Teaching Data Carpentry at the University of the Western Cape

Thanks to the financial support of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) eResearch Office, Amieroh Abrahams, Peter van Heusden, Oghenere Salubi and I were able to teach a Data Carpentry workshop on 10-11 September at UWC.

The workshop was hosted by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and had more than 30 learners from all domains.

The workshop started with me teaching data organization in spreadsheets and OpenRefine for data cleaning. We were able to cover the full lessons but I noticed that the lesson doesn’t cover how use the “split multi-valued cells” function and the data used during the lesson don’t have any multi-valued cell so I didn’t teach it. After lunch, Amieroh led the introduction to R. Amieroh did a amazing job explaining object, assign, call, function, arguments, options, comments, and missing data.

The second day was dedicated to R. In the morning, Peter demonstrated how to work with data: load, subset, reorder, format, summarize, filter, group and many other operations using basic R and tidyverse. In the afternoon, I demonstrated how to use ggplot2 to create some data visualisations.

Despite some instalation issues (see appendix), the overwall feedback from learners was very positive. We advertised different groups that attendees could join to continue their learning journey and we hope they facilitate others to gain more data skills.

I want to thank Oghenere for all the local organisation without the two workshops at the University of the Western Cape wouldn’t happen. I really appreciate Oghenere’s time to show me UWC.

And start planning to attend CarpentryCon 2021 that will take place in South Africa!


Some learners had machines running Ubuntu (I believe 18.04LTS) and the version of R available from the package repository was 3.4.4. This version of R is a bit old and didn’t support the installation of tidyverse from CRAN. Peter did a amazing job to help learners with this problem during the workshop.

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