Lessons learned at the NAASC tutuorial in Victoria, BC (January 2011)
We had about 60 participants at the tutorial. My impression from talking to people and reading the evaluations are as follows:
a) Overview needs to be tighter and more focused on ES and proposal process. The goals of the tutorial should be outlined very clearly with caveats (i.e. expected or known issues with OT / Simdata etc.)
b) OT walkthrough ok at AAS Splinter / too slow at Tutorial - see comments below. Did not seem as smooth for James to give my talk as some of the animations showed up after he had described them or some were not there for what he wanted to emphasize - we need to practice the talk in real time ahead of time.
c) My PPT did not match the OT version released on Jan 5. There was no way around this for this tutorial given the timelines for the AAS etc. but I will have to correct this before the Hawaii tutorial.
d) People were keen to get more hands-on time for the OT and had a lot of questions informally about correlator setups. Its not trivial for a non-mm interferometry person to understand how the correlator works. Some other questions from mm-experts such as uv-coverage and dynamic range and how these could be captured within the OT - even we don't know the answers to these yet.
e) CASA tutorial was well-received - need to moderate expectations and tell people that we will have to teach them CASA and data reductions later on.
f) Simdata walk through was well-received but simdata hands-on session had a LOT of issues that were unexpected.
-- We had issues of platform dependence - CASA not supported equally on user platforms - the platforms we support need to be advertised better. We had windows not showing up, OS issues etc. We should ask people to tell us their platform they intend to use prior to the meeting, so that we don't have to waste time determining what they have when there is a problem to record. This will also alert us to the number of potential problems we can expect.
-- We had a lot of issues with fits files not being read in properly. Need to get better at dealing with these problems.
-- Need more support for hands on - 12 to 1 is the maximum ratio we should allow for simdata in the near future.
-- One of the MOST important lessons for me was that one person needed to take leadership of the sections and staffing and this was not very clear this time.
-- We need more documentation for simdata like we have for casaguides, have python scripts ready - rather than have people go get them, and may be even have people work through an example before they come.
-- We need more examples overall - preferably the Science Primer examples would be good to do.
-- Simdata preparation needs a lot more work and perhaps a "Tricks with Simdata page" should be started.
~40 of these were returnedout of 50-60 participants.
1. Overview talk (8.4 +/- 1.3, Range: 5--10)
Many liked the overview. Those who did not give high marks had the following suggestions / criticisms:
-- More specifics and detail on ES capabilities.
-- More specifics on requirements for proposals and proposal process.
-- At least one person wanted an overview of millimeter / submm observing.
2. OT / Splatalogue Overview (8.7 +/- 1.1, Range: 6--10)
-- The slight differences between the powerpoint screenshots and the downloaded OT confused some people
-- People would have preferred either working slowly through all the steps with a science primer example or just a quick run through and then more hands-on time
3. OT hands-on (8.6 +/- 1.3, Range: 4--10)
-- Would have liked more hands on time
-- Would have liked the templates to match the science primer examples
4. CASA Overview (8.1 +/- 1.5, Range: 5--10)
-- Some would have preferred a more hands on CASA tutorial
5. Simdata Walkthrough presentation (8.3 +/- 1.1, Range: 6--10)
-- Would like this to be slower esp. for non-mm experts
-- Let people know that scripts will be available later on
-- Work through more examples - one suggestion was to give tasks, stop every half hour and do it as a class.
6. Simdata Hands on (7.7 +/- 1.7, Range: 2--10)
-- "Some people in the room sucked up all the time of the staff"
-- Would be nice to have the python scripts available
-- Better documentation needed
+ General: Interferometry basics should be added, either in a separated talk or within the OT talk (see below).
+ OT :
-- We should give more info about proposal preparation, meaning how to know what can be observed, how to find out the desired sensitivity, uv-coverage, etc. instead of just going in "how to fill things" kind of talk.
-- The OT walkthrough was slow because people were trying themselves at the same time, and stopped following the talk when they got confused with the OT version, or asked the one beside about something, etc.
I think the OT talk should be either a real walkthrough into a primer example using the OT (not screenshots), or a quick introduction to the OT but emphasize the important things one should know to prepare the proposal, such as sensitivity, uv-coverage, etc.
+ Simdata :
-- In the slides specifying the simdata commands in the talk I think it is too much information in a short time.. I would just say which command does what and emphasize how to get help to see all parameters, etc.
-- I don't think we should expect people to have worked on one example before the tutorial.. Some people in Victoria downloaded and installed CASA and the OT just the day before. Maybe we should go through a detailed example in the talk (?)