Review of the current oer search dilemma


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Open Educational Resources (OER) are fast gaining traction amongst the academic community as a viable means of increasing access and equity in education. The concept of OER is of especial significance to the marginalised communities in the Global South where distance education is prominent due to the inability of conventional brick and mortar institutions to cope with the growing demand. However, the wider adoption of OER by academics in the Global South has been inhibited due to various socio, economic and technological reasons. One of the major technological inhibitors is the current inability to search for OER which are academically useful and are of an acceptable academic standard. Many technological initiatives have been proposed over the recent past to provide potential solutions to this issue. Among these are OER curartion standards such as GLOBE, federated search, social semantic search and search engines such as DiscoverEd, OCW Finder, Pearson’s Project Blue Sky. The research discussed in this paper is carried out in the form of literature review and informal interviews with experts. The objective of the study is to document the extent of the OER search issues contributing to the slow uptake of the concept of OER. This review paper discusses the current OER search dilemma and the impact of some of the key initiatives which propose potential solutions.

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Review of the current oer search dilemma

  1. 1. I S H A N S U D E E R A A B E Y W A R D E N AW A W A S A N O P E N U N I V E R S I T Y&C H E E S E N G C H A NU N I V E R S I T Y O F M A L A Y A5 7 T H W O R L D A S S E M B L Y O FI N T E R N A T I O N A L C O U N C I L O N E D U C A T I O N F O R T E A C H I N G( I C E T 2 0 1 3 )N O N T H A B U R I , T H A I L A N D .( 2 5 – 2 8 J U N E 2 0 1 3 )Review of the CurrentOER Search Dilemma
  2. 2. Open Educational Resources (OER) “web-based materials, offered freelyand openly for use and re-use inteaching, learning and research”(Joyce, 2007). “teaching, learning and researchmaterials in any medium, digital orotherwise, that reside in the publicdomain or have been released under anopen license that permits no-cost access,use, adaptation and redistribution byothers with no or limited restrictions”(UNESCO Paris OER Declaration, 2012)Joyce, A. (2007). OECD Study of OER: Forum Report, OECD. Retrieved December 12, 2011 from (2012, June 22). 2012 PARIS OER DECLARATION. Retrieved June 13, 2013, from
  3. 3. Current State of OER
  4. 4. The DilemmaSo…how do I find the material Ineed for my teaching
  5. 5. The DilemmaHow about …?
  6. 6. Google“AdvancedSearch”resultsforOERonChemistry(24thMay2012)
  7. 7. Literature ...The problem is in finding the resources, and more correctly finding the “right”resources. Using a regular search engine like Google to find content is not alwaysa viable option as it will generate too many answers. There is, hence, a need toeasily find relevant content...” (Hatakka, 2009) “searching this way (using existing search engines such as Google) might be a longand painful process as most of the results are not usable for educational purposes”(Pirkkalainen & Pawlowski, 2010) No single search engine is still able to locate resources from all the OER repositories(West & Victor, 2011) One of the major barriers to the use and re-use of OER is the difficulty of findingquality OER matching a specific context (Dichev & Dicheva, 2012) “…the problem with open content is not the lack of available resources on theInternet but the inability to locate suitable resources for academic use” (Unwin,2005).
  8. 8. The DilemmaHow about search mechanisms in?
  9. 9. Native Search in RepositoriesIdentify which material to look for(e.g. integration, C++ programming)Identify the search queries(e.g. “undergraduate mathematics”)Locate repository(word of mouth, somelink somewhere, go to the more popularrepositories)Run multiple queries to find resourcesRead each resource to identify the usefulness(openness, access, relevance)Identify useful resourcesRepeat steps 3-6 on multiple repositories(hundreds to thousands…..)
  10. 10. Some Existing Solutions Google: “…searching this way might be a long andpainful process as most of the results are not usablefor educational purposes” (Pirkkalainen & Pawlowski, 2010). Federated Search: BRENHET2; OpeScout; GlobalLearning Object Brokered Exchange (GLOBE); andPearson’s Project Blue Sky. Semantic Search: OER-CC ontology; the“Assistant” prototype; the “Folksemantic” project;and “Agrotags”.Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J. (2010). Open Educational Resources and Social Software in Global E-Learning Settings. InYliluoma, P. (Ed.) Sosiaalinen Verkko-oppiminen. IMDL, Naantali, 23–40.
  11. 11. The DilemmaYeah…but which one do I choose
  12. 12. Pearson’s Project Blue Sky
  13. 13. GLOBE
  14. 14. LRMI
  15. 15. OERScout
  16. 16. AcknowledgmentsThis research project is funded: as part of a doctoral research through the Grant (# 102791) generously made by theInternational Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada through an umbrellastudy on Openness and Quality in Asian Distance Education. by the Education Assistance Program (EAP) of Wawasan Open University, Malaysia.Ishan Sudeera Abeywardena acknowledges the support: by Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, Bangpood, Pakkret, Nonthaburi11120, Thailand with respect to the sponsorship of the conference registration feesand accommodation. by the Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, University ofMalaya, 50603, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where he is currently pursuing his doctoralresearch in Computer Science. by the School of Science and Technology, Wawasan Open University, 54 JalanSultan Ahmad Shah, 10050, Penang, Malaysia where he is currently employed.
  17. 17. Authors Ishan Sudeera AbeywardenaSenior Lecturer, School of Science and Technology,Wawasan Open University, 54 Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah,Penang, 10050, Malaysia.e-mail: Chee Seng ChanSenior Lecturer, Faculty of Computer Science andInformation Technology, University of Malaya, 50603,Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.e-mail:
  18. 18. References Dichev, C., & Dicheva, D. (2012). Open Educational Resources in ComputerScience Teaching. SIGCSE’11, February 29–March 3, 2012, Raleigh, NC, USA. Hatakka, M. (2009). Build It and They Will Come? – Inhibiting Factors forReuse of Open Content in Developing Countries, EJISDC 37(5), 1-16. Pirkkalainen, H., Pawlowski, J. (2010). Open Educational Resources and SocialSoftware in Global E-Learning Settings. In Yliluoma, P. (Ed.) SosiaalinenVerkko-oppiminen. IMDL, Naantali, 23–40. Unwin, T. (2005). Towards a Framework for the Use of ICT in Teacher Trainingin Africa. Open Learning 20, 113-130. West, P., & Victor, L. (2011). Background and action paper on OER. Reportprepared for The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.