Open Education and Using Resources

Open education is growing in the UK

Increasing numbers of academic institutions are becoming involved in open education. In the UK, many universities and colleges are participating in the national “Open Educational Resources” programme. Large numbers of useful learning materials are being shared on websites, but often it isn’t clear how a resource can or cannot be used.

Open education pumpkin field

Christchurch: Pumpkin Field. © Nigel Cox. Creative Commons BY SA.

Open licenses for open education

I really like this Geograph website which is a project to photograph and capture every aspect of Britain. The photographs are beautiful, and the contributors have licensed them using Creative Commons. This means the copyright ownership remains with the individual but the license allows other to use the picture.

What is nice about the website it makes it really clear how to use the picture, whether for reasons of open education or just general interest? Under each photograph is a link called “reuse” which takes you to a page explaining exactly what to do.

It informs me that the work is the copyright of Nigel Cox and is licensed for reuse under Creative Commons BY SA. “BY” means I must attribute the owner, and “SA” means share alike – I can alter or transform the work as long as I share it. So I can incorporate the photograph into this blog article and also crop it for the banner, thus enhancing my open education website. If the licence was a “ND” no derivatives variant, I would not be permitted to alter it at all.

The terms of the license do not require me to provide a weblink but I think that is helpful.

Well, that has been a little lesson on how to use any asset / resource / learning material provided by an open education project. Look for the Creative Commons license and follow the requirements.

Medical Science Degree Nutrition news

My role at De Montfort involves leading the Medical Science Degree. To develop the curriculum further, the HALS team had a good meeting last week with a Clinical Nutritionist from the Leicester Royal Infirmary. I was surprised to hear how the subject of nutrition is rather under-represented for those studying a biomedical and medical science degree, yet the subject offers many exciting career opportunities for students.

Medical science degree image

“Fruit and Vegetables: Turnham Green”
© Pam Brophy, CC BY SA

There are several universities in the UK offering degrees in human nutrition and dietetics, but in more general life science degrees, the subject more often does not get a mention. I do run a final year undergraduate module on “Gastrointestinal Disease and Nutrition” as part of my Medical Science degree, and the Leicester Royal Infirmary will be providing cases study materials and research project opportunities for our students. We therefore aim to release these learning resources on the HALS website as OERs.

Nutritionists can be employed in a variety of jobs within the NHS and other industries. People can train as dieticians or nutritionists, working to gain registration from the Health Professions Council and other related professional bodies. In other government organisations nutritionists can be involved in food safety and public health awareness.

I worked previously in the food manufacturing industry having done a medical science degree. This is a large industry sector in the UK, and clearly both human and animal nutritionists played a vital role in product development. Nutrition is a vital subject not just in terms of understanding nutrition related disorders such as obesity, but how nutrients, functional foods, phytochemicals are potentially important clinically to manage disease and in generally in providing benefits to health. In my role as scientist I conducted animal feeding studies to look at the health benefits of fibre, antioxidants and probiotics for example. Just as these nutritional components are important for human health, they are equally important for the health of our animals and pets.

For further information about nutrition and nutrition jobs that would be relevant to those studying a medical science degree, visit the Nutrition Society website (

For educational resources on nutrition for use in an undergraduate medical science degree, watch this space!

Why search engine optimisation (SEO) is important for the biology courses website

We want as many people across the world to visit our biology courses website. We are creating open education resources and materials for teachers, lecturers anyone supporting learning – we want you too find us and make use of our OERs. We also want prospective students to get an insight into the exciting opportunities that exist at Universities to study biology and all it’s sub disciplines. There are taster materials for you on this site!

We also appeal to current students, new and experienced – get involved, help us improve –   why not write us an article and get your name on here?

biology courses seo

So how did you get here?

You may have typed in the direct URL, website address. Did we meet you at a conference, were we at your school recently, did you read about us in the local news? – this accounts for the majority of our visitors at the moment. Our SEO work in the coming months will change that.

You may have done one of the following:

One – You conducted a search via Google and maybe used one of the following words, biology courses, forensic scientist or biomedical science and we returned in the search results on the first page and you clicked on our website, great! This is what search engine optimisation achieves.

We had to work hard to make this happen!

A website has two audiences, first and foremost you, we strive to make this site valuable and relative to you, easy to navigate, interesting, fresh, up to date and above all a pleasurable experience. Do you have suggestions on how we can improve ? You will really help us by giving us your feedback by commenting below, thank you!

We also need to make sure that Google understands what this website is all about, that it is full of unique quality information and resources and is well respected in the community. We want other relative well regarded websites to link to biology courses, as we offer links to other websites that can help you. This helps us to obtain high ranking positions in the search results for keywords associated with our topics, biology courses and open education. The SEO work undertaken here is known as on-page and off-page optimisation.  We will give a more in depth description of the tasks involved in successful on-page and off-page optimisation in future articles in this series. Please check back soon and subscribe to our RSS feed to obtain all publications as they happen!

Two -You followed a link from Twitter (click and follow Dr Viv Rolfe – Project Manager), our Facebook page (please visit and like us!), or maybe your are subscribed to our RSS feed (if not do it know and get regular updates on all our new publications). Maybe you followed a link from one of the many websites that link to biology courses. If this is the case then  our social media strategy is working as it should. Thanks for visiting!

Social media power cannot be underestimated with over 30 million users in the uk on facebook (half the uk population), between 600 and 6000 Tweets being published on Twitter every second, this is where it’s at. At biology courses we aim to reach out to social media audiences and let them know we exist. We intend to share our social media strategy and results in future blog posts. So please stay tuned, let your friends, colleagues in fact any body you believe would be interested in our website know we are here and follow our social media network on biology courses.

Dr Simon Griffin – On line Marketing Consultant