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Dr David Robinson

Profile summary

Professional biography

I am currently an Honorary Associate in the Department of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems and hold a 3-year National Teaching Fellowship from the HEA, awarded in October 2014..

I studied Zoology at Newcastle University and did research for my Ph.D at Nottingham University in the Zoology department. While at Nottingham I startd working for the OU as a summer school demonstator and a tutor on the Science Foundation Course. I moved to the Zoology department in Edinburgh University where I was firstly a Demonstrator in Zoology and then a Lecturer in Parasitology. I joined the OU full time in 1981. Between 1992 and 1996 I was a Co-Director of the Biodiversity Consortium, a grouping of over 40 Universities producing multimedia teaching materials for Biology. I was a Sub-Dean in the Science Faculty for 6 years and held a secondment as Head of the Open Broadcast Unit for 3 years. In 2001 I spent 6 months in Japan as a visiting professor in higher education at Nagoya University.

I have a long interest in the use of broadcasting and the visual media generally in encouraging both formal and informal learning and have been an academic advisor on many BBC/OU co-productions, as well as taking part in broacasts. I have contributed videos to iTunes-U,  a learning pathway on ecosystems for iTunes-U and a Galapagos ebook. I am the lead academic on the Introduction to Ecosystems MOOC on FutureLearn.

Research interests

My principal research interest now is ultrasonic communication in bush crickets and I am interested in all stages of the acoustic pathway. I am working at field sites in the UK and Germany on one species, Leptophyes punctatissima, where there is acoustic communication between both sexes. The whole interchange between a male and a female can last as little as 25 ms and is entirely ultrasonic (40 kHz). The aim of the field work is to establish the optimum ecological and acoustic conditions for the species.

Distribution of Leptophyes punctatissima in relation to vegetation at three field sites.

Selection of singing sites by male and female Leptophyes punctatissima.

An investigation of possible acoustic interaction between Leptophyes punctatissima and bats.

Teaching interests

I have contributed to courses at all levels in Science, but have particular interests in experimental science, including lab-based schools, and the application of new technology to distance learning. 


Mating in the speckled bush-cricket, Leptophyes punctatissima (2020-12)
Hall, Marion and Robinson, David
Antenna: Bulletin of the Royal Entomological Society, 44(4) (pp. 173-177)

The speckled bush-cricket - an unusual orthopteran (2020-10)
Hall, Marion and Robinson, David
British Wildlife, 32(1) (pp. 34-41)

Collaborative experiments online in a module presented globally (2011-12-01)
Robinson, David J.
Bioscience Education, 18(1) (pp. 1-9)

Problem-solving activities in Biology for Open University students [poster session] (2006-04)
Ash, P. and Robinson, D.
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A: Molecular and Integrative Physiology, 143A(4, Sup) (S185)

Is On-Line education the future for universities? (2002-01)
Robinson, David J. and Ikeda, Terumasa
Nagoya Journal of Higher Education, 2 (pp. 131-145)

The multimedia brain (1995-12)
Hall, Marion and Robinson, David
Active Learning, 3 (pp. 36-41)

The Emergence of Humans: An Exploration of the Evolutionary Timeline (2010)
Ash, Patricia and Robinson, David J.
ISBN : 978-0-470-013137 | Publisher : John Wiley & Sons Ltd. | Published : Chichester

Acoustic signalling in Orthoptera (2021)
Hall, Marion and Robinson, David
In: Jurenka, Russell ed. Advances in Insect Physiology: Sound communication in insects. Advances in Insect Physiology (pp. 1-99)
ISBN : 978-0-323-90283-0 | Publisher : Academic Press | Published : London

Exploring citizen science and inquiry learning through (2017-09-19)
Ansine, Janice; Dodd, Michael; Robinson, David and McAndrew, Patrick
In: Herodotou, Christothea; Scanlon, Eileen and Sharples, Mike eds. Citizen Inquiry: Synthesising citizen science and inquiry learning (pp. 83-103)
ISBN : 9781138208698 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Oxford

What is a species? (2010)
Robinson, David
In: Silvertown, Jonathan ed. Fragile Webb (pp. 43-55)
ISBN : 978-0565-09261-0 | Publisher : The Natural History Museum | Published : London

Science experiments for communities of distance learners (2009)
Robinson, David J. and Swithenby, Stephen J.
In: Bilsel, Ayhan and Garip, Mehmet U. eds. Frontiers in Science Education Research: Proceeedings of the Frontiers in Science Education Research Conference, 22-24 March 2009, Famagusta, North Cyprus. (pp. 487-492)
ISBN : 978-975-8401-67-3 | Publisher : Eastern Mediterranean University Press | Published : Cyprus

African Genesis (2008-11)
Robinson, David
In: Silvertown, Jonathan ed. 99% Ape (pp. 53-61)
ISBN : 978 0 565 09231 3 | Publisher : The Natural History Museum | Published : London

Science, TV and education: active, not passive learning at a distance? (2006-03-28)
Robinson, David
In: Willems, Japp and Gopfert, Winfried eds. Science and the Power of TV (pp. 125-132)
ISBN : 9053839844 | Publisher : VU University Press & Da Vinci Institute | Published : Amsterdam, Netherlands

Sound Signalling in Orthoptera (2002-12-16)
Robinson, David J. and Hall, Marion J.
In: Evans, Peter ed. Advances in Insect Physiology (pp. 151-278)
ISBN : 012024229X | Publisher : Elsevier Ltd

A multimedia tutorial shell with qualitative assessment in biology (1998)
Hall, M. J.; Robinson, David; Tucknott, G. and Carlton, Tracy
In: Charman, D. and Elmes, A. eds. Computer Based Assessment: Case Studies in Science and Computing (pp. 33-38)
Publisher : 1998 SEED Publications, University of Plymouth | Published : Plymouth

iSpot: a citizen science platform for inclusive learning and teaching (2018-06-03)
Ansine, Janice; Araya, Yoseph; Dodd, Michael and Robinson, David
In : European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) Conference 2018 (3-5 Jun 2018, Geneva, Switzerland)

Lost in hyperspace: Linearity versus exploration in the design of multimedia for independent learners (1998)
Hall, M. J. and Robinson, David
In : Global Education on the Net: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Computers in Education 1998, Volume 2 (14-17 Oct 1998, Beijing, China) (pp. 9-13)

The Human Brain: A Multimedia Tutorial For The Independent Learner (1997-12)
Hall, Marion; Robinson, David and Anjaneyulu, K. S. R.
In : International Conference on Computers in Education (ICCE) (2-6 Dec 1997, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia) (pp. 1003-1005)

Producing educational multimedia - empowering individuals or building teams? (1996)
Robinson, David and Hall, M.
In : Proceedings of the 5th EDEN Conference: Lifelong Learning, Open Learning, Distance Learning (Jul 1996, France)