One Standard to rule them all?:
Descriptive Choices for Open Education
Hanoi, May 5-7 2010
R. John Robertson1, Lorna Campbell1, Phil Barker2, Li
Yuan3, and Sheila MacNeill1
1Centre for Academic Practice and Learning
Enhancement, University of Strathclyde, 2Institute for
Computer Based Learning, Heriot-Watt University
3Institute for Cybernetic Education, University of Bolton
The Open Educational Resources Programme
is a collaboration between the JISC and the
Higher Education Academy in the UK.
The Higher Education Funding Council for
England (HEFCE) has provided an initial £5.7
million of funding, (April 2009 to March 2010)
which will explore how to expand the open
availability and use of free, high quality online
The UK OER programme consists of 29 pilot
projects divided into three categories:
individual (i.e. personal) projects (8);
institutional projects (7)
multi-institutional subject-based consortium
Support for the programme is being provided by
a number of existing JISC services and the
Open University (UK) Score project.
JISC CETIS is one of three JISC
Innovation Support Centres (ISC),
supporting the sector through:
participating in standards bodies,
providing community forums for
sharing experiences in using
particular technologies and
providing specific support for
JISC funded development
programmes such as the
Stereotype: the ‘Learning Object’
The „classic‟ model
the reusable learning object (RLO).
to strive to create context independent learning materials
IMS Content Packaging or ADL SCORM , IEEE LOM.
Description of pedagogy in metadata
VLE‟s and refined search tools
Examples: Ariadne network ,
real use of detailed educational fields, can be limited
seen as complex, requiring support from learning
often closed networks ~learning object economies
Stereotype: the ‘light touch’
Blogs, web 2.0 tools, websites
often author, title, license
often applied at site level
Frequent use of CC licenses (often integrated with tools)
Can be „closed‟/ unknown groups of people
Discoverability of specific items / unknown items can be
“any system capable of delivering content on the
Strongly encouraged to use platforms that can
create RSS for collections
Utilise existing technologies - not develop
Some descriptive information required
Required descriptive set
File format (auto)
File size (auto)
Recommended descriptive set
Hoped for outcomes
Release of OERs
Freedom of choice allows opportunity to assess:
Seminar and presentations
Encouragement to consider local resource
Presented context of wider OER initiatives
Did not promote any particular system, standard, or
Influence of CETIS‟ experience with standards
Factors: System Choice
Single biggest factor: native standards supported/
implemented in the system.
Pattern somewhat visible in project bids/plans
emerged clearly in technical conversations
True for both LO repositories and for web2.0 tools
Partially result of explicit prohibition of development
Support for multiple standards
Creation of mappings
Factors: project team background
Parallel to influence of system choice, teams will
use what they know
but lesser influence:
No budget for new systems
Though unlikely, staff turnover more likely than
Factors: role of network/ community
Some communities have entry requirements
But relatively few projects engaged – most had
existing connections, or had deliberate aim to
OpenSpires – Matterhorn, iTunesU, and more
Berlin – OCWC RSS [predating programme but
Factors: aggregator services
Often-based on OAI-PMH and RSS
But not as much of an influence as expected
Note: aggregation does not need to dictate local
standards; mapping is often possible, but system
One major exception...
Participation in iTunesU is
by agreement with Apple,
specific and somewhat idiosyncratic metadata
set granularity of materials
associated cover images
Issues around openness (license, software, reuse)
Massive draw for faculty contributions
Aside: institutional channels and individual channels
National repository for learning materials
Launch of JorumOpen
Slightly different descriptive requirements to
Influence of deposit tools
Influence of perceptions on both platform and
Influence on international participation
Patterns of use: one standard?
Is there [with apologies to Tolkien]:
‘One [standard] to rule them all,
One [standard] to find them,
One [standard] to bring them all,
and in the darkness bind them’?
Patterns of use: preliminary notes
Data gathered from technical review calls as part of programme
All 29 projects recorded.
Projects may occur more than once in any given graph if they use
more than one of the technologies listed.
The graphs refer to the number of platforms that support a given
standard; they do not refer to or imply active use of the standard.
CMS refers to Content Management System and not to Course
The data itself is available from the tool CETIS project monitoring
tool, PROD. http://prod.cetis.ac.uk tag ukoer
Impact of choices
1. Existing technologies used
2. Diverse technical responses to the challenge of
managing and sharing OERs. A mixture of
elearning platforms, repositories, and innovative
approaches to sharing have been used.
3. The standards being used are often embedded in
systems and their selection of a standard is often
4. The pilot programme points to ways forward to
using both web2.0 applications and digital
repositories for sharing and managing OERs.
Impact of choices (2)
5. Projects have chosen multiple platforms to support different
functions such as: preservation, streaming, marketing,
6. Choices made mostly reflect an emphasis on resource
management and sharing; few projects are using technology
that supports course delivery. Tendancy to focus on other
academics, rather than students, as the consumers of the
7. Although many projects can produce RSS feeds, the ability to
use these feeds to support any form of bulk import into
JorumOpen has been problematic as the content and format
of these feeds varies dramatically.
Impact of choices: aggregation (in JorumOpen)
1. Author names have been recorded differently.
2. The JorumOpen deposit tool will provide some form of
standardization by requiring a minimal set of descriptive fields.
3. The infrastructure of JorumOpen will be able to generate some of
the required information, e.g. file format, size, etc; across the set
of resources it holds.
4. The redevelopment of the deposit tool has resulted in some
issues regarding the inclusion of contributing institution details.
As a result the author field of some resources will also include
5. Project led creation of a short cataloguing guide to address
issues they noted. (UK Centre for Bioscience, 2010).
Investigate details of deposit options
Informing next programme and future work
Xcri use/ course codes
Work with JorumOpen
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