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Talk at the CALRG conference, 14 June 2011 http://kn.open.ac.uk/public/workspace.cfm?wpid=9385
Open Educational Resources (OER) and other freely-available learning resources provide a huge potential for learners. But activities to engage learners with appropriate resources are thinner on the ground. iSpot Local is a JISC-funded project exploring one potentially fruitful activity: bioblitzes.
A bioblitz is a time-limited wildlife survey of a particular site during which all organisms encountered are identified and recorded by the public, working with a team of experts. We already know that bioblitzes can be very popular with a wide audience, and can generate much useful scientific data.
iSpot Local is running six bioblitzes to explore the potential for using them as the key mediating event for the co-creation and crowd-sourcing of digital content and learning related to field biology. We are exploring how to better capture the data generated on the day, and more importantly, how to embed the bioblitz in ongoing learning trajectories: from preparation activities, learning on the day, and onwards in to follow-up learning and engagement.
The project is a partnership between the OU, Ambios (an environmental organisation based in Devon) and Learning South West (a partnership of learning organisations), and has links with an extensive network of stakeholders, including schools, councils, learning organisations, landowners, and specialist nature societies and recording schemes.
In technical terms, we are building an iSpot Local website (using Drupal) to act as a community 'hub' for each of the six bioblitzes, where key stakeholders can provide background and scene-setting information about the site and the bioblitz day. The bioblitz data is collected using the existing iSpot website (http://www.ispot.org.uk), to connect participants up to the vibrant and helpful iSpot community, and is then displayed in aggregated form on the iSpot Local site.