Open educational resources: tracking their use or releasing them into the wilderness

I’ve been pretty busy over on the Copyright Literacy blog in the last few months which has led to me rather neglecting my own blog. However a few days away at the I2C2 conference, staying just outside Scarborough, is a perfect time to recharge and take some time to reflect on all the stuff I’m interested in (of which copyright literacy is of course a huge part). I’m currently reading Brene Brown’s Braving the Wildnerness so the title of the post partly reflects this. However, the focus of this post is open educational resources, in light of the work Chris and I been doing on the new copyright, open access and scholarly communications game: The Publishing Trap. We’ve now written quite a number of blog posts on the creation of the game (on our blog, on the LSE Impact blog and on the Kent Office for Scholarly Communications blog), which we launched during Open Access week. We’ve also been planning a post about the licensing decisions we made about the game itself. But in the run up to writing that, I had a bit of a scout around to look into how you track and work out who is using your open educational resources. We wanted to release our game, but our experiences from Copyright the Card Game meant that we were keen to try and see how many people might download the new game, and then what they might do with it.

Some of the decisions we made about licensing the Publishing Trap reflect my long term desire to see a way of tracking and measuring the use of open educational resources. Years ago when I worked on a Jisc OER project, DELILA, in the final recommendations we concluded that as teachers we wanted people to use our materials, but it would be so nice to know what they did with them, how they used them and were inspired. In the way that research outputs are tracked through citation analysis, why is it still not possible to find a way of tracking OERs? Perhaps I am trying to control something that it’s not possible to do though, once it’s out in the wilderness?

However, the experience of releasing Copyright the Card Game has been wonderful and liberating, we’ve heard from some people who use it in their teaching, or have been inspired to create adaptions (there is even an online version in development) but we actually now have no reliable metrics since Jorum was retired and the resource is now on our website. This is really not a great situation. It’s something I raised on Twitter a few weeks ago, asking how to measure or track OERs. Short of putting it in an institutional repository, and only putting your resource in that one place, you are a bit stuck. So our decision to opt for the most restrictive of the Creative Commons licences for this resource is also shaped by feeling like I want to know what happens to the Publishing Trap. I know that our creative work should be free to inspire other people, and in this case it’s not just a matter of wanting credit. It’s because the game is still in development, it’s still quite precious to me and Chris. We’d like to oversee how it grows and evolves for a little bit longer, while letting the wider community experience it. We hope this makes sense to people. We are both hundred percent committed to open practice, we are also committed to shaping how our teaching resource develops though.

I’m happy the Publishing Trap is out there, but if anyone has any great ideas about how best to track an OER, then do let me know, but for now it’s in the wilderness (sort of on our website with some tracking) so do have a look at it.

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Teaching an online course: embedding digital copyright

Isle of Wight sunriseI’ve had a busy few weeks with my regular job, various Information Literacy Group tasks, copyright-related projects, and no less than three external events: APT in Greenwich, the CILIP Conference in Liverpool and a UnionLearn meeting where I spoke about IL. On top of this I have spent the last 6 weeks running an online course, Teaching in a Digital Age (TIDA). I followed the 23 Things for Libraries courses that ran several years ago at Cambridge and at Oxford. I wanted to launch one at that time at LSE for teaching staff, and so to get the opportunity to do this for my International Programmes secondment has been fascinating, a lot of fun and a real learning experience for me. I have over 20 students on the course from India, Malta, Malaysia and the UK. Every Monday and Friday I’ve been scheduling the new blog posts to go live and sending emails to gently encourage students to stay engaged. The most difficult part of the course, aside from the rather fast pace, has been keeping up with the students’ blogs! I wondered if they would take to blogging, but the vast majority really seem to have got stuck in! You can see all the students listed on the TIDA blogroll.

I have to say, the week I was most excited about was teaching them about Creative Commons and finding open educational resources, and to many of the teachers it seems to have been a real eye opener. And what a great way to demonstrate that understanding about copyright and licenses is a fundamental part of being a digital teacher. I’ve collected together some of the posts from the teachers on this topic below, as I think reading their reflections say a lot about how to teach copyright to academics – make it relevant, timely and straightforward, but most of all embed it in the course!

The course continues for another week – this week’s topic is managing information and getting organised exploring tools such as Dropbox, Evernote, Zotero and the concept of tagging.