True to my New Year’s resolution I’ve completed week 1 of the Coursera MOOC from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and The University of Edinburgh.

I’ve found the course content reasonably engaging so far, largely as revision given my recent immersion in all things RDM, and I managed to pass the quiz on Understanding Research Data (14 items) first try, albeit not with full marks (86% – I got wrong a question associated with the Research Data Lifecycle but that was more an issue of terminology. That’s my excuse anyway.)

I’ve been working at the sharp end of RDM now for a whole month and have obviously been on a steep learning curve (discounting that week watching telly and eating chocolates) so my reasons for wanting to do this course are not only to consolidate my own learning but also to engage with the RDM community and to check out options for RDM training here at the University of Leeds. I have previously explored the excellent MANTRA resource from the University of Edinburgh which heavily informed my interview presentation, Research Data Management: Partnering with research way back on 19th September.
The ‘M’ part of this MOOC does appear to be more minuscule than massive at the moment with no activity on the discussion forums. Some other MOOCs I’ve taken have erred at the opposite extreme with thousands of threads to sift through. I’m also currently the only one using the #RDMSmooc hashtag on twitter.
Perhaps the first week in January is just not the best time for a somewhat niche area of interest while the rest of the population is focused on trying to break their mince pie habit and other more mainstream resolutions? (According to a slidedeck from Edinburgh’s Pauline Ward, the cohort for March-April 2016 comprised 1,294 “Active Learners” and resulted in 273 “Course Completers”)
In terms of actual content, week 1 has been about the basics, “understanding research data” in 2 main sections, “What are data?” and “Understanding Data Management” comprising several short videos delivered by Dr Helen Tibbo with interactive transcripts along with a summary and additional resources (which I’ve collated in Mendeley and added to an open Mendeley group here.)
There were also a couple of Supplementary Videos featuring real academics and information professionals discussing their real life experiences.  I found these particularly engaging, perhaps unsurprising given my surfeit of theoretical learning to date, also somewhat ironic given our “post-truth” age: “So when you make a statement about the world or about anything in it, you’re relying on some evidence for that statement.” Try telling that to the politicos!
As my own theoretical knowledge of RDM segues into the practical, I found Nancy Y. McGovern’s statement a suitable conclusion for week 1 “I certainly get the sense in libraries that people feel like we have a completely known set of data management practices. I don’t believe we do. I think for a lot of domains those practices are still emerging. So, I think that we should be really open to identifying new kinds of data management practices, and figuring out what our role might be in them.”
So all in all I’m looking forward to week 2 “Data Management Planning”, just be nice to have some company!