New MOOC focuses on data skills

A new online course is equipping researchers with the skills they need to manage ever-increasing amounts of data.

The free five-week course - created by the Universities of Edinburgh and North Carolina - is designed to reach learners across disciplines and continents.

As research becomes increasingly digital and data-driven, skills in research data management are essential. The skills-based course seeks to address that need.

Sharing, documenting and preserving data online has become expected of research funders in recent years.

Open education

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is being delivered via the Coursera partnership - a network of leading international universities.

Material has been created for the skills-based course by EDINA, a centre for digital expertise and online service delivery based at the University.

EDINA’s Research Data Management Training (MANTRA) open educational resource is highly regarded by trainers and students alike.

Designed as a prime resource for postgraduate training in research data management skills, MANTRA is used by higher education institutions worldwide.

Data management

The Research Data Management and Sharing MOOC provides short video-based lessons and assessments across a five-week period, and learners can proceed at their own pace.

Staff from both organisations will monitor learning forums and peer-reviewed assignments to make sure learners are on the right track, and to make adjustments needed in course content.

Researchers need to manage data across the full research data lifecycle so that they can share their data with others. The key benefit in these course materials is the first-hand experience made available for up-and-coming researchers, with advice on how to involve curators for data libraries and repositories, and so ensure the discoverability and sustainability of data assets over the long-term.

Peter BurnhillDirector of EDINA, Information Services

The partnership with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill helped ensure a cross-Atlantic perspective to make the content relevant to both North American and European audiences.

North Carolina’s CRADLE project - Curating Research Assets and Data Using Lifecycle Education - aims to raise awareness and improve the skills of health and social science researchers. It also seeks to educate library professionals in data curation skills.

International engagement

The new MOOC marks one of many international engagements by the University’s Information Services Group.

The University of Edinburgh MOOCs are already a key channel in bringing the work of our researchers to reach a global audience. This Research Data Management MOOC takes us another step forward in supporting researchers internationally.

Melissa HightonDirector of Learning, Teaching and Web, Information Services

The University has been an early adopter and leader in MOOC development. To date, more than 2 million people have signed up to Edinburgh courses across a broad range of subject areas, on both the Coursera and FutureLearn platforms.

Although University MOOCs do not have formal credits assigned to them, Statements of Accomplishment will be available to any learner who completes a course for a small fee.