Returning to Libraries and OER

“The responsibility of acquiring books was the libraries and you might therefore think of extending the libraries role to…educational resources in general” p 21 (Nikoi, S. (2010) “Open Transferable Technology enabled Educational Resources (OTTER) project: Stakeholder Views on Open Educational Resources” Research Report, University of Leicester)

About a month ago I tweeted that we CETIS and CAPLE had a visiting scholar working with us for this semester. I’d like to take this opportunity to more comprehensively introduce Gema, some of the work she’s doing while she’s with us, and plug our survey investigate the role of academic libraries in OER efforts (you’ll remember I ran a study in this area last year).

Gema Bueno de la Fuente is a visiting scholar from the Library and Information Science Department, University Carlos III of Madrid, Spain where she works as an assistant professor teaching in several Undergraduate and Graduate Programs, e.g. the Master in e-Learning Production and Management. She holds a PhD. in Library Science since 2010 with the dissertation “An Institutional Repository of Educational Content (IREC) Model: management of digital teaching and learning resources in the university library”. Her main research interests are digital teaching and learning materials, open content, digital repositories and e-learning systems, with and special focus on the library role in these topics, mainly related to metadata, vocabularies and some specific standards.

While she’s at Strathclyde she’s working on two projects, one looking at OERs and Libraries and one looking at institutional practice in managing learning materials. She’s primarily working with myself and Stuart Boon (one of the lecturers in CAPLE). The survey Gema has created and introductory email are copied below:
“The Centre for Academic Practice & Learning Enhancement (CAPLE) and Centre for Educational Technology and Interoperability Standards (CETIS) at the University of Strathclyde are conducting a study about the involvement of the Library as an organizational unit, and of individual librarians and other information science specialists, in OER initiatives. OER (Open Educational Resources) are “digitised materials offered freely and openly for educators, students and self-learners to use and reuse for teaching, learning and research” (OECD, 2007).

This survey ( is open to any institution or initiative dealing with OER and/or open content for learning and teaching in a Higher Education context. This includes the creation and release of OER, its dissemination and promotion, the implementation of learning repositories or others management and publishing systems, the aggregation of open educational content, etc. Those projects focused solely on open educational practice are out the intended scope of this survey.

The survey should be answered by an individual OER initiative team member with an overview of current activity and the team composition and profiles. The survey instrument has 15 questions and the estimated time for completion is 15-20 minutes.

No personal data will be required, but you will be able to provide some basic information about your type of organization and OER initiative purpose and objectives if you wish. Participating organisations will be listed in the study report but responses are not connected to individual participants.

The results will be published in a report through JISC CETIS Open Educational Resources web page. If you want to receive a free PDF copy of the final report, please provide your email address at the end of the survey (your email will not be published or held beyond distribution of the survey results).

The survey is open for your feedback until Friday, November 4, 2011.

Thank you in advance for participating in this study, your contribution is very valuable to us.


Please feel free to forward this survey to any interesting parties or lists.

For further information, please contact:
Gema Bueno de la Fuente (Visiting Scholar from University Carlos III, Spain) (, R. John Robertson ( and Stuart Boon (
Centre for Educational Technology and Interoperability Standards (CETIS) / Centre for Academic Practice & Learning Enhancement (CAPLE). University of Strathclyde, Glasgow (UK).”

UKOER 2: without the collections strand

An intial look at UKOER without the collections strand (C). 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]

In my earlier post in this series on the collections strand (C), I presented a graph of the technical choices made just by that part of the programme looking at the issue of gathering static and dynamic collections, as part of that process I realised that, although the collections strand reflects a key aspect of the programme, and part of the direction future I hope future ukoer work is going, a consideration of the programme omitting the technical choices of strand C might be of interest.

The below graphs are also the ones which compare most directly with the work of UKOER 1 which didn’t have an strand focused on aggregation.

Platform related choices in UKOER2 excluding the collections strand

Platform related choices in UKOER2 excluding the collections strand

Standards related choices in UKOER2 excluding the collections strand

Standards related choices in UKOER2 excluding the collections strand

I’m hesitant to over-analyse these graphs and think there’s a definite need to consider the programme as a whole but will admit, that a few things about these graphs give me pause for thought.

  • wordpress as a platform vanishes
  • rss and oai-pmh see equal use
  • the proportional of use of repositories increases a fair bit (when we consider that a number of the other platfoms are being used in conjunction with a repository)


now in a sense, the above graphs fit exactly with the observation at the end of UKOER that projects used whatever tools they had readily available. However, compared to the earlier programme it feels like there are fewer outliers – the innovative and alternative technical approaches the projects used and which either struggled or shone.

Speculating on this it might be because institutions are seeking to engage with OER release as part of their core business and so are using tools they already have, it might be that most of the technically innovative bids ended up opting to go for strand C, or I could be underselling how much technical innovation is happening around core institutional technology (for example ALTO’s layering of a web cms on top of a repository).

To be honest I can’t tell if I think this trend to stable technical choices is good or not. Embedded is good but my worry is that there’s a certain inertia around institutional systems which are very focused on collecting content (or worse just collecting metadata) and which may lose sight of why we’re all so interested in in openly licensed resources (See Amber Thomas’ OER Turn and comments for a much fuller discussion of why fund content release and related issues; for reference I think open content is good in itself but is only part of what the UKOER programmes have been about).


  • the projects have been engaged in substantive innovative work in other areas, my comments are purely about techincal approaches to do with managing and sharing OER.
  • when comparing these figures to UKOER graphs it’s important to remember the programmes had different numbers of projects and different foci; a direct comparison of the data would need a more careful consideration than comparing the graphs I’ve published.

Post UKOER? the Saylor open textbook challenge

Are you wondering what to do with your OER next? Are you wondering how to keep the ball rolling in your institution and share some more educational resources openly? Are you looking for a tangible way to get your open content used? or perhaps looking for a way to turn your OER into something a little more tangible for your CV?

well, this might be your lucky day…

If your OER is transformable into a textbook (or is already a textbook) and is entirely licensable as  CC: BY content (either already CC:BY or you’re the rights holder and are willing to licence as such), the Saylor Foundation would like to hear from you. There’s a $20000 award for any textbook they accept for their curriculum.

full details are available at:

key dates

  • round 1 funding deadline: November 1, 2011;
  • round 2 funding deadline: January 31, 2012;
  • round 3 funding deadline: May 31, 2012

There have been a number of UKOER projects working in some of the areas which Saylor are looking for materials, so it’s worth a look.

There’s this whole thing about referrals but (to keep life simple) here’s the referral link which Creative Commons generated: .

If you use this link to submit a textbook which gets accepted those clever folk at Creative Commons get $250.

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.