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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