I’m working from bits of the University of London today (in UCL now) having attended a UoL CDE (Centre for Distance Education) lunchtime seminar on The Role of Open Access and Open Educational Resources within Distance Education. This is something I have a particular interest in for a few reasons: 1. I’m interested in how people find and deploy resources, and this is a central issue of OER 2. I’ve worked on an OER project (ORBIT) at Cambridge which faced some challenges and involved a particular platform (mediawiki) 3. I’m interested in activities of WikiMedia UK (WMUK) and the role of resources provided through various Wikimedia elements (Wiki commons, Wikiversity, Wikipedia etc) and the software to do this (mediawiki) which may offer some solutions to OER folks interested in facilitating reuse while also tracking that reuse (something mediawiki templates can support).  Indeed, I’ve talked about the potential of [mediawiki to provide OER support and learning analytics]1.

Image of Senate House University of London

Senate House, University of London. Image from Wikimedia Commons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Senate_House,_University_of_London.jpg which provides usage data across all Wikimedia projects. Author Steve Cadman.

Jon Gregson and Stylianos Hatzipanagos spoke for the first part, giving over 30 minutes at the end to discussion on how to increase OA/OER adoption in UoL colleges, I left for this bit as I wasn’t sure I’d be able to contribute much to questions focussed on the colleges unfortunately.  In any case this blog gives a brief overview of what was discussed and some thoughts from me. # Open Access ** Jon kicked off** with a brief intro to OA & licenses. He then discussed a survey across the UoL colleges results including: * Interestingly only 50% of college libraries have policy on developing OA, or/and the collection of materials (though they do have repositories with e-prints most widely used). * 5/11 colleges [note, there are 18 colleges…] produce open journals * Most provide little support/training re: developing OA or finding them/assessing qualitiy for both staff & students. * Keen for cross-college collaboration (8 think good idea v 3 not…again, note this isn’t all the colleges, I’d suspect there might be a small/big split here or/and a Bloomsbury campus focus? * Strong support for online access and sense that this is ever growing in importance Jon also emphasised that there is an understanding of the scope for greater evaluative/feedback mechanisms, engagement, and collaboration through use of OA – although there is a challenge in realising this potential.

OER Stylianos kicked off the second part with a bigger focus

on OER.  Again there was a brief introduction to what OER are (I’ll never tire of saying that) and some example programs (including some praise for the OU’s OpenLearn and a brief discussion of Jorum, on which more below). A take home here was the note that in OER, often important aspects of quality resources are missing – they lack context, the activities they’re embedded in to, they can often be quite didactic in nature.  This point was embedded into a wider point re: tools to track use (and reuse) of OER. This is something I’ve talked about before – we want to track OER and their quality (which has reputational value to institutions), doing this also makes searching for OER easier (and this is currently a major challenge). So for example, in previous blog posts I’ve noted that: 1. Open licence material that makes excessive use of PDFs is problematic insofar as it makes it challenging to remix, and track how materials are remixed – this is unfortunately the case with a lot of [Open Government Licence material]2. 2. I’ve also talked about paradata – resource metadata that gives information on how that resource is used, in conjunction with what, by whom, etc. – and [how mediawiki might play a role in paradata]3.  Jorum was specifically setup as a way to share OER with paradata capabilities built in, but although it’s a great resource I don’t think it’s wildly successful in terms of user numbers (which is a great pity!) 3. And finally, [how we might track paradata and use it to measure impact and tell user stories]4, in particular moving beyond just looking at hit counters to measure impact (something I wrote an intern-report on for nominet trust some time ago) # **Questions – How do we develop our open capacities? ** So, I guess my questions remain the same.  There’s lots of interesting potential, but how do we implement it, to what extent is the problem cultural and to what extent technological? UoL is in an interesting position in that there are a set of colleges with some shared resources and goals (although, they’re very separate institutions) so perhaps something interesting will come out of collaboration there.


  1. http://sjgknight.com/finding-knowledge/2013/06/wmuk-conference-mediawiki-for-oer-and-learning-analytics/

  2. http://www.nominettrust.org.uk/knowledge-centre/blogs/creative-commons-open-government-licensing-and-pdfs

  3. http://www.nominettrust.org.uk/knowledge-centre/blogs/wikipedia-education-and-tracking-how-knowledge-used

  4. http://www.nominettrust.org.uk/knowledge-centre/blogs/measuring-impact-tracking-open-content-wild