Expectations vs Reality

It has been about six months since I applied for the position of “Open Content Curator Intern”. In typical last-minute style, I submitted my application on the evening of the day that applications closed. At the time I wasn’t really sure what the job entailed, or if I would enjoy it. I knew it involved working with openly-licensed materials, but that was pretty much it.

As I write this on the final day of my internship (actually, in the final hour – I did say I was a last-minute person!), I thought it would be interesting to look back at the job description and reflect upon what I have learned since applying.

University of Edinburgh teaching staff and students produce a wealth of educational media (videos, images, documents etc) but much of this content is restricted to within the University.

I can confirm this – not only as an intern but also as a student! So much of the teaching resources used internally inside the University are produced by the lecturers and course staff. But then this content is locked away, visible only to matriculated students. I think this was one of the main things that attracted me to the position, as I was aware of just how many high-quality resources were available to students but not the wider educational community.

They [the post holder] will check the resources meet University open licensing policy.

Aha! Now we’re getting into the bread-and-butter of the internship. A lot of what I have been doing this summer has been reviewing slideshows, lesson plans and worksheets to check that all the content within is openly licensed. Whenever I open a new document I am filled with anticipation as I wonder whether this will be a resource filled with perfectly-attributed images (and therefore all I have to do is a quick double-check) or one where all the resources are unlabelled and are either public domain or ‘All Rights Reserved’ images that have snuck into the document like gremlins, ready to wreak havoc with my perfectly planned (cough) schedule. Over the summer I have become intimately familiar with reverse image search tools such as TinEye and Google Search-By-Image, as I franticly try and find where that one, final image came from.

The post holder will work with teaching staff to facilitate the opening up of educational resources.

Now we come to the bit that I think I underestimated a bit. Because when you’re in an office environment, communication is key. Not just with colleagues in the office, but also with resource authors. If there was one thing I would do differently, it would be to set aside the first two weeks of my internship to email all the inevitable questions that came up later. Instead, I found myself sending emails yesterday evening saying “I know this is late notice but can I please please please get a quick response because I’m actually leaving tomorrow!”.

The Open Content Curator Intern will …[discuss] licensing options with open license experts…

Out of all the things that I have experienced in my internship, this is my favourite by far. In everyday life, I recognise that not everyone is as excited as me when the dinner-table discussion moves onto licenses. This internship has given me an opportunity to work with some fantastic colleagues who are not only kind and understanding of my nervousness, but are also Supreme Experts when it comes to Copyright and Licensing. People who are able to answer every licensing or copyright question I came against – and doing so without making me feel like, well, like an intern who three months ago really wasn’t sure whether I was the best person for this job. I would like to thank them profusely for all the help and support they have given me throughout this internship.

It has been amazing.

Bio – Andrew Ferguson

One of our 2019 Open Content Curator Interns, Andrew Ferguson is heading into his 3rds year as a Computer Science student.

Prior to joining the Open.Ed team Andrew worked on personal projects digitising and gaining permission to release and licence a 1980s computing newsletter, and participating in award winning hackathon projects.

During his time with us, in addition to the OER work as part of his internship, Andrew re-surfaced and re-organised numerous OER on the Open.Ed and TES pages and accounts, improving discoverability and accessibility of our resources for Scottish teachers.