The Research and Education Space: Improving Access To Public Archives Digitally

The Research and Education Space (RES) is a new partnership initiative between the BBC, Learning on Screen and Jisc which aims to make it easier for teachers, students and academics to discover and use material held in the public collections of broadcasters, museums, galleries, libraries and publishers.

RES comprises an open platform – built by the BBC – which searches, indexes and organises the digital collections of leading public organisations to make their content more discoverable, accessible and usable to those in UK education and research.

Richard Leeming, the RES External Relationships Manager told AIM:

“We’re building a digital platform that aims to makes it easier for teachers, students and academics to discover, access and use material held in the public collections of broadcasters, museums, libraries, galleries and publishers. We’re collaborating with dozens of major institutions and are very keen to involve smaller and independent institutions as well. The advantage for them is that because the RES platform searches for keywords, any search using RES will take you straight to the relevant item; so putting the smaller institutions on an equal footing with the bigger players”.

By indexing data across the collections, RES can collate and link together information it has indexed about a particular topic in a structured way that is easy to navigate. By making connections between information about the people, places, events, concepts and things related to items in the collections, users are provided with a much richer, fuller experience.

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The RES platform also enables educational software developers to create digital educational products that will inspire learners, teachers and researchers by using applications powered by the RES platform. This means that anyone can make use of the index data and interpret it to build useful products and services aimed at UK education and research.

Hilary Bishop, RES Project Director said:

“We have been working in collaboration with teachers, students and academics, curators of world class digital collections and educational product developers with one shared ambition – to inspire new ways of learning by improving the availability and discoverability of online resources for all levels of UK education that are relevant, authentic and reliable.

Our aim is to enable the production of products so that teachers looking to illustrate lesson plans will find a rich, carefully organised, properly licensed collection of relevant material; students wanting to illustrate their coursework will find it incredibly easy to find the exact photo or video they need; and academics will be able to engage with specialist audio-visual resources that have been hitherto inaccessible.”

The Research and Education Space is still in its infancy; development of the platform began in 2013. However, over time it is envisaged that RES will further develop and grow as more content is added and educational resources ‘powered by RES’ open up a treasure trove of digitised collections for teachers, academics and students to bring lessons, lectures and learning to life.

For more information, visit: http://res.space

RES Twitter: @RES_Project

For any questions or support with using/joining RES, please email Richard Leeming: richard.leeming@bbc.co.uk

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