ecoEd Champions training: applying environmental science using digital platforms

ecoEd is an innovative training and skills development program for university lecturers, researchers and industry professionals.

by Chantal Huijbers 

The program is developed to enhance the translation of Australia’s digital research infrastructures to the EcoScience community by educating and upskilling the next generation of environmental scientists and managers. ecoEd is a partnership between the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), the Terrestrial Ecosystem R

esearch Network (TERN), the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory (BCCVL), ecocloud, the online platform for the ecoscience community, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) and the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC). Each of these partners provide training material that is accessible online through the ecoEd website, and participate in delivering training to ecoEd Champions.

The collaborative education program delivers training to select ecoEd Champions who form a network of enthusiastic professionals. These Champions receive extensive training in applying the scientific background in the suite of tools developed by each of the partners for exploring and analysing spatial biological and environmental data.

The program provides the Champions with all the ready-to-use materials and knowledge required so that they can confidently re-deliver the teaching program in their own institutions.

In doing this, ecoEd is enabling first-rate science education in Australia and increasing the capacity of the research community to advance science and deliver outcomes that benefit the nation and underpin the sustainable use of our ecosystems.

Open-access lecture and workshop materials

All ecoEd materials are downloadable and openly available for reuse. The materials currently include lectures and workshop handouts for the following topics:

  • 10 Eco Data Things: a suite of activities to explore issues surrounding management of research data, specifically for people working with ecological data.
  • Biodiversity Data Quality: addresses different aspects of data quality, and how to select biodiversity data that is fit for your purpose using the Spatial Portal of the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA).
  • Australian Ecological Data: explores how to obtain and use spatial data from the suite of tools of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) with a practical exercise getting data using the AusPlotsR package.
  • Species Distributions & Climate Change: addresses the fundamental aspects of modelling species distributions and how a changing climate might affect biodiversity, and how to run these models in the Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory (BCCVL).
  • Multi-Criteria Analysis: covering multiple aspects of multi-criteria analysis (MCA) and how to apply this knowledge in a free spatial software tool (MCAS-S).
  • Environmental Microbial Diversity: explores how to assess the complexity and abundance of specific taxonomic groupings of microbes through combining DNA sequencing technology with bioinformatics approaches using Galaxy Australia.

Meet eight new ecoEd Champions

Eight new ecoEd Champions received training in Canberra from 11-13 December 2018. The three training days included an intensive program during which the Champions were introduced to the concepts behind biological and environmental data access, management, visualisation and analysis.

Associate Professor Bertram Ostendorf from the University of Adelaide is one of the ecoEd Champions who uses the material in his own teaching courses. He said that “the clarity of the ecoEd lectures is fantastic. They are well-structured and easy to understand and integrate in lectures. The selection of the content and the consistency of the detail is great and not biased by individual interests, which makes it a good set of baseline material for anyone to use.”

“Even for someone without a lot of GIS experience, the tools are easy to use and I will certainly use some of the ecoEd modules in my teaching,” said ecoEd Champion Pieter Poot of the University of Western Australia.

For more information on ecoEd please visit the website or contact Dr Chantal Huijbers.

We would like to thank our funders and partners for their valuable contribution.

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