Posts Tagged ‘CORRE’

Key messages from OER10 conference in Cambridge

26 March 2010

This week at Clare College in Cambridge University, 100plus delegates gathered with high expectations for what was the first major conference on Open Educational Resources in the UK – OER10 . Malcolm Read, the Executive Secretary of the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) set the tone of the conference with his keynote on “OER and the Open Agenda”. Situating OERs within the wider context of openness – software, standards, access, research etc – Malcolm highlighted the challenges faced by institutions and national bodies in achieving sustainable OER practice and reaping benefits. The challenges notwithstanding, he expressed the view that the level of scholarship improves when resources are made freely and openly available. He suggested designing not just content but the whole learning experience attending to issues such as discoverability, the learning process, aggregation, and impact of OER on the wider HE sector.

A workshop on “network of content and curriculum” facilitated by Brandon Muramatsu from MIT focused on interoperability. Brandon made a distinction between “inter-working” i.e. social systems working together, and interoperability, which is more about systems exchanging information. Drawing examples for the photography and electrical appliances industry, he highlighted the need to consider interoperability approaches which are not just one-to-many but also many-to-many, and also consider attention to non technical actors. A participant made a point about moving beyond technical interoperability of developing generic applications – which are useful for end-users across systems – to integration of pedagogical models that are more reusable and sharable.

Tina Wilson from OpenLearn spoke on “Global Evidence of OER reuse” pointing out how OERs can help prospective learners choose university level courses reinforcing a point made earlier by Malcolm regarding the need to expose sixth form level learners to OERs. Tina concluded her presentation by challenging participants to think about how the design of OERs can help or hinder their reuse.

Engin Kursun spoke on the current status of the Turkish OpenCourseWare consortium highlighting the challenges faced, prominent amongst which was lack of digital resources in Turkish languages, barriers posed by copyright, and absence of institutional policies on sharing of resources. He observed that OERs have the potential to contribute to university environments where resources are scarce and noted that staff needed to be supported in their efforts at producing OERs. An interesting aspect of his talk was on reward and recognition of giving points to staff members for publishing and releasing OERs in some Turkish institutions.

David Mossley and his team from the Humbox spoke (or rather read a transcript) on academic self identity and its impact on sharing teaching practice. A key point of this presentation was that teaching and learning practices are different in different disciplines largely because of epistemological characteristics. Hence, designers of OER need to consider contextual relevance and reduction in cognitive barriers to engagement with OERs for different community of users.

Last but not the least Tania and I gave a presentation on the CORRE framework for transforming teaching materials into OERs which is available from the OTTER dissemination activities page.

To me, the conference was a perfect space for sharing local and national experiences on OER. The question that will continue to engage my attention is open what, why and for whom?

Samuel Nikoi (25 March 2010).

Education, education, education!

23 February 2010

What lessons have I learned during the OTTER project?  Honestly?  More than I expected.  Having worked in the University’s David Wilson Library for the previous three years clearing material for teaching purposes, I thought I had heard, seen and resolved most of the copyright queries and issues that exist within a University.  However, turning materials into Open Educational Resources turned out to be a whole different ball game.  We are not covered by educational licenses or exceptions for criticism and review or private study.  Everything has to be assessed down to its minutiae and nothing can be taken for granted.

There appears to exist a complete dichotomy within the academic community, at one end we have people extremely clued up on Creative Commons, sourcing and referencing materials which can be made freely available, and using emerging web 2.0 technologies and embedding them in their teaching materials. At the other end, there are people who are surprised that they can’t simply reproduce something found on the web, or sourced from a book that they wrote.  To enable me to keep a record of these varying issues, and of what needs resolving within each resource, I have found my tracking sheet absolutely vital. 

So my new mantra is ‘education, education, education’, and this is one of the key points I have learned.  I, as Copyright Administrator for the University, need to produce more guidance, and run more sessions, on the Creative Commons/open access movement, web 2.0 technologies, and sourcing open and re-usable materials.  There are a wealth of materials which can be freely re-used, but people simply don’t know about them, which is why I have made a start by pulling together a list of OER copyright guidance and resources which not only explain copyright in the relation to open licensing, but also provide the actual open resources.

Interlinked with the ‘education’ message is that “if” the University is intending to take the issue of Open Educational Resources to its heart, we also need to change the way people write their materials.  They need to design materials with openness in mind (thank you to my colleague Sahm for coining this phrase) and realize that copyright does not prevent them from creating interesting and visually stimulating teaching materials, they just need to bear a few things in mind (which I have drawn together as key do’s and don’ts and spoken about in many of my presentations, most recently at our Learning Futures Festival).    

Additional guidance and more specific decision making tools to assist copyright compliant OERs can be found within the OER copyright guidance and resources mentioned above, but a more simplified Copyright/IPR workflow, to be used in conjunction, has been embedded within the CORRE detailed checklist

The final thing I have learnt, is that although the open access movement is gaining pace, with ever increasing international understanding and recognition, and publishers are coming on board with respect to allowing access to journal articles and other types of research output, they are still a long way from allowing the re-use of their text and diagrams in freely open and re-usable materials, despite the fact that it is likely to drive people to their sites and their books.  The same can be said of large corporations, although they appear slightly more amenable to come to a mutually agreeable solution.

I think I’d be right in saying that copyright clearance doesn’t make you the most popular person in the world but (unless Sahm gets his way, and copyright is abolished), it will, along with a good take down policy and disclaimer, always be a necessity.

Tania Rowlett

OTTER Project

22 Feb 2010

Lessons learned from collecting ‘OER candidate’ materials

19 February 2010

Persuading academics that OERs are valuable can be a tricky business. Many are very reluctant to ‘let go’ of their precious materials. ‘Giving them away’ does not really make sense to some colleagues. On the other hand, other academics are fascinated by the idea that their materials may be useful to unknown audiences and are more than happy to hand over large amounts of information, in multiple formats, for conversion into OERs.

This is a by no means comprehensive list of lessons we’ve learned at the collection stage of the CORRE process:

– Familiarise yourself with the relevant evidence of OER impact, use and benefit, as well as the risks involved. Review the literature!
– Meet colleagues face to face, individually or in small groups.
– Explain what you want (their materials) and why you want them (ultimately, to make them available as OERs, after clearing the various stages of CORRE).
– Be prepared to respond to their genuine concerns with evidence, not with opinion.
– Provide examples. Show those examples on screen.
– Offer options. For example, colleagues may wish to select a sample of possible materials to turn into OERs. Once the process has been completed, they can decide on whether they want to submit more content.
– Use the contributions of others in your institution, sister projects (if available) and examples from some of the big players in the OER arena to show tangible benefits to all stakeholders (e.g. OCW, OpenLearn).
– Give them a quick tour of repositories and aggregators such as OER Commons and JorumOpen, in addition to your own project’s repository (OTTER, in Leicester’s case).
– Address the ‘what’s in it for me?’ question head on. Articulate your answer well in advance: this will depend on the context, your audience and their likely contribution and scope of your project.
– Ditto ‘what’s in it for the students?’ – present and future ones.
– Promise to keep them involved in the project and informed throughout. Then deliver on your promise.
– Be flexible and keep them on board. Without your colleagues’ contributions, there’s no OER project!

More to come soon.

Alejandro Armellini
OTTER Project, Leicester
19 February 2010