Learning resources have not been served well by the Open Access Institutional Repositories debate, a problem that has been recognised and discussed by the JISC Repositories and Preservation Advisory Group however there are still significant issues that need to be address. This was one of the topics discussed at a recent meeting of the JISC eLearning Team, the JISC eLearning Consultants and the CETIS Management Team. Rather than focusing on a single specific technology, i.e. repositories, we should attempt to address the wider aim i.e. improved learning resource management across the sector. Repositories will have a role to play in achieving this aim, as will other technologies and solutions. The ultimate goals should be to improve teaching and learning practice.
In order to address the issue of resource management effectively we need to understand more about current working practices. It’s also important to identify institutional drivers for prioritising resource management. The JISC OER Programme is likely to have considerable impact in this area and the centrifugal force of this initiative is already apparent. There are many “Big Issues” to resolve in terms of improving the management of and opening access to educational resources. These include issues relating to policy e.g. what is the relationship between institutions, teachers, learners and the resources they create; practice e.g. how do teachers and learners create, use and interact with resources on a daily basis; and technology e.g. how can we manage large distributed collections of open educational resources, tracking, identifiers, rich metadata etc.
These are big challenges however there areas where discrete interventions could have a significant impact:
- A landscape study of academics working practices and how they interact with educational content.
- Widget and toolbar technologies along the lines of SWORD and FeedForward. Developing a range of tailored tools and widgets to help facilitate content creation and management workflows.
- Search engine optimisation for teaching and learning materials.
- Technologies to draw together distributed rich metadata to add value to existing content. E.g. drawing together comments and recommendations from applications such as flickr, youtube delicious etc.
- Tracking technologies to monitor how open educational resources are used.
These and other related issues will continue to be debated into the new year so watch this space!