Finalising OERs

As mentioned in an earlier post (“Students at work”), we have created Open Educational Resources (OERs) based on the digitised historical sea level data, our aim being to publicise the recovered data. We each created an OER based on a specific area of interest; these were

  • Sea level data and its uses (focusing on the principles, perception and mathematical uses of the data)
  • Extreme events (focusing on principles of storm surges and how to use historical data to identify them)
  • Tidal formation (focusing on the physical principles and using the data to identify tide trends)

Graph showing sea level readings

These OERs have been made accessible to everyone so that anyone interested in sea level, history, etc, can learn the basic principles, which they can then build upon if they choose to. Creating OERs has been interesting and we have learnt a lot through doing this. It has been enjoyable to have free reign over the subjects chosen within this area. Each OER is very different from the next even though they tie together.

Being students ourselves we have first-hand experience and current knowledge of how students like to study. We know there are a variety of ways to learn and have tried to incorporate these into the OERs. We are grateful for being involved in this project with the British Oceanographic Data Centre and hope that what we have created will be helpful to the public in enhancing their interests.

Shoot first, ask questions later

Recently we began filming our end of project case study video. We decided to start by interviewing the students who worked on the Open Educational Resources about their experiences. We also spoke to their supervisor, Senior Lecturer Dr Harry Leach from the University of Liverpool. We asked him to tell us why he thought saving historic sea level data was important.

Interview room

We put our newly developed filming skills to use – we used two cameras, a video camera and a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR), to capture the interviews from two different angles.

Our colleagues at the National Oceanography Centre had filmed in a room in our building recently and created a diagram for others to use, showing where to put the camera, lights, interviewer and interviewee in order to make the best use of the natural light. This made it quick and easy for us to set up. We had to deviate from their instructions slightly as they’d designed a setup for filming one person, while one of our interviews was with three people.

Layout of equipment for filming the interviews

We’d planned our interview questions beforehand and managed to film about 15 minutes of footage, which should give us plenty to edit down into a five minute video. The only problem we had was some very noisy seagulls outside, but I think they’ll lend a suitably maritime atmosphere to the piece!

Why do we want to produce Open Educational Resources?

An Open Educational Resource (OER) is any teaching or learning resource residing in the public domain. It doesn’t have to be a full lesson plan; it could just be a photo or video.

Although the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) hasn’t deliberately produced OERs before, we have plenty of experience of producing software and making datasets and images available. Most of these are covered by licence agreements (sometimes dictated by the data collectors and funding bodies) but, if they were freely available, would qualify. We would like to make some resources available openly via the JISC project.

One of the main reasons we would like to create OERs is to raise awareness of BODC and the data we hold, as well as encouraging use of the data. Creating OERs and making them available on our website will help us to reach out to user groups that might not have been aware of our data holdings. We would also like to improve the general communication of science to the public. OERs could be used to help explain principles behind tides, sea level change and storm surge forecasting.

High and low water register for Sheerness, 1877

Figure 1: High and low water register for Sheerness, 1877. Underlined on the 08/10/1877 is an exceptionally high water reading, caused by a storm that affected the South East coast of England

We plan to work with recent Ocean Science graduates to create the resources. Having just been taught the concepts involved, they should be best placed to explain them in terms that newcomers can understand. We are aiming to create resources that can be used in university courses but can also be accessible to the public and work when used in bite-sized chunks.

We want to deposit our OERs in Jorum, the JISC-funded service for storing and distributing teaching and learning resources. Hopefully, doing this will encourage people to explore our data holdings.

Fluent ENGrich

This week we had a meeting with the JISC ENGrich project group, based in the School of Engineering at Liverpool University, about producing Online Educational Resources (OERs). As the group are located in the building just across the road from us, we decided it was about time we went and saw them.

Brodie Tower, University of Liverpool

They gave a very informative presentation about the group’s past, present and future projects, including the CORE-Materials repository. As the staff there have so much experience of producing OERs, as well as pioneering student-led learning, we decided to ask for advice as to how we might put our OER plan into action. We learned a lot about the strategic upload of resources!

We had happened to pick a day where the ENGrich team were filming their final report video, so were able to ask questions about the techniques they used and what equipment and editing software they recommend. We picked up a few tips on how we might produce our own video.

Let’s hope this is the start of a very productive partnership.

Sustainability suggestions

On Friday I attended a JISC Sustainability workshop in Bristol. It was for both the Content Programme 2011-13 and the Digging into Data programme. The workshop was led by Rebecca Griffiths and Nancy Maron of Ithaka S+R.

Bristol Temple Meads (image taken from Russell Ede′s Flickr photostream and used under Creative Commons)

One of the first questions asked was “What is your goal for the end of this project?”

We would like to carry on with digitising analogue records. We have more historic charts in our archive, and we want to work with international programmes such as The Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS) data archaeology group to explore future opportunities and make use of emerging technologies.

We would also like to ensure that the digitised data and resources that we have created under the JISC eContent programme are being made use of. I managed to pick up a few pointers on how to embed our OERs in academic teaching at the workshop. It’s not enough just to make our resources available; we need to put them where the users are. As well as putting the OERs on our website, we will look at putting them on university websites as a start. If we are to produce OERs for a wide range of academic users, from schools and colleges to universities, we need to make sure that the lesson plans will fit in to the curricular and the subjects being taught and are tailored to the right audience.

Some of the documentation provided at the workshop can be found on the JISC Business Modelling and Sustainability webpages.