Citizen Science and Global Biodiversity – new free Open University course now available!

Citizen Science and Global Biodiversity – new free Open University course now available! - Global :

A new Open University (OU) badged open course (BOC) has gone live this week on OpenLearn and whether you’re coming to iSpot for the first time or already a  registered user; it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn more about citizen science and the natural world around us! iSpot also celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, and the launch of Citizen Science and Global Biodiversity is just part of its celebratory activities.

Citizen Science and Global Biodiversity deals with the importance of biodiversity – the variety of life on earth – and explores how anyone can contribute to and be involved in identifying and recording wildlife and nature, as a citizen scientist. If you’re interested in wildlife, and often find yourself wondering what it is you’ve just spotted, or would like to share that amazing find with others, this course will help you use web-based resources to answer those questions; identify species’ and learn how to research about its ecology. With numerous case studies from existing citizen scientists, projects and initiatives the course also explores the impact we are having on recording biodiversity on a global scale.

The course uses iSpot – the OU’s award winning citizen science platform for biodiversity - where you can post your observations and see millions of others posted on the site. When you participate in the course activity use the CSBGproject tag to join your posts with others on the course in a special iSpot project . On iSpot you also have the opportunity to interact with the thousands of experts, fellow naturalists and citizen scientists already there who can help identify your wildlife; and you can help others too!. 

“This is a very exciting time for us and we are so pleased to launch this free course, sharing the wonders of what can be achieved with citizen science, as we mark this significant milestone for iSpot” Janice Ansine, Senior Project Manager, Citizen Science in the Faculty of STEM says on behalf of the course team and the iSpot community.  “We are so proud to feature iSpot through contributions from some of of you, our users and look forward to showcasing the rich variety of observations on iSpot as part of these celebrations,” she adds.

The course was developed by an experienced OU team who have been involved with iSpot since its inception including Ansine, who is also project manager for iSpot; Yoseph Araya, lecturer in Ecology and Environmental Science; Mike Dodd, iSpot Curator; and David Robinson Honorary Associate, all based in the Faculty of STEM.

iSpot was launched in 2009 as a website to help anyone explore their curiousity or interest in nature; building their identification skills while learning. Since then we have seen it grow to a rich dataset of information on a wide range of biodiversity. We have an online community of over 71,000 and we are still here thanks to the thousands of regular users who have continued to support and use the platform over the years; as well as the kind support of a range of funders who have helped to make this possible.  This course is an important part of our plans for the future including a range of key highlights and developments which we will share over the coming months.

More about the course:

Biodiversity is complex, and untangling its many inter-relationships is fascinating. At the same time, documenting global biodiversity is a major challenge – one that is attracting volunteer data collectors, i.e. citizen scientists.

Citizen Science and Global Biodiversity introduces citizen science and shows how you can build your biological identification skills while getting involved in scientific research activities as a citizen scientist. As identifying and recording organisms is a core skill, you will work with traditional biological keys as well as online recording tools. You will also understand that once an organism is identified, you can research its ecology and become familiar with some of the many online resources that are available for use. At the same time you will become more familiar with citizen science techniques through practical activities, and projects including using iSpot. For inspiration you will also look at examples of citizen science case studies from across the world or explore ones you are already involved in.

Interested in gaining recognition for your ongoing citizen science activity and what you already know or keen to find out more? Visit OpenLearn, the OU’s free learning platform, for more information.

22 Aug 2019
Janice A