As our meeting with the project principal investigator and technical developer last Monday shows, you can get OER-inspired in all sorts of unlikely places. While discussing possible models for the research methods collection, and issues around discoverability and quality assurance, conversation turned to recipe-sharing websites and ways in which they could provide inspiration and offer relevant technical solutions.
For instance, MyDish is a social networking website where users can create their personalised cookbooks, upload recipes, organise them into collections (by ingredients, occasions, diets etc.), rate and review other’s recipes as well as add useful tips, create or join a group of people who share similar interests when it comes to cooking, ask questions to resident chef experts. They can also access the recently developed Tesco API where after choosing your recipes for the week or a dinner party, you can then shop for necessary ingredients and get them delivered. During the meeting, we started thinking aloud – what if we were able to create a similar website for social sciences research methods where the academic community could engage in sharing, reviewing and repurposing resources?
The interesting thing about MyDish and similar websites is that they allow for serendipity in finding and sharing resources, which is something we would like to encourage within our project. That is, we would like to create a space where a sociologist looking for resources on say the ethics of conducting research projects could easily locate relevant resources created by his/her colleagues across various social sciences disciplines, not just sociology. Furthermore, we would like this hypothetical sociologist to be able to trust (and hopefully reuse!) a resource on research ethics produced by say a political scientist. Finally, it would be great if on top of that particular resource, the person exploring the research methods collection could find recommendations for related teaching material. For example, through that presentation on research ethics the user would be signposted to a video on Milgram experiment on obedience and authority. A bit like the recipe planning tool on the Love food, hate waste website where you can enter up to three ingredients to generate suggestions for possible dishes, some of which seem quite unexpected – for instance, entering bananas, nuts and apples gets the probably predictable recipes for desserts but also savoury dishes such as haggis and apple purses or Jamaican vegetables, beans and rice. If you applied similar principles to a research methods OER collection, you would potentially be enhancing the discoverability of certain resources, as the search results would return items that a user would not necessarily expect yet might find them useful. So, shall we get cooking (with OERs)?