Archive for July, 2009

Student Engagement

30 July 2009

Now that we have Sahm’s final, super duper CORRE workflow template to put our learning materials through, our discussions during the past few days have taken a step back from the intricacies of the materials themselves, and centred more on our current status in terms of gathering materials, and, for those that we have, what stage they are at in the workflow.

It quickly became clear to us that we are quite advanced in CORRE with some materials, and therefore we should start making some concrete plans to validate the materials with a view to releasing them. 

Gabi produced some wonderful charts and a timetable which were discussed in our Project Meeting yesterday, and following on from that today we met with Alex Smith, our Student Representative and the University’s Academic Affairs Officer.  

During the meeting it transpired that Alex had actually used an element of MIT’s OpenCourseWare during his studies and he was incredibly enthusiastic about the usefulness and benefits of such materials, which is wonderful news for us. We hope that once the OTTER materials are available for download, students will be as excited by them as Alex was about his experience of MIT!

Overall we felt the meeting was extremely useful and we are all positive that Alex can help us both establish contact with the student community to allow us to engage them in recruiting students for the impending initial reality checking process, and help us fine tune our scheduling so that we can ensure we get maximum take up from the student population.

Tania Rowlett

30 July 2009


From “CORRE” to “OER”: a framework for evaluating learning materials

29 July 2009

We in OTTER have been working on the development of a workflow framework that shows the process of turning our learning material into publicly usable OERs.

Bearing in mind that the material we receive from our partners were not “born” OER, we are keen that our framework addresses the pedagogical, legal, technical, institutional and socio-cultural dimensions of turning existing teaching materials into Open Educational Resources.

Our framework – CORRE – is informed by existing literature on OERs and internal consultation with our UoL partners and the BDRA team.

There are four main aspects of the framework, each of which is defined by a set of criterion that are then matched to a set of indicative evidence. I describe briefly the elements of the framework.

Stage 1: Content

This refers to the materials we receive from UoL partners “as-it-is”. There are two types of activities associated with “content-in”.

First the process of gathering materials from our partners, getting them to sign up to the project, checking that there are no gaps in the materials they supply to us and estimating the credit weighting of each.

The second activity is an assessment of the material in terms of the type of content, medium, structure, language and pedagogy.

Stage 2: Openness

This reflects the legal, pedagogical and technical perspectives of the process. The criterion involve IPR clearance, transformation and digitization. We ask specific questions around each of these criteria such as: identifying right holders; aspects of the content that need to be removed or replaced; and whether the learning material could be made available in a mix of formats.

Stage 3: Reuse/Repurpose

Reuse and repurpose are about the learning materials achieving actual OER status through a process of validation. This involves first the OTTER team, followed by our UoL partners and finally the end-users: students to get the learner voice plus educators inside and outside the UK. This stage reflects socio-cultural perspectives of the OER.

Stage 4: Evidence

The final stage is evidence. Our framework is designed to assess the value and usefulness of the OER through a process of tracking using an end-user survey mechanism. We ask questions such as the identity of the user, the value of the OER, what adaptations have been made to the OER and challenges experienced accessing and using it.

Such feedback would be useful for sustainability and also for making the business case of how we move forward with the future development of OERs.

Samuel Nikoi


Plans for early trialling of OTTER OERs

15 July 2009

Tania and I  really enjoyed yesterday’s 2nd Tuesday Elluminate session on  evaluation and  synthesis (we’re both new to the software) and found it very useful. It seemed to work really well, and was probably more productive than a physical meeting of 24 would have been. So many thanks to our moderators for the skillful moderating!

It was great to hear from the other teams, and  I really appreciated the helpful tips on measuring traffic and downloads, both of which have been causing me a little concern recently. It sounds like we’re all doing well in our projects.

Tania and I enthusiastically reported back to the other OTTERs this morning (all of whom will listen to the recording). Mainly, though, our short meeting was to map out our immediate plans.

Using Sahm’s workflow process, we’re planning to finalize a small number of OERs from five subject areas by the end of August. These will be presented first to the partners and then to a small validation team of potential users (students and educators), who will utilize our nascent feedback system. In addition, for this small pilot validation exercise, we will have a focus group for each type of user.

We will pull together all the information from this exercise – some of which I’m sure will include useful criticism and areas where we can improve the process and the OERs themselves – and present it at our first dissemination event in September. This will be an internal presentation to UoL staff on OERs and OTTER.

We intend that this event will raise the institutional profile of OERs and will increase the motivation of academics to participate, which was one of the topics of yesterday’s session. (It will also allow us to assess academic support as it stands at the time, based on attendance and the questions asked.)

An important part of this will be the next 2nd Tuesday event on metadata, which Sahm – who is currently on his way to Edge Hill University for tomorrow’s event – and Gabi will attend, with myself as an observer. I told Sahm how useful the brief side-discussion on metadata had been.

We have much to do, and will continue to share with you all anything we think you might find useful.


Gaining more local support for OERs

2 July 2009

Reading Exeter’s blog from yesterday reminded me that word of our OER initiative here at Leicester is spreading around campus, slowly but surely.

Ale and I attended the new distance learning forum on Tuesday and fielded questions – during the coffee break – from several academics from the Department of Media and Communications who had heard about OTTER. They were keen to explore the possibilities of producing materials for our team to OTTERise.

We are also in the process of setting up our first internal event to promote both OERs and the project, and hopefully gather more academic supporters.

We are on track to have a greater number of materials to turn into OERs than originally listed in the project bid. We’re confident this will increase further once a number of final OERs have been produced and returned to departments.

I’d be interested to know what sort of opposition to or support for OERs the other projects are facing, especially new ones like ours.