Science teaching resources at OER 12 Cambridge

In April the Biology Courses team presented their work about openly sharing science teaching resources at UK conferences. Following the STEM Annual Conference at Imperial College in London in April, the team then went to Cambridge for OER12 from 16th – 18th April 2012.

OER (Open Educational Resources) is an annual event and this year was co-organised with OCW (Open CourseWare Consortium) and SCORE (Support Centre for Open Resources in Education run by the Open University). This was an amazing event with delegates from all around the globe talking about open education in India, Indonesia, Africa and Brazil. Of course being held in the beautiful location of Cambridge in the UK was just a bonus.

What is Open CourseWare?

OpenCourseWare or OCW is a phrase used globally along with OER to represent the sharing of course materials on the internet. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US were the first institution to really support the wholesale release of their learning materials, and now the OCW consortium is an established organisation comprising of hundreds of schools, colleges and universities around the world.

What is SCORE?

SCORE is a support centre for open education in the UK based at the Open University. The centre offers training and support, and has funded a number of fellowships that have enabled individuals to become specialist and informed about open education. Of course, this also provides a great networking opportunity to share ideas about open education with others from all over the UK.

In the Cambridge talk, Dr Viv Rolfe spoke about the “Biology Courses” project which is releasing and openly sharing a wide range of science teaching resources. Our approach is to share our OER on specially designed websites – like the one you are on now in fact! We use on-line marketing techniques called search engine optimisation (SEO) to help our websites rank highly in Google and therefore attract visitors to the site. The talk explained our SEO strategy and how we are monitoring progress and visitor numbers. SEO is a huge technical task, and Dr Rolfe is not an expert, but in the talk summarised the main points which are of interest to the educational community.

Our websites receive thousands of visitors and from our feedback surveys it is interesting to see that our learners come in all shapes and sizes. In fact it is dangerous to assume ever who might want to view your learning materials. We reach learners of all backgrounds and ages. However, it also makes sense to target our science materials to the best audiences and we do this using social networking. We send information to Twitter groups and also have a Facebook page where particularly we link into university students and local colleges who have an interest in studying biology at university and the use of science teaching resources.

To view the slides from the Cambridge OER12 OCW Conference on 16-18th April 2012, go to Slideshare:

Biomedical Science and How to Use a Pipette

Biomedical science pipetting
Image: Microscopy open educational resources.
Creative Commons BY SA.

Content Authors:                     Level:

Dr Graham Basten                                 School, College, University, General interest

OER Features: (bundle of 7 resources)

Biomedical science resources: Different Types of Pipette

Biomedical science resources: Pi-Pump Pipette

Biomedical science resources: Micropipettes

Transcript of videos PDF file

Transcript of videos Word file

Multiple choice quiz PDF file

Multiple choice quiz Word file

OER Description:

In the biomedical science laboratory, the pipette is a fundamental piece of equipment that is used routinely for the dispensing of liquids, and pipetting is a skill that takes time to acquire and perfect. There are very few procedures in the laboratory that do not require the addition of a liquid or a solution at some point, from applying stains in histology, to carrying out a spectrophotometer assay.

There are several different types of pipette and each is used in a different situation. You might only require a quick and rough application of a liquid for example to wash a stain off a histology glass slide, so a plastic pipette would suffice. However, if you were performing an assay that was going to give you accurate numbers for the concentration of say glucose in the blood, then a more accurate type of pipette such as a micropipette would be required. Other procedures for example genetic techniques might require the pipetting of tiny amounts would also require very small volume micropipettes to use.

These OERs are a series of 3 videos by Dr Graham Basten explaining the three different type of pipettes and when it is appropriate to use them in the biomedical science laboratory. The other resources include a full transcript of all 3 videos and a short set of multiple choice questions written by Biomedical Science students for release as open educational resources (OERs).

Open Technology to Support Biology Courses and Resources

Phil Tubman is a learning technologist at Lancaster University and is working on the present Biology Courses project, and he has just delivered a presentation to “Psychology in Education” students on open education.

Biology courses talk

To see Phil’s presentation, go to:

Phil has talked about open education from the technological perspective, which is actually very important. An awful lot of material released to share on the internet is just in one format, and this not just restricts the “openness” and flexibility of the resource, but it is restrictive in terms of accessibility and availability to learners with different approaches and study requirements.

In this presentation he talks about the emergence of open working which was led by the “open source” community and facilitated by open licences. In parallel, open education is growing around a dedicated community of participants and is facilitated by the open content licence Creative Commons.

The talk points out to be truly open, resources need to be produced using open source technology and software. As a second step, it needs to be produced in multiple formats to greaten the chance of the resources being adapted and reused. In biology courses, we use these approaches, and further try and enhance the open availability of resources using search engine optimisation to make our biology OERs discovered on the internet.

We are very lucky to have Phil Tubman as part of our technology team working on this project. We will report on technology developments and innovations as our biology courses website develops.