How to Contribute to Open Source Software and Build Your Portfolio with Kari Jordan of The Carpentries


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Dr. Kari L. Jordan is the Executive Director of The Carpentries. Kari has been on the Core Team of The Carpentries since 2016. Before becoming Executive Director, Kari served as the Acting Executive Director. She has expertise in engineering education, diversity & inclusion, and leadership. In addition to her work as the Acting Executive Director, Kari held the role of Senior Director of Equity and Assessment where she guided The Carpentries through development of an Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Roadmap and was the liaison to the Code of Conduct Committee. Before this, Kari was the Director of Assessment and Community Equity where she streamlined The Carpentries assessment strategy and expanded their mentoring program.

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Here’s the timestamps for the episode: 

(00:00) – Introduction

(01:38) –  I hadn’t heard of open source until I started working with The Carpentries and more specifically data carpentry.

(04:11) –  We’re all over the place and we work remotely full-time, so the shift that we’ve seen over the past couple of months from a teamwork perspective has not changed, but in the way we deliver our workshops has totally changed. We’ve moving our workshops online, making sure that the quality in our brand stays the same.

(08:39) – We received quite a substantial amount of support from both the Moore Foundation and the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative and this funding will help us scale our instructor training program.

(12:02) – I had no idea what open source was, but now I can advocate for it and we can offer opportunities for workshops you may not get in a university, but what does that mean for a degree program? or how can I justify paying or having someone pay for a four-year degree to learn open source or learn to reproduce or all of these things when they can come to a The Carpentries shop? It’s a very interesting conversation about the curriculum and who owns it and how it’s shared. 

(14:50) – The growth in open source has to do with problem solving and it comes from the desire to want to solve problems in your own community or want to solve problems that you see things that have been problems for such a very long time that they have not been solved. This is why I talk so much about not only diversity, but inclusion. Bringing people together of all backgrounds and giving them the space to contribute what they have, because every contribution truly does matter.

(19:48) –  There is no wrong way to get involved. There are many ways we can get involved with open source.

(21:39) – There are hundreds of organizations dedicated to allocating resources, to providing opportunities for people to get involved with data and coding and it’s not the responsibility of one organization to do all the work, The Carpentries I feel like our zone of genius really is that training teaching data skills training that type of pedagogy. It’s really important for this opportunity for access and just sharing what we do is so important.

(24:32) – What do you want your participants to walk away with? That’s extremely important to the carbon truth. We don’t want anyone leaving our workshop feeling worse than when they came in or feeling they’re never going to learn this. It’s more so about that self confidence piece that belonging to a community that’s what it’s all about, and eventually you’re going to learn some code, you’re going to learn how to code. 

(28:19) – There’s no wrong way, and I very much appreciate the industry acknowledging a four year degree may not be the answer for everything. There are things that I’ve definitely learned in college, but the industry is noticing that you can pick up skills along the way, you can take a two day course, you can take a month long seminar and be just as effective in your role and learn just as much. So it’s all about pathways. 

(30:22) – You don’t have to be proficient in any of the programs to be a maintainer, you have to be patient and know how to be organized and how to facilitate conversation around the lesson.

(34:46) – If you ever thought that you could never code, you thought wrong. I have been in your shoes, I shied away from programming for a very long time and now I’m the executive director of a nonprofit that teaches foundational coding and data science skills. There is nothing to be afraid of because there is a community in The Carpentries that values you, that appreciates your contribution and that appreciates your perspective. I want you to visit, check out the opportunities that we have for mentoring see if there’s a workshop, all of our workshops are online right now, actually so this is actually a great opportunity and great time for you to get involved