Live blogging, 13:30 – OU conference Day 2
Talk by Doug Clow
Doug starts by saying that (iSpot. org.uk) helps people to identify their observations of nature. One can take a photo and upload it to the iSpot website, saying what they think it is (where they saw it etc). If someone thinks it’s something else, they can identify it too. Once the user gets the confirmation of the identification, then they can learn more about it – in depth information of other observations people made about the same thing . There is a web page for every species in iSpto, aggregating all the available content (including Wikipedia) about the species of the whole world.
At iSpot, after making an identification, the user can see who else agrees with it. And the individual identifiers are ‘ranked’ in a reputation system at the website. Once the user makes an observation and gets feedback, they can build a portfolio of pictures (as more people agree with your observation) , it increases their reputation in the website. Observatiosn can be of birds, plants etc.
Many people who use iSpot also take a short OU course if they wish (Neighbourhood Nature 5159). This leads to accreditation – it’s a 10-point course. iSpot has a partnership with BBC Radio 4, helping broadcasting the project and enabling access to ‘nature experts’ . iSpot is Lottery funded, and targets under-represented groups.
Users give lots of positive feedback about iSpot – they like the community of people with knowledge and enthusiasm. People say “I can’t go outside now without ‘seeing’ things!”. 130,000 visits to the site.
A good user story is that a 6-year old girl spotted a moth – Euonymus Leaf Notcher ( a rare moth in Europe). It was its first observation in the UK. That discovery was highly publicised in newspapers etc. iSpot counts on collaborations with a number of specialist societies.
Participatory Learning: research driven by the work on iSpot (Clow, Makryannis and De Liddo). Participatory Learning is a rich way of using new online media, Doug argues, as it is in line with the OU mission of inclusive education.