Andy’s Research Group B

Welcome Group B!

If you appointed yourself in GROUP B, please read these instructional materials once and try not to make additional notes. We are simply wanting to test your knowledge gained. You can download the materials to your PC or mobile device via these links.

Andy_GroupB_StaticAsthmaResource (Word document form of learning materials)

Andy_GroupB_StaticAsthmaResource (PDF form of learning materials)


In our final step, we need to test your amazing and newly acquired knowledge by this final quiz. Please try and participate as honestly as possible, otherwise this will affect the results of the research.

3) Please complete this post-test quiz

Andy’s Research Group A

Welcome Group A!

Please go to YouTube and watch this 10 minute video on asthma. It does not matter if you have ever done immunology before or not. Please do not look at the materials more than once – and try not to make notes. We are simply wanting to test your recall of the knowledge that you gain through this resource.

In our final step, we need to test your amazing and newly acquired knowledge by this final quiz. Please try and participate as honestly as possible, otherwise this will affect the results of the research.

3) Please complete this post-test quiz


Thank you so much for participating in this research. Do come back to this blog to read about the results of the research.


Andy’s Research Project

Biomedical Science Final Year Project

I’m really lucky this year to be working with Andy Nguyen who is a final year biomedical scientist and also international student from Vietnam. Andy was interested in looking at student use of multimedia resources in science education, as he’d observed how many of his fellow student use YouTube to assist with their learning. Well – here is Andy’s project and he is looking for volunteers!


Please follow these steps carefully. You will be invited to complete a short ‘pre-test’, study for 10 minutes using a resource provided, and then complete a ‘post-test’. Please complete the tests as fairly as you can, without referring to notes (i.e. an ‘unseen’ test). Do spend as much time as you wish looking at the learning materials, but for consistency, do not take notes so that we are just testing your recall.

Please complete the post-test, without referring back to the materials!


1) Please complete this pre-test quiz
(you may need to copy and paste it into a new browser window if it doesn’t open from here 🙂 )


2) Choose your group!

What we need to do now is randomise you to one of two groups, and we are relying on your honesty! We need you to look at some learning material on asthma, both of which will take you ten minutes to either watch or read through.

Go and find a coin! Toss the coin!

If you have thrown HEADS then please go to GROUP A. For GROUP A CLICK HERE.

If you have thrown TAILS then please go to GROUP B. For GROUP B CLICK HERE.


3) Please complete this post-test quiz (you will also find the link on the Group A or B pages).
(You may need to copy and paste it into a new browser window if it doesn’t open from here 🙂 )

Thank you so much for participating in this research. Do come back to this blog to read about the results of the research.

Oh shit.

Oh Shit


Have you ever had that stomach-sinking feeling and you think “oh shit”? I had it the other night when I realise Spike had found one of David’s slippers, and I failed utterly to convince David that sling-backs might be quite the thing for summer.

Well here is the feeling again; I have a paper accepted by a journal and read the first few sentences so horrified I can’t even reach the end of the abstract. A very familiar conversation with self starts all over. “Here we go again! Why did I end up being an academic. Why did my parents encourage me into science where I have to write things, and not music which I’m far better at and can just create things? There aren’t enough spoon impresarios in the world”.

Of course I was straight onto Google and found this super article “10 famous writers who hated writing” and hallelujah James Joyce:

“Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives.” James Joyce (quoted in a letter to Fanny Guillermet, 5 September 1918)


Of course the difference with all the people in this article is that they were rather spectacular at writing, despite how they felt. They probably hated the concept of the process of writing on a large scale and then having their work under the public gaze, whereas I think I’m just really crap at it. No, I don’t think, I know it.

The point of putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, just fills me with pain. Words swim around on the page and I resort to reading things aloud, which given my estuarine-Essex-English is not a great solution. I went through schooling struggling with Latin, French and German grammar, and was never taught English which I always think quite staggering. The two people I admire (and envy) most in my life, one is a friend from Germany, and the other my sister-in-law who is Goan and educated in Kenya. They have the most perfect and beautiful spoken English. So perhaps our British schooling has failed more of us than I realise, apart from the notable exceptions I hang out with every day on Twitter who seem to reel off Booker Prize-quality articles in the time it takes to hide the remnants of a savaged slipper. (You all know all you hare and you are totally amazing).

Mariana and some of the DS106 people were having the conversation on Twitter last year about us sometimes hating our own work, and I think agreed that was a natural part of the artistic process that we challenge and critique ourselves to become better. I think for some this can be combined with some human emotions of insecurity and low confidence I would assume?

I’m not sure really. I’m facing a day of work writing audit documents for professional bodies. It is a Saturday and I already want to cry, and the thought of completing 12 of these hilariously named “light touch” forms, I know will end badly, although by the end will have cleaned the house, done the washing and walked the dog. Twice.

How on earth did I end up in a job were papers are the currency for success. “Are you REFable”? “What high impact journals have you published in”? CVs. Fellowships. Professional Accreditations. PUBLICATIONS. AAAARRRGGGGHHHH. I just feel so thick.

Why can’t animated GIFs count?

Adopting Open Textbooks with BCU

One week into the BC “Adopting Open Text Books” course.

I’m embarking on the BC course and in the first week we are provided with a series of videos including David Wiley talking about ‘open’, and we were given the question “What does open education mean to you?” I am now sitting here wondering why after ten years producing OERs and free materials, why I’m embarking on yet another course? Why am I still involved in this field of work that is nothing to do with my day-job?




David hits the nail on the head for me – it is all about the idea of sharing.

Or not.



In the comments on the page Cristina notes:

One thing that really struck me in both the video and the article is the idea of education as sharing, already, in its essence. If you are helping someone to learn something, or develop a new skill, you are sharing something of yourself.

(Christina’s comment).

What do we know about faculty sharing behaviour? 

I think in many people, the desire to share and help others is just their nature. So what do we know about academic / faculty sharing behaviours? When some of us embarked on the UK OER programme in 2009 we looked at attitudes to sharing within our universities.

We found that academics were happy to share within localised subject groups but not more widely, and at that time in 2009, certainly weren’t keen to move beyond the institution (Rolfe 2012, Staff Attitudes to OER). In Peter Reed’s similar study at the same time, staff were naturally sharing locally but in his institution were happy to think about sharing beyond the institution, perhaps reflecting a more advanced awareness and experience of open practices? (Reed 2012, Awareness, attitudes to OER).

In Libor Hurt’s MSc dissertation looking at openness and student perceptions, it was clear that their propensity to share and support fellow students was hugely strong (Download Libor’s dissertation from this page: When asked why, to many it was quite natural to help others, even beyond their university:

“Because not everyone gets the same opportunities do they?”


So in this snapshot of staff and student perceptions, the willingness to share was entrenched within people’s practices even without attempts to influence it. So this leads me to ask how has sharing fared through the history of education? I’m thinking at what point did it/we stop sharing?



I am no educational historian, but I know the teaching practices of the ancient philosophers very much involved the selfless passing on of ideas and knowledge, and the scholar was advised to then go and pass-forward and teach someone else. That was an essential part of the educational process. I love Thomas Wright’s book “Circulation: William Harvey’s Revolutionary Idea” and the recollections of the teaching of surgical practices.

Anatomies were made free of charge according to university statutes, ‘in order that everyone may come’ to enjoy what were civic as well as scholarly spectacles.

The public would pile into the steep-walled anatomical theatres with a dissection table in the middle and railings to stop queasy spectators falling in and spoiling the show. (The musicians were the last to enter and take their place around the dissecting table!) These were open festivals of learning! Harvey’s manuscript outlining his discoveries of the circulation system “De Motu Cordis” further benefited from printing technology and was able to share his theories to the science community and wider public (although they ridiculed him “he was crack-brained”). So returning to thoughts about SHARING, printing clearly led to the wider distribution of knowledge but with it came the bravery and confidence to go forth with your theories and ideas. Also the ‘asset’ started to be a thing of power, and religious differences often resulted in the burning of books, and we begin to see how wielding this power could exclude groups from gaining knowledge and education.

Where are we today?

I get a sense that today in our modern-day education systems that the ‘asset’ and information is still viewed as a powerful commodity to be acquired. Students clamour for PowerPoint slides and lecture notes to be placed on learning management systems. “Are you going to put your slides on Blackboard” must be the most common question in the entire education system. So over the centuries what may well have shifted is the sharing of the understanding of a topic or idea, toward the sharing of information assets?

I think there are also some deeper changes in our attitudes also. What about the desire to help ourselves and our own careers over helping others?

I’ve referred to open education in being in the terrible teens in a recent paper in press and I do believe in the UK anyway we’ve hit a wall. I think our current education system breeds a strong incliniation to help ourselves and our own careers that outweighs what might be our natural motivation to help others. Our education delivery systems reward us on our personal teaching and research achievements, with the overarching obsession about positions in league tables.

So what does open education mean to me?

For me, and many others like me I am guessing, ‘open’ means being able to participate in the education that I want, beyond my institution. I work in my own time using technology that works. I can use the tech I want to create the materials that I think are valuable for my subject. I can distribute them where and when I like on the internet. I pay small annual fees to maintain blogs that amounts to the cost of a few bottles of wine a year.

What roles do you think digital technologies and the internet have played in making open education possible?

Digital technology and social media have enabled educators to move beyond university systems and have been KEY to open education possibilities. I can work immediately and do not have to wait 3 days for administrator to give me access to software, or using learning management systems that can only cope with certain types of files or file sizes.

I can use social media to distribute my resources, where many universities are still trembling at the thought of academics on Twitter, and accounts having to be vetoed by marketing departments worried about what academics might say. Make some resources, place them on YouTube, Flicker, Twitter, Blogs and slap a Creative Commons licence on and away you go. These resources are my own content, artistry and copyright. I know I am working under contracts that permit me to OWN my ‘learning resources’ and to therefore do with as I please.

So how can we help OER through the terrible teens?

Clearly people like me working in their own time is not a sustainable solution and we need to continue to influence the next generation of acadmics and university staff. I think we need to reinvigorate universities as sharing spaces rather than places were education is delivered. Mike Neary and Joss Winn talked about this beautifully in 2009 (The Student as Producer)

Through these efforts, the organizing principle is being redressed creating a teaching, learning and research environment which promotes the values of openness and creativity, engenders equity among academics and students and thereby offers an opportunity to reconstruct the student as producer and academic as collaborator. In an environment where knowledge is free, the roles of the educator and the institution necessarily change.