EdReNe: Building successful educational repositories

EdReNe, the EU funded Educational Repositories Network, have just published what looks like a useful a useful set of recommendations on Building successful educational repositories [pdf]. Many of the recommendations seem motherhood-and-apple-pie stuff: engage users, have policies, etc. though some of these, e.g. “support the needs of existing communities” have interesting implications when thought through in more depth (in this case don’t base your repository strategy entirely on creating a new community).

Others that caught my eye:

  • Take advantage of generally used, open standards to allow for the broadest range of partnerships, future adaptability and innovation.
    With the comment “Use standards that are ‘as broad as possible'”–a reference to “web-wide” standards rather than those that are specific to the repository world?
  • Acknowledge that integration with a range of tools and services will greatly benefit uptake and use of digital learning resources.
    “What is useful, is the ability to integrate with the tools/service that the user selects.” So you’ll need an API.
  • Support the development of ‘sharing as a culture’ by providing user friendly mechanisms for depositing and repurposing
  • Open up information silos by a strong focus on web services, APIs and other ways of allowing seamless integration across services.
    “Repositories have to interface with many systems.”
  • Make it easy to participate – for all members
    “Barriers to participation are the single biggest problem.”
  • Present clear and easy-to-understand information on usage rights
  • Clearly express usage rights to users when depositing or accessing resources
    The “when accessing” aspect of this is something that has been exercising me recently, it’s hard to believe how many OERs don’t have any cc-licence information displayed on the resource itself. (For extra added irony, this report bears no licence information within it.)
  • Support open licensing to increase impact of funding and maximize possibilities for reuse and re-purposing,
  • Encourage use of CC-BY licenses when publishing own work
  • Encourage institutions to engage in sharing and production of open content (institution management)
    The OER effort is clearly having an impact on repository thinking, though there are comments to these and other recs that reflect that not all resources in repositories will be open.
  • When content standards are encouraged, this should be done with central guidance
    “A top?down strategy for fixing standards does not work anymore.” (well, it only ever worked in some limited scenarios).

The recommendations are the output of EdReNe’s 5th seminar which took place in Copenhagen, 6-7 October 2010. Thanks to LTSO for the info about this.