OER Synthesis and Evaluation / Individual Strand OER Release
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Individual Strand OER Release

Page history last edited by Lou McGill 9 years, 10 months ago

Individual strand projects found OER release to be time consuming in two senses: the time taken to produce and deposit OERs, and the time involved in community building around the OERs. While they have a sense that in the long run OER release will produce efficiencies and time saving, the time scale of the pilot projects was not sufficient to demonstrate this, and it did not seem a significant motivator for the projects.

 

Much of the time involved in OER release was spent tackling IPR issues, with projects generally agreeing that development of fresh materials was less time consuming than repurposing materials that had been developed using third party material with a consequent need for rights clearance. An institutional expectation that teaching materials would be created with open release in mind, coupled with OER-favourable IPR policies covering both staff and student work, would make OER release much more sustainable. Implementation of such a policy alongside course review would promote release.

 

Users need to be actively engaged around OERs. Almost all individual strand projects used web2.0 technologies to build communities around their materials - for them, awareness raising became in integral part of OER release. The most successful at raising user numbers, MMTV, found that if using social networking for awareness-raising and community building, then the repository of content has to appear equally dynamic – implying a requirement for ongoing maintenance and moderation, and consideration of the pacing of OER release.

 

The majority of individual strand projects were aiming at individuals as their main user group. For these, discovery through search engines is crucial, and several projects devoted considerable attention to search engine optimisation as part of release.

 

Individual projects, particularly those aiming more at a subject community (eg. EVOLUTION, BROME) also used conference presentations, newspaper coverage, newsletters, booklets, and fliers to raise awareness and build community.

 

Existing repositories, either institutional or national repositories such as Jorum Open, provide a stable place to deposit canonical resources, with ongoing management, and a mass of related resources all in one place. However, individual strand projects encountered a range of issues in using them. Issues with university repositories include access permissions and contributor permissions for collaborative developers who are not members of the institution, and also an unwillingness on the part of some institutions to undertake ongoing moderation of forums associated with dynamic resources. The most frequently cited issue with Jorum Open was the lack of dynamic functionality; a number of individual projects settled eventually for depositing links to their dynamic resources instead. One project (Java Breadboard) suggested that adding dynamic functionality to Jorum Open would provide a national solution to the problem of institutions not wanting the responsibility of moderation.

 

Detailed questions and evidence


What have we learned about good practice in OER release?

Users need to be actively engaged around OERs. Almost all individual strand projects used web2.0 technologies to build communities around their materials.

 

If using social networking for awareness-raising and community building, then the repository of content has to appear equally dynamic – implying a requirement for ongoing maintenance and moderation, and consideration of the pacing of OER release:

One thing that we learnt about the content was the need to drip-feed it, especially since we developed a quite large social network.... This gave the impression that the site was continually being updated and encourage users to continually come back.(MMTV final report)

 

How can effective processes be shared and embeded?

Individual projects almost uniformly take an awareness-raising approach to embedding effective processes (as opposed to content)

For some individual projects, raising awareness of their content was not an activity they had anticipated would be necessary at the outset. For them, awareness raising became part of the process of OER release – and techniques for raising awareness need to be embedded along with other release processes, eg.

The actual aims of this project changed very little. But what did change were the strategies to achieve them. It became clear that making OER available was only half the story. The other half was how to effectively promote them (MMTV final report)

MMTV raised awareness, provided advice, and support, for awareness raising techniques to other projects and the public:
MMTV newspaper articles on awareness-raising processes:
Twitter
Social Networking
Marketing
MMTV training videos on awareness-raising techniques:
http://www.multimediatrainingvideos.com/google_sitemap/Making XML Site Maps
Registering on multiple domains
Twitter
Tweet Deck

As pointed out in the MMTV final report, awareness-raising through social networks is not a one-off event in the way that a conference paper is; it requires ongoing attention and effort,. However, the effort involved may be streamlined by linking networks together..

Individual projects also used conference presentations, newspaper coverage, newsletters, booklets, fliers, blogs and social networking sites to raise awareness and build community. EVOLUTION successfully used conference presentations, and flyers distributed by a physical network of academics, to generate 650 registered users for their materials (E-Evolve community site) MMTV used facebook, twitter, youtube, vimeo, googleads ; for them twitter proved the most effective social network.

Individual projects thought carefully about their target audience, and tailored the media they used accordingly - largely aiming at an audience of individuals. This shows in dissemination and awareness-raising that is primarily public and structured around individuals (eg. twitter, youtube). They made little differentiation between whether those individuals are other academics, students, or other stakeholders Only two projects (EVOLUTION and BROME) appear to have focused on discipline communities as a group.

For individuals, discovery through search engines is important, and MMTV took a fairly comprehensive approach to raising google rankings:

 

We used several legitimate “tricks” to boost the search ranking of the site...

  1. We linked to the site from all the websites within the team.
  2. We asked students to do the same. We asked students producing websites as part of their coursework to link to MMTV.com
  3. We registered our website on all the search engines. .... We noticed this had an immediate impact as there were several search engines that didn’t seem to be picking up the site before then
  4. We also produced an XML map for the site. This helps Google to pick up all the significant pages on the website. It is important to update it regularly.
  5. We became very active in Twitter. Tweeting content from our site everyday as well as tweeting other people’s content who became part of our social network
  6. We used Google analytics to choose the best meta-tags... and added the tags to all the individual pages as well as the index page.(MMTV final report)

 

MMTV video showing the high google ranking achieved
MMTV video showing use of google "linked from"

MMTV note that sites linked from their OER site (for example their MSc in Multimedia), also benefit from the boost in google rank of the OER site.
MMTV video showing ranking of MSc in Multimedia

 

How do existing repositories support the release of OERs in the UK?

Existing repositories, either institutional or national repositories such as Jorum Open, provide a stable place to deposit canonical resources, with ongoing management, and a mass of related resources all in one place. However, individual strand projects encountered a range of issues in using them.

 

Issues with university repositories include access permissions and contributor permissions if those developing the OER are not members of the institution. Wordpress was an option used by two projects to get round such issues., eg.

For the initial repository a non university site was used as the complexity of accessing a controlled university website slowed the project down with permissions needed to be sought and jobs needing to be processed by university staff. With the onset of CMS/blog packages such as word press these institutional issues can be avoided and the pages can be rapidly developed and then linked through from the university site or transferred onto a university server. This gives the academic who does not have advanced programming skills the option to go outside the university central framework within an OER context. (BROME final report)

 

Only one individual project (EVOLUTION) stated an assumption that achieving a critical mass of OER materials is a key to uptake as a rationale for uploading to a national repository such as JorumOpen.

 

Discovery of relevant materials, without having to visit several different repositories, is a barrier to reuse. EVOLUTION suggest development of a national index or database.

 

Subject repositories are felt by some (eg. EVOLUTION – based on E-Evolve community) to have an advantage in helping users locate what they need easily.
Evolve community site

EVOLUTION also explored expanding of the institutional research repository to include OERs

Large repositories, such as JorumOpen, with dedicated staff may provide help for small projects, for example by facilitating bulk upload of materials (eg. EVOLUTION)


Summary of awareness raising and dissemination outputs

openSpace:
Press release syndicated by Indian and Chines news agencies
Consequent articles: http://www.thisissouthdevon.co.uk/business/Falmouth-pilots-plan-online-learning/article-1152717-detail/article.htm
[[http://vlex.co.uk/vid/falmouth-pilots-plan-online-learning-60223442 http://www.southwestbusiness.co.uk/news/Falmouth-pilots-plan-online-learning/article-1152717-detail/article.html]]
[[http://www.swlln.ac.uk/1117-falmouths-professional-writing-ma-blazes-trail-towards-open.htm http://www.convergencecornwall.com/what-is-convergence/media-releases.php?id=744&year=2009&quarter=3]]
http://www.ednews.org/articles/falmouth%E2%80%99s-professional-writing-ma-blazes-trail-towards-open-education-in-line-with-government-drive-to-create-edgeless-university.html
Conference paper at Open Ed 2009 (Vancouver, Canada), "Creating OE for Art, Design, Media & Performance Students"
HEA English subject centre: article in magazine
HEA Art Design & Media subject centre: article in newsletter

ChemistryFM:
Press releases:
http://chemistryfm.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2009/10/12/university-to-get-public-tuned-into-science/ http://chemistryfm.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2009/10/12/a-brief-mention-in-the-the/ http://chemistryfm.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2009/11/04/contact-magazine-article/ http://chemistryfm.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2009/11/25/chemistryfm-in-the-local-press/ CETIS Repositories and the Open web event presentation
An article in May edition of the Royal Society of Chemistry's 'Education in Chemistry'

MMTV:
SEO
MMTV newspaper articles on awareness-raising processes:
Twitter
Social Networking
Marketing
MMTV training videos on awareness-raising techniques:
http://www.multimediatrainingvideos.com/google_sitemap/Making XML Site Maps
Registering on multiple domains
Twitter
Tweet Deck
impact of social software – 1700 twitter followers; 53 YouTube subscribers (8300 views); 154 facebook friends

 

Java Breadboard
Journal paper: "Java Bread-Board :- Digital circuit simulation with an Open-source toolset", accepted by International Journal on Computer Science and Information Systems
Conference paper: "A JAVA Bread-Board Simulator : Digital Circuit Simulation with an Extensible Learning Tool”, Proceedings of IADIS 2009 Applied Computing Conference, Rome, 2009,

 

Summary of OERs released

Brome: 30 credits
openSpace: 40 M-level credits; 400 hours; 7 taster sessions (Masters level) & 1 full screen-writing unit (Masters level)
ChemistryFM: 30 Credits 1st year undergraduate; disaggregated, approx 400 resources; 5 radio programmes Example resource 

Evolution: 150+ mini-lectures; 70+ packaged disaggretable OERs; 70 unbundled OERs; 10 study skills OERs (coming)
MMTV: 47 video sets
JavaBreadboard: source code and documentation; tutor notes and worked examples; exercises for learners

 

Summary of sustainability statements

openSpace: users as producers; donations and corporate sponsorship; embedding in other institutional strategies; ?marketing
Brome: ongoing funding bids in collaboration with external stakeholders; embedding in other institutional strategies
ChemistryFM: Teaching in public; students as producers; reward scheme for staff if students attracted to courses by OERs
Evolution: embed in subject community
MMTV: part of marketing strategy of institution; a portal for other good OER sites; a percentage of student enrolments on course
Java Breadboard: development by final year project students; user-developer community


 

 

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