A flying visit to an AirSpace, Imperial War Museum (IWM) at Duxford

What an exciting visit to the Imperial War Museum (IWM) at Duxford (just outside Cambridge)! IWM Duxford is set within the spacious grounds of the famous former First and Second World War airfield. Opened in 2007, AirSpace tells the story of British and Commonwealth aviation. Its Aircraft Hall is home to over 30 aircraft including an iconic Spitfire, a legendary Lancaster and the fastest-ever Concorde.

We were impressed with the quality of materials and creativity of the staff from Department for Learning at IWM Duxford, and the strong connections they have forged with HE sector. There is much here for us to promote on behalf of the Department for Learning drawing extensively on the already prepared educational material. A surprising example is the technology management case studies related to aircarft development, which are being used at the Judge Business School and the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge for last 10 years. We will package this material together to make it both open and accessible through multiple delivery platforms. HE will benefit from contextualized resources and the Department for Learning will be able to disseminate to a wider audience.

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A visit to a science park in Cambridge (TWI)

We have met up with staff from Electronics and Sensors sector and Information Services of The Welding Institute (TWI) in Cambridge. There are many collections we could build on the basis of the company electronic resources and the technical staff will make final judgements on this in a few weeks. Suggestions put forward relate to MEMS, electronic packaging, wire bonding processes and coatings. For a themed collection in environmental technologies TWI will explore their hosting of elements within the national KTN (in areas of healthcare technologies, renewable energy and composite materials).

A specific need, identified during the meeting was for clarification of CC issues to gain seniour management support for implementation of open licensing in commercial context. The visit was timely, given TWIs recent steps into YouTube, and internal discussions relating to social media presence. As part of this project we will provide TWI with relevant guidance on this to inform discussions and provide the means for the company to take forward such developments.

Focus on User Experience

Yesterday we attended a workshop hosted by JISC at their office in London. The workshop focused on User-Centred Design, an approach to user interface design in which a users requirements are given extensive thought throughout the process. The philosophy behind this is a design should focus on your user’s actual goals and needs. This may sound obvious, but in practice it is very easy to charge head on into a design that the designer likes, but may not actually give the best user experience. This is an approach we are adopting in all our projects, working closely with the end users in order to provide the best possible website experience.

Wikipedia explains this far better than I could:

Awkward Bathroom

The design of this bathroom was not done with the end user in mind.


Sellafield Ltd – experts in Nuclear Technology

We met with our partners this week from the Technical Directorate of Sellafield Ltd, based in Cumbria. Discussions were held with staff involved in the development of a part-time Foundation and BEng top-up degree, aimed at the company’s in-house junior scientific trainees. This is being developed in partnership with local universities and training providers, such as GEN2.

Scientists and engineers from Sellafield Ltd are delivering a number of modules, and acting as trainers, for parts of these courses leading to the BEng qualification in Nuclear Related Technology. From our discussions, our partner will be operating more as a user of OERs, in contributing to the modules they are developing, rather than being a main provider of electronic collections in areas related to nuclear technologies. For the latter, certain learning materials relating to Sellafield Ltd will come indirectly from their collaborators in universities and training organisations.

Kalzip, our local partner

Our local partner, Kalzip, is based in St. Helens, and we have visited them this afternoon. Kalzip is the world-leading standing seam roofing and wall cladding system. It was great to meet with a team, represented by marketing, technical engineering and business support; this allowed us to have a variety of inputs to our discussions.

As well as a range of technical information sheets, Kalzip has produced a variety of CPD resources, which will form the basis of the company materials they intend to put forward as OERs. We discussed a number of thematic areas for the collections Kalzip is willing to release. One in particular will relate to energy and sustainable development, based around their innovative photovoltaic solar and green roofs.

Given Kalzip’s recent explorations in new publishing models (via file-share sites and social media) the company welcomed the opportunity to gain external input to these developments through our project.


Visiting the Royal Academy for Engineering

Just back from the meeting with Ian Bowbrick from the Royal Academy of Engineering, London. Confirmed that they are our main dissementation partner - to promote the project outputs and to encourage member organizations to contribute to the collections of OERs.

The Royal Academy of Engineering funded in the past a Visiting Professors Scheme in Sustainable  Development, and we explored ways to update these on-line resource and make them both open and put together into themed collections for learning in higher education. Most Visiting Professors in the scheme have links with industry, which we will also seek to make use of.

We were advised during our meeting to liaise with Forum for the Future, who also has relevant resources in the area of sustainable development. This will compliment OERs as they emerge form other partners, such as EWB-UK.

Techniquest Glyndŵr – Science Discovery Center

Last week we drove to Wrexham, in North Wales, where Techniquest Glyndŵr – Science Discovery Center is based. We have met with Andy Jones, partnerships coordinator, Dan Ketteringham, marketing assistant  and Claire Evans, education & outreach officer. Techniquest is an educational charity, with the mission to engage people with science and to motivate them to learn more. It focuses on science-related areas such as maths, engineering and technology.

We had an initial discussion on areas of engineering we will be working with Techniquest through their links with local industries, such as Airbus, Toyota and others. Energy, automotive and enviromental sectors could potentially be the most relevant to the project, which aims at releasing themed collections of open educational resources (OERs) in engineering.  We are particularly interested in the resources, developed for learning programms at Techniquest Glyndŵr for Key Stage 5.