Since it was made live at the start of January 2011 over thirty OERs have been added to the OSTRICH repository. Use has been growing steadily and we’ve so far seen 628 visits and 3013 page views. Some of the most often visited pages include:
For those that want to install a distributed repository for Open Educational Resources identical to that used by the OSTRICH project at http://ostrich.bath.ac.uk the files required to build a repository have been made available as an OER that includes the Drupal 7 codebase and database, in the form of a MySQL dump file.
We’ve now hit the stage in the OSTRICH project here at the University of Bath where our understanding of the OER environment is really taking shape. And with more experience of the processes involved under our belts, the issues and challenges of creating or converting OERs for our institutional context are beginning to show as emerging themes.
Intellectual property rights and copyright issues
What makes a reusable OER: an understanding of audience/end-user and of the use and reuse cycle
The sustainability of the OER creation/conversion process
Many of these themes were echoed in discussions at last month’s dissemination event for UKOLN. This talk with an invited audience and live stream online saw myself and Alex Lydiate (Educational Software and Systems Devloper in the e-Learning Team) explaining the context of the OSTRICH OER project, describing the build of the OSTRICH repository and highlighting the emergent themes at this mid-way point in the project.
The audience was a mix of information professionals, research staff and data managers. It made for some interesting discussions that mirrored many of the themes that have been raised both in the Synthesis and Evaluation stage of the pilot JISC programme and in recent conversations at programme level events for Phase Two.
The discoverability of resources was considered of great importance. It was useful to hear an end-user perspective on this in the form of Library Services staff who advise academic staff on locating suitable resources and struggling to find their way through the maze of available OERs.
This was followed by a debate about metadata; the need to get the balance right between adequate metadata to ensure discoverability of resources and the impact that providing this information has on staff time and their willingness to engage with OER. This naturally led on to a technical discussion around the automation of metadata collection and options for the presentation of metadata to enhance discoverability of OERs.
It was really useful to engage with a wider OER audience in this way and the conversations we had will provide a valuable input into our evaluations of the project and the processes we’ve been developing recently.
The first version of the OSTRICH OER repository is now live at ostrich.bath.ac.uk. At the moment this is just a prototype to give the project team a chance to test functionality and theme the space. The ‘content’ links currently point mainly to Google pages rather than real files; and the formatting, text and associated documents are in draft form and more than likely to change. However, it does give us an initial draft to work from so that we can get an idea of the look and feel of it…
For those interested in the technical set up, our developer Alex Lydiate has blogged about the initial construction in Drupal 7 and the underlying data structure here.
We’ve been calling this a distributed repository since it’s designed to link out to OER resource files held elsewhere (see the blog post on the initial plan here), but we’ve since been given the name ‘referatory’ by John Robertson at JISC and that does a much better job of describing its functionality…
The detail of this planning has been set out in the following document, and while this probably raises as many questions as it answers (some of which we still as a team have to answer!) it may be of help to others who are going through a similar planning process.