Students from Walton High, a school in Milton Keynes, have been finding out that the sky is definitely not the limit when it comes to research at The Open University (OU).
In late July, as part of their digital media production course, ten BTEC students visited the OU campus to find out more about its work on Europe’s comet-chasing spacecraft Rosetta – the world’s first mission to land on a comet.
Last week (12th May), Ann Grand and I gave a seminar at the OU on Digital Engagement. I started by giving a brief introduction to public engagement, referring to the NCCPE's EDGE tool for self-assessment, and a description of the purpose of the OU's Public Engagement with Research Catalyst project.
Purpose of this call: To support active researchers in the generation and systematic collection of evidence of the impacts from engaged research, demonstrating effects, changes and/or mutual benefits to those participating.
Leadership; Mission; Communication
Champion’s blog; star date 2014.03.10 (in effect, an update on the first post on this blog, 'An open research university').
Nearly two years of the mission completed; 14 months of funding left. "Where do we boldly go from here?"
I was interviewed late last year by Lucian Hudson, the OU's Director of Communications, to explore this question. We also discussed progress with the core mission of the OU's Public Engagement with Research Catalyst.
You can see the results of our discussion in the video below. If you'd prefer to read the text of the interview, select transcript.
Teamwork is key to successful planning
When we're producing courses at the Open University we tend to work in teams; many of them are multi-discplinary and almost all of them combine academics with other forms of professional expertise (e.g. editors and media professionals). For example, the last course I chaired (with the catchy code, SH804) involved more than 70 people during the production phase (including academics, media professionals, editors, librarians and web developers).
Over the years I've been lucky enough to work with some excellent colleagues in various course teams. You might expect me to say that. But it's not always straightforward working as a social scientist in a Faculty of Science. One of the many colleagues I've really valued working with is Professor Simon Kelley. We worked together as part of a larger course team on Science in Context.
Serendipity meets planning for diversity and inclusion
Spin forwards several years: I'd been working on the Engaging Opportunities project for about nine months when we began to think seriously about organising the first of the three annual lectures that we'd promised RCUK we would deliver.
Public engagement with research has come a long way since 2000. The pace of change has quickened significantly following the establishment of the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), the completion of the Beacons for Public Engagement programme, the embedding of research impact within Research Council grant applications and the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), and the 2010 publication of the RCUK’s Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research.
Whilst each of these developments was significant, the publication of the RCUK Concordat three years ago was a watershed. In effect, its four principles were a mandate for embedding public engagement within the UK’s research culture. To celebrate the third anniversary of the Concordat's publication RCUK have published another booklet called Inspiration to Engage. ...continue reading →
Last Monday, I gave a talk on my research as part of the 'engaging research' seminar series associated with the RCUK funded Catalyst and SUPI projects. I explained why I think engagement is so important.
In my research, I try to identify the range of stakeholders in a given learning context that will be affected by the introduction of a technology. Through understanding the activities that the stakeholders are involved in, I try to develop technologies that will be used to facilitate learning without causing too much extra work for any individual stakeholder. By engaging, I hope to understand the stakeholders' perspectives and where possible collaborate with them to create something they will find useful.
Here's the video of the seminar along with the slides (including the cited references) and abstract...
Trevor is co-ordinating the learning work package within the project, and is also involved in the communication and digital engagement packages.
The learning work package is concerned with identifying the existing development opportunities for research staff and students across the university with regard to public engagement, as well as identifying gaps where additional support could be provided by the university or external sources (e.g. the UK research councils, Vitae, JISC or the NCCPE).