The CETIS conference always strives to address current and cutting edge issues in the domain of education technology, however the OER Technical Roundtable session was arguably more timely than most given that it coincided with a Guardian article on open courseware and open educational resources: Any student, any subject, anywhere.
The session was attended by over thirty participants representing a wide range of projects and initiatives, all of whom brought a plethora of technical issues to the table. These issues were ably captured by my colleague R. John Robertson using some recalcitrant mind mapping software which he is still fighting with. John has already posted the raw list of issues on his blog and on Slideshare.
As expected the range of issues was considerable but the following broad themes did emerge:
- Tracking – metrics, Google analytics, statistics to support advocacy.
- Usability of repositories – deposit and the role of SWORD, discovery and use.
- Streaming large media files.
- Licensing and rights encoding.
- Resource description – metadata and JorumOpen, portability and interoperability, tagging, automatic metadata generation, identification of derivative works, SEO, Google discovery, how to users search for resources?
- Aggregators to manage distributed resources – metadata aggregation, resource aggregation, iTunes & iTunesU, OER broadcasting, batch upload, Flickr & Slideshare APIs.
- Granularity – disaggregation and reuse, content packaging, dependencies between resources.
Participants voted with their feet and broke into groups to discuss tracking, resource description, aggregators and granularity. We’ll try to synthesis the outputs of these breakout groups in later blog posts but in the meantime here’s a summary of the potential activities the groups identified that JISC and CETIS could take forward to benefit both the OER Programme and the community more generally:
- Develop an agreed RSS / Atom profile for open educational resources.
- Undertake research to analyse how teachers and learning actually search for educational resources. What terms do they search for and what metadata is actually necessary to facilite their searches? Synthesise data from projects, including Jorum and Steeple that are already gathering information about search terms, techniques and characteristics.
- Investigate how successful commercial systems such as Amazon and iTunes create and manage resource descriptions. What can we learn from them?
- Opening access to analytics and anonymised user data. Encourage the sharing of Google analytics data between projects.
- Set up shared Piwik or Google analytics accounts for each JISC programme.
- Share and synthesise good practice in resource tracking. Record and disseminate case studies.
- Identify requirements and minimum recommendations for resource tracking.
- Fund mini-projects on esoteric approaches to tracking.
We intend to discuss these recommendations with JISC in the not too distant future with a view to taking some of them forward. Hopefully we’ll be in a position to discuss progress in some if not all of these areas at #cetis10!