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The University of Bath has rolled up its sleeves in preparation for the creation and release of at least 100 credits’ worth of teaching materials as open educational resources (OERs). A workshop led by members of the OSTRICH project team from Leicester (Ale, Tania and myself), with the project team and academic contributors from Bath, marked a milestone in the startup of the project. The main aim was for the Leicester group to share knowledge based on our experiences of the OTTER project.

Yesterday morning’s session involved the core project team members from Bath (Andy, Vic and Julian), along with members of staff responsible for all matters related to intellectual property rights (IPR) and copyright in the institution (Kerena, Phil and Cara). Tania, Leicester’s copyright administrator, gave a summary of the IPR issues that had been encountered in the OTTER project, and a comprehensive account of how we had dealt with the challenges that had arisen. It was clear that Bath intends to take a rigorous approach to copyright management in the project.

The afternoon involved just the core project team, with the addition of Marie, who is planning to produce OERs in collaboration with a number of Bath’s partner institutions. This session focused on the workflow templates and spreadsheets that we had devised during the course of the OTTER project, which the Bath team will enhance and adapt to suit their own context. We also had an in-depth discussion on our respective responsibilities and commitments to one another and to the project.

This morning we met with the academics who have committed themselves to, or are considering, contributing OERs to the project. We started by eliciting everybody’s dreams and nightmares about OERs, which generated some interesting discussions on the purpose of OERs, the business model for producing and using OERs, the benefits for institutions and academics in producing OERs, and the challenges involved in incorporating other people’s OERs into our own teaching materials. The dreams and nightmares fed nicely into Ale’s presentation on FAQs (what our ex-colleague Sahm used to call ‘Frequently Avoided Questions’) about OERs. Ale and I were excited about the high level of enthusiasm for the project and the commitment to designing for openness that was evident.

This afternoon we had a ‘debriefing’ session amongst the core project team members, in which we discussed the next steps, mainly around liaising with academic contributors to help them implement the CORRE OER framework and processes. We rounded off the two days by developing a plan for internal, stakeholder-driven evaluation, which will complement and feed into the summative external evaluation at the end of the project.

Arising out of all these discussions, it is already clear that OSTRICH will go beyond the OTTER project outcomes by addressing the following challenges:

  • Managing workflow and information sharing in a virtual team – we will experiment with a Moodle space, to be created by Julian.
  • Implementing a more systematic approach to creating metadata for OERs
  • Gathering and collating data from key stakeholders at Bath (academic contributors, senior management, Directors of Studies, Students’ Union) about perceptions on OERs, as well as feedback on the cascade process and the quality of OERs released, as part of the internal evaluation process
  • Trialling a version of the CORRE framework in which contributors have more ownership of the process, as opposed to the original version of CORRE as piloted in the OTTER project, in which responsibility for all processes leading up to release of the OER rested with a centralised team. The new model has been nicknamed D-CORRE, the D standing for ‘devolved’.

I’m looking forward to seeing this all unfold.

Gabi Witthaus, 15 Oct 2010

(Edited 18 Oct)

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