I attended the Digital Research Academy's Train the Trainer event

Thanks to the support of the e-ReproNim Fellowship I was able to attend the Digital Research Academy’s in-person “Train the Trainer” event in Munich at the start of September, and the e-ReproNim folks asked me to write up my experiences, so I figured I might as well share them here too. This was one of a pair of pilot events (one digital and one in person).

Headline: I think this fledgling organisation is headed for great things and I’m excited to be involved at this early stage!

The Digital Research Academy is a newly established grassroots trainer network that offers training sessions with the goal of improving the quality of research.

The Train the Trainer event was an opportunity to share pedagogical techniques, plan training sessions to be delivered in the future, and make group decisions about the future of the Digital Research Academy.

For my part, I delivered a session on the pedagogical technique of “research-based education” (education which aims to empower the learner as an independent agent, and dismantle the dichotomy of “teacher” and “learner”). Here’s the notes from that session.

Side note: when I say “notes”, these are an export from my logseq notes, and I actually used logseq’s presentation mode to present, and so in effect these “notes” are also “the slide deck”. I hadn’t used this feature before and I must say it was actually pretty nice! There were a couple of things that I think should maybe be tweaked (auto-resizing of images? Tiny font size for quotes?), and this is one of those features where I wonder whether it shouldn’t be a plug-in rather than part of the core program, but hey! It definitely inspired a LaTeX-like philosophy in me to focus on the content rather than the design, which I appreciated.

There were sessions on teaching using the flipped classroom technique, how to specify learning objectives, how to plan inclusive events, how to help others using a consulting framework (“Kollegiale Beratung”), and the neurobiology of learning.

Throughout these sessions, there were lots of prompts to think about how we might use these techniques in our own training sessions, and I’m grateful that Heidi consciously left lots of time in the schedule for discussions and spitballing. I started planning a training session on the subject of electronic lab notebooks (incorporating some of my work developing a system for the lab I currently work in), that hopefully I’ll deliver as part of the training network next year some time, and it was lovely to have the time to think about how to make this really good.

As is often the case with these types of events (see the Open Science Retreat but also just conferences in general…) while the “content” was valuable, a huge part of what I value in being able to attend these events are the connections and conversations that happen beyond the content. In this case, I got to meet and build relationships with a fabulous group of people who are passionate (angry?) about many of the same things that I am: they see the inefficiencies and injustices in academia and want to do something about them. That brings me so much hope and energy.

I also got to visit a German community garden, swim in the Eisbach, and try a “semi-recumbent tandem”!

It was also fascinating to be a fly on the wall for foundational conversations that will determine the direction that this organisation takes in. The project is being led by folks with deep knowledge/wisdom/experience about the space in which this project is going to operate, and I felt very lucky to see them in action! Looking forward to seeing what comes next…

In the coming months I shall finish planning my training session, and deliver it (initially within the training network, for feedback, and then externally), drawing on the pedagogical tools I learned at the event. Thanks again to those involved, and the e-ReproNim Fellowship for providing funding for me to attend! 🙏

This post is published under a CC BY 4.0 licence.