This guest post from Sara Mannheimer and Ryer Banta is about introducing undergraduates to the foundations of research data management through something everyone can relate to—organizing personal digital files. You can read more about their experience in The Complete Guide to Personal Digital Archiving which features their co-authored chapter, “Personal Digital Archiving as a Bridge to Research Data Management”
In 2016, we were both working at Montana State University Library, but working in totally different divisions. Sara was the Data Management Librarian with a focus on research data management and data management planning for faculty and graduate students. Ryer was the Undergraduate Experience Librarian, focusing on information literacy instruction and support for undergraduate students. In many ways it would seem that we were living in very different parts of the library.
Although our jobs were quite different, we connected over our shared conviction that undergraduates would benefit from learning fundamental research data management skills. Undergraduates are entering a data-driven job market, where skills related to data management are in high demand. In industry, data scientists are working in a wide variety of sectors, and in academia, researchers are increasingly required to publish research data. Tailoring research data management lessons to undergraduates also served a key student population at MSU. Montana State University is a mid-sized university with about 16,500 total students, about 14,000 of whom are undergraduates. So we knew that there could be a big potential impact if we could figure out a meaningful way to help undergraduates build research data management skills.
As we began to think about creating a useful and meaningful research data management related lesson for undergraduates, our immediate challenge was figuring out how to get over the hurdle of making research data management relevant. Most undergraduates do not encounter research data on a regular basis, and we wanted to connect research data management to their daily life, their current schoolwork, or ideally both. The instructional principle of making lessons relevant may seem to be fairly common sense, but it is also supported by constructivist learning theory. We dipped our toes into this rich area of scholarship while developing our lesson, focusing on a couple of aspects of constructivist learning theory. For anyone developing learning experiences, we highly recommend dipping your toes, and even diving headlong, into constructivist learning theory and related theories.
Constructivist learning theory encompasses several principles, but we focused on the principles related to active, student-focused discovery. Two core tenets of constructivist learning theory specify that:
- New learning builds on prior knowledge. By tapping into students’ past experiences, educators can create a learning sequence that extends from prior knowledge to the current lesson to a lifelong pattern of curiosity and learning.
- Meaningful learning develops through “authentic” tasks. Activities conducted in class should simulate activities that students will use in their class assignments and in their real lives. This strategy ensures that the skills students learn in the classroom have direct relevance to their lives outside of the classroom.
Applying these tenets provided us with new insights about how to make research data management relevant for undergraduates. Given that new learning builds on prior knowledge, we aimed to understand students’ prior knowledge regarding data, tap into students’ past learning experiences, and then build upon that knowledge in the classroom. Given that meaningful learning develops through “authentic” tasks, we aimed to teach concrete, relatable skills that could be practiced both during instruction and afterwards. We wanted to position research data management skills in the context of students’ current lives, rather than promising a theoretical applicability to an abstract future career.
Taking a cue from constructivist learning theories, we realized that we could start with data that students already use and manage on a daily basis, specifically their digital files on their computers. At the same time, we also realized that many of the basic principles of research data management are also found in personal digital archiving practice. These dual realizations helped us focus our lesson on principles and practices that could be immediately applied to students’ digital files. In fact, in our lesson, we designed activities that got students started on reorganizing their files following personal digital archiving best practices. We organized our lesson into four key sections:
- Set the stage. Students describe the use, importance, and challenges of data within their discipline or other personally relevant contexts. This step helps prepare students to apply the lesson to their own lives.
- Basics of personal digital archiving. Students discover basic personal digital archiving strategies and principles that are also used to manage research data. This step provides a foundation of knowledge that informs in-class activities.
- Apply learning with activities. Students apply personal digital archiving strategies and principles to organize and document their own files and data. This step provides students with hands-on experience with personal digital archiving strategies.
- Debrief to connect personal digital archiving to research data management. Students reflect upon the value of the personal digital archiving principles and practices for their own personal data and discover the connection and similarities between personal digital archiving and research data management. This step allows students to process the lesson and consider future applications of the skills they learned.
We have had success with this lesson, and we have found that teaching personal digital archiving practices can act as a bridge that connects key practices of research data management to students’ everyday lives. Personal digital archiving builds on students’ prior knowledge of their digital belongings, and allows students to learn through authentic tasks that have immediate relevance to their daily lives. We hope that other librarians and educators can adapt and reuse the basic instructional strategies that we developed in their own learning contexts. Critical thinking about managing digital materials—whether personal files or research data—is a foundational skill that will benefit students during their undergraduate education and in their future careers.
Ryer Banta is the information literacy and technology librarian at Centralia College (WA), where he manages digital resources and services, and helps learners develop information literacy and lifelong learning skills. His research interests include open education, instructional design, educational technology, information literacy, and user experience.
You can follow Ryer on Twitter @RyerBanta
Sara Mannheimer is the data librarian at Montana State University in Bozeman, where she facilitates research data management and sharing, and promotes digital scholarship using library collections and “big data” sources. Her research focuses on data management practices, data discovery, digital preservation, and the social, ethical, and technical issues surrounding data-driven research.
You can follow Sara on Twitter @saramannheimer
The Complete Guide to Personal Digital Archiving helps information professionals break down archival concepts and best practices into teachable solutions. Whether it’s an academic needing help preserving their scholarly records, a student developing their data literacy skills or someone backing up family photos and videos to protect against hard-drive failure, this book will show information professionals how to offer assistance.
Find out more about the book and read a sample chapter here.
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Facet Publishing have announced the release of Open Licensing for Cultural Heritage by Gill Hamilton and Fred Saunderson.
In the digital era, libraries, archives, museums and galleries are no longer constrained by the physical limitations of their buildings, analogue books, manuscripts, maps, paintings and artefacts. Cultural collections now can be safely distributed and shared globally. To ensure that the benefits of this ability to share are realised, cultural institutions must endeavour to provide free and open access to their digital collections. The tool for achieving this is open licensing.
Featuring real-world case studies from diverse education and heritage organizations, Open Licensing for Cultural Heritage digs into the concept of ‘open’ in relation to intellectual property. It explores the organizational benefits of open licensing and the open movement, including the importance of content discoverability, arguments for wider collections impact and access, the practical benefits of simplicity and scalability, and more ethical and principled arguments related to the protection of public content and the public domain.
The authors said,
“Openly sharing our knowledge, experience, content and culture for free is not a new concept. Sharing is an innate and natural part of our human character. Forward looking, inclusive, modern, relevant cultural heritage organizations must play a central role in supporting free, open access to culture at a global level. This is possible, practical and achievable with considered and informed application of an open licensing framework. Our book will provide readers with the insight, knowledge, and confidence to make a case for and implement an open licensing approach.”
Gill Hamilton is Digital Access Manager at the National Library of Scotland where she leads on access to the Library’s extensive digital collections, and oversees its resource discovery and library management systems.
Fred Saunderson is the National Library of Scotland’s Intellectual Property Specialist where he has responsibility for providing copyright and intellectual property advice and guidance, as well as coordinating licensing and re-use procedures.
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Facet Publishing have announced the release of Developing Digital Scholarship: Emerging practices in academic libraries
This new book, edited by Alison Mackenzie and Lindsey Martin, provides strategic insights drawn from librarians who are meeting the challenge of digital scholarship, utilizing the latest technologies and creating new knowledge in partnership with researchers, scholars, colleagues and students.
The impact of digital on libraries has extended far beyond its transformation of content, to the development of services, the extension and enhancement of access to research and to teaching and learning systems. As a result, the fluidity of the digital environment can often be at odds with the more systematic approaches to development traditionally taken by academic libraries, which has also led to a new generation of roles and shifting responsibilities with staff training and development often playing ‘catch-up’. One of the key challenges to emerge is how best to demonstrate expertise in digital scholarship which draws on the specialist technical knowledge of the profession and maintains and grows its relevance for staff, students and researchers.
Developing Digital Scholarship spans a wide range of contrasting perspectives, contexts, insights and case studies, which explore the relationships between digital scholarship, contemporary academic libraries and professional practice.
The editors said,” Our book demonstrates that there are opportunities to be bold, remodel, trial new approaches and reposition the library as a key partner in the process of digital scholarship.”
Alison Mackenzie is the Dean of Learning Services at Edge Hill University. Alison has been an active contributor in the development of the profession having held roles on the SCONUL Board, and as Chair of the performance Measurement and Quality Strategy group. She is currently a member of the Northern Collaboration steering group and is co-editor of this book.
Lindsey Martin is the Assistant Head of learning Services and is responsible for the learning technologies managed and supported by Learning Services. She has responsibility for the virtual learning environment and its associated systems, media production, classroom AV, and development of staff digital capability. Lindsey has worked in academic libraries for the past 20+ years in a variety of roles. She has been active on the Heads of eLearning Forum Steering group (HeLF) for a number of years and is currently its Chair. She is co-editor of this book.
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Facet Publishing have announced the publication of Library Improvement through Data Analytics by Lesley S. J. Farmer and Alan M. Safer.
This book shows how to make sense of data in libraries and use it to inform decision making at every level.
Sound data analytics is the foundation for making an evidence-based case for libraries, in addition to guiding myriad organizational decisions, from optimizing operations for efficiency to responding to community needs. Designed to be useful for beginners as well as those with a background in data, this book introduces the basics of a six point framework that can be applied to a variety of library settings for effective system based, data-driven management.
The guide covers such key topics as:
- the basics of statistical concepts
- recommended data sources for various library functions and processes, and guidance for using census, university, or chamber of comm
erce data in analysis
- techniques for cleaning data
- matching data to appropriate data analysis methods
- how to make descriptive statistics more powerful by spotlighting relationships
- 14 case studies which address such areas as digitization, e-book collection development and reference
- staffing, facilities, and instruction.
This book’s clear, concise coverage will enable readers of every experience level to gain a better understanding of statistics in order to facilitate library improvement. It will be essential reading for library managers and key decision makers.
More information: http://www.facetpublishing.co.uk/title.php?id=301614
This presentation takes you chapter-by-chapter through the new edited collection from Facet, Annual Review of Cultural Heritage Informatics.