UK Update#4 – OER workshop

OERsOne of the workshops I attended at the JISC-CETIS conference was on Open Education Resources (OERs) – an area of increasing interest within the education community around the world, and the focus of several JISC-funded projects, many of which were represented among the participants in the workshop.

My interest in attending was three-fold – firstly because of the growing interest in NZ around the development of the WikiEducator project, second, the role of content interoperability standards such as SCORM and the IMS Common Cartridge in the development and distribution of open education resources, and third, the opportunity to connect personally with a number of the people involved directly in these projects.

Much of the workshop was taken up in discussions about the emerging standards, including metadata and content interoperability, that are emerging as issues in this field. I was interested to hear of the developments in terms of the range of media, including video, that is being considered – and was interested to learn more of the OpenCast project and their Matterhorn product, an end-to-end platform that supports the scheduling, capture, managing, encoding and delivery of educational audio and video content.

Also discussed at the workshop was progress on another of the JISC-funded projects called the Steeple Project, a collaboration among 20 universities to investigate, develop, and document sustainable institutional infrastructure to support university wide educational podcasting.

There was lots of discussion about iTunesU as an integral part of many people’s thinking about OERs– the US-based approach is for universities to upload resources to a common Apple server – but in projects in the UK all resources sit on the institutional server and iTunesU acts as an aggregator. Certainly the consideration about how OERs must be developed so that they can be made available on mobile technologies featured large in the discussions.

It was great to be a part of these discussions, and to hear first hand of some of the things that are happening. Obviously there are a number of related, yet differentiated thoughts and positions being taken on the idea of OERs and it will be interesting to see how things progress as both the thinking and the technology develops.

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