Associate Professor, Department of Biology

My OER projectKim Cuddington

Building Skills in Quantitative Biology

What prompted you to become involved in OER?

I attended a workshop on quantitative education for graduate students in biology, and realized that relevant courses and experts might not be available at the students home institution. In addition, if there were free, easy to use materials, students might be more inclined to engage in learner-directed study. Finally, such resources could provide a common base of training for new biologists at the graduate and early career stage, thus enabling easier collaboration.

What excites you most about your OER project?

We have developed a resource (e-book) which consists of five independent chapters or “modules” designed to teach different research and quantitative skills to graduate students and biologists working in academia, government agencies and private organizations. A key theme is that while the techniques presented are from various disciplines (such as computer science, statistics and mathematics), they are presented in a way that is suitable for a biological audience. Each module is designed to get the learner quickly up and running on the topic of interest in 3-5 hours. As such, these materials are a basic introduction to advanced quantitative topics, but our aim is to “jump-start” their use of these advanced tools. I'm so enthusiastic about the open education approach, which makes it much more likely that students can engage in self-directed learning. I can envision a great advance in the training of biology researchers that relies on resources such as these.

A lot of instructors are hesitant about OER. Do you share those hesitations? How do you address them?

When I first announced our materials were globally available, I did have a moment when I was worried about others copying our content and selling it for profit. However, a Creative Commons license made me more comfortable.

Can other instructors interested in OER reach out to you?

Yes, at

University of Waterloo

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