How to support sharing & finding Open Educational Resources – a conference recap
By Marijn Post & Marian van Harmelen.
In April 2018, me and my colleague Marian van Harmelen visited the OE Global 2018 conference in Delft. The conference was dedicated to exploring and discussing the benefits that Open Education could have for educational practice. A large part of the talks during this conference concerned the support that teachers need to more easily share and find Open Educational Resources (OER). As we as librarians play an important role in this support, we will discuss the most important take-home messages on this topic.
Share & search infrastructures
At this moment, most teaching materials are scattered across universities, often on personal drives and disks. It is difficult to find them and it is often unsure what kind of material is out there. During the conference, several discussion sessions and talks concerned tools that make it easier for teachers to share, search, find and (re)use material.
These tools concerned repositories and portals to share and find OER, such as: Library for Learning, KlasCement and Sharekit. But also more sophisticated instruments making searching easier and more automatised, like the AIDA tool of TU Delft or the use of Dynamic User Profiles, were presented and discussed?
Several talks pointed to the importance of setting up and working together in topic-specific communities when wanting to share OER. Sharing material within these types of communities feels safer for teachers, and the vocabulary and learning goals tend to be more levelled. Furthermore, communities can support each other in developing tools and infrastructure, thereby facilitating the sharing, finding and (re)using of OER.
The Dutch Ministry of Education, in cooperation with SURF, demonstrated the importance of forming professional communities through two projects. One community was formed of all nursing academies in the Netherlands and another community was formed of the mathematics departments of all the Technical Universities in the Netherlands (4TU). The nursing community has indeed been able to gather OER, make a professional vocabulary and make the OER searchable and findable via WikiWijs: https://hbo-vpk.wikiwijs.nl/. The mathematics community is still in a more exploratory phase of the project. They are trying to build the community by distributing a survey among interfaculty Math teachers at 4TU institutions and a roadshow among the universities.
Other similar initiatives used Topic-Oriented Open Learning (TOOL) Platforms to share material within a topic-specific community. Nice examples are the Anatomytool and I Hate Statistics. Both platforms do not only share digital teaching materials for teachers but also provide practice material for students supporting them to learn actively.
Following the guideline of the Dutch Ministry of Education, all Dutch educational material should be freely available online from 2025. Although 2025 is not too long from now, a lot of universities and academies still do not have a policy on sharing Open Educational Resources.
One of the universities that has policy on Open Education is the TU in Delft. They implemented it in the TU Delft Strategic Framework 2018-2024. The framework stated that teachers should be encouraged to use open educational material and share their own material, that Open Education should be part of the UTQ course, and that commercial textbooks should be replaced by open textbooks.
Teach the teacher
Teachers play an important role in Open Education, but are often still hesitant to share their material and use material of others. One way to make a cultural change in the way teachers look at open education might be educating them. Several talks during the conference concerned workshops and instructions for teachers on open education.
TU Delft put their policy into practice by starting to inform and instruct their teachers. They give workshops on Open Textbooks and on “using existing resources in your course”, and they create awareness of openness in their UTQ course.
Teachers should also be trained in copyrights and licenses. Creative Commons now has the possibility to earn a CC Certificate. During a 10-week course, teachers (but also others, librarians for example) learn all ins and outs of the Creative Commons Licenses and will receive a Creative Commons certificate when finishing the course.
Libraries play an important supporting role in the sharing and finding of Open Educational Resources. Not only are they able to create a well-designed infrastructure for the storage, finding and sharing of Educational material; they also support teachers in creating OER, give instructions on copyrights and licenses, support the publishing of open textbooks, give advice when defining policy, and collaborate during innovative projects on OER.
Another reason why libraries are key in the support of sharing and finding OER, is the well-organised network they work in. Both nationally and across Europe, libraries grouped to gather and exchange knowledge on all aspects of OER. This often makes libraries an important precursor in Open Education.
The Wageningen University & Research – Library also supports the sharing, finding and reusing of OER. For example, by providing a proper OER infrastructure via the Library for Learning. So do you have question concerning the above-mentioned topics on Open Education? Then please check our website or contact the Servicedesk Library (+ 31 317 48 6666 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Picture OE Global logo: CC-BY 4.0 International https://conference.oeconsortium.org/2018/