Nailed it: Moving digital skills training online

Ann Backhaus1, Dr Marco De La Pierre1, Dr Alexis Espinosa1, Dr Mehaboob Basha1, Dr Sarah Beecroft1, Cristian  Di Pietrantonio1, Dr Pascal Elahi1, Audrey Scott1, Ali Zamani1, Dr Christina Hall2, Dr Sara King3, Dr Mark Crowe4, Dr Darya Vanichkina5, Dr Liz Stokes6, Dr Rebecca Lange7, Dr Anastasios Papaioannou8

1Pawsey Supercomputing Centre, Kensington, Australia
2Australian BioCommons, Melbourne, Australia
3AARNet, Adelaide, Australia
4QCIF, Brisbane, Australia
5University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
6ARDC, Sydney, Australia
7Curtin University, Perth, Australia
8Intersect, Sydney, Australia


Digital skills training across AUNZ has moved online. While not necessarily ‘new’, the transition was abrupt and impacted by the social complexities of responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Working from home infrastructure meant training could continue in theory, but represented previously unexplored avenues for many of us.

Over the last several months, there have been endless discussions about successes, challenges, achievements, and recommendations about the best ways to deliver online training. In the ENRICH Community of Practice alone, there have been well over 3,000 messages exchanged this year, and this represents just one of many ways in which the eResearch skills trainer community in AUNZ has come together (virtually) to share emerging best practices for distributed and virtual skills instruction.

We’ll kickstart with a short lightning talk on “the journey of a container”, illustrating a repeatable approach to designing and delivering training, through selective content building, i.e. reusing some and creating afresh other. Social-learning and community-building are also purposefully and uniquely built into the design and delivery of each training conduct.

We’ll then flip this conversation and draw from the breadth of experiences across the community to share our successes, near-misses, embarrassments, and utter disasters with online training – and how we learned from them. We will use padlet – a tool for flipped learning – to enable attendees to share stories anonymously, and upvote the most common/egregious/relatable ones for focussed discussion.

Our target audience is the trainer seeking a community of practice offering a candid assessment of the challenges of pivoting training to online delivery, a support network, mentorships and partnerships. We will provide a platform for those, and others in the broader community, to share their stories and work together to continue to create positive and productive training experiences for our research community.


Ann is the Education and Training Manager at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre. Ann has significant experience in adult teaching and learning, as well as training project and program design, development and management. She has led distributed, global training teams strategically and operationally. She has worked in and experimented with a variety of modalities and approaches for training and documentation in technical and technology areas. She has deep and broad experience in online and blended learning. Her experience spans numerous industries and sectors, including government, academia, and private enterprise.

Dr Sara King is the Training and Engagement Lead for AARNet. She is focused on outreach within the research sector, developing communities of interest around training, outreach and skills development in eResearch. She is currently working on creating reusable guidance information for Jupyter Notebooks and other AARNet services to be adapted for Carpentry training workshops. She is passionate about helping others develop the infrastructure and digital literacies required for working in a data-driven world, translating technology so it is accessible to everyone.

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