Chroicocephalus ridibundus

DSCF3123Block 1, Activity 5: Are OER both open and innovative?

This, is a photo of the Black-Headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), spotted in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire on January 26th this year. I know this to be (very probably true) because the image was uploaded as part of a citizen science project developed by the Open University called iSpot.

The project, which stretches across the world, gives users the chance to upload and identify images of wildlife, fauna and flora. Other users help identify images too and participants gain credibility for their skills of identification. A neat Google map shows the location of the sighting, twitter feeds add to the connections made between the project and participants. You can sign in with Facebook too. The funding for the project looks substantial and sustained, meeting one of the challenges of OERs.

The collaborative power of this resource is evident straight away. I particularly liked the confidence rating feature: someone uploads an image and states what they think it is, other iSpot users then state if they agree – producing a confidence rating. Links to information on the particular upload are also available. Much like citizen journalism, I think the bottom up power of citizen science is great, combining enthusiasm with expertise, sharing it widely and building communities of interest. iSpot strikes me a great innovation in using the web to develop connections, knowledge and learning amongst participants.

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