Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Open synergies and symbioses - The role of academic libraries and the importance of information literacy in the Open landscape

The next journal club discussion will take place on Wednesday 25th September at 8pm and is on the topic of Open Educational Resources.  Join our discussion by adding your comments and questions to the comments below this post.


First of all a bit of background and before that a disclaimer: I’m not a real librarian, I am a shambrarian (to utilise an occasional twitter meme). I have, however, worked with repositories since 2007 in the context of Open Access to research (OA) and Open Educational Resources (OER) and am primarily interested in sustainable models of OA and potential synergies with OER (and open education more generally), particularly underlying technology and interoperability of systems, including open standards and the potential of Open Source software (OSS).

As a focus for this discussion I would like to point you towards a report by Gema Bueno-de-la-Fuenta and John Robertson - The roles of libraries and information professionals in Open Educational Resources (OER) initiatives. From August 2012 and derived from data now nearly 2 years old the report is still highly relevant; academic libraries (and repositories) are arguably still primarily focussed on access to research materials and historically have not been closely involved with the management of teaching materials which, where they are available digitally, are often in virtual learning environments (VLEs) to which the library may not have access and may be poorly integrated into users’ view of library resources. The report itself is lengthy but the executive summary provides a good overview and has informed subsequent conference presentations by both Gema and myself, the slides for which are available here and here respectively.

It is probably accurate to say that both OA and OER have recently moved from fairly niche communities to more mainstream interest, really in the last 12 months or so, due largely to the impact of the Finch report and resulting RCUK policy - at least in the context of OA and perhaps OER by association (see also MOOCs!) My own involvement with OER has primarily been through the JISC/HEA OER programme that ran in three phases from 2009-2012. I also sit on the steering group for Jorum, the national OER repository, which supported the programme throughout and which has just last week released its new interface which looks great and includes new features including item level usage stats* and a sophisticated API that gives access to content, metadata and usage data and can be used to build customised web tools and services (not yet available - formal release in October). Huge congratulations to the team at Mimas who I know have worked extremely hard and are rightly proud of the result. In terms of information literacy, Jorum are planning a bespoke collection to sit alongside their other collections and are currently collecting feedback via this survey (deadline this Friday 20th September 2013). For more information and to access a spreadsheet of suggested metadata fields and terms see http://delilaopen.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/jorums-information-literacy-collection-needs-your-help/).

* In fact stats can also be derived for groups of items, say by institution, licence type or project tag.

In the spirit of Open I have made an infolit OER of my own using the excellent Xerte Online Toolkits, Open Source software from the University of Nottingham which I hope will be suitable for the new collection and which you can find in Jorum here.

The resource is derived from the SCONUL 7 Pillars of Information Literacy and brings together the core model along with several ‘lenses’ highlighting different attributes, and using language recognised by the specific communities which they represent; it includes Michelle Dalton’s healthcare/evidence based practice lens which was the subject of the last post and discussion.

Xerte itself is an excellent tool for Digital Literacy - input is form based, intuitive enough for beginners with the option to use HTML tags or more sophisticated web-based technology. It can also be embedded on any webpage using an iframe (I would have done so here but the page design is too narrow). Moreover, as output is HTML5, unlike proprietary software like Adobe Flash and PDF, content is accessible on any device/browser including mobile. Content can also be more easily reused even without access to the software itself - just by cut and paste / right click -> save as. Like any HTML webpage.

If you would like to reuse this resource you can download three separate versions:

  • This zip file for deployment on your own webserver (just unzip and upload to a webserver as a self-contained directory)
  • The SCORM package for use in a VLE or other software that will play SCORM
  • This archive zip file which you can import back into your own instance of XOT

67 comments:

  1. Thank for the conversation-starting post Nick, looking forward to this evening's discussion which will start in 25 minutes. The usual tips:

    - Refresh the page often, to see the latest conversations
    - Use the "reply" link to reply to a particular comment, or use the "post a comment" box to start a new idea or question.

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  2. Thank you for the invitation. I hope the article and other links offer a suitable starting point for those less (or more) familiar with OER...

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  3. It's just gone 8 o'clock, welcome to the discussion!

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  4. Hi - sorry I'm a little late arriving today

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  5. Hi all - a bit busy but will try and dip in and out!

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  6. Given that the main report is over 12 months old, based on data 2 years old and the JISC/HEA programme has finished, does the following still hold true:

    "The final conclusions of this study indicate that even if the library and/or librarians are well valued by projects where they are already engaged with, the participation of the library is still not widespread, and a significant lack of awareness exists both from OER initiatives with regards to library activities and from the libraries about the resources released bynOER initiatives."

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    1. Deleted my comment below because yours came through at the same time! I haven't been involved in developing OERs yet and know very little about them.

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    2. Hmm, I would have thought probably. For me, something that remains as an issue is that as an educator I do draw on a variety of things for my teaching, but a small minority are things which are labelled "OERs".

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    3. Is it an area that you would be interested in...developing or signposting?

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    4. I've been involved indirectly with OER - mainly through a conversation that took place after a lunchtime teaching seminar which focussed on one of the OER projects based at my institution. Most of the Q&A after the session highlighted a lack of awareness relating to copyright and re-use of educational resources (not just OERs!) - this led to a presentation on digital professionalism at OER11.

      For me, you need certain information literacies to fully engage with using and producing OERs and the library can support the acquisition of these. (If anyone's interested in the talk, you can hear me umming all the way through here: http://vimeo.com/43819759)

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    5. Yes, there are not many OERs in LIS from what I have found (labelled as such) but yet a lot of CC resources, libguides etc. that I would incorporate

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    6. @Sheila - I don't think the terminology is necessarily helpful! Essentially we are just talking about educational content that is clearly labelled for reuse. I wince inside when talking about "Open Educational Resources" or "Reusable Learning Objects" to use an older term

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    7. That's exactly it Michelle. For me it's often just about promoting good practice...how many teachers just source images from a Google image search with no thought to ownership or provenence?

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    8. As an information literacy person 9though I didn't call it that, then) I was involved, um, about 30 years ago in a UK Online User group committee that was trying to get people to share their documentation on how to search databases (so OERs, but photocopied), and in various initiatives since. Then it was a genuine physical problem of how you distributed things. However, an ongoing issue was inertia in delivering an update of an item once you had produced it, and for the re-user, the effort in trying to find out whether something near what you wanted, was available, perhaps you needed to customise it a bit .. I think those are still issues. So I will come out as someone who feels she OUGHT to be a big fan of OERs, but in practice....

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    9. Actually Helen you have reminded me of a project I was consulted about in relation to a clinical educational resource being developed. I suggested it should be made an OER and explained why (its development was actually a research project) but it was decided to make it a subscription product (it has not been completed yet I believe). There was a big issue around licensing, copyright etc. of material - more clarity needed on this I imagine.

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    10. We have a library objective to contribute resources to Jorum this year, so we will be getting involved - on a small scale at first, but hopefully leading to more. However, we also increasingly use Slideshare/youtube etc and are becoming more open, but not always with the label.

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    11. Looking at what Helen said above - I think that aspect of helping people become more information literate in reusing and repurposing material wherever it came from (rather than particularly OERs) - yes I think that's where librarians definitely have a role.

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    12. In theory, yes I would be interested in being involved. In practice I've just started a new job so it wouldn't be in the near future! I find the terminology off-putting as well, followed the Delila blog but found it hard to engage. We took a look at the RDM Rose materials at a Brown Bag Lunch a while back though, I can certainly see how they could be useful.

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    13. One of the reasons I'm a fan of xerte (at least now it outputs as html rather than flash) is, as I've said in the post, is that it is relatively easy to reuse, back to the first principles of the web, no proprietary software, no pdf, flash and associated compatibility issues. Increasingly important from a *digital* literacy perspective...especially with the proliferation of digital devices and Apple's walled garden.

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    14. I'm hoping to have a go with xerte at some point - I guess this backs up the point made in the report that there is still a way to go for librarians to develop skills and knowledge to produce OERs. We could farm it out to learning technologists (if you have that luxury!), but I would personally like to have more involvement.

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    15. I've had a passing connection with Xerte, can't say it was my favourite product to work with I'm afraid.

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    16. Interesting that you find the terminology so off putting...I really do too! I don't think Jorum refers to "OER" on the main site...perhaps for this reason!

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    17. I can't understand it, not a problem I usually have and it *should* be a topic I'd be really interested in!

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    18. I think this is crucial! Open Access is also opaque and we can't hope to have broad engagement when folk just don't get it AND are merrily using Google that (often) rides rough shod over IP.

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    19. @Niamh - xerte perhaps not as polished or easy to use as something like, say, Articulate but has some particular advantages, mostly associated with being Open Source. An institutional install is available to everyone for example rather than a few licenced machines. If you can get past the initial... clunkiness(?) it can also promote digital literacy in a way that more polished proprietary software might not...like programming a zx spectrum in the 80's rather than swiping your way to an app on an iPhone!

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    20. I should probably give it another chance! It does have useful activities built in but for what we did with it any website would have done the job.

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    21. It's basically just an easy way to build a self-contained website I think. I'm no HTML whizz but could've done the hotspots on my 7 pillars thing easy enough...after a visit to w3schools!!

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  7. So my first question is a very practical one - I'm introducing my students to the 7 Pillars next Tuesday - would it still be ok to point them to the resource at http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/~cczjrt/sheppard/?

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    1. Yes! I do hope to get it uploaded somewhere more permanent but proving more difficult than you might imagine! It won't vanish from there in the short term though

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    2. Any suggestions how the resource could be improved are also welcome. I'm no pedagogue and xerte allows for all sorts of interactive content - quizzes etc.

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    1. Hi Helen - am I right in recalling that you were involved with the OER infokit or am I misremembering?

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    2. No I escaped the OER one! But I have had some passing involvement in OERs (see post above)

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  10. How to deal with the headaches of bureaucracy and gatekeeperism while trying to be open? I'd like to make every resource I create, be it for staff internally or students, available as an OER (removing institution-specific information) but have already hit resistance.

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    1. Hello Penny! I have no idea what you are talking about ;-/

      As you know I agree. We should be promoting the idea of sharing per se. I do think things have improved. A bit. In the early days OER was obsessed by the need for quality control. Generally this has diminished I think but still an issue in specific contexts.

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    2. I wonder if it is seen as "publishing" rather than just sharing useful resources, and if that could be unpicked.

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    3. I'm really interested in that point about quality control (although not sure where it will take the discussion!) - in the production of our screencasts we have stopped striving for perfection as otherwise we'll never do it. But also, I think the world has changed - the idea of perpetual beta etc - so you are continually evolving. This is a huge adjustment for many, involving the willingness to put yourself and your work 'out there'. It takes confidence I think, and can be seen as a risk.

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    4. Yes, in a way it would be great if Jorum was seen as more like Github, and people felt both confident in sharing works in progress and building on others' work, but that involves cultural change - both confidence as you say and a different attitude to both IP and what constitutes a useful contribution under your own name.

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    5. It's a big issue for institutions also...static, monolithic websites for example tightly controlled by marketing departments that simply aren't flexible enough for communities used to synchronous digital discussion.

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    6. Re sharing - obviously the legal situation varies from country to country, but it is a sensitive matter too for academics, and for universities. I want to be able to take my teaching material away with me if I move (as well as leave most of it behind for others to use), and there are also murky areas (e.g. things I do which are not for teaching Sheffield Uni students) where I feel I have more intellectual property rights. With more online teaching and MOOCs etc (and I think the courseware providers for MOOCs are claiming rights over the material too) I think the issue of ownership and rights has become more fraught, rather than less.

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    7. I do feel there are reputational issues too - I could re-use a resource from another university, but does that then mean we're not providing enough value to our own institutions? We need *our* own resources, produced by *our* staff, not from somewhere else. Culture change again.

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    8. I actually felt some sensitivity around the 7 pillars resource...I'm no IP lawyer but does the copyright strictly belong to me, or my institution, or Sconul...I've released it under the same licence as the adapted material but that doesn't negate copyright. I don't think.

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    9. Ultimately though, as I'm fond of saying, I do think that relying on existing copyright and IP legislation is like continuing to use the Highway Code after the invention of the flying car. CC goes some way to equipping us for flight!

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    10. I'm not sure either Nick, but I think the intention of creating lenses was to encourage exactly your sort of use - so hopefully there's nothing to worry about! In my brief dabblings with OER, a lot of the issue is about the management of risk. I think that was an area the project at my institution explored - will see if I can find a reference.

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    11. OER IPR Support Project 'Risk Management Calculator'
      http://www.medev.ac.uk/blog/medev-blog/2011/jan/10/launch-of-the-oer-ipr-support-project-risk-management-calculator/

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    12. And institutions are (understandably) risk averse

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  11. CoPILOT struggling to join in - from twitter:

    @mrnick trying to join in but ipad/blog playing up! I wonder if FutureLearn will have an impact? Libs as copyright and OER experts? #ILread

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    1. Should I tweet or blog, lol, is that @copilot? I think FutureLearn have a lot to learn about the value of library involvement, my impression so far, although obviously they are getting educated about that

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    2. I'm still not sure I would personally want to be the copyright expert! Unless that becomes a more positive role than currently (ie you can't do this, that etc). If it's about improving understanding of use and re-use of any type of resource then maybe. I wouldn't want the library role to be the copyright police.

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    3. Sheffield is a FutureLearn member and coincidentally I am going to a meeting of the FutureLearn research group tomorrow

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    4. But I suppose it's always worth using any opportunity to promote the value in what we do!

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    5. agree @Helen, copyright police, sounds a bit too bun-and-shhhhh image

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    6. That's interesting Sheila - will be interesting to hear your experiences as it all gets going.

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    7. Nor me. I share an office with a copyright clearance colleague...

      Me: "Can I...?"
      She: "NO!"

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    8. Haven't explored FutureLearn in any detail yet...what is the model? Synchronous / closed? i.e. I can't get at the stuff unless I'm signed up to a course? Has been a criticism of other MOOCs

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    9. Open culture experts is more my cup of tea, but it wouldn't suit everyone. Interested to know what comes out of the FutureLearn meeting. OU have done some great things in the past, but have also messed around the users of OpenLearn and removed content/changed licences. I would hate it if the commitment to releasing FL materials under CC-BY was watered down, but understand from e.g. @drchuck the difficulties when content is divorced from context and "abused". http://www.dr-chuck.com/csev-blog/2013/05/the-day-after-cc-by-fail-cc-infinity/

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    10. https://www.futurelearn.com/ they only opened up for registration last week, and none of the courses have started. Yes, I'm sure you have to be registered to get into them. Futurelearn have said that all *core* learning materials on the MOOCs should be available to all learners to use free ...

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    11. @penny thanks for the link - interesting - I hadn't come across the phrase "content slum" before

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    12. The University of London released their law "mooc" in the open (lots of xerte content) - http://lawsfolio.londoninternational.ac.uk/eclmooc/

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    13. Hello, I helped make that MOOC so happy to answer questions.
      The real MOOC we had permission from publishers to use the book chapters mentioned as well.

      Now I am here, I hate the term content slum, as it degrades / relates content to a term which is very much a part of people's lives and I think "taking something out of context" is not really akin to "no running water and electricity"

      If we worry about things losing context, how can we want remixing?

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    14. Like to know more details around that dr chuck post

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  12. Well, it's reached 9pm UK time, so the synchronous chat is officially over. However people are very welcome to add comments afterwards. Many thanks to Nick for suggesting this topic and leading it!

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    1. Yes, thanks everyone! Open Access Week is at the end of October, could be a good discussion topic. Any suggestions for guest bloggers/kick-off articles?

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  13. I have to sign off now, thanks for the discussion everyone - I still feel I have a lot to learn! Will be interesting to come back to this one in a year's time.

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