A Walk in the Himalaya

Eleni Wood, The Open University

Eleni Wood, The Open University

In mid-spring this year, I packed my bags for my second field season in north-west Bhutan. Bhutan is a jewel of the Himalaya; the small mountain kingdom is home to fantastic people, herds of yak and even the illusive snow leopard.

The trip’s goal was to study and collect rocks for my PhD research, which would help me investigate the growth and deformation of the mountain range.

It was a trip I definitely didn’t want to forget. It was also the last chance, during my PhD at least, that I would get to capture the magic of the environment on film. So, I squeezed the GoPro Hero 4, chest strap, waterproof casing and a number of batteries into my packing.

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Citizen inquiry: Synthesizing science and inquiry learning

Christothea Herodotou, Mike Sharples and Eileen Scanlon, The Open University.

Christothea Herodotou, Mike Sharples and Eileen Scanlon, The Open University.

Citizen science or crowdsourcing has gained increasing popularity in recent years with web-based platform such as Zooniverse and iSpot scaffolding interactions between scientists and members of the public.

Little emphasis has been given to the educational benefits of citizen science, in particular for volunteers or members of the public who wish to contribute to citizen science activities.

Citizen inquiry: Synthesizing science and inquiry learning, recently published by Routledge, is the first edited collection of its kind to draw the emphasis on inquiry-based learning from participation in citizen science activities.

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Zero to hero – engaging teachers to teach network engineering

Andrew Smith, The Open University.

Andrew Smith, The Open University.

Since early January 2017, the School of Computing and Communications (represented by Senior Lecturer in Networking, Andrew Smith), the Open Media and Informal Learning (OMIL) Unit and the Open University’s Development Office have all been working with Cisco on a sponsored project to create content about computer networking for teachers (and school children). The content covers the national curriculum ‘computing’ domains of computer hardware and network engineering.

The resources are hosted on OpenLearn Create – the creative commons portal of the OpenLearn MOOCs.

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Online citizen science: social technologies in use

The authors of the chapter: Vickie Curtis; Richard Holliman; Ann Jones; and Eileen Scanlon.

Vickie Curtis, Richard Holliman, Ann Jones and Eileen Scanlon

Colleagues and I have recently had a chapter published in an edited collection (Curtis et al., 2017).

Led by Dr Vickie Curtis, and reporting findings from her PhD thesis (Curtis, 2015), this chapter explores processes of learning within online citizen science projects.

In particular, the chapter presents evidence as to why citizen scientists register on projects, but also, crucially, what makes them stay and become productive members of a distributed research project.

Social technologies in use
In the chapter we argue that digital technologies are profoundly social in use. They are developed and defined by participants who learn through iterative processes of participation.

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Supporting Excellence in Engaged Research

Professor Richard Holliman, The Open University. Credit: Michael Francis.

Professor Richard Holliman, The Open University. Credit: Michael Francis.

I’ve recently agreed to take on a new role at the Open University (OU) as the Academic Lead for Engaged Research. I’ll be based in the OU’s Research and Academic Strategy (RAS) Unit for half of my time from 1st August 2017.

A key objective for my work in this new role will be to align the principles and practices of engaged research with the OU’s recently-approved Academic Strategy for External Engagement, in particular addressing the following aim:

“We will create new knowledge through research, scholarship and professional practice that meets the needs of external stakeholders and extends the reach and impact of our research on society, culture, economy and governments across the UK and internationally.”

Through this work, the OU will also fulfil its commitment to the RCUK Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research, and the NCCPE Manifesto for Public Engagement (of which the OU is a signatory).

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