UKOER 2: Analytics and tools to manipulate OER

How are projects tracking the use of their OER? What tools are projects using to work with their OER collections? This is a post in the UKOER 2 technical synthesis series.

[These posts should be regarded as drafts for comment until I remove this note]


Analytics and tracking tools in use in the UKOER 2 programme

Analytics and tracking tools in use in the UKOER 2 programme

As part of their thinking around sustainability, it was suggested to projects that they consider how they would track and monitor the use of the open content they released.

Most projects have opted to rely on tracking functionality built into their chosen platform (were present). The tools listed in the graph above represent the content tracking or web traffic analysis tools being used in addition to any built in features of platforms.

Awstats, Webalizer and Piwik are all in (trial) use by the TIGER project.


Tools used to work with OER and OER feeds in the UKOER 2 programme

Tools used to work with OER and OER feeds in the UKOER 2 programme

These tools are being used by projects to work with collections of OER, typically by aggregating or processing rss feeds or other sources of metadata about OER. SOme of the tools are in use for indexing or mapping, others for filtering, and others to plug collections or search interfaces into a third-party platform. The tools are mostly in use in Strand C of the programme but widgets, yahoo pipes, and feed43 have a degree of wider use.

The listing in the above graph for widgets covers a number of technologies including some use of the W3C widget specification.
The Open Fieldwork project made extensive use of coordinate and mapping tools (more about this in a subsequent post)

UKOER 2: OER creation tools used

When projects in UKOER 2 created or edited content what tools did they use? This is a post in the UKOER 2 technical synthesis series.

[These posts should be regarded as drafts for comment until I remove this note]

Tools to make OER

OER creation tools in use in the UKOER 2 programme

OER creation tools in use in the UKOER 2 programme


  • Ms Office and Adobe Acrobat are not represented in these graphs or in PROD – their use (or the use of open source alternatives which can produce respective file types) is ubiquitous and dominant.
  • For a number of online tools (typically those considered web2.0) there is an overlap between creation and hosting platforms and are listed on both graphs.


  • Flash is the only tool (apart from Office and Acrobat) that shows use across more than a few projects.

UKOER 2: Technical synthesis introduction


The is the first post in a short series offering a technical summary of the 23 projects in the  UKOER 2 programme. It is based on interviews with the projects, the data and information summarised here is all available in PROD.

The JISC site describes the programme as follows:

Phase 2 of the HEFCE-funded Open Educational Resources (OER) programme is managed jointly by the Higher Education Academy(Academy) and JISC. Running between August 2010 and August 2011, it will build on and expand the work of the pilot phase around the release of OER material, and commence research and technical work examining the discovery and use of OER – specifically by academics.“.

The technical requirements provided to projects are outlined in OER 2 Technical Requirements.

Subsequent posts in this series look at:

[These posts should be regarded as drafts for comment until I remove this note]

Technical choices in UKOER 2 Many Eyes


data collection:

as before this data is a snapshot of a project’s choices at a point in time during the programme –  it sometimes talks about active intent or choices being explored and so it may not reflect final options. As in the UKOER prod summary it should be noted that selection of a choice (i.e. using X) is not exclusive. For example, projects may often use platforms from online providers (such as YouTube) alongside organisationally provided options (such as a repository).

strand C:

This strand of the programme focused on creating both a static and dynamic collection of OER and generally explored issues around aggregation in more detail – as such these six projects and their tech choices are worth reviewing in greater detail. The data from their interviews has, however, also been included in the general summary when appropriate.


for a variety of reasons one project is not in this data so the displayed information is out of 22 projects (and as noted the categories may not always be relevant to all of the Strand C projects)

An OER manifesto in twenty minutes

A brief rapid response to @Tore ‘s request for a ten point manifesto on OER (& ok it was 25 minutes)

Andy Powell makes the key point: “@tore open, open, open, open, open, open, open, open, open, open – no need to mention ‘e’ or ‘r’ #nordlet” RE

But if I was writing a manifesto on OER it would start with/ cover some of this:

  1. openness is a way of working / state of mind not a legal distinction
  2. openness needs to be integrated into your way of working retrofitting is too expensive
  3. value of open is potentially greater than the value of closed
  4. open content affords new forms of scholarship and enterprise
  5. stop having to ask permission: remove barriers with open licensing
  6. use a common open license or don’t bother (lawyers read licences, users and machines don’t)
  7. you need a good reason to keep publicly funded work closed
  8. open content should allow you to build commercial services if you want
  9. open content shifts the $ focus onto what is really valuable: expertise, support, and ‘accreditation’ [for various dftns]
  10. open content has the potential to improve access to education (and consequently benefit society)

I’d also want to say something about

  1. openness does have costs – budget for them [edit (for clarity): costs here are not just £$ costs]
  2. you don’t have to be open all the time with everything – mixed economies may be practical
  3. the transition to openness is unsettling
  4. the (re)development of new business models, organisations, and practices challenges existing business models, organisations, and practices

The above is written without appropriate sources and without consulting existing manifestos but as an exercise in trying to quickly capture what I’ve absorbed and thought working in the OER community. If I’ve reproduced your work without realising it please comment ;-)  Doubtless a more considered version would look a bit different but as a discussion point in this amount of time that’s what I’d throw into the ring.

Public funding, OER, and Academics – a brief reflection

Earlier today Amber Thomas kicked off an interesting discussion on twitter about which institutions had a reputation for openness in various domains. One tangential thread from this conversation was a comment Pat Lockley made about the difference between openness that happens in connection to funded projects and openness that happens at your own initiative. I think Pat has a point but also think there are differences between models that work for individuals and models that work for institutions.

I’ll reproduce some of the conversation here, as it raises some issues.

Pat: my take is, if it’s done off your own back, it’s open, else it’s just “of kernes and gallowglasses supplied”

Me: there’s a place for funded stuff & sustainable open models rely on a source of funding; paying for related services/ expertise

Pat: it’s a very broad brush to say “sustainable open models rely on a source of funding”

Me: eg in open source many coders can contribute to projects in spare time because they have skills that earn them enough money

Pat: but thats true internally and externally. An academic is paid, if once paid, open, then everything can be open?

Me: in my view? yes; in uk -uni’s publicly funded; academics are public employees; ~our work should be openly available (exceptions)

Me: though if such an economy i think academics currently undervalued/ under paid [nb: ~well paid; but underpaid for ‘market value’]

Pat thought I was a bit off track to suggest academics aren’t paid enough, so i tried to clarify a bit

Me: NB academics well paid but i’m suggesting MAY be underpaid for required length of time in unpaid education to get job…. [1/2]

Me: …& comparable commercial salary for level of education. In context of: OER & seeing themselves as public employees [2/2]

Obviously there are assumptions, cross purposes, and missing context in my part of our exchange but I wanted to capture it to think about some more.

For ‘fun’ I’ve been thinking a little with a colleague at Strathclyde (Stuart Boon) about some of the factors in why an academic might choose to share resources openly. Perhaps that’s why i got distracted by the question of (relative) academic salaries. Advocates for openness often make the argument that, in general, if something is publicly funded it should be publicly available and I agree with this position both as a tax payer and sort-of academic (I’m not claiming that I’m always consistent but this is my default stance).

I think what I’m trying to think around is what this potentially does to the value of intellectual output – specifically does this argument promote:

  1. academics are solely public employees who do “work-for-hire” (I know some institutions have such a policy but many are deliberately ‘vague’)
  2. academcs employed by private institutions or at public institutions but supported by private funding (on a FEC equivalent basis) have no obligation to the public, and perhaps even an obligation not to share?

Obviously the issue of sharing and public funding is only a small part of the arguments for and against openly sharing stuff, but what side effects do we risk in such an argument?

My discussion about salaries was more to do with the notion that if you’re about to get a phd (or thinking about doing one) and are faced with the prospect of competing to become ‘work-for-hire’ at a university for a comparatively lower rate rather than being work for hire in other sectors, is there a risk that fewer candidates will go into academia? [or given the glut of phd’s and dearth of jobs is this a good thing?]

I appreciate there are a multitude of reasons people go into or end up in any given job – but does this argument for OER further remove the, somewhat mythical, notion of a scholar and replace it with academic for hire [is that a good/ necessary thing if it provides accountability? or does it lead to ‘industrialisation’ of education].

This isn’t entirely coherent and is perhaps somewhat UK centric but there’s something in the conversation and my reflection that I wanted to capture.