Archive for September, 2009

OTTER dissemination seminar

25 September 2009

Yesterday was an exciting day for the OTTER team as we held our first official dissemination event.

The audience from Leicester were accompanied by attendees from JISC and Jorum, and all listened to us give an introduction to the types of OERs we were aiming to produce, the technical considerations we had to take into account, a rousing run through of OER FAQs (thank you, Sahm), as well as an update on the copyright and IPR issues we have encountered/tackled to date.

PowerPoint slides from the presentations can be viewed here.

We were also honoured to have Tina Wilson from the Open University as our guest speaker. It was great to hear from someone at the institution who introduced the UK to OERs on a grand scale via OpenLearn.  She talked about a range of projects run by the OU, ending with their most recent – SCORE – which aims to provide support for other UK OER projects.

Integrated into the programme were two question-and-answer sessions, and the audience had clearly been listening as they came up with some tough questions for us all.

The feedback received so far has been good, and we hope to be able to deliver an update at our next dissemination event (date tbc – watch this space!).

Tania Rowlett

Copyright Officer


OTTER-SAIDE partnership

23 September 2009

Today Ale and I had an online meeting with Jenny Glennie and Tessa Welch (Director and Programme Specialist respectively) of SAIDE, the South African Institute for Distance Education. The purpose was to explore the possibility of collaborating on the publication of an open educational resource, ‘Supporting Distance Learning’, produced by SAIDE, and making it available as an OTTER OER. We very quickly arrived at agreement on this goal, and spent the rest of the meeting discussing the details of licensing, branding, and actually ‘OTTER-ising’ the materials. The resource is currently on a temporary site and will soon be located on the OERAfrica repository.

The original book, published in 1998

The original book, published in 1998

I should perhaps state my personal interest in this particular OER. The website, ‘Supporting Distance Learners’, is the updated version of a book by the same name published by SAIDE in 1998, both of which I had a hand in writing. The earlier version, which was co-authored with Suzanne Smythe, was written before online education had taken off in South Africa, and was largely a manual for tutors on how to support their learners in a traditional ‘correspondence’ type of setting, with occasional face-to-face tutorials. The current, web-based version is a completely different beast, and is aimed at helping tutors get to grips with the online tools at their disposal to provide effective support for their learners.

This is not the first OTTER OER to have been produced by a Leicester staff member while under contract to another institution – for example, we have just received IPR clearance from the University of Southampton for the inclusion of a great resource on phonology and phonetics written by Pam Rogerson-Revell from the School of Education at Leicester. However, it is OTTER’s first international partnership.

The benefit to the University of Leicester is that this resource will complement several others in the OTTER collection that are aimed at educators working in an online environment. It will also increase our ability to share knowledge (both ways) with the educator community in developing countries, which is a major aspect of the OTTER vision.

The benefits to SAIDE are: a potentially increased target audience for the resource, as well as the opportunity for the materials to undergo a rigorous evaluation by the OTTER team – they will be checked for pedagogical quality, for IPR/copyright issues, and for any formatting glitches. (And considering that I’m not a disinterested party, this prospect is somewhat scary to me… Please go easy, Sahm, Tania and Simon!)

I’m delighted to have brought two of my favourite work families together in this partnership, and thoroughly looking forward to the SAIDE-OTTER collaboration.

Gabi Witthaus


21 September 2009

Last week, we from the OTTER team made a working visit to the BERLiN project in Nottingham. The purpose of our visit was to explore with the BERLiN team issues of common interest and concern around OERs.

We also wanted to use the opportunity to learn more about the U-Now, Xpert, and Xertes platforms and discuss our role in the forthcoming Open Learning conference being planned by the BERLiN team for November 2009. Another focus of our meeting was FAQs on OERs.

The meeting was very fruitful and we came away with a sense of reassurance about our individual projects. Whilst there were many similarities of approach we also found some differences.

Key issues OTTER BERLiN
Subject disciplines Nine subject disciplines across the University of Leicester Small representation of OERs from all 32 Schools of the University
Credit weighting Notional measurement of credit weighting Use of “module framework” to measure credits
Transformation of materials Use of the CORRE framework for gathering, enhancing and validating OERs An ongoing conversation approach between the academics and the BERLiN team.
Validation of OERs Internal validation of OERs with UoL partners, students followed by external validation with other educator and students outside of the university Validation of OER through an editorial board made up of a PVC, Director of teaching and learning, head of Elearning and other academics
Copyright Use of blanket CC license – Copy-distribute-share alike. Use of blanket CC license for U-Now OERs and variable licenses for materials on Xpert
Academic engagement Use of subject teams to sell and promote the OTTER project Use of academic to academic contact and email communication. Also the VC is doing a podcast to endorse the OER programme.
Reward and recognition Individual biographical information on all the OERs Individual biographical information and also promotion of the social responsibility angle of OERs
External links Links with SAIDE Partnership with OER Africa

We plan to make other working visits to other UK OER programmes in the next coming weeks. Stay tuned for more OER lessons learnt.

Samuel Nikoi