Biology Courses Update

A happy new year to all our users and visitors!

It has been a while since I have updated the site but I’m glad to say it has been regularly visited over Christmas, and our YouTube Biology Courses channel is nearing 10,000 video views. That is by far the most popular format for learners.

Spike Biology Courses Mascot

Spike and me on a Christmas walk in the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire.

Open Education – 2012 at a glance!

2012 was an epic year for the Biology Courses team at De Montfort. We were lucky to be part of the UKOER programme and work along side many universities and open education experts in order to learn how to share our teaching materials in the best way (i.e. understand copyright, involve local hospitals and employers, and what technical formats were best). Over the year we have also worked to ensure staff and students know about all the open educational resources (OERs) available in the UK (on and globally.

A quick tally up tells me our team and students presented over 10 conference papers, and we had three peer-reviewed articles published in academic journals. Of course my highlights were conferences and meetings in Las Vegas, Boston – visiting the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and finally Vancouver for the OpenEd2012 conference.

As planned we shared some of our university learning materials on a range of subjects – forensic science and midwifery – both subject where there is much more to come. Our biomedical science resources flowed out thick and fast particularly in haematology, microbiology and laboratory skills. My site data shows me these are used all over the world now. A biomedical science graduate who stayed on to help produce resources was Malgorzata Rekas, and she did an absolutely outstanding job in producing OER. I’m glad to say she is working at Oxoid International now who produce microbiology products.

2013 looking forward!

Our next event is our Master’s student research viva. Libor Hurt looked at student understanding and use of OERs in what was an epic piece of research. He will present his paper at OER13 in Nottingham in March, and his viva is just before that. Libor is an amazing person and it has been a joy working with him – we all wish him well in his medical career.

This year we will continue to share our resources, and make De Montfort students and staff aware of the resources and creative approaches being shared by the other UKOER projects. We have “Open Education” as part of our PGCert which is a training course for all new lecturers, and we are establishing a Centre for Open Education with dedicated areas in the library and learning zones.

I think what was a surprise in 2012 with the advent of high university tuition fees, is that students STILL want to come and do science, and many  of our biology courses were very well subscribed, such as medical science, and biomedical science. It is evermore important therefore to work with schools and colleges so they can use the OER as “taster” materials to ensure that that students making this committment are making the right choices.



Biology Courses Project End of Year Summary

Summary of the Biology Courses Project

Well as the latest round of JISC/HEA funding runs to a close I have just submitted the end of project report to the funders. It is difficult to summarise the colossal amount of ground covered by all the people involved in the biology courses project:



Viv Rolfe attending a learning technology conference in Las Vegas, July 2012.


DMU Library – led by Kaye Towlson they have been looking at helping students find and make use of open educational resoures (OERs) to support their learning.
Widening Participation Team – led by Dr Angela O’Sullivan they have been working with local Leicester schools and collages to talk about open education and to produce their own resources to be shared on this website.

Midwifery – led by Jacqui Williams they have built their own midwifery repository to share learning materials and to provide staff and students with a one-stop resource to support their learning and teaching.

Forensic Science – led by Dr Mark Fowler has worked with professional bodies and external collaborators including the Leicestershire constabulary to produce high-quality OERs for forensics students.

Biomedical Science – led by Malgorzata Rekas, and working with Amrat Khorana, Marilena Ioannou and Ruta Furmonaviciene has produced a wealth of microbiology and immunology laboratory technique videos, and a series of educational resources on parasitology.

Medical Science – led by me Dr Viv Rolfe, and working with Douglas Gray, Graham Basten and other staff in the medical science team to produce histology resources, training materials for the Leicester Royal Infirmary and haematology resources.

Jonathan Crowe of Oxford University Press has worked with us to explore how OERs can benefit biomedical science text book publishing, and has provided the biology courses project with a great insight into the complexities of the publishing world and copyright.


Biology Courses Technical Team

All the technical aspects of this project have been overseen by three individuals who really the entire project would not have even gotten off the ground.

Phil Tubman – learning technologist from Lancaster University ensured that the websites, Moodle and the OERs produced are designed effectively, and has put a lot of thought into how to ensure all the technology used is OPEN and does not create a barrier to people using the materials. Phil was the Association of Leaning Technology “Technologist of the Year” in 1212 which was a very well deserved award.

David Fraas of 5 Heads Marketing in the US (available was the genius behind our on-line marketing campaigns and steered us through the Google Algorithm changes (changes to the way Google ranks websites). David advised on how to best market the Biology Courses website and how to use social networking and other media such as videos to promote our work widely.

Dr Simon Griffin of Webtistic based in Derby (available worked with David to put all the recommendations into action, and also built this website. We shall continue working with Webtistic to ensure the site continues to grow.

A HUGE THANK YOU TO EVERYONE INVOLVED and also to EVERYONE WHO HAS USED OUR SITE AND THE RESOURCES. Do keep popping back as we have many biology courses OERs yet to add.


Open Education and The Queen’s Visit to De Montfort University

The Queen’s Visit to De Montfort University & Open Education

De Montfort University are immensely proud to be the starting point of the HRH Queen’s Diamond Jubliee Tour of the UK. Accompanied by HRH Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, the party will visit DMU on Thursday 9th March. They will walk from Castle Gardens through to the campus, see displays from each of the university faculities including Health and Life Sciences, and then attend a fashion show hosted by our Faculty of Art, Design and Humanities.

As part of the visit a number of university lectures will be giving mini-lectures on a whole variety of subjects, including staff from the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences. Well how could I resist this opportunity to mark the visit with a mini-lecture on Open Education ! I do believe my colleague on the HALS project Jacqui Williams will also be giving a mini-lecture on open education in midwifery.

Open education and the queens visit to De Montfort University

Global Open Education Week

Coincidently, next week is also Global Open Education Week with on-line lectures and activities organised by the OpenCourseWare Consortium. This will link students and educators from all around the globe who share the common vision of opening their educational doors to people anywhere in the world.

As part of the Queen’s visit we hope to produce some Open Education Resources (OER) to mark the occasion, so watch this space! We hope to video some of these mini-lectures to provide a flavour of some of the expertise within the university, and illustrate how De Montfort is changing its culture to one that supports open education.

Health and Life Science staff talking about Open Education during The Queen’s visit to De Montfort University on the 8th March 2012