Collaboration across open science education: working towards a FAIR and open future

Two years ago, the EOSC Synergy project presented at the Open Education Conference (OER20) outlining our aim to contribute to the development of a sustainable infrastructure for open learning in the European Open Science Cloud

Today we are presenting again at OER22 in London, providing an update on the project, but even more importantly providing a story of collaboration across the open science education and training world, bringing together communities from different countries, roles and disciplines.  

These collaborations enabled EOSC Synergy to situate its activities in a global network linked by a shared aim of working towards making open and FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Re-usable) principles the norm for research, but also for research training and education.  

The collaborations provide many examples of the conference theme ‘open in action’ and focus on different areas of openness: from community building and sharing practice across different parts of the open science education community, to creating shared resources and joining up infrastructure and resources. 

This presentation reflects on the nature of the collaborations and lessons learned, presenting details of their outputs and future plans. We aim to raise awareness of these activities and build further bridges between the open education and open science communities. In this post we highlight a selection of collaborations EOSC Synergy has been involved in focussing on open science training and education. 

Open Science Community of Practice of Training Co-ordinators

In EOSC Synergy we wanted to make sure that our activities built on existing work and were complementary to work going on in other projects. We became part of various communities in order to find out about other activities, share our work and get feedback. The Open Science Community of Practice of Training Co-ordinators has been a key place for EOSC Synergy to share and get feedback on project activities, as well as for us to contribute to collaborative projects. 

The community was founded by OpenAIRE in 2018 but is now community driven and has over 100 members in over 20 countries from various open science projects, initiatives, research infrastructures and institutions. EOSC Synergy has been a co-chair since January 2021. 

The community meets monthly to share practice and collaborate. Current projects include contributing to the development of EOSC Synergy’s Open Science Online Training Handbook and writing an article on experiences of making training materials FAIR.  Both projects are still ongoing and hope to publish shortly. 

Improving use and re-use of training materials using FAIR principles

As well as supporting training via our own EOSC Synergy learning platform, we want to encourage reuse of our materials by other trainers and teachers. We have tried to make this as easy as possible by making full Moodle courses available for download and import, but also providing access to the ‘raw material’ course contents, as well as including notes for speakers and instructions for activities. We became involved in a couple of initiatives to explore how to apply the FAIR data principles to training materials. 

We are currently writing up a case study for the Community of Practice journal article mentioned above but we are also working with the ELIXIR FAIR Training Focus Group.  The development of an open education resource containing lessons on how to make training materials FAIR is being led by the ELIXIR FAIR Training Focus Group, building on their ’10 simple rules for making training materials FAIR’  published in 2020. These lessons aim to make it easier for trainers to practically implement the 10 simple rules. The lessons will be published in late 2022.

Improving resource sharing through improved metadata for training resources

A key goal of EOSC Synergy is to create training materials around our services and related topics such as open science and research data management. We obviously want our materials to be easily discoverable in order to have impact. Use of standardised metadata will make training materials easier to find, select and use. 

The Research Data Alliance’a Interest Group on Education And Training On Handling Of Research Data (ETHRD-IG) has a Focus Group on Materials, which is making recommendations for minimal and extended metadata for training resources. Within EOSC Synergy we have applied the metadata recommendations to our training catalogue and they are being used across EOSC training projects

Supporting new roles in open research 

The development of the data steward role is a key objective of EOSC. While not being a direct objective of EOSC Synergy, we supported a sister project FAIRsFAIR, to develop an online Data Steward Training course using the materials from the Data Steward Instructor Training Workshops we ran collaboratively throughout 2020 and 2021, which trained 244 attendees from 131 institutions in 21 countries. 

The training workshops and online course are at an introductory level and aimed at anyone looking to start a career in data stewardship or provide support to research staff with research data management (RDM) activities. EOSC Synergy contributed materials on pedagogy and training design which is an important part of the data steward role.  The course is also hosted on Synergy’s Moodle platform

Supporting and embedding open science training 

As an EOSC regional project, we have a remit to explore how to engage our consortium member countries in EOSC, including exploring how to best equip researchers, research support professionals and other potential users with the skills they need to make the most of what EOSC will offer. 

In the UK we partnered with FAIRsFAIR to run a national roadshow on “Advancing the skills agenda for reproducibility, open and FAIR”. This was also run in collaboration with the UK’s Open Research Competency Coalition (ORCC), an informal group of organisations and institutions who are interested in supporting open research skills, especially for those in professional research support roles. 

The workshop identified that more coordination is needed across different  open research communities in the UK. To enable this to happen, EOSC Synergy will work with ORCC and the UK Reproducibility Network to produce a national landscape report of training to support open research skills. This will be published in Autumn 2022.  

Sharing global practices

Reimagining Educational Practices for Open (REPO) is an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation-funded initiative to study and improve the impact and efficiency of Open Science training by observing, supporting, and extracting lessons from the development and design of virtual training and community development in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis. (Murphy, 2021). 

This initiative fitted well with EOSC Synergy’s goals as although it was always our goal to focus on online delivery of training, this became particularly important during the pandemic. Many open science training organisations and projects were brought together by REPO to share experiences. At one event we were able to share our project work with over 200 delegates attending the Open and Inclusive Access to Research (OIAR) conference which brought together experts and early career research professionals from Canada and Latin America together in a bilingual workshop environment which enabled exchange of knowledge and expertise about open research practices.

The final report will be published shortly but the REPO community hopes to continue in some form. 

What next? 

EOSC Synergy will continue to work on our services, infrastructure and training until the project finishes in October 2022. In the meantime, we’re continuing our collaborations and members of the Synergy team are already working on what comes next, in other EOSC projects such as EOSC Future and in EOSC Association Task Forces