Much of last week’s meeting of the JISC Repositories and Preservation Advisory Group was taken up with a discussion of the findings of the Repositories Roadmap Review which is being undertaken by Rachel Heery. The Review, which is not yet public, sparked a lively discussion during the course of which Andy Powell put forward the suggestion that teaching and learning materials should no longer be included in the same discussions as open access scholarly works as the issues relating to their use and management are just so different.
As one of the small quota of œteaching and learning type folk on RPAG I was inclined to cautiously agree with Andy. Many of us who have an interest in the management of teaching and learning materials have been frustrated for some time that repository discussions, debates and developments often focus too much on scholarly communications and research papers while neglecting other resource types such as teaching and learning materials and data sets. Im sure Im not the only one who feels a bit sheepish about having to jump up at regular intervals and say œbut what about teaching and learning materials? There has in the past been a tendency to assume that Institutional Repositories set up to accommodate scholarly works could also provide a home for teaching and learning materials in their spare time. And this despite the fact that theres considerable debate regarding how effectively learning object repositories can manage teaching and learning materials, never mind capital I capital R Institutional Repositories!
In the past Ive suggested that the language and discourse of the Open Access movement œdoesnt fit teaching and learning materials. In a written contribution to the discussion Andrew Rothery of University of Worcester went further to suggest that:
the concepts and values around open access, archiving, metadata, sharing, and publishing dont really fit.
and that the whole model of formal institutional repositories just doesnt support teachers day to day practice.
So whats the answer? Id suggest that we need to begin by asking a lot more questions before we can start coming up with answers. Questions such as:
What to teachers actually do with their materials? Where do they currently store them? How do they manage them? How do they use them? Are there things teachers cant do now that they would like to? How do learners interact with teaching materials? Are there personnal, domain and institutional perspectives to consider? And how do they relate to each other?
We need a discussion that is focused squarely on the requirements and objectives of teachers and learners not one that is an addendum to the, admittedly worthy, open access debate.
A word of caution though¦. My one concern is that if we exclude teaching and learning materials from œrepository debates, and indeed JISC funding programmes, will we stop talking about them all together?
And one last thing¦itll be interesting to see how OER developments influence this debate.