Boosting Knowledge transfer

Boosting education means also creating new skills related to diverse topics. Some of the topics related to BlueBRIDGE and the tools delivered by the project became part of university programmes at the University of Athens, at the Sorbonne University and at the University of Pisa.

The BlueBRIDGE best practice

Knowledge transfer has been since the beginning one of the major objectives of the BlueBRIDGE project. Given its diversity in scope and target audience, BlueBRIDGE was able to address different topics that were able to gather the interest of some universities. The interest was mainly due to the fact that BlueBRIDGE was able to couple the active usage of VREs with the thematic knowledge of the specific domain, i.e. aquaculture, as well as the specific knowledge of the spatial data, indicators, models, e-infrastructures.

 

The most successful examples are the courses organised by BlueBRIDGE for four Greek university departments:

  • The Department of Informatics and Telecommunications – National Kapodistrian University of Athens,
  • the Department of Economics - National Kapodistrian University of Athens,
  • the Department  of Ichtyology and Acquatic Environment – University of Thessaly and
  • the Department of Fisheries – Acquaculture Technology – T.E.I of Western Greece

For all these institutes BlueBRIDGE delivered training courses related to the general objectives of e-infrastructures, the  particular BlueBRIDGE approach, the VREs context and the particular VRE for the integrated aquaculture production under the generic title “BlueBRIDGE: New generation tools for aquaculture” covering performance evaluation, benchmarking and decision making in aquaculture VRE, strategic Investment analysis and Scientific Planning/Alerting VRE, social and environmental monetization models for Blue Economy and Geoanalytic services.

Each course was adapted to the specific scientific directions of each department. Special focus on the architecture and functionality of the VREs has been given in the ICT departments, special analysis and detailed presentation of the technoeconomic and socioeconomic approach and models at the Economic Department  and finally, special attention on the aquatic concepts and needs covered when the courses were addressed to the students of the Icthyology departments. The interactivity of each course given by the practical usage of the dedicated training VRE “AquacultureTrainingLab” was a necessity for the successful completion of every course.

Another best practice related to knowledge transfer is the one related to the PhD Course - "Signal Processing and Mining of Big Data: Biological Data as a Case Study" delivered by Gianpaolo Coro, CNR. Ginapaolo presented a course on Signal Processing and Mining of Big Data: Biological Data as a Case Study at the University of Pisa, 2-6 May 2016. 25 doctoral students from various universities attended with interested parties from such background as Computer Engineering and Computer Science.

The course focused on applications of Big Data analytics in the biology domain to predict climate change impact on species' distribution, to monitor the effect of overfishing on economy and marine biodiversity and to prevent ecosystems collapse. The course, has showcased practical applications of Big Data analytics, with focus on several signal processing and machine learning-based techniques. The course clarified the general concepts behind these techniques, with an educational approach making these concepts accessible also to students with intermediate mathematical skills. The examples will regard real cases involving data that would have been unpractical to be human-analysed and corrected, especially in the biology domain: time series forecasting, periodicities detection, comparison of geographical distribution maps, assessment of environmental similarities between different areas, global scale species distributions.

 

Why this is considered a best practice   

Best Practice Analysis

Validation

The students and the Universities appreciated BlueBRIDGE to deliver these courses demonstrating their interest in the topics addressed by the project. Universities have decided to continue using the BlueBRIDGE e-Infrastructure in courses that will be held after the end of the project. For example, University of Pisa will host one course per year and the Sorbonne University is going to host at least one course in 2018. These courses will be funded by the same Universities. Adopting the same approach the two greek ichthyology departments will adopt a generic course within the undergraduate and postgraduate program related to the EU projects’ outcomes and their practical usage.

Innovation

It is quite unusual that the topics of an EC-funded project become part of a University programme. This is the innovation brought by BlueBRIDGE to the education sector. The e-Infrastructure demonstrated to be able to support sharing of course material, discussions between students, communication between the students and the teacher, direct sharing of exercises results with the teacher, support to examinations via online questionnaires. Finally, the special skill of adopting new generation tools of ICT in the aquaculture provides an extra capacity to the today students and future aquaculture managers.

Success Factors

The technology developed by BlueBRIDGE for capacity building and to support teachers demonstrated to be very powerful. It made attendees use multi-disciplinary approaches and perform complex experiments in the time frame of a course, which would have been nearly impossible without a network of services able to interoperate and to connect data and models all together. The computational capabilities offered to the classes allowed executing data-intensive experiments and giving an overview of the potential of data-intensive science. Online experimentation spaces allowed people to work together in this context and made attendees share their expertise. Further, as a side effect, in one of the courses the infrastructure facilitated a student impaired at 90% and participating to the course remotely, to execute the exercises together with his colleagues during the course and to sustain the exam without distinction because of his impairment. This was a surprising side effect that made the University (and the student) appreciate very much the e-Infrastructure.

Sustainability

The conditions that are required for this particular best practice to be sustainable, are:

  • Availability of trainers aware of the VRE technology and features;
  • Availability of the e-Infrastructure and possibility to create new VREs for courses;
  • Availability of funds by Universities to host a teacher and to possibly sustain the VRE expenses.

Replicability and/or up-scaling

The usage of the VREs as training environments is domain-agnostic therefore applicable to different sectors and domains.

 

Lessons Learnt

BluBRIDGE was able to efficiently support capacity building in multi-disciplinary contexts. The technology is mature enough to support hands-on training courses for students and scientists as well as live challenges like datathons etc. In some of the courses the teachers observed a practical application of the Open Science principles with attendees creating new ways to exploit the e-Infrastructure through combinations of data and models that had not been foreseen. Further, the support of an impaired person and the possibility to make him overcome his difficulties during a hands-on course was a very positive discovery, which opened the way to other possible applications in this direction.