Offer: Unidata Science Gateway JupyterHub Resources Available for Remote-Learning Situations

Jupyterhub

One of the goals of the Unidata’s Science Gateway project is to provide cloud-based JupyterHub servers tailored to the needs of university atmospheric science courses. In recent days, several instructors who have worked closely with Unidata in the past have requested JupyterHub resources to facilitate taking courses online in response to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. Because many universities are responding to local public health mandates by transitioning to the use of remote-learning techniques and online-only courses, Unidata is actively extending its offer of JupyterHub resources to universities (or individual instructors) who could benefit from these cloud-based resources.

In this scenario, instructors can add Jupyter notebooks used in their coursework to a dedicated JupyterHub hosted using Unidata’s resources in the NSF Jetstream cloud. Once logged in to the JupyterHub, individual students access pre-configured computing environments that allow them to work with the notebooks interactively, making and saving their own alterations to existing notebooks or creating their own new notebooks. Using a JupyterHub system, instructors can specify the Python software environment they need once, and all students will have access to the same environment without the need to install software on their personal computers. Data hosted on the Unidata Science Gateway, including a five-day rolling archive of nearly all data delivered by the Internet Data Distribution (IDD) system and other, longer-term archives, is easily available for use by hosted notebooks. Because all the computing resources and data are hosted in the cloud, any device with internet connectivity and a modern web browser can access course materials. This removes a potential barrier for students who may not have access to high-powered computers outside their university computing labs. (Note: while it is possible to access JupyterHub resources with almost any internet-connected device, in practice effective interaction with Jupyter notebooks generally does require at least a basic laptop computer.)

Unidata has the resources to support a limited number of university courses for the remainder of the Spring 2020 term on a first-come, first-served basis. If you teach a course in atmospheric science or a related discipline and you or your department are interested in having Unidata set up a JupyterHub for your use during that time, please contact support-gateway@unidata.ucar.edu and provide the following information:

  • Your name, university, and department
  • The course or courses you would like to support using a JupyterHub hosted in the Unidata Science Gateway
  • The approximate total number of users who would need accounts
  • The approximate number of users who would be connecting at the same time.
  • The Python Conda environment you would want to be available when using the JupyterHub. This could be a custom configuration in a Conda environment.yml file or a “well-known” environment such as the one used in Unidata’s python-training project.
  • If desired, a list of notebooks that would be pre-populated in the JupyterHub. Again, these could be your own custom notebooks (ideally hosted in a GitHub repository for easy access) or a pre-existing set like those used in Unidata’s python-training project.
  • The name of an individual at your institution who is willing to add and subtract individual users via the JupyterHub’s administrative interface.

Also, please note the following caveats:

  • Logins to the JupyterHub server will be based on a GitHub mechanism (OAuth). As a result, each user must have a GitHub account. (GitHub registration is free.)
  • The JupyterHub servers created as part of this program will only be available through the spring term, and will be removed afterwards. Unidata hopes to be able to provide additional resources in future semesters as well; just ask us and we’ll do our best to make arrangements.
  • Unidata’s resources in the Jetstream cloud are limited. We will do our best to accommodate all requests, but depending on the volume we may have to establish limits.

There is no cost to universities, departments, instructors, or students to take advantage of Unidata's Science Gateway resources. If you have questions about any of these details, please feel free to contact support-gateway@unidata.ucar.edu for clarification.

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