IDCC13: Exemplar RDM Training Exercises

14 January, 2013

The 8th International Digital Curation Conference kicked off today with a number of workshops. I attended the one on Designing Data Management Training Resources facilitated by Catherine Pink and Jez Cope from the Research360 project (University of Bath) and Hannah Lloyd-Jones from the OpenExeter project (University of Exeter). Both projects have made real headway with their RDM training and were keen to share their training tips and lessons learnt.

One particularly valuable part of the workshop was where each institution demoed an exemplar exercise that they have carried out during an internal RDM training session. I’ll do my best to describe the exercises.

OpenExeter: Speed Data Dating

This training exercise was devised by OpenExeter for early career researchers and postgraduate students. An equal number of chairs are placed in an outer circle and an inner circle with the inner circle facing outwards and the outer circle facing inwards. Participants then sit on the chairs with the result being that each person should be facing someone, i.e. they are in pairs. A whistle is blown and in their pairs one of the participants explains the data management challenges they are currently facing to their partner, who writes down points on a post-it note. Every 3 minutes the whistle blows and the circle moves round so the participants have new partners and the task is repeated. The idea is that researchers are meeting other researchers and hearing about their data management issues whilst also clarifying their own issues through the process of description. At the end of the session the post it notes are stuck on a board under different headings highlighting common problems.

Such an exercise could lead into exploration of possible solutions to challenges.

Research360: Clicker Exercise

In some of their training sessions the Research360 team have used audience response systems, or ‘clickers’, to guage researcher’s knowledge on certain areas. Clickers are wireless handheld devices that can be handed out at the start of a workshop and will allow participants to respond anonymously to a poll. Participants are shown a statement, such as “My data is safe”, and asked to rate the statement (using strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree – or possibly other measures). A dynamic graph is then created from the responses and aids discussion. In the Research360 training discussion was conducted after each question rather asking participants to answer all the questions first. Jez Cope explained that they had also waited till all responses were in before showing the results (to avoid biasing the answers), he’d achieved this by keeping an eye on the number of responses in.

In today’s workshop the free Poll Everywhere online system was used to avoid the need for clickers.

Both exercises gave us a taste of how an RDM training session could be engaging, informative and (most of all!) fun.

More on the RDM training being carried out at Exeter and Bath is available from the following Web pages:

Slides from the workshop will shortly be available from the IDCC13 area of the DCC Web site.

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