Open Education DMU History

De Montfort University has been involved in open education projects for several years. More details can be found on the About Open Education page. But I thought it would be nice to start this new website off with some information about De Montfort for people who aren’t familiar with the university. When I tell friends we are based in the heart of historic Leicester surrounded by some amazing architecture they are often surprised.

Trinity House is the oldest building on campus and was originally the Trinity Hospital built in the 1300’s. The university senior executive is now housed there and in the summer university staff and conference guests can enjoy access to the croquet lawn and herb garden. They might even meet the resident DMU cat.

Adjacent to Trinity House are the Castle Gardens which was the location of Leicester Castle. The Southern Gateway still stands to the right of Trinity House, and walking through the arch takes you through to St Mary De Castro church.

Looking back through the arch and walking back onto campus, the first building on the right you will see is the Hawthorn Building, home to part of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences. This building has itself an interesting history. The Hawthorn Building dates to Victorian times and had some later additions to its structure. It was in fact built on another church – St Mary of the Annunciation and part of one wall is visible in the foyer. It is reputed that a Monk prowls the corridors of the building, but few have seen him.

The impressive steps of the East Entrance lead up to art deco turnstiles. These provide access to what was originally a stage and performance area. This is now our largest lecture theatre with seating for around 200 people. I was told when I first joined the university that artists like Jimmy Hendrix performed here in the 1960s, but I have never found any evidence of this but would certainly be interested to find out.

A more detailed history of the university can be found on our website –

History of DeMontfort University
And also at-
http://www.stephenbutt.co.uk/aston.htm

De Montfort continues to evolve as an institution. Now all of its schools are on the one City Campus with the School of Nursing recently moving into the newly refurbished Edith Murphy Building (2011). The next advancement will be the formation of a Centre of Open Education in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences to be launched in 2012. This also coincides with the 20th anniversary of De Montfort changing from the former Leicester Polytechnic when it was awarded university status in 1992. The new Open Education Centre will bring together staff and students with an interest in open education resources, be a point for sharing ideas on how to advance open practice for the benefit of everyone. We also have a track record of obtaining research funding and hope to recruit more post-graduate students to the centre to explore the educational benefits and wider impacts on society that the concept of a more open education has to offer.

Biology courses introduction

Lecturers at De Montfort University involved in a number of biology courses in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences have been working for several years to make their learning resources open for everyone to use on the web. We started in 2009 by sharing courses and materials to teach laboratory skills. In 2010 we shared learning resources on the subject of blood disorders, namely sickle cell disease and thalassaemia. This year we have just started another project to release our health and life science materials and courses more widely. All of this work has been funded by HEFCE as part of their Open Educational Resource programme run by the JISC and the HEA. As part of our latest project – Health and Life Science Open Educational Resources (HALS OER), academic staff will be working with commercial and non-commercial external partners to share high-quality learning materials outside of the university via the biology courses website.

Biology courses logo

We have good working links with the Leicester Constabulary and local hospitals including the Leicester Royal Infirmary already. Our contacts there are enthusiastic about providing us with information, case studies and even simple photographs that we can then package up as resources to support student learning as part of our portfolio of biology courses. These resources will be useful for university level students, and we will develop taster materials for students and instructors at schools and colleges. We also know from our previous projects that our resources are used by the general public and by people who are just inquisitive and want to learn more about science and technology from all over the world.

We are focusing on a number of very popular university subjects – Forensic Science, Biomedical Science, Medical Science and Midwifery. All of these biology courses at degree level at most UK universities will require biology A level, and the laboratory sciences (all except Midwifery) may well also require chemistry. Prospective students interested in finding out more specific details should visit the UCAS website – the University Central Admissions Service in the UK.

Health and Life Science staff already work closely with local Leicester schools and colleges and run workshops for pupils and students. We will turn some of our workshops into on-line university taster biology courses, so that more people considering coming to university can see the types of subjects that are studied and the types of approaches that are used, not just at De Montfort but all other UK universities.

Biology courses at DeMontfort university sign

As with our past projects we are keen to get students involved! Students are already starting to contribute resources themselves, such as fantastic biology courses artwork from Jacob Escott from the Faculty of Arts. A student from the Faculty of Technology will be producing a game! As always it seems those with the creative juices are off to a quick start. Students in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences on our biology courses are also involved in producing quiz questions to accompany the resources.

How can you use the biology courses learning resources?

All our open educational resources and taster biology courses are openly available to use. The secret to this is the Creative Commons open licence. Look for the “CC” logo on each resource and read more on our COPYRIGHT page.

“BY” this means just attribute who the resource was by i.e. HALSOER at De Montfort University, Leicester.
“BY SA” you must attribute the biology courses site but you are also free to download the resource, edit it and do what you like but you must SA or share alike – or share it back on the web or by emailing it to us.