v  124 completed surveys completed over a six week period

v  Both staff and student (on-line students) were the audience of the survey

v  All faculties within the University were involved in the survey and project


1)      Are you currently a staff or student member of the University of Derby

Staff responses – 92
Student responses – 32

The responses from staff members within the University of Derby is pleasing, however this was helped by actively chasing up within faculty where was needed.

The Derby project team felt the student responses was quite low. However due to the timing of the survey, the project team had to focus on distance learning students. Apart from sending reminder emails to the students who were invited to take part, we were unable to significantly increase the student participation for the survey.

Overall 124 complete surveys were registered, the original aim was to achieve a total of two hundred surveys (100 staff and 100 students).

2)      Before today, were you aware of the OSTRICH project

Yes – 33
No – 91

Not surprisingly none of the student survey entries had heard of the project, however this was of no surprise to the project team at Derby. The project team at Derby were not focusing on advertising the project to students. We wanted to get their views on the resources however this was done as planned towards the end of the project.

The project team at Derby did not participate in the survey, so to have thirty-three academics who are aware of the project is pleasing. It has been noted that post-project the University will need to continue in its investment of OERs and the potential it may have.

3)      Before today, were you aware of OERs and its meaning

Yes – 67
No – 57

Over the past few years OERs have continued to become more and more popular, Derby as an institution clearly saw this as a potential alternative avenue. The project team including SMT (Senior Management Team) are eager to continue investing the time and effort in supporting and advertising OERs at the University of Derby.

4)      Have you ever accessed OERs as a user before

Yes – 19
No – 105

The answers from this question clearly shows that as an institution Derby clearly need to invest in OERs if there is appropriate need for them.

One idea which has already been presented to SMT, is when a programme is going through re-validation and making significant changes to modules etc. The support services could look to advertise the potential usage of OERs at that stage.

5)      Do you feel that you would use / access OERs in the future

Yes – 72
No – 52

Continually looking at releasing OERs on a regular basis will be key to the potential usage of OERs at Derby. The institution needs to release resources covering a broad range of subjects and also in a variable number of formats.

The potential implementation of HTML5 within Derby, may allow the institution to release materials (content developed using HTML5) trying different technologies and formats, whilst learning and releasing to the community.

6)      What is your opinion of the OERs which have been released as part of the OSTRICH project

A large portion of submitted entries for this question liked the broad subject list which Derby have provided, it was noted that the number of formats available was useful to staff and students using different types of devices to view the OERs.

A number of entries commented on the ability to break some of the material released as OERs into smaller chunks. It was felt that if an academic wanted ‘part’ of a resource they may not need the whole module, and even further may just need one slide / page / diagram / interaction.

It was mentioned by a number of submitted entries that text documents could be provided in a different format. For example, if a PowerPoint presentation could be provided as a video with talk-overs from academics. The potential use of podcast / vodcasts was also mentioned within the same vain as the earlier example.

7)      Do you think there is a subject missing from the current OER list

The main subject which was mentioned was the Science subjects. Subjects such as Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Geology etc were noted as potential useful areas to advertise OERs.

8)      Can you describe an ideal OER

Minimal text

9)      Would you recommend OERs in general to a friend or colleague

Yes – 97
No – 27

As already mentioned Derby is fully aware of the interest of OERs, the support services are including for the forthcoming academic year full support for any academic wanting to use / develop OERs. The support services shall also be advertising the use of OERs to academics, which may in turn gain a larger audience.

10)   If you would like further information on the project / Derby’s participation within it please leave your email address below.

Yes – 101
No – 23

Posted by Gabi Witthaus on behalf of Phill Gagen and the Derby OER team

The OSTRICH project has generated some interesting outputs that have built on the lessons learnt from the OTTER project. This morning Ale and I mapped out all the main stages in the OSTRICH “story so far” in the form of a flowchart, with the aim of deriving a set of guidelines for other institutions that are considering implementing OERs for the first time.

This is what we came up with (all credit to Ale for the diagram!):

Draft OER adoption and management model

Draft institutional OER adoption and management model

In case the text is not clear enough, the key stages in the diagram are:

Senior Management Team engagement

-> Stakeholder analysis

-> Engagement of key stakeholders (e.g. Learning and Teaching support unit/ e-learning support team, academic contributors, IT services, the library and IP. copyright officers)

-> Knowledge transfer (Evidence of the benefits of OERs from other institutions, information about licences and formatting, advice on workflow procedures)

-> Decisions made on technical platforms, branding of OERs, licensing, maintenance and sustainability, support for academics

-> Assessment and decision-making around which subject areas to prioritise for OER development, whether to start from scratch or convert existing materials, and negotiation with potential academic contributors

-> Development of institutional repository if needed (or a decision to only use publicly available repositories such as Jorum Open or OER Commons)

-> Application of workflow processes described in CORRE or DORRE workflows. (Including: populate, check, evaluate and celebrate.)

More detail (and a better version of this flowchart) to come soon…

Gabi Witthaus, 22 June 2011

One of the most exciting outcomes of the OSTRICH project has been the trialling of the CORRE workflow model (copied below) that was developed at Leicester in the OTTER project, at both Derby and Bath. (Please note that this model was accompanied by a range of project management resources such as spreadsheets for tracking activities, templates for progress presentations and general guidelines for producers of OERs. These are all available at www.le.ac.uk/otter/about-otter/documentation.)

The CORRE (Content, Openness, Reuse and Repurposing, Evidence) workflow model for OER creation

The CORRE (Content, Openness, Reuse and Repurposing, Evidence) workflow model for OER creation

The model has been validated by Derby, who found that they could apply it when converting existing teaching materials into OERs. At Bath, however, where most of the OERs are new materials being created from scratch, some modifications were needed to the model. The main change was the integration of a “Design” stage under the “Content” phase of CORRE, to replace or supplement the “Gathering”  of existing resources from academics.

Designing for Openness, Reuse, Repurposing and Evaluation

Designing for Openness, Reuse, Repurposing and Evaluation

The journey from CORRE to DORRE is described in our OER11 presentation. Further support materials and guidelines are being developed and will soon be available via the OSTRICH website.

Gabi Witthaus, 21 June 2011

Last week Ale and I had a very productive meeting with our colleague at the University of Derby, Phill, to reflect on the achievements of the OSTRICH project so far, and the lessons learnt and questions that have arisen out of the project. Losing Linda Swanson has obviously been a major setback and very distressing for all of us, but despite the difficulties and everyone’s sadness around this situation, we all agreed that the project was running as smoothly as it could be under the circumstances.

One of the “lessons learnt” about the cascade process that I found particularly interesting was that there seems to be no getting away from the fact that our face-to-face meetings have been more fruitful (and more enjoyable) than online meetings. Online meetings are good enough for simple updates and joint decision-making on relatively straightforward issues, but when we wanted to do some deep collaborative thinking (e.g. in drawing up our revised model of CORRE that we shared at OER11) or to reflect in a relaxed way on the project (as in the meeting at Derby last week), everyone was firmly of the opinion that a face-to-face meeting would be more productive.

Perhaps one day we will have webconferencing technology that more closely emulates the nuances of face-to-face communication than is possible today. In the meantime, I think that in any future projects of this nature, we will build regular face-to-face visits into the schedule from the start if possible.

Gabi Witthaus, 7 June 2011

It was great sadness that we learnt last week of the passing away of our colleague on the OSTRICH project, Linda Swanson. Linda was the copyright officer for Derby, and had made a significant contribution to the project before her illness and hopsitalisation two months ago. Linda was highly respected by the project team members and the academics she worked with for her deep knowledge of copyright law, and her ability to apply this knowledge to the development of open educational resources. She was also much loved by all for her friendly, cheerful personality and willingness to share her knowledge and support others. She will be sadly missed by all in the project team. The OSTRICH project team extends its sincere condolences to Linda’s family and friends.

Gabi Witthaus, 1 June 2011

On Friday I attended a very inspiring SCORE seminar at Nottingham on institutional issues around OERs. There were great presentations from Tom Browne (Exeter), Melissa Highton (Oxford) and Steve Stapleton (Nottingham) in the morning, followed by an international focus in the afternoon – a remote presentation by Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and Willem Van Valkenburg of the Technology University Delft, the Netherlands. Some of the interesting discussions we had revolved around the following topics:

Who has authority to release OERs in institutions?

Exeter, Leicester and Nottingham all have centralised procedures in place for checking OERs before release – mainly to ensure that a suitable Creative Commons licence has been allocated, that the materials are ‘clean’ from an IPR perspective, and that the formatting of the OERs enables reuse and repurposing as far as possible.

At Oxford there is some devolution of authority, with academics and their Heads of Departments signing off on OERs before release as confirmation that there is no copyright infringement. Here, the central OER team’s role is mainly focused on the provision of technical support. At UCT in South Africa, academics have the authority to release their materials themselves, after receiving support from a small central team on copyright, licensing and formatting. This is seen as an essential aspect of sustainability of the OER vision. There is a similar devolution at Delft. Once a teacher has posted a course to their VLE (Blackboard), they can choose to apply a conversion script to publish the item as OCW.

These various models for publication and release of OERs will be elaborated on at the OSTRICH OER11 presentation on 14 May.

Is it a good idea to use the term ‘OER’ in our institutional marketing?

We speculated on whether the term ‘OER’ is widely understood outside of the project teams working on OERs. The term OCW may be more familiar to people because it was popularised by MIT several years ago. Willem also noted that students at Delft preferred the concept of OCW (whole learning programmes with all the support materials) to OERs (decontextualized resources of varying sizes). Some project reps indicated that they only used the term ‘OER’ in reports to JISC, but used the more widely understood term ‘Creative Commons’ in flyers for workshops with academics.

The difference between OERs being released purely as marketing tools and OERs being released as learning materials

This issue was touched on in various discussions throughout the day. I have tried to represent the different outcomes of these two basic approaches in the table below, also drawing on the online discussion hosted by JISC (one of the ‘2nd-Tuesday’ workshops for the JISC Phase 2 OER projects) on 8 March.

Marketing Learning
Small, decontextualized chunks of learning materials Whole packages with lots of context – usually referred to as OCW rather than OERs
More multimedia (e.g. iTunes U, YouTube) More print and audio files
Generally not reused by the authors in their own teaching because the OERs are small decontextualized chunks of material; the actual course materials from which these OERs are derived remain locked behind the garden walls of institutional VLEs and get updated there. Generally reused by the authors/ institutions for teaching the programme rather than using materials in the VLE.
Not intrinsically linked to either face-to-face or distance learning Seen as a precursor for campus-based institutions to offering online courses for distance learning, where all material will be openly available on the Web.
These OERs are OK for reuse by other academics but often not very useable by self-learners, as the lack of context can create difficulties for learners. More useable by self-learners because the additional context makes them more self-explanatory.

As the concept of the OER university comes of age, these issues are likely to be debated a great deal more.

Gabi Witthaus, 14 March 2011

Today I visited our OSTRICH partners at Derby with my colleague, Media Zookeeper at Beyond Distance, Simon Kear. We had a very stimulating and inspiring session with Phill Gagen, Sam O’Neill and Linda Swanson. The Derby OSTRICH team is now in full swing with the gathering, screening, copyright clearance, transformation and formatting of OERs, and they’re building up a great bank of materials on subjects from Algebra through Hairdressing and Prenatal Development, to Quarrying. Many of these materials are filling gaps in the OER landscape, potentially meeting needs in specialist subject areas. (I was particularly interested in one of the Law OERs – on Law in the Music Industry – which is bound to be of interest to a wide range of people, not just Law students.)

Apart from looking over all the great OERs-in-progress, we also discussed how the CORRE workflow and evaluation model, which was developed in the OTTER project at Leicester, is being implemented at Derby. It seems that the model has transferred more or less seamlessly to the Derby context – the only major difference being that, since the Derby team is creating most of its OERs from scratch, as opposed to ‘OER-ing’ existing teaching materials, they are working much more closely with the academics than we were able to do in the OTTER project. This is likely to help lay the foundation for integrating OERs into learning design as a matter of course in future.

As a post-script, I was delighted to hear from our OER colleagues at Nottingham today that “It turns out that OER do save time and students do use them“!

While we OSTRICHes at Leicester have been focusing on the upcoming JISC reporting requirements, our cascade partners at Derby and Bath have been roaring ahead with developments in their institutions.

The Derby OER team has already gathered more than the committed 100 credits’ worth of materials to be converted into OERs, and they’re working their way through copyright clearance and packaging the materials for early release. Updates on their latest activities can be found at http://ostrichatderby.wordpress.com/.

Simon Kear (Beyond Distance Media Zookeeper) and I will be visiting Derby on Tuesday to get a taste of the OERs in progress, to see what support we can offer, and of course, to gather the necessary information for the Interim Project Report to JISC.

Bath, meanwhile, has been putting their efforts into creating a Drupal-based repository for both their own and Derby’s OERs, which has involved dealing with a number of questions about sustainability, considering that both institutions will want to continue adding resources after the completion of the OTTER project. Work with academics has been ongoing alongside this to ensure that the repository will be well-populated once it’s up and running. For updated information on Bath’s recent activities, see http://blogs.bath.ac.uk/oer/.

Members from all three institutions are also working on a presentation for OER11, in which we will discuss the workflow models being developed through the OSTRICH project and compare them with OER development workflow models from elsewhere, including the OSTRICH project’s predecessor, OTTER.

As we head towards the halfway mark in this project, I’m excited to see that the culture of openness that has slowly begun to take root at Leicester University is also very much in evidence in our partner institutions. It seems that the vision of OERs as a mainstream aspect of learning design in UK Higher Education might well be attainable – little by little.

Gabi Witthaus, 4 Feb 2011

Yesterday 19 January was the Programme Meeting for the OER Phase 2 projects in Birmingham. At Beyond Distance, we are participating in TIGER (new release project) and OSTRICH (cascade project).

I have written a summary of the highlights of that meeting, with a special focus on the Cascade strand. Please have a look.

A. Armellini

At yesterday’s workshop with OER contributors in Derby, we brainstormed the questions they would ask themselves at each stage in the process of creating an OER, with reference to the CORRE framework generated during the OTTER project. What follows is the ‘raw’ list of what was generated – this will be compared to the indicative questions in the CORRE Tracking Sheets to ultimately inform Derby’s own version of the CORRE process.

A) Gathering/selecting an item of teaching material to be converted into an OER

  1. Is the item cohesive? i.e. Can it stand alone?
  2. Is the content accurate?
  3. Is it current and correct?
  4. Would I want my mother to see it? (Or: Am I happy to be associated with this in the public domain?)
  5. Do we have a sufficiently collegiate approach to feedback? (Thinking ahead to the validation stage…)
  6. Does the resource comply with university’s regulations and requirements?
  7. Does the university have commercial ambitions with this material that I need to consider before deciding on turning it into an OER?
  8. Does it contradict or duplicate other materials?
  9. Have I identified the metadata? (Tags for searchability, as well as an abstract and information for potential users about the context for which this resource was designed)

B) IPR and copyright (Questions to be applied to the resource as a whole as well as all its separate sections)

  1. Where does this originate from?
  2. Who is the rights holder?
  3. What, if any, existing licence, has this been published under?
  4. Is this fair use?
  5. Can we contact the rights holder if needed?
  6. What is the risk?
  7. Do we have permission from people included in the images/ videos/ audio files? (Written consent forms)
  8. How long is it going to take to get copyright clearance? Can we afford the time?
  9. If clearing copyright is going to be difficult or too time-consuming, can we recreate or replace this material instead?

C) Transformation for reuse

  1. How much work is required to transform the materials so that they can stand alone? (E.g. removing references to resources that are not openly available)
  2. If we take anything out, do we need to replace it with something else to keep up the coherence?
  3. Do the materials need much work to make sense outside of context that they were delivered in?
  4. What transformation is needed as a result of IPR issues?
  5. How much of the transformation is the author’s responsibility as opposed to OSTRICH team responsibility?
  6. Granularity – what will be the ‘chunk size’ of the things we are publishing?

D) Formatting/ digitisation for reuse (choosing the file format and executing it)

  1. Corporate image (Branding – Derby formats and logos etc.? Policy decision needed)
  2. Most suitable formats/ uses to allow it to be accessible to global market? (Can we produce it in a range of formats? Including mobile platforms?)
  3. Do all the materials have to be DDA compliant?
  4. Could the resource be altered for DDA purposes (by another user) if needed?
  5. Language and dialects – e.g. will international users understand the accents in audio files?
  6. Can I do it? Are the resources available to support me?
  7. Does it require complicated technology (either for the author or for the end user)?
  8. Will it work? (e.g. if we put it in a new format)

E. Validation

  1. Which groups need to validate the resource, and at which stages? Project team? Contributors? Students? Colleagues/ other educators? School/department head/ other senior managers? Are any sign-offs needed?
  2. What criteria will be used for validation at each stage? (E.g. fit-for-purpose, accessibility, scholarship – is it good enough?)
  3. Do we need to bring in “media experts” to check quality of products (e.g. videos (Bearing in mind that students don’t necessarily want “BBC-style” perfection)
  4. How do we get people to engage in the validation?
  5. How to process the data and what will be done with it?
  6. Granularity – when to validate?

F. Tracking

  1. What resources are being viewed – any stats on what’s popular, what’s not (e.g. using Google Analytics)? Can this information enable us to make decisions about what kind of new resources to bring in?
  2. Where are the users?
  3. Are there any significant trends?
  4. Timing – e.g. is it busier towards the end of the semester?
  5. What to do with resources that are never/ have not yet been used?
  6. How can we best use the stats in reports to senior management? (Qualified by a statement from the project team explaining what the stats mean)

I’m looking forward to seeing those old OTTER checklists being revised for Derby’s context in the light of these discussions.

Gabi Witthaus, 4 Nov 2010