#OER18 Session - Anne-Marie Scott: "A piece of illumination enlarged – using OER for access and activism in cultural heritage"
From Ewan McAndrew
How can we use OER to make a closed cultural heritage site open to all?
This case study will explain how lessons learned using open licenses and Wikipedia in a University context (Highton et al. 2016) are now being applied to make a physically closed listed building accessible through the creation of new digital OER. It will cover why openly licensed resources are particularly suited to facilitating awareness raising and activism, as well as supporting scholarship.
The Arts and Crafts artist Phoebe Anna Traquair painted three significant mural schemes within Edinburgh. The first of these, for the Mortuary Chapel of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, remains the least well known and least accessible. In an 1899 interview Phoebe Traquair considered this to be her “finest piece of work”. The murals are also the sole survivor of around 20 commissions instigated by Patrick Geddes’ Edinburgh Social Union to improve the everyday environment through the artistic decoration of public buildings. Phoebe herself successfully campaigned to relocate the murals when the original hospital closed. However, this mural scheme again faces an uncertain future. With the relocation of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children to a new building in 2018, the existing site has been sold for commercial development.
One of the problems with public awareness is the location of the Mortuary Chapel murals. They have remained largely inaccessible for over 100 years as they form an integral part of an intimate and moving place. Generating widespread support and interest in their future is heavily dependent on accessibility; as works of visual culture they have most impact when they are seen.
The most obvious way of making the chapel and murals more accessible, without being intrusive, is to make good quality images available online under open licenses. Until recently the only images that exist belong to NHS Lothian or Historic Environment Scotland. They are not digital and do not use open licenses.
This case study will cover the commissioning of a new set of digital images; open licensing and distribution via Wikimedia Commons; and the development of associated written materials. The talk will cover why Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia were used, including the practicalities of working on these platforms and the broader benefits for education and scholarship. It will also detail how the relationship between Wikipedia and Google search can be used to particular advantage when considering discoverability of OER (UNESCO, 2017), access and awareness raising.
UNESCO (2003) Charter on the Preservation of Digital Heritage [online], http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=17721&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html [Accessed 26 November 2017]
UNESCO (2017) SECOND WORLD OER CONGRESS LJUBLJANA OER ACTION PLAN 2017 [online], https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/ljubljana_oer_action_plan_2017.pdf [Accessed 26 November 2017]
Highton, M.; Littlejohn, A.; Reim, M.; Hood, N. and Rienties, B. (2016), Learning to Develop Open Knowledge: Improving social capital for learning: The Edinburgh editathon. In: The Edinburgh Editathon, Open Educational Resources Conference OER16, 19-20 April 2016, Edinburgh, UK.