Resources for tutorial design#

Preparing a tutorial for a hackweek can feel like a daunting task. We are here to help guide you through the process! This page summarizes our recommendations for Tutorial Leads.

Curriculum development#


A hackweek tutorial is learning-oriented and should guide participants through a step-wise process with a meaningful outcome.

You’re likely leading a tutorial because it is a topic that you are excited about! It is tempting to want to share all the things, but keep the learning-oriented framing of your tutorial in mind as you begin to plan your tutorial.

We recommend following the Software Carpentry Curriculum Development model for building hackweek tutorials. The core components of this “Backward Design” approach include:


  1. Start by identifying key learning outcomes

  2. Identify the practical skills that would guide participants to these outcomes

  3. Build challenges that give learners practice in integrating new skills

Lessons learned from previous hackweeks#

  • Keep it simple and brief! Hackweeks have a lot going on, and between tutorials, networking events, and projects there is a lot for participants to digest.

  • Make your tutorials interactive through live coding challenges, working through a Juypter Notebook together, or interactive discussions. Leave some space when you are not talking for people to work through examples and ask questions.

  • Try for content that is broad in scope and gives an initial picture of what might be possible when applying a particular data science tool. Save detailed explanations on a narrow topic for optional breakout sessions.

  • Start with simple explanations that attend to people who are seeing this content for the first time, AND keep advanced participants engaged by inviting them to assist others, or to explore more advanced concepts through individual study.


An effective format for tutorial content is in the form of a Jupyter Notebook that provides participants with narrative text and interactive code examples. Notebooks can contain a wide variety of embedded media (images, videos, equations, etc.) and can be easily rendered on hackweek event websites.

We recommend that all notebooks make use of sections with the following minimal structure:

# Title
* Learning objectives *
## Software
## Data
## My Section
### My Subsection
## Summary
## References

For convenience you can start with a copy of our template notebook, which you can download here.

Examples of formatting#

Spend a bit of time looking at these examples from past events:



SnowEx 2021 Thermal IR

rendered, download

Delivering a tutorial#

Prepare your tutorials well in advance and practice it in front of a small audience for feedback. This helps ensure you have enough time to cover your full tutorial, can be an opportunity for feedback, and will give you confidence when presenting during the hackweek.

Examples of presenting#

Take a bit of time to review these excellent tutorials recorded at our previous hackweeks:




Thermal Infrared Remote Sensing

2021 SnowEx Hackweek by Steven Pestana


ICESat-2 Land Ice Applications

2020 ICESat-2 Hackweek by Ben Smith


Google Earth Engine

2018 GeoHackweek by Catherine Kuhn



To dig a bit deeper on some general guidance on creating technical content for a hackweek, we recommend reviewing The Diátaxis Framework for documentation.


While we’ve advocated for learning-oriented tutorials based on the Diátaxis Framework during a hackweek, keep in mind alternative approaches that might be a good fit depending on your goals: understanding-oriented, reference-oriented, and goal-oriented.