Capacity building through eLearning is a strong pillar in the national strategies and work plans of some GBIF nodes, such as South Africa (SANBI-GBIF) and Spain. With this project, the partners aim to optimize efforts and grow national capacity in the use of the eLearning platform and functionality, to support its training events and production of curriculum content.
Specifically, SANBI-GBIF will explore with GBIF Spain ways of enabling mining of data and identification of key tools, techniques and approaches that can be used to ask some pertinent research questions related to time, space and taxonomy—as exemplified by a study published by GBIF Spain in 2013 (Otegui et al., 2013).
The expected impact of this project includes a findings report on the potentials—and shortcomings—of GBIF data in responding to societal challenges in the national context, and a eLearning training course on data mining techniques.
At final reporting the project successfully achieved all activities and deliverables, and key project achievements included:
- Strengthening North-South Node Collaboration between Nodes teams of South Africa and Spain
- The capacitation of personnel related to the eLearning platform
- The development of an agenda including some key research topics in the arena of biodiversity informatics and the use and relevance of GBIF data
- The establishment of a team of experts including some key university collaborators that conducted the training curriculum; and
- The capacitation of 22 participants (including regional representation) in the use and application of biodiversity big data analytics. The training and coordination teams of the Nodes, comprising of 12 experts.
Project activities have included reciprocal visits between SANBI-GBIF and GBIF Spain, beginning with an institutional visit of SANBI-GBIF to GBIF-Spain in December 2022, then a reciprocal visit of GBIF Spain to SANBI-GBIF in March 2023.
These visits enabled capacity development related to the eLearning Platform as well as the formulation of a course in big data analytics using GBIF Data, and in June 2023 the project conducted its training workshop “Analytical techniques in biodiversity big data using GBIF: making an impact“ in South Africa. This event and course attracted a lot of interest and resulted in bringing together the key experts from Spain and South Africa and training 22 national participants.
All course content developed, and curriculum, have been uploaded into the GBIF Spain eLearning Platform, and are available online with sign-in at https://elearning.gbif.es/course/138/about. The course is also available as an eLearning package (SCORM) and ready for reuse by any interested party (specially with the GBIF Community).
The project has been promoted through both SANBI-GBIF’s and GBIF-Spain’s social media platform Twitter, as well as via other media channels, such as an article on SANBI-GBIF hosted portal website during the institutional visit of SANBI-GBIF to GBIF-Spain in December 2022. Project work has also been promoted at conferences such as the Biodiversity Informatics conference in November 2022 at a national event hosted by the University of Stellenbosch, and through newsletters.
The final deliverable was the culmination of all the ideas and thought leadership provided by SANBI-GBIF and GBIF Spain, in this big data space to identify a range of skills to develop data mining and analysis techniques, to support scientific research and policy outcomes.
Monitoring of the project was conducted on an ongoing basis, through regular catch-up meetings and despite initial delays to the project due to COVID-19 regulations, the project was able to bring timelines back on track to successfully achieve all outcomes. Post project, activities envisaged by the project include the adaptation of the course for other training programmes and continuing efforts to expose the content areas and capacity developed through the project.
Post project progress