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Education and Training: Professor Paul Baxter, LIDA Director of Education and Training

In my first six months as Education & Training Director it has been fascinating to learn about the breadth and depth of LIDAs activities. It is obvious that all staff & students involved in education & training have responded, and continue to respond, with great ingenuity and innovation to the rapid changes brought about by the pandemic and have exciting plans for the future.

LIDAs core education & training activities of affiliated taught postgraduate programmesshort courses and early career seminars have all enjoyed a successful 2021, some highlights of which I’ll share below.

September 2021 saw the launch of a new MSc programme in LIDAs affiliated portfolio – the MSc in Urban Data Science & Analytics. Six students have commenced their studies, four focussed on GIS urban analytics and two focused on transport urban analytics, studying an exciting mix of Python programming, city context and policy, industry-partnership coding and field work.

CRDCs short course programme has had a strong year, delivering a total of 10 online courses that included training in Python, Tableau, QGIS and R. A total of 276 delegates attended from HEIs and the public sector (including such diverse organisations as Friends of the Earth, the BBC and the NHS). Training feedback and recommendation scores have remained high (averaging 86% recommendation scores across courses), with a full online programme planned for 2022.

The early career seminar programme hosted 13 well-attended online meetings during 2021. The 2020/21 intern programme included projects in collaboration with many of LIDAs partners, including Born in Bradford, Bradford Institute for Health Research and the Holme Wood Project; it was great to see many of these represented in seminar audiences. Each intern benefitted from the opportunity to present their work at least twice per 6-month project, a crucial part of their early career development which will stand them in good stead with their careers. This year’s cohort of interns also look forward to this opportunity, and will start to present in January 2022.

Plans to expand LIDAs education & training activities continue to take shape, aligned to the exciting developments as part of the University 2020-2030 strategy and, in particular, the curriculum redefined project.

Building from a successful cross faculty workshop held in June (in conjunction with the Digital Education Service) a Leeds fully online MSc in Data Science is taking shape, with planned collaboration from five faculties. LIDA will play a vital coordinating role for these contributions and plans to provide skills and project training modules for the MSc. Proposals are currently navigating University processes for approval in 2022.

A restyled LIDA Education & Training committee will launch next year to support the full breadth of our activity. I look forward to working with the LIDA community in 2022 as we return to campus and continue to innovate in online, hybrid and face-to-face education & training.

Professor Paul D Baxter, LIDA Director of Education & Training


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