In Standards and Openness I described the role of standards including trials run using OU OpenLearn units and eXe generated resources. Following this and taking the opportunity of a request from a colleague I explored the availability of OER resources in specific topic areas including the formats that they were provided in and the ability to import and edit.
The first stage was to undertake a key word search of OpenLearn units. My reasoning for starting with OpenLearn units was partly due to the breadth available but also because of the availability of Common Cartridge packaged resources (ease of importing / editing within a VLE) and metadata including level. This search identified a number of potentially relevant units, supplemented with suggestions made by OER Recommender (The OpenLearn pages use the OER Recommender widget providing automated suggestions to other related resources).
The second stage was a keyword search of JORUM (specifying open resources) which identified further relevant resources including those in other repositories such as Humbox. The last stage was to perform a search using Xpert.
These searches identified a wealth of resources, both single item and packaged multiple resources, related to the search topics. Although perhaps not all usable it allowed more focus to be given to addressing gaps and editing and mixing as per the specific context. As part of the exercise the resources were all imported into the institutional VLE.
This exercise identified a number of issues as outlined below:
1. Multiple Formats providing varying ability to edit. In the case of packaged resources it was not always clear which packaging standard was being used though mostly SCORM and HTML. Formats included:
- Common Cartridge package. Flexible in terms of editing and mixing within the VLE, though resources not always optimally designed for the navigation tools provided by the VLE. The naming convention of resources could be problematic, e.g. constituent files named with a alphanumeric code which added time in identifying the relevant file for editing.
- SCORM package. Not directly editable but with the advantage of inbuilt navigation between the elements of the resource.
- HTML package.
- URL to web resource. Not possible to edit and the risk of the resource becoming unavailable.
- Documents including MS Word and PDF which may or may not be locked.
2. User generated metadata tags. Flexible but maybe not always consistent.
3. Licence. Not always declared though commonly Creative Commons. However there are many types of Creative Commons licences with different levels of restriction which may include “No derivative works”.
4. Quality. Beyond the reputation of the institution and the individual some repositories such as Humbox provide the ability for registered users to add comments and notes to resources.
Summary of Resources Used
- Humbox – Humanities learning resources repository
- JORUM – JISC funded UK Learning & Teaching resources repository
- OER Recommender / Folksemantic - US National Science Foundation funded OER search tool and also provide a recommender widget for embedding in learning resource sites etc.
- OpenLearn – Open Universityopen learning resources
- Xpert – JISC funded Nottingham University tool for searching for open resources in learning and teaching.