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CodeRefinery went online and attracted over a hundred participants from all over the Nordics

‘When we went online, we wondered how can we help as many people as possible and make it open for everyone,’ says Richard Darst from Aalto Science-IT
Illustration displaying hands writing letters RAND on a yellow background
Illustration by Matti Ahlgren / Aalto University

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced universities across the world to close their facilities and cease at least some of their teaching activities in March 2020, Aalto Science-IT decided to make the most of the exceptional situation. Science-IT is a part of the CodeRefinery project, a Nordic e-Infrastructure Collaboration-funded project. Both have a long history of offering workshops for researchers who are not software developers but need software development skills to do their job better, and instead of postponing the workshops, they went online for the first time and opened their courses for each and every one who might find them beneficial.

The CodeRefinery workshop has been organized biannually for several years and it helps professionals from fields other than computer science become familiar with tools and best practices in modern research software development. Its first online edition took place in May 2020, and in only a few days of time, over a hundred people registered for the online workshop – which the organizers had started calling Mega-CodeRefinery.

Normally, when CodeRefinery is hosted on the Aalto University campus, participants come from different departments of the School of Science, as well as plenty other Aalto schools, too. ‘This time we had people from all over the Nordics. Many organizations started offering online teaching, but we really made the effort to think of what possibilities were opened by being online, and took advantage of them to accept as many people as possible and make it open for everyone’ says Richard Darst, Staff Scientist from Aalto Science-IT, who is behind the idea of organizing workshops online.  In addition to about one-hundred people in the actual online course, anyone in the world could follow via a Twitch stream.

CodeRefinery focuses on using a software called Git for efficiently writing and maintaining research software. Participants won’t learn to code, but they will learn to use tools one needs to use to program well. The workshop is informal and interactive with type-along type of presentations, live coding, and demos. Short tutorials alternate with practical exercises.

The next CodeRefinery will take place at the end of October 2020, and the registration for it is now open. The CodeRefinery project is funded by the Nordic e-Infrastructure Collaboration from 2016-2021 and contains staff from across the Nordics. Each CodeRefinery workshop is taught by instructors from across the program. Aalto University is a hub of CodeRefinery and one of its leading university partners.

Further information

Richard Darst
Staff Scientist, Aalto University
[email protected]

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