Martin Tasker – Open Content Curator Intern
As I write this, I’ve been in my post as an Open Content Curator intern for almost twelve weeks. Back at the end of May when I took up the position, I was worried. Would it be too difficult? Would it be soul-crushingly boring? Would I be making people coffee all day? (Perhaps internship stereotypes getting the better of me on that last one.)
As it turns out, I couldn’t be further from the mark. I’ve been taken aback by the friendliness and patience of everyone here as I’ve gotten to grips with a role that is fundamentally different to anything that I’ve done before. The world of open education – as with many fields of education – can appear confusing and alienating. Acronyms are thrown around with wild abandon, with your OERs and your JISCs and your TESs all serving to frighten off newcomers. And yet here I am, the best part of three months later, and I can honestly say I feel I have made a meaningful contribution to the department.
Over the past few weeks, we have expanded the amount of content on the Open.Ed site, with seven extra resources (as of writing, hopefully there will be a couple more on there soon). We have expanded our presence on to new repositories, such as Flickr, Wikimedia Commons and TES Connect, allowing us distribute our resources far more widely.
I have also assisted the head of EDE Jo Spillar with a project in which a team of medicine students were creating an LGBT+ Healthcare OER, I have helped publish a massive resource of Christian and Buddhist stories for Divinity and published an entire 10 credit Quantum Physics course.
In addition to the eclectic and constantly changing workload, this internship has given me some incredibly valuable experiences. Being part of a team that is doing completely new and often untested work in Higher Education is both fascinating and exciting: open education is a growing field and I feel privileged to have been part of some of Edinburgh’s first forays into OERs. It has allowed me to develop my teamwork and practical problem solving far more deeply than I could have in a student setting.
Skills are not all I’ve gained, however. The valuable experience of working a nine-to-five in an office is something that will likely be extremely useful in the years ahead, especially in a job market that is hard for young people and demands prior experience above all else. A fully paid internship like this is not something that everyone has access to and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity.
However, on a personal level, my favourite aspect of the summer has been the nature of the work itself. As I explained in my previous blogpost, Open Education is a large part of the reason I’m at Edinburgh studying physics, and I firmly believe that it is one of the keys to widening participation in education in a meaningful way. The proliferation of the internet among all classes in society means that a savvy university can reach those that would previously have had little access to education beyond their school years. And with our work in OERs, we can hopefully feed back some of the expertise of our academics into the classroom, raising the standard of teaching and taking some of the pressure off extremely overworked teachers. It makes me proud that my university has not only decided to embrace open education, but wishes to help lead the way.
As much as I am now looking forward to a relaxing holiday before the start of the academic year, I will miss this job. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with everyone in EDE, Geosciences and beyond. I would like to extend special thanks Stuart Nicol and Charlie Farley, who helped and supported me throughout the summer, and without whom I believe my internship would not have been as successful as I feel it was.
Thanks everyone. It’s been a blast.
View some of the new OERs curated by Martin on the following platforms: