OpenScienceResources (OSR): Towards the Development of a Common Digital Repository for Formal and Informal Science Education
The OSR project proposes an innovative solution for metadata handling of digital science education objects that are available at the web repositories of science centres, museums and other organisations
OSR is a collaborative project co-funded by the European Commission under the eContentplus programme. The project started in June 2009 and will continue for 36 months.
In an era where science education inadequacy in formal and informal contexts is becoming an increasingly challenging issue, harvesting the potential of digital science education repositories appears as a very attractive alternative. However, an impressive abundance of high quality digital content that is available in European repositories remains largely unexploited due to a number of barriers such as:
- the lack of interoperability standards between repositories,
- the inefficiency of current content organisation and metadata structures,
- multi-lingual issues.
Description of the way to implement the initiative
The OpenScienceResources project suggests a coordinated solution at European level in order to make resources from European science centres and museums available for a variety of learning contexts. To implement the OpenScienceResources vision, the consortium brings together a balanced mix of high-quality science museums and science centres, pedagogues, educational technologists, metadata experts, user groups and standardisation bodies.
The envisaged solution consists of the following steps:
a) study the state-of-the-art in metadata ontological approaches coupling them with modern social tagging and folksonomies,
b) design a set of proof-of-concept experiments to try out the different theoretical approaches that will be developed and implement them in the OpenScienceResources Portal,
c) extensively validate the proposed approaches in real-life usage contexts employing the user groups represented in the consortium,
d) document the whole process, disseminate the results, cluster with similar initiatives and stakeholders and, through the significant networking capacity of the OpenScienceResources consortium, work towards a pan-European digital educational content standard.
User engagement with the museums and science centres content is encouraged through social tagging of the educational objects. This is one of OSR's main innovative points, since it provides a bridge between the professionals building the portal and the users, by allowing the visitors to share their experiences and express their opinions. Tagging lets users assert their own connections and associations between objects and phenomena in ways that reflect personal perspectives and interests. Tagging further enables the re-discovery of activities previously performed, the users' tags record salient characteristics of personal interest and supports subsequent searches.
THE OSR PORTAL
Science centres and museums from across Europe have joined forces to provide high-quality learning objects for the OSR repository. A highly accessible portal, equipped with state of the art searching tools, will provide an easy and attractive interface to access the repository.
OSR portal users will navigate the finest digital collections in European science centres and museums, guided by educational pathways connecting the objects with well-defined semantic metadata. Users will also be able to enrich the contents provided with social tags of their own choice.
Educational pathways will be targeted to the different user groups in the project (students, teachers, families, museum visitors) as a storyline connecting different objects, which may be physically kept in different European museums.
The Open Science Resources (OSR) portal enables you to access the finest digital collections in European science centres and museums, to follow educational pathways connecting objects tagged with semantic metadata and to enrich the contents provided with social tags of your own choice.
Explore OSR: The OSR Repository includes numerous educational materials (images of exhibits and scientific instruments, animations, videos, lesson plans, student projects and educational pathways with guidelines for interactive museum visit experiences).
Share your content: The OSR Tool-Box will provide you with all the necessary tools to prepare your content for the OSR Repository. The OSR tools offer a unique authoring environment to design and share your own educational pathways.
A ROADMAP FOR CONTINUED USE
As a last step, the project will propose a Roadmap towards a standardised Science Resources (re-)usability approach. This tool will include recommendations and guidelines for the design of Science Education Learning Content and Activities, on the appropriate metadata methods needed for their description with respect to both their educational and their domain-related characteristics.
Main results, benefits and impacts
The aim of the OSR project is to create a shared repository of scientific digital objects - currently dispersed in European science museums and science centres - to make them more widely and coherently available, searchable and usable in the context of formal and informal learning situations.
The OSR Portal provides a valuable resource for teachers, educators and general public in Europe for different learning situations. The educational materials uploaded on the portal can be assembled, created and put together in different ways by the site users. These possibilities ensure that the content on the portal will remain fresh and actual, since it can be updated directly by the users without any intervention from the project consortium.
Return on investmentReturn on investment: Not applicable / Not available
Three lessons learned during this project are the following:
- Collaboration between professionals from different museums can really enrich the educational materials provided to users, thanks to the ample choice of resources from the different collection. For museums, collaboration represents a way of exchanging information and best practices.
- Social tagging allows users to express their opinions and connect the resources in meaningful and unexpected ways, providing cross-languages bridges and references.
- The use of digital media is valuable for teachers, but not always easy. In some contexts, teachers are not very used to resorting to the computer for the preparation of their lessons.