We’ve come a long way in sharing open educational resources (OERs) and for most people working in education, they’ve become second nature.
Those who create OERs are becoming much more comfortable in sharing resources through open repositories such as Jorum, Merlot, Humbox and institutional repositories, through increasing numbers of resources deposited. However, finding evidence of the re-use of these resources can be as straightforward as finding a raindrop in an ocean.
Jorum has come some way in the reporting of resource usage, such as views and downloads. This means that we can begin to get a clearer picture about how particular resources are popular. However actually recording hard evidence of resources being used in the classroom is rather more difficult.
For now, it seems we are still reliant on the community of OER users to help spread the word and share the many wonderful examples of the educational content available. Apart from a few silos of subject enthusiasts and communities of practice, we are still often in the dark about how and where resources are making an impact on those who teach.
Themed collections are taking off, with an increasing number being added to Jorum such as: information and digital literacy skills, research data management, dementia, and inter-professional education. More are being planned for the future, including forensic science, in collaboration with the Higher Education Academy (HEA), and inter-professional education for health and social care. We have also been working to increase awareness of institution-specific resources, for example the new Open Window for the University of Leeds.
University of Leeds’ Open Window
The Leeds Open Window makes it easier to surface content and resource collections of the faculties within Leeds to the world. It’s the first of its kind in the UK higher education sector and is a key element to delivering goals of Leeds’ policy on OER and ultimately their digital learning strategy.
The idea to develop an Open Window came as Leeds wanted a direct portal to their own content, which features their own customisation and branding – but powered by Jorum. It’s certainly a giant step in surfacing specific content and can provide relevant statistics via reporting tools available within the interface, yet we are still a number of steps away from finding out just how individual resources are being repurposed in general.
LOVE OER campaign
Another Jorum campaign – LOVE OER – set out to try and get the user community to recommend three to five resources from Jorum that they have used or would recommend. An incentive was offered, but alas only three respondents returned evidence. Is this simply down to lack of time, fear of promoting particular resources, or the general hatred of any such marketing campaigns?
Other explored avenues of usage have been through Evidence Base, who were asked to help the Jorum team to ask community members to help form case studies on their views on OER, and in the process ask how they may have repurposed resources. Response to this was higher than LOVE OER, but there is still a long way to go.
So, I guess it is back over to the OER users, sharers and those with an interest in making the most of resources available.
My hope for the future is that we become a community to recognise great OER and give back to those who have taken the time and effort to share, by recommending resources and demonstrating their reuse. We intend to introduce an Open Badges scheme as a way to motivate and recognise the support of OER sharers.
Who knows where this may lead, perhaps a new online community to help recommend resources, tapping into existing communities of practice, or keeping it as simple as allowing users to publish comments on each repurposed resource. There is great potential to expand on the wonderful resources available – they are there for the taking, let’s celebrate their usefulness!