Archive for August, 2009

CORRE: A framework for transforming teaching materials into OERS

28 August 2009

We have been developing further the detailed CORRE framework, and thought it might be useful to post it in summary form for comments (click on the image for a larger version):

compact_corre copy

The rigorous attention to detail in the CORRE model can be seen in the accompanying CORRE Detailed Checklist, the detailed and specific workflow tool used by the OTTER team. Please note that this checklist may not be as transferable as the “broad brush-stroke” model shown above, and may require adaptation for use in different contexts.

Samuel Nikoi


Increasing institutional web presence: the OER impact factor

18 August 2009

Last month webometrics, which ranks world universities based on global performance and web visibility, was published. The ranking has been published twice each year since 2004 and covers over 17,000 higher educational institutions worldwide.

The ranking, which measures visibility of HE institution, has as one of its main objectives the motivation of institutions and scholars to have a web presence that accurately reflects their activities, especially those related to the processes of generating and communicating scientific knowledge.

The methodology used by webometrics for arriving at a web impact factor (WIF), and hence a rank, include

  • link analysis (i.e. the number of external in-links)
  • the number of pages of a website
  • the number of documents from rich files in a web domain
  • the number of publications collected through Google Scholar database.

Not too surprisingly, MIT came first in the world ranking and this has been directly linked to its huge OpencourseWare programme. UK universities that featured in the top 100 include Cambridge, Oxford, The Open University, Nottingham and Leeds, all of which have vibrant open educational resource (OER) programmes. The same reason, i.e. open access initiative, is reported to account for the improved performance in the league table of other European universities in Norway, Spain and Portugal.

Whilst the methodology for generating data for ranking the Universities can be queried, the fact cannot be ignored that institutional open access policy initiatives, aimed at promoting and increasing the volume and quality of electronic publications of an institution, is an important factor in web visibility and hence contributes to the perceived quality of education and academic prestige of that institution.

We are encouraged by such news to press on with OTTER. Hopefully, the University of Leicester, which currently is ranked 383, will improve its rating in future webometrics.

Samuel Nikoi

OER Evaluator

OERs save time for learning designers

17 August 2009

This morning I spoke at the National Association of Distance Education and Open Learning in South Africa (NADEOSA) annual conference. In my presentation, I looked at the landscape for open and distance learning in the 21st century, with a particular focus on the issues for developing countries in terms of resources, connectivity, etc. (As if to drive home the point, the Skype connection between Leicester and Pretoria kept dropping!)

One of the ‘threads’ in the tapestry I described was Open Educational Resources, which I believe can enable educators to produce high quality teaching materials both cost-effectively and within reasonable time frames. The audience picked up on this point in the Q&A session:  the importance of critically reviewing OERs before using them was noted, and some concern was expressed about the time involved in finding suitable OERs and modifying them for the context in which you teach.

Tony Mays from SAIDE/UNISA then made a great point: he described two studies that had been carried out in different parts of Africa. These studies found that, whereas designing learning materials from scratch took an average of 100 hours per notional learning hour, sourcing and modifying OERs took only 40-60 hours. Still time-consuming, but a significant saving.

Does anyone know of other studies to this effect?

Gabi Witthaus

Links or files: further

13 August 2009

Nick at Unicycle raises an interesting point about whether to upload to JorumOpen only links if the resources already exist online.

I remember this was also raised at the startup meeting in June.

Here at OTTER we’re going to upload both links and resources. One of our OER partners  at Leicester is the Virtual Genetics Education Centre in the Department of Genetics. VGEC already have a superb collection of OERs hosted by themselves.

OTTER will be taking a selection of these OERs and running them through Sahm’s workflow process. Some of them will change as a result. For example, OTTER will make some of the VGEC videos available as downloadable mp4 chunks to be viewed on an iPod/iPhone.   

As an example, watch the video on Using a micropipette. Being able to refer to this video, or parts of it, on a handheld device in the lab would seem to make it a very useful resource.

So we intend to upload both the VGEC link to the full video plus the various files we produce (which will also include the full video). Visitors to JorumOpen can decide which resource best fits their needs. (Of course, we’ll also replicate this on our Plone site.)

VGEC, who are already producing some excellent OERs, came on board for a number of reasons. However, two important ones were accessing JorumOpen and having other pairs of eyes run over the existing material.

It’s considerably more work to upload files as well as links, but the benefits to the user are considerable, especially in terms of untethering and re-purposing. 

It may not always be feasible and worthwhile for all OERs (i.e. a link may be the best option), but setting out with the idea of  providing both the files and the link  to JorumOpen seems the best starting point, and our experience thus far is bearing this out.

I’d be interested to hear what others think.


Learning Technologist

OTTER in August and September

11 August 2009

I’ve just returned from a week’s leave, during which my fellow OTTERs have been as busy as usual.

Ale and I had a successful meeting this morning with the Department of Media  and Communication here at UoL to bring them on-board as additional OER partners. In fact, we’ve had to put a moratorium on further partner recruitment simply to allow us time to process (or OTTERise) the excellent materials we already have.

We’ve also had our first planning meeting for our internal dissemination event, scheduled for late September. Each of us will outline our individual roles to the delegates. We will also have a number of OERs in various formats and from a range of subjects to display.

We anticipate that this afternoon event will have two main functions: first, to explain the reasoning behind OERs and thereby (hopefully) allay the fears of academics who may, at present, be unconvinced; and second, to showcase the work of the OTTER project.

Further down the road, we’re hoping to meet up with our partner projects, perhaps by holding joint events, and certainly some of us will be taking up Steve’s offer to attend Nottingham’s OER conference later this year.  Apart from the other benefits, this would be an excellent opportunity to listen to representatives of OER Africa.

So plenty happening, as always. And looking forward to seeing everyone on the metadata 2nd Tuesday event today!

Simon Kear