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Is a Distributed Graduate Seminar a Successful Way to Share Information Management Expertise with Students?
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  • Kristin Vanderbilt,
  • Corinna Gries,
  • Paul Hanson,
  • Andrea Nocentini,
  • Jonathan Wheeler
Kristin Vanderbilt
University of New Mexico,Florida International University, University of New Mexico,Florida International University

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Corinna Gries
University of Wisconsin Madison, University of Wisconsin Madison
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Paul Hanson
University of Wisconsin Madison, University of Wisconsin Madison
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Andrea Nocentini
Florida International University, Florida International University
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Jonathan Wheeler
University of New Mexico, University of New Mexico
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In this era of open data and reproducible science, graduate students need to learn where and how to publish their data and to be conversant with the challenges inherent when re-using someone else’s data. The Environmental Data Initiative partnered with UNM Libraries and Florida Coastal Everglades LTER to organize a 1-credit, semester-long distributed graduate seminar to learn if this approach could be an effective mechanism for transmitting such information. Each week during the Spring 2021 semester, an informatics specialist spoke remotely to students at University of New Mexico, Florida International University, and University of Wisconsin-Madison on topics ranging from FAIR principles to data security, team science to data provenance. Students prepared for the lecture with one or more readings, and in-class exercises reinforced the material covered. Student assignments included writing quality metadata for their own data and archiving their data in the EDI Repository. The capstone writing assignment, a data management plan for their own research project, allowed the students to integrate much of what they had learned. Student response to this class was positive, and students indicated that they learned a lot of immediately useful information without the course being a significant time-sink. The low registration numbers at UNM and FIU (6 and 7 students, respectively), however, where the seminar was not required, suggest a need to better inform both students and their advisors of the opportunity and the value provided by the training. Instructors also learned that it would be easier to create a cohesive flow to the course, without repetition, if the group of instructors took turns lecturing, rather than bringing in specialists on each subject. It was also apparent from student comments that many felt this information should be integrated, at an introductory level, into undergraduate classes or classes for new graduate students.