An Open Question: A comparison of proprietary and open-access teaching materials for researchers

Weisi Chen

Intersect Australia, Sydney, Australia

 

Intersect Australia has been a significant eResearch training provider for several years. Since the first courses in eResearch tools like HPC and Microsoft Excel, the Intersect repertoire has expanded to over 25 distinct courses, delivered at our 12 member universities, hundreds of times per year to thousands of researchers.

Intersect began utilising open access training materials in 2015: teaching Software Carpentry’s Creative Commons licensed courseware in Python, Matlab, R, Unix, and Git. Shortly thereafter, two Intersect eResearch Analysts were accredited as Software Carpentry instructors. The following year this was expanded with four more accredited instructors, and in 2017, a further six instructors were accredited and Intersect joined the Software Carpentry Foundation as a silver member, a status we recently reaffirmed.

Throughout this period, Intersect has continued to maintain a proprietary catalogue of Intersect-developed courses taught alongside the Software Carpentry materials.

In this presentation, we will explore the differences, if any, in the reception of Intersect developed course material and openly available Software Carpentry material by course attendees. The differences in cost to maintain proprietary courseware or utilise openly available materials is explored. We will also analyse differences between the delivery of the two sets of courses based on other variables, such as the experience level and teaching style of the trainer.

This presentation will be valuable to similar organisations who are grappling with the logistics of running eResearch training courses, and deciding on strategies regarding developing their own material or using material that already exists in the public domain.

As one of Australia’s most recognised eResearch training organisations, Intersect hopes that other, similar organisations may be able to benefit from our experiences, so that the research community can ultimately benefit from high-quality training from a diverse range of providers.

About the conference

eResearch Australasia provides opportunities for delegates to engage, connect, and share their ideas and exemplars concerning new information centric research capabilities, and how information and communication technologies help researchers to collaborate, collect, manage, share, process, analyse, store, find, understand and re-use information.

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