At the End of Summer, at the End of the Open Content Curator Internship

A Starling on a field with a backdrop of blue sky

It is a cliché, but it always feels unbelievably fast how the time with a long daytime passes by. Now that the new semester starts in half a month, my first-ever full-time role (at least from last month) is coming to a close. Looking back, I am amazed at how each day was different and never the same. It is not only about how differently the beautiful Castle Rock clad itself, with soft haze, or grey mist with surprisingly torrential rain, or in the sunlight from the clearest sky (I will be missing the privilege to have this view every day badly soon). It is also about what I learn, from copyright legislation to how birds sing, where I work (especially after the flood!), who I work with, what issues I encounter and what I create.


I mentioned the big Archaeology resource in my previous blog post. After its publication, I moved on to two new OERs from the Geosciences Outreach course. One is ‘Birds of Midlothian’, an OER for school and for everyone to learn about biodiversity and how flora and fauna live together while enjoying finding adorable birds in Midlothian and beyond. It has been quite different a project from the Archaeology OER in many respects. It is created so that any individual can use it by themselves, rather than being for school teachers, so the format is completely different. It is going to be published as an E-book on the University’s another OER platform, Edinburgh Diamond (I might be able to call myself a co-author or editor of a book, which was one of my dreams!). Also, as a smaller project than the series of seven lessons, I was responsible for the project from the planning to the completion. While, of course, I always had someone to ask for any help, clarification or questions, including Charlie and Lorna at OER service and Kay from the Geosciences Outreach course, this responsibility taught me a lot about how to keep an eye on detail and keep all the work organised. Aside from professional development, I am happy to have taken a step into the world of birds. I have been always gaining a little everyday happiness by spotting birds on campus, but I never spent time studying about them. Now, I have a new self-imposed challenge of finding all the birds mentioned in the booklet! (The stunning starling on the header is one of my favourite photos taken at St. Andrew’s last weekend. I don’t know how many times I have opened this image on my laptop to admire its beauty! But alas, the starling is not the ones featured in the booklet!)


The other OER I am working on is titled ‘Investigating Edinburgh’s Geological Past’. Yes, I finally came to work on something rocky! This resource is in a way similar to the Archaeology OER, as it is a set of lessons with hands-on activities for pupils to get introduced to an academic discipline with resources from a locality. Working on geology materials for middle school is meaningful to me, not just because I like rocks. I was a participant in the Japan Earth Science Olympiad when I was 16. I went to stay with students who were absolutely enthusiastic about fossils, rocks, meteorology or astronomy for three days, visiting museums and organisations related to Geosciences (I even got an ammonite found by a student). While it was one of the best memories from my time at high school, it was shocking that I was one of only six female students out of 60 students selected for the national round, and even the number of all the participants, including a regional level, was much lower than other science olympiads, such as Physics or Maths. This was because Earth Science is often under-taught at a high school level and seen as a minor subject compared to the other three science subjects in Japan – Biology, Chemistry and Physics. It seems that it is not just a trend in Japan but even in the country which produced ‘the Father of Geology’ James Hutton. So, although I now follow a slightly different passion in terms of my academic journey, I really hope that I can make a small contribution to raising the profile of Geology and Earth Science and to creating opportunities for more students, including girls, through my work on open education here.

Numbers of rocks in an open box, placed on an table outside.

Beautiful rocks from an event for Scottish Geology Festival 2023. Mayu Ishimoto, 2023, CC BY-SA.


As mentioned, my work varied greatly depending on the projects and stages. It was a real pleasure working on a big project with August, with occasional meandering off on a tangent discussing various historical, linguistic or cultural topics. At the same time, it was great working individually on a subject I was new to or a bigger project on what I was somewhat familiar with. Also, there were more creative opportunities than the colouring book illustration mentioned last time! I am now on an interview video, and I created a poster about the size of birds and a header graphic for our sibling (?) project, Their Finest Hour. I absolutely loved how the work as an Open Content Curator combines academic research and community engagement, and even more, creative agency. I’m even worried that I might not be able to find any other job as enjoyable as this in the future. But for a while, I do not need to be concerned because I will be working one day per week from next week! It will be a new challenge for me, going into the Honour’s year, to balance this role and that of a student, but I’d rather feel that both can be beneficial and inspiring to each other. Especially, I hope to gain some more ideas from my classes for creating an OER from scratch, which I did not have time to commence during the summer.


Thank you all who supported me during the summer for the amazing time at the ISG, thank you for reading, and do stay tuned on our Twitter and new OERs coming up!

The header image: Starling in St. Andrew’s, Mayu Ishimoto, the University of Edinburgh, 2023, CC BY-SA.