[Koalicja-l] Fwd: [eIFLoa] Libraries and Open Educational Resources: possible connections?

Bożena Bednarek-Michalska b.michalska w bu.uni.torun.pl
Czw, 18 Mar 2010, 11:23:13 CET

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     Data: Thu, 18 Mar 2010 10:49:10 +0200
       Od: Iryna Kuchma <iryna.kuchma w eifl.net>
    Temat: [eIFLoa] Libraries and Open Educational Resources: possible  
       Do: eifloa <eifloa w lists.eifl.net>

(some observations from the researcher in the field of repositories and
currently working for CETIS providing support for projects in JISC’s Open
Educational Resources programme)

Open Educational Resources

The growing success of the Open Access movement is transforming how
institutions view, manage, publish, and access their research outputs –
irrespective of any local commitment to Open Access. In a similar manner the
Open Educational movement may transform how institutions create, manage, and
share learning materials. Open Educational Resources (OERs) are a catalyst
for institutional change.

The growth of freely available learning materials from institutions around
the world is, like Open Access, both an opportunity and a challenge for an
institution. They offer the institution an opportunity to showcase their
courses to potential students, enhance the reputation and visibility of the
university among its peers and the general public, be seen to providing
value for any public funding they receive by making knowledge more
accessible, and promote a more flexible pattern of learning for enrolled
students. They also, however, present challenges as the process of providing
OERs is not straightforward and it accelerates the shift from understanding
a university as a place where one goes to receive knowledge to understanding
a university as a context for a community of learning in which students
construct knowledge and a context for a student experience in which good
facilities, pedagogy, and accreditation combine. If a student can access
resources from many universities to support their learning, the quality of
what a single institution adds to that content is crucial.

Open Educational Resources and libraries

Despite occasional protestations that self-archiving should be the norm, it
is clear that academic libraries play a vital role in the Open Access
movement and often provide skills, training, and advocacy, as well as
managing the required infrastructure. Libraries are beginning to play a role
in the emerging world of Open Data and Open Science, but their involvement
in the OER movement has thus far been limited, as has their involvement more
generally in the management of learning materials. Libraries may hold
syllabi and past exam papers and may offer materials supporting information
literacy and research skills, but they often play a lesser role in the
management of lecture notes, presentations, or formative assessment
materials. Such materials, are often held only by the lecturer, tutor, or
department providing the course. Furthermore learning materials, where they
are available, may be poorly integrated into the user’s view of library
resources (See Tony Hirst, ouseful.info, the blog ‘Open Educational
Resources and the Library Website’ August 10th 2009
http://tinyurl.com/yfkzq8g). There are plenty of legitimate historical
reasons for this but as the range of digitally available materials
increases, and in particular as the range of OERs increase libraries have an
opportunity to capitalise on their already important role in the student’s
studies, the academic’s professional development, and institution’s public

There are signs that librarians are beginning to engage with the Open
Educational movement, most notably the recent ACRL Forum on the issue at the
ALA Midwinter this year. In summarizing the panel’s views Belliston (C.
Jeffrey Belliston Open Educational Resources: Creating the instruction
commons C&RL News, May 2009 Vol. 70, No. 5 http://tinyurl.com/yhoezak )

Librarians can help by contributing their own OERs to the commons; screening
for, indexing, and archiving quality OERs; using OERs in their own teaching;
and participating in discussions leading toward responsible intellectual
property policies and useful standards.

This summary highlights some of the key ways in which librarians can begin
to be involved, but, I think, fails to consider how librarians can engage in
the wider issues around the creation of OERs and their use. It interacts
with Open Education in a way that parallels (to a degree) how librarians
interact with Open Access. It does not yet consider the active role
librarians can play in the initial description, management, and distribution
of OERs. For example, In CETIS’s engagement with many of the institutional
projects in Open Educational Resources programme I have noted that many are
engaging with their university libraries, not only to seek advice about
resource description and the application of metadata standards but also to
consider the long term role institutional repositories might play in
managing these assets and the possible role of the library in the OER
production workflow.

What institutional role could libraries play in the Open Educational

Although many academics in the OER movement have thus far had success making
their learning materials available informally through tools like SlideShare,
the process is more complex for an institution – especially if it is
considering how it might maximise the return on its investment in openness
(whether that return be in terms of publicity, goodwill, efficiency, or an
improved student experience). It is also not without cost: for example, both
MIT and Oxford have developed production workflows around a centralised unit
which is responsible for branding and checking rights.

The general failure of a Learning Object economy points to the need to
develop less complex, more scalable and sustainable approaches to sharing
OERs (Stephen Downes (2002) The Learning Object Economy
http://www.slideshare.net/Downes/the-learning-object-economy). Such
processes need to be informed by knowledge of resource description and
metadata standards as they apply to the specific tools intended to
disseminate the resources – whether that be a proprietary application
(iTunesU), a generic search engine, a repository, or some combination of the

As the ACRL panel also outlines OERs become additional resources that
subject librarians can reference in supporting students; they are also,
however, a new form of resource which students need appropriate information
literacy skills to assess (skills such as assessing the quality of the
material, its origin, currency, and fit with the student’s learning style)
and they introduce (or will introduce) a new set of discovery tools for
students and staff to be familiar with (such as Jorum, or aggregator
services like OERCommons http://www.oercommons.org/ ).

In summary I think that libraries can offer advice and engage with Open
Education in the following areas:

Metadata and resource description

Information management and resource dissemination

Information literacy (finding and evaluating OERs)

Subject guides

Managing and clearing Intellectual Property Rights

However, such advice, involvement and any subsequent guidelines for best
practice emerge from a thorough understanding of current practice, which at
this stage is not clear. To this end there are numbers of research questions
around this topic that could be usefully explored. These include:

What opportunities and issues emerge for librarians and libraries from the
OER movement?

What role do libraries currently have in OER initiatives or the wider the
management of materials relating to teaching and learning produced by

Are library skills perceived as relevant to the management of teaching and
learning materials (within libraries, within institutions, or by the OER

What can the library offer the institution in this area?

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Bożena Bednarek-Michalska
Biblioteka Uniwersytecka w Toruniu
87-100 Toruń
ul. Gagarina 13
tel.: (48+56) 6114417

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