E-learning with Employ.ed

Today we hear from Sophie, our first ever Employ.ed student in the conservation studio…

Hi, my name is Sophie Lawson and I am currently the Conservation E-learning intern at the Centre for Research Collections at the University of Edinburgh. During my time of ten weeks here in the Conservation Department I will be creating an electronic learning resource on the subject of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). My internship is part of the Employ.ed programme, which is a University run scheme that supports students’ career development, providing work experience whilst working towards attaining the Edinburgh Award. I am currently going into my third year of my undergraduate degree in History and have an interest in special collections, particularly in digitisation and use of technologies in the heritage sector.

The University’s IPM plan is integral to the storage of rare and unique collections, being a tested method to monitor and control insect pests and mould activity in collections that, if left unmonitored or untreated, could cause irreversible and expensive damage to collection items. As part of a preventive conservation programme, IPM is an effective way to reduce damage and cost, and to minimise intervention with special collection items. An effective IPM plan will enable institutions to have greater control over and knowledge of pest activity in their facility, making pest prevention and treatment much more effective. One of my goals through creating this e-learning resource is to aid this accumulation of knowledge of pest activity throughout the department, with the hope that the resource will be used for internal staff training for a basic overview of our IPM plan, how it works and why it is so important.

Using a microscope to identify pests

So far in my internship I have been able to gain invaluable insight into the field of Conservation, having spent some time in the Historic Environment Scotland’s Conservation Studio, as well as our own in the CRC, and even being able to try my hand at some surface cleaning and making boxes for rehousing books! More specifically I have gained a great deal of knowledge about Preventive Conservation, having researched Integrated Pest Management and the theory behind it for the content of my e-learning resource. In addition to this, I have been able to shadow my supervisor, Katharine Richardson, as she carried out pest trap inspections as part of our IPM Plan – and was even able to get a closer look at the kind of pests we found!

Trap used to monitor for pest activity

For the remainder of my internship I aim to create a user directed, interactive program, and experiment with implementing different types of media such as games and video tutorials to create an engaging and educational resource. I hope that through the completion of this project we are able to generate a broader knowledge of IPM and its importance amongst the University’s Centre for Research Collections staff, as well as introduce new methods of e-learning and training styles to be used in the department in future projects.

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