An Update on the Open Content Curator Internship
Here we are, past the halfway point. Time really does fly! It’s been weird, work has very quickly become a comforting routine. I enjoy the pace here, the mid-week filled with meetings and socialising, bookended by Mondays and Fridays in a quiet office where I can focus more on my editing and my writing. I am slowly shedding my impostor-syndrome-coat, and I am dreading having to leave. Please consider this my unofficial appeal to be let back next summer.
Mayu and I have been busy finalising a series of lessons on archaeology for primary school originally produced by a former GeoSciences Outreach student, Sam Connor. The lessons came to us in the form of a 76-slide long PowerPoint, and has since grown into a massive project, demanding multiple rounds of drafting and revisions. Neither of us study archaeology, and the project reminded me of my first history lecture at the university. The course organiser told us that this semester, our tutors would be teaching us about cases outside of their field, teaching us while learning themselves – to teach us how to learn. It is an academic skill that has felt strangely relevant throughout this. Take this as your sign to not give up on The Historian’s Toolkit, you might need to pull it out someday.
We are hoping to get in touch with the real experts though, at Archaeology Scotland, to see if they would be interested in taking in our resource and let it join their Heritage Resource Portal. When creating OERs, a big question is ‘where should I publish this?’ There is no definite answer, except perhaps ‘where people who want to use it may find it’, which is frustratingly vague. In the spirit of this, our first course of action will be to get the resource up on TES Resources, where you will be able to find all seven lessons available to download free of charge. There will be a post on Open.Ed linking to this as soon as it is published!
Learning about learning is honestly a big part of my internship with the OER team. Open Education stretches far beyond creating resources and leaving them out for anyone to find. Pedagogy – radical pedagogy – is a big part of it, and this includes continually striving for increased accessibility and inclusivity. Molly Wickett and Alyssa Heggison, my predecessors in this position (you can find their blog posts under the Open Content Interns tag!) quickly realised this, and created and ran workshops for students to help make their OERs accessible and inclusive. The concept of ‘open’ is utterly dependent on equitable access; when creating Open Educational Resources, we must constantly ask what might keep people from being able to access these resources. Can they only be accessed in a certain region? Can they only be accessed by people of a certain economic standing? Can they only be accessed by people of a certain ability? For more on the philosophical, ethical, and political foundations of the Open Education movement, I would highly recommend having a read through the book Open at the Margins, edited by Maha Bali, Catherine Cronin, Laura Czerniewicz, Robin DeRosa, and Rajiv S. Jhangiani. Once our archaeology project is published, I will be reworking Molly and Alyssa’s workshop into a more static resource that students and teachers can access and use independently. I am hoping to be able to share the finished resource with you soon.
As a small break from our usual desks, both Mayu and I have been joining our colleague Ally Mckay’s workshops for the university’s Women in STEM Colouring Book. We’ve helped create illustrations to be published in the colouring book this upcoming semester, one of which you can see below. This is Jessie MacLaren MacGregor, who was one of the first women to receive an MD from the University of Edinburgh. MacGregor was also the cofounder of The Hospice, which provided medical care for poor women in Edinburgh from 1904. Please excuse her dog, whose beauty I have certainly not done justice with my illustration. If you wish to contribute to this project, please check out the submission guidelines here.
In other news, remember the clip from St. Cecilia’s Hall I included in my first blog post? I got to see the instruments myself this week! The Hall’s curator, Sarah Deter, was our fantastic guide, and I know I will be returning to the collections once my schedule clears up more in August. It’s fun how things work out, how my work here has led me to find yet another corner of Edinburgh to dwell in.
Until next time,
Header Image Attribution: “Mayu and August working on their illustrations” by Ally Mckay, CC-BY