The ASA's Astroinformatics School was first run in 2009, taking over from the Aus-VO (Australian Virtual Observatory) Summer School that had been run in 2007 and 2008 at the University of Sydney. It is funded by the ASA with added sponsorship from other astronomical organisations in Australia, and the generous support of the Richard Cole Fund.
The School aims to meet the needs of new postgraduate students for computational skills that can can greatly enhance scientific research.
The Astroinformatics School is a 3-day program of lectures and tutorials designed to serve as an introduction to a wide range of IT tools that are essential for the modern astronomer. These include programming, Unix scripting, database construction and use, internet technologies and data mining. The program is based on a first year IT course developed by James Curran and Tara Murphy at the University of Sydney but with all the activities tailored to astronomers. It includes online learning material, example code, and lecture/tutorial notes.
One critical feature of the program is that all participants install the required software onto their laptops, which they use throughout the summer school. Most sessions are interactive, with the participants following the examples 'live'. The advantage of this is that at the end of the program they can continue to use all the software (e.g. scripting, databases etc) that they have been working on.
The next Astroinformatics School is expected to be held early in 2015.