An OU citizen science platform, which allows the public to act as scientists, is one of three projects shortlisted by the Guardian University Awards 2020.
The platform which is called nQuire, has been shortlisted in the Research impact category, which recognises research projects that demonstrate either academic impact through advancing knowledge, or which results in measurable benefits to the wider society and/or the economy.
According to project lead, Dr Christothea Herodotou in the OU’s Institute of Educational Technology. Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, nQuire is the only technological solution that allows citizens to manage their own investigation from start to finish and to control their own research agenda.
Its impact has been greatly boosted by a significant collaboration with the BBC, which was successfully tested in a series of investigations such as Springwatch with 200,000 users, which allowed people to learn about their gardens and wildlife by taking part in a set of structured investigations into garden birds, mammals and insects.
The research team is now working with the BBC, the Met Office and the Royal Meteorological Society to set up a group of missions about the impact of weather on people’s everyday life including heatwaves and climate change that will support the broader campaign of the BBC to tackle climate change.
Dr Herodotou said: “It is the vision of The Open University (OU) to provide social justice and educational opportunity to all who wish to realise their ambitions through high-quality learning opportunities. nQuire is an online citizen science platform that contributes to this vision.”
The Care and Caring Network at The Open University has also been shortlisted in the Staff experience category for an innovative and unique initiative within the Higher Education (HE) sector that responds to the growing universality of caring and its potential workplace and career impact, and also contributes to social justice for carers.
The Uber/Open University Programme is one of three university projects shortlisted in the Widening access and outreach category. It is a programme which provides 35,000 drivers and their family members with the opportunity to study undergraduate programmes for free, allowing them to achieve their educational ambitions.
The Guardian University Awards ceremony, originally scheduled for Thursday 2 April 2020, has been postponed until later in the year due to the developing Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.