Category:Biology Content Curation

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BIOL 112/121 Content Curation Project Outline

This was a project piloting a content curation strategy for the BioFlex project at UBC from March to August 2014.


This project aims to transform two courses, Biology of the Cell (BIOL 112) and Genetics, Evolution and Ecology (BIOL 121), into flipped or blended classrooms, where some course content is delivered online and some content is delivered didactically in lecture, with substantial class time devoted to the application of knowledge, data analysis, and problem solving. In addition to developing a flipped and blended pedagogy and associated resources for BIOL 112 and BIOL 121, the project will also identify high priority modular content for vertical integration in the Biology curriculum and prepare artifacts for the stand-alone resource bank for biology. Pilots will be offered in September 2013 and January 2014, and delivery of the fully transformed courses will take place in September 2014.

Principal Investigator: Prof. Shona Ellis CTLT Project Manager: Gillian Gerhard BIOL Project Manager: Gulnur Birol Subject Librarian: Katherine Miller Teaching & Learning Librarian (Flexible Learning): Erin Fields Student Librarian: Melanie Cassidy (April end) Research Assistant: Sarah Parker (May 15-August 2014)

Library Involvement

BIOL 112 and 121 instructors are looking for content to support the flipped classroom structure. Recognizing that there is a wealth of open education resources available, the project team is looking to curate content for the courses. This content could include videos, quizzes, and audio files that support the in-class active learning. The Library was identified as a potential partner in both researching OE content and developing a content curation process.

In collaboration with project team, UBC Library will:

  • Identify open education repositories and databases containing biology content
  • Identify content based on an outline of priority subjects developed by BIOL 112 and 121 instructors. Focus on multimedia creative commons content.
  • Outline a process of content curation, including:
  • Descriptive information needed for categorizing content (e.g. title, author, description, location, copyright, etc.) and suggestions for collaborative description (e.g. tagging folksonomy)
  • Copyright process for rights and permissions of content identified
  • Recommendation on interim location and categorization of information as the Digital Depot project is under development.
  • Sustainability and maintenance of the process over time, including staffing resources.

Media Types

Faculty identified the following media types as priority OE resources:

  • Videos (animations, screencasts)
  • In-class activities
  • Clicker questions
  • Case studies


Subjects to be research can be found on the BIOL 112/121 Content Curation Subject page. This page will be consistently edited and updated by faculty members.


Content Curation Chart.png

I. Identification Process

The location and selection process will take numerous people to complete:

  1. Faculty – Needed to develop subject lists for searching and selecting final resources for inclusion.
  2. Librarians – Needed to develop and support search criteria and the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Needed to train and support student research assistants. Create search plan.
  3. Students – Needed to search the OER to find subject content listed by instructors/faculty. Needed to assistant in the development and updating of the document search process.

The most necessary part of the location process is completion of the inclusion/exclusion criteria. The inclusion criteria will assist librarians and students in developing an authoritative lists of OER in which the students will complete searching for subject content. If the inclusion criteria are followed, the process of locating OE materials will be quicker over time.

The current Biology Open Education Repository List for this project is as follows:

This is in no way a comprehensive list. Additional research and evaluation needs to be completed. A longer list of OERs can be found in the Biology Open Education Repository Excel file but were excluded because of time constraints.

Questions that need to be addressed when developing the Open Education Repository List:

File:OER Inclusion Exclusion Criteria.docx

II. Permission Process

This will be a time intensive process and will require both an education and liaison piece to the work.

Instruction for students’ working on the project can be delivered by the Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office which will enable an understanding of how content can be used under the permissions provided by the license. This will also create a direct link between the research and permissions process to minimize time spent in administration.

Timelines are important in this process. It can take a long time for permissions to be given for the use of resources. The SCCO may need to contact individual developers and organizations to gain the rights for use of the content. Additional negotiates around curating and archiving the content may add time to the process. It may be impossible to gain permissions for an item. If there is no alternative resource, linking to the resource can be done without permissions.

Note – It would be beneficial to consider the competencies of the students hired for this work. Students in the School of Library and Information Studies with course work related to intellectual property, copyright and research services would be definite assets to the project.

Questions that need to be addressed when developing the Open Education Repository List:

File:OER Inclusion Exclusion Criteria.docx

III. Description Process

The purpose of ensuring rich metadata at the outset of the project is to support the eventual creation of a searchable interface. While decisions about how the interface will be searchable (e.g. keyword, subject, tagging) need to be discussed, beginning the project with more robust metadata will make decision making easier when a content curation infrastructure is being developed.

Suggested metadata fields and descriptions can be found below. Additional fields can be added depending upon perceived benefit to findability.

File:Content Curation Metada.docx

Additional Metadata

  • Course – The title and course code in which the item is being used. This would be useful for planning across course curriculum and will support building competencies over the degree program.
  • Unit – The unit the resource is attached to in the course curriculum.

IV. Inclusion/Exclusion Process

Unfortunately there is no system currently available to curate and archive OE materials. The current project used Excel to save information about each resource; however, this does not suggest that this program should be used in the future. A decision needs to be made for the interim about where the content should reside. Discussions with CTLT may yield some possibilities.

Content curation work is being completed in other TLEF funded programs, including e@UBC. Archiving of the OE content is being completed in the UBC Wiki using categories for searching. This is a possible space to explore for interim archiving of materials. Identified OE Resources The OE resources identified for this project can be found in Biology Open Education Repository Excel file. Resources

  • A full time graduate student assistant for the summer (starting in June) managed by the Biology Librarian. This will require a training plan.
  • Regular meetings with partners including, the Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office and Library Technical Services

Sustainability Issues

Once there is agreement on the plan, discussions need to occur with the Head of Woodward Library to negotiate time for the biology librarian to work on the project.

A key to the success of this project is to hire a graduate student currently in the School for Library and Information Studies. These graduate students have the background and education to design and update the search plans, liaise regarding copyright and permissions issues, and to contribute metadata.

UBC Library to contribute the Biology Subject Librarian and the Teaching & Learning Librarian (Flexible Learning) time for supervision of the graduate student and project guidance.