The Digital Skills GitBook project: creating an open-source online guide for researchers and the broader academic community
Dr Sara King1, Ms Katie Mills2
1AARNet, Adelaide, Australia
2University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Information and communication technologies change rapidly and, as a result, the skills required to use them change just as rapidly. The academic library community has identified a need for a common solution to the common basic technical problems faced by everyone who needs to navigate a swiftly evolving academic life.
In 2021, academic librarians in collaboration with AARNet’s eResearch team, established a working group to tackle this issue. This culminated in the creation of the “Digital Skills GitBook”: a living, open-source online guide to modern not-quite-technical computer skills for researchers and the broader academic community.
Creating a directory structure, naming and organising files/folders, writing Readme files, using password managers, and screencasting – are amongst many generic skills suggested for inclusion in the guide. The guide uses static web technology on the GitBook platform, with ongoing maintenance via the connected GitHub notification system, encouraging community participation as an essential part of the process.
Supported by the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) Digital Dexterity program, this diverse, virtual team from across Australia and New Zealand is using peer-learning and experimentation to acquire new skills in a combination of software sharing platforms and static web to achieve an affordable and flexible alternative to traditional publishing.
This paper will expand on two aspects of the project:
The Digital Skills GitBook, a resource that can organically grow and adapt to suit the needs of its users, and
The creation of a new community built on peer learning and shared challenges with a common purpose.
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 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.
Katie Mills is the Library Manager (Research and Academic Engagement) at the University of Western Australia. In her role, she leads the development and delivery of library services to support the research and teaching activities of academic staff and higher degree by research students.