Exclude teaching and learning materials from the open access repositories debate. Discuss.

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.

6 thoughts on “Exclude teaching and learning materials from the open access repositories debate. Discuss.

  1. Seems a bit daft commenting on my own post but I read this on Caveat Lector today and think it adds to the debate:

    “It’s just not true that open access isn’t about the journal literature. There are salient and cogent (if not necessarily good) reasons that it is, no matter the chosen road, no matter the rhetoric. What is it we’re asking faculty to self-archive? Theses and dissertations, yes; faculty are much happier mandating somebody else’s behavior than their own. It’s not faculty’s books, though, for economic and public-relations reasons. It’s not their learning objects; that’s Somebody Else’s Problem.”


    I agree that open access “isn’t about” learning objects but I’m still a bit concerned about whose problem they actually are!

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  5. Hi Lorna. I’m glad someone’s at last come out and said this. I remember going to a ‘Repositories Service Day’ at my institution, Nottingham University, and was so completely lost and befuddled by the discussions that I left at lunchtime. It was very plain to me then that there’s a vast qualitative difference between using repositories for scholarly works (journal articles, theses, papers, etc) and learning resources/objects. The audience is different, the requirements are different, the metadata schemas are very different, and more often than not the technology is different. This has also come across to me from the discussions on the jisc-repositories@jiscmail list, which is almost exclusively dedicated to archiving and cataloguing scholarly works. Those who maintain and develop learning object repositories, as I have to do, really are a separate community, and we need our own ‘space’ to discuss and share, separate from the community devoted to open access scholarly repositories.

    Ah, I feel so much better now that I’ve ‘come out’ with you :)


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