What is a tutorial?

The ADASS POC views a tutorial as being a hands-on session actively engaging the participants.

A tutorial is aimed to teach the participants by having them do something, whether it is to try to run a piece of software, to code, to work in groups to come up with solution to a problem, or similar activities. The participants must have a chance to “try it” through a guided exercise. A tutorial has pauses built in to allow the participants to complete the exercise and ask questions.

Presenters who wish to demo a software, to promote a software or an organization, are directed towards “Focus demos”, or contributed talks.

Overview of the Selection and Tutorial Process

Each step will be discussed in more details in the following section, but here we give an overview of the entire process, from the call for tutorials to a successful tutorial. The specific timeline is presented below. It generally should start around 7 months before the meeting.

  • Call for Tutorials: The POC sends a call inviting submission of letter of intent for tutorial presentations.
  • Deadline for submission of Letters of Intent: The submissions are received and review by the POC starts.
  • Review of letters of intent followed by First Round Selection: The POC reviews the letters of intent and selects those who will go to the second round.
  • Request for Formal Submission of Tutorial Plan: The proposer of the tutorial selected for the second round are requested to submit a complete and detailed tutorial plan.
  • Review of Tutorial Plans starts: The POC reviews the tutorial plans for completeness and for adherence to the principle of a tutorial.
  • Final Selection: The proposers are notified of their selection status. The selected tutorials are added to the program.
  • Tutorial preparation instructions sent to participants [1 month before Conference]: The tutorial presenters share instructions with the participants regarding any actions in preparation for the tutorial, eg. software installation, data download, reading material.

Selection Process and Criteria

1. Call for Tutorials – ADASS POC Responsibility.

Each year around 7 months before the meeting, the POC will issue a Call for Tutorials asking interested ADASS participants to submit their proposal for a tutorial they would be preparing and presenting. The proposers will be given a month to prepare their Letter of Intent.

The topics for the tutorials are not to be restricted, though they should broadly fit within the subject matters typical of ADASS. Note that this early on, we normally do not know yet which topics the conference will be focusing on.

The Call for Tutorials will be sent to the ADASS mailing list. An announcement should also be posted on the main ADASS webpage, and on the conference webpage if the latter is available.

2. Letters of Intent – Tutorial Presenter Responsibility

The letter of intent must include:

  • Working title for the tutorial
  • Description of the main topic
  • Primary learning objectives
  • Coarse tutorial structure

3. First Round Selection – ADASS POC Responsibility

The POC will review all the Letters of Intent. The review will assess the completeness of the proposal (for this stage), the relevance and potential interest for the topic, but primarily will focus on the stated learning objectives and the proposed structure. One of the POC’s objectives during this first round is to ensure that the proposed tutorials do sound like tutorials and not Focus Demos, for example.

4. Request for Submission of Completed Tutorial Plan – ADASS POC Responsibility

Each proposer will be notified of the POC decision to reject or preliminary accept the proposal about two weeks after the Letter of Interest submission deadline. The proposers of the selected tutorials will be requested to submit a complete tutorial plan. This complete plan will help inform the POC final selection.

5. Submission of Complete Plan for Tutorial – Tutorial Presenter Responsibility

The candidate tutorial presenter will have 2 months to prepare their tutorial plan and start building their tutorial material and presentation, leading to the submission of a detailed plan for the tutorial.

A complete tutorial plan must include:

  • Title for the tutorial
  • Description of the main topic
  • Primary learning objectives
  • Detailed tutorial structure, with timeline for each section, each exercise. Tutorial material, the more complete the better. (Eg. slides, jupyter notebook, webpages.)
  • List of what the participant will need, e.g. laptop, specific software, etc. Infrastructure requirements, eg. Wi-Fi, power, table arrangement, etc.

Failure to provide a complete plan will result in the tutorial proposal not being accepted.

6. Final Review and Selection – ADASS POC Responsibility

The POC will review all the submitted tutorial plans. Incomplete submissions will be rejected. The complete submissions will be evaluated and ranked. The available tutorial slots will be filled with the top-ranked proposals. The POC reserves the right to not fill all the slots if there is an insufficient number of quality proposals. The tutorial proposer will be informed of the selection results, positive or negative, at least 2 months before the conference.

Preparing and Presenting a Tutorial

1. Instructions for the Participants

The selected presenters are asked to provide instructions to the participants a month before the conference. The idea is for the participant to prepare before they leave their institution and to allow them to test everything and troubleshoot ahead of time. Also, if the tutorial requires large downloads, it will be a lot faster to download them from their institution than from a hotel Wi-Fi with 50 other people also trying to download everything at the same time.

The instructions will include such things as:

  • Links to download the data needed for the exercises
  • Software to install
  • How to test that everything works and is ready for the exercise(s)
  • Where to find any support material, slides, jupyter notebooks, etc that the participants are expected to have access to during the tutorial. Again, it must be kept in mind that hotel Wi-Fi is not always reliable.
  • Contact information for pre-tutorial support. (Not a requirement but a nice thing to offer when possible.)

2. Tutorial Structure

The length of an ADASS tutorial depends on the tutorial proposal, the conference venue and the program. Typically, ADASS tutorials have been about 1.5 to 2-hour long, allowing for up to two tutorial sessions on the Sunday afternoon with a coffee break in-between. (This format can accommodate 4 tutorials, if run in parallel). The tutorial presenters should keep this guideline in mind when structuring their tutorial. In principle, a longer tutorial could be accepted if the presenter can justify the need and show clear added benefits.

A tutorial should actively engage the participants. As such, the structure of a tutorial must include opportunities for the participants to “try it”. A classic tutorial structure is a series of short lessons, each followed by an exercise with built-in time for the participants to work on it individually or in small groups. This is a guideline only, any structure that supports the spirit of hands-on learning is valid.

3. Infrastructure Requirements

What infrastructure is needed for the tutorial? This should be included in the Complete Tutorial Plan. There is no guaranteed that the venue can provide everything initially requested, but at least we can have the discussion early and come up with a suitable solution ahead of time.

  • Laptop – Presenter
    • Will the presenter use his or her own laptop?
    • Or does the conference need to provide a laptop?
    • Which type of video connectors will be required (if using own laptop)?
  • Laptop – Participant
    • Does the participant need a laptop to do the exercise?
    • Power
    • Are the exercises computer-centric enough that the participants are likely to require power to avoid running out of the battery power?
  • Wi-Fi
    • Does the presenter need Wi-Fi internet to lead the tutorial?
    • Do the participants require Wi-Fi internet access to complete the exercises?
    • If possible, presenters are strongly encouraged to build their tutorial such that Wi-Fi access is not needed at all.
  • Anything else?
    • USB sticks, pens, paper pads, disco balls?

Evaluation of Tutorials and Feedback

The POC’s objective is to provide to the participant a valuable learning experience. The higher the level of details included in the proposal the easier it is for the POC to assess the product that will be offered. When it comes to topics, the POC is normally sufficiently diversified in its interests that any topic will find someone to champion it. The quality of the proposal is more important. Diversity of topics and presenters, year after year, is also a consideration of the POC, so are past successes of tutorials, topics, or presenters.

Timeline Template

Call of Letter of IntentMarch 19, 2021
Submission of Letter of IntentApril 16, 2021
First Round Selection CompletedApril 30, 2021
Request for Complete Tutorial PlanMay 3, 2021
Submission of Complete Tutorial PlanJuly 2, 2021
Final Selection CompletedJuly 23, 2021
Invite winning proposal (and notify declined proposal)July 26, 2021
Tutorial Instructions PostedSeptember 24, 2021
Table 1: Timeline for the 2021 Cape Town meeting, Oct 24-28.