Posts Tagged ‘OER’

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


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Yesterday we had our kickoff meeting with the Derby project team for the OSTRICH project. Ale, Tania and I were the Leicester contingent, and Derby was represented by Rene, Linda, Pete, Sam and Simon.

Ale and Rene consider their dreams for the OSTRICH project

Ale and Rene consider their dreams for the OSTRICH project

We started by (literally) laying all our dreams and nightmares about the OSTRICH project on the table. This is what came up:


  1. ‘WHAT did you say you wanted to do with my materials??!!’
  2. ‘Easier to start from scratch than to repurpose this rubbish!’
  3. Formalised bureaucratic process stifling creativity and engagement
  4. People in the project team working on the wrong version of an item duringt the CORRE process
  5. Not enough time
  6. Insecurity – my stuff is not that good. I’d rather not share it.
  7. Legal issues – finding a host of unattributed images in materials; not being able to clear a large set of materials (for IPR); no knowledge of where third party materials were sourced
  8. Getting into trouble with a rights holder or being sued
  9. Copyright legislation made tighter and more restrictive
  10. Empty or fragmented repositories or low quality
  11. Will the OERs get used by other people once they are published?
  12. Lack of engagement at faculty level. Cultural shift may be needed to persuade academic staff.
  13. Lack of understanding about OERs and Creative Commons licences by academics
  14. Academic disconnection because of job concerns
  15. Losing the ‘context’ (pedagogical, for instance) – in an attempt to make the OERs ‘generic’ and reusable by others
  16. No policies created for continuing/ sustaining gains made after OSTRICH project
  17. Metadata!


  1. Delivery on time and successful outcomes for Derby staff
  2. Culture of openly critiquing; learning from each other’s practice
  3. Personal ‘promotion’ within the academic community: ‘If my stuff gets used, I’m good!’
  4. Much improved institutional visibility worldwide and potential to create some material to market and promote the institution: prospective students will look at OERs rather than glossy brochures
  5. Is seen as a good thing to be involved in (CSR issues)
  6. This will reinforce that content is not the most important element. The lecturer/ tutor is!
  7. Cross sector funding for shared resources
  8. More time for teaching!
  9. Increasing the pool of excellent quality, reusable OERs available on the Web: there will be one big, searchable repository, which is a sustainable knowledge base
  10. A big stock of copyright-cleared video educational material
  11. Releasing good quality OERs which are reusable and repurposable
  12. Quality: academics will think twice about the materials they offer to their students; equal level of quality across subjects
  13. OER will be developed with the dynamism of Wikipedia and YouTube
  14. Reversioning made easy
  15. Realisation of all the wonderful ‘free’ stuff already produced – less duplication. Increased awareness, ability and willingness to reuse OERs from other sources before developing from scratch.
  16. Thinking about using 3rd party materials before sourcing – and getting permission or working within licences
  17. All third party rights holders allowing reuse of their materials for free!
  18. Clear intellectual property rights (IPR) policy for Derby
  19. Trigger sustained and substantial adoption of OER at UD
  20. The CORRE model is adapted so that it works within the Derby way of doing things
  21. Simple mashup tools for direct academic use
  22. Easily cascaded knowledge and good networking between Leicester, Derby and Bath. Good practice shared by all OSTRICH members.
  23. Having enthusiastic and cooperative contributors of materials
  24. Encourage cross-departmental working for new Dept (LEI) at Derby

We are confident that, by drawing on the experience of the OTTER project, and the collective experience of the OSTRICH team, we will be able to avoid (or minimize) the nightmares – and live the dreams!

Gabi Witthaus, 29 Oct 2010

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Is YouTube an OER repository?

On the negative side:

1.    YouTube videos may contain copyright infringements.

2.    No guarantee of quality.

On the positive side:

1.     There are multitudes of film clips with good educational content.

2.     It’s free.

3.     Clips are technologically reusable – kind of. You have to know how to do it.

4.     YouTube.edu may begin to encourage better quality.

There is overwhelming evidence that many people, especially young (pre-university?) people, use YouTube as their first-port-of-call search engine. I was recently speaking about YouTube with a group of undergraduate medical students, and they admitted YouTube is the first place they go for film clips of any kind of clinical practice.

Not only does YouTube contain OERs, it can be used to advocate OERs. To illustrate, I give you OER FAQs by Beyond Distance’s Dr Sahm Nikoi.

What do you think about YouTube as an OER repository?

Terese Bird, Learning Technologist, Beyond Distance Research Alliance, University of Leicester

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Today was the first programme meeting for the ‘cascade’ strand of the Phase 2 open educational resource (OER) projects, including OSTRICH. OSTRICH stands for OER Sustainability through Teaching & Research Innovation: Cascading across HEIs. It is a one-year project funded by JISC and the HE Academy, led by the University of Leicester and with the universities of Bath and Derby as project partners. OSTRICH will cascade the knowledge, lessons learned and models developed as part of the OTTER OER project at Leicester and will enable partners to develop and release 100 credits’ worth of OERs. In doing so, OSTRICH hopes to put Bath and Derby firmly on the national and global OER map. We are very proud to have an ostrich in the Media Zoo!

At today’s meeting in London, I had the opportunity to meet OSTRICH’s sister projects, as well as colleagues from the funders and OER projects funded under other strands – including TIGER. We’re all set for a great year of OER collaboration, development and growth. Let the fun (and the work!) begin.

Dr A Armellini
Beyond Distance Research Alliance
University of Leicester

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