupyter Notebook is an open-source web application that allows users to create and share documents that contain live code, equations, visualizations, and narrative text. The flexible combination of such content makes it ideal for teaching or for publication of data analysis projects. Participants will learn to install Jupyter Notebooks on their computer, be able to name their various applications, write a complete Jupyter Notebook, and create a class exercise that contains computer programming and visualization elements in Jupyter Notebooks. We will use the Python computer language in our example for using the Jupyter Notebook because of its intuitive syntax. The software is, however, also compatible with other interpreters like R, Julia, or Matlab and the knowledge of Python is not necessary for the course.

On the second four-hour block on day two, we will train the participants in using GitHub. GitHub provides an online platform for hosting open-source software and managing document exchange. GitHub allows for systematic, trackable collaboration on software development and documents by using version control. Participants will learn how to leverage GitHub for their own software projects and possible classroom activities. We will teach participants how to set-up their own GitHub account, start a project, use branches, and employ version control.

We will also provide information about specific resources that are available through Virginia Tech Advanced Resources Computing. Participants are welcome to use the Jupyter Notebook developed on the first day of this workshop or use code they have already developed in any other computer language.