Web visibility and open access

The latest update of the twice-yearly Ranking Web of World Universities has just been released, looking at the web visibility of over 20,000 universities and higher education institutions around the world.  The Cybermetrics Lab initiative aims to promote the use of open access web publication of research and teaching content and rankings are based on the availability and discoverability of academic content through both formal and informal online publication.

The report authors specifically address the poor performance of British universities in the study in comparison to other research rankings and identify it as being the consequence of a nationwide lack of commitment to open access: ‘the production of quality papers is far higher than the number of them available in repositories and thus being indexed by Google Scholar.’  Such a lack of commitment has consequences for limiting engagement both with the local community beyond the university, and with the international academic community, particularly in developing countries.  While there is definite activity in this area (such as the joint JISC and HEA Open Educational Resources International Symposium being held in London as I write), it seems we have a long way to go before we start living up to our potential in the global knowledge community.

UKCDR assessment tools survey outcomes

BTL recently announced that their Surpass Suite of eassessment tools came out top of a survey conducted by the UK Collaboration for a Digital Repository for High Stakes Assessments (UKCDR) project.

UKCDR, which ran from June 2005 – May 2007, was funded by JISC to create a methodology for developing a UK-wide high stakes assessment infrastructure.  Based at the University of Manchester, with partners from a range of institutions, one of the project’s outputs is a needs calculator which allows users to specify their requirements for an assessment system and identifies appropriate software for their needs.  There are two sets of results, one based on vendor self-appraisal and the other on the UKCDR evaluation; selecting ‘tick all’ and viewing the results reveals some dramatic differences between some of the vendor and UKCDR evaluations.  The UKCDR results show BTL as providing the most extensive functionality, with Questionmark and Thomson Prometric good second and third respectively. 

There are also a lot of useful resources on the UKCDR site, including use cases, presentations and an item bank survey, which are all well worth exploring.