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Science, Maths & Technology

Available now: Citizen science and global biodiversity

Updated Monday, 30th July 2018

In this brand new free badged course, you will learn about the importance of biodiversity – the variety of life on earth – and how anyone can become a citizen scientist by contributing to the identification and recording of the wildlife around us.


A composite of five images showing the fauna that could be encountered by engaging in citizen science Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: In clockwise order: © // Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) © Bollo58 (Chris Bollen) // Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera) © Ben Rigsby // Hovefly (Volucella zonaria) © Martin Elkins // Common Lizard (Zootoca vivipara) © Bill Welch Could you help identify the flora and fauna in these photos?

Biodiversity is complex, and untangling its many inter-relationships is fascinating. At the same time, documenting global biodiversity is a major challenge – one that is attracting volunteer data collectors, i.e. citizen scientists.

This free course, Citizen science and global biodiversity, introduces citizen science and shows how you can become a citizen scientist, building your biological identification skills while getting involved in scientific research activities. 

As identifying and recording organisms is a core skill, you will work with traditional biological keys as well as online recording tools. You will also become more familiar with citizen science techniques through practical activities, for example using, a specially-made, popular citizen science online platform for biodiversity. The images above demonstrate the wonder of a citizen science discovery, as well as some observations from iSpot users seeking identifications – would you be able to help with these?

You will learn that once an organism is identified, you can then research its ecology. In your research you will become familiar with some of the many online resources that are available for use. Throughout the course we expect you to appreciate that identification is the key to teasing out inter-relationships.

For inspiration, in the course you will also look at examples of citizen science case studies from across the world. But, of course, the best thing to do is get involved in citizen science yourself, and this course will encourage you to do exactly that. Citizen scientists are having a huge impact on biodiversity recording around the globe, helping to make new discoveries and collate vital data – and you too can be part of that impact.

Lastly, successfully completing the course will also earn you a free digital badge, which you can use as evidence of your learning, building towards future qualifications.

You can find the course at the following link:

Citizen science and global biodiversity

This OpenLearn science course was produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education, the educational arm of The Exilarch's Foundation.

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