5 September 2016 | Category: Open Education

The Library for Learning: One search environment for education resources

By Marianne Renkema

I work in the library as team leader of the group Education ...

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) produces an increasing amount of digital education resources. The production got a boost with the introduction of MOOCs and online masters. Over the past two years hundreds of knowledge clips were recorded. The mindset in producing these course materials is to make it suitable for multiple purposes, on and off-campus.

The digital education resources (DER) are scattered on different servers, network, personal, and local drives. There is video material on the multimedia-server WURTV2 and YouTube. There are images and infographics on local PCs or network drives. There are e-learning modules or complete digital courses hidden in BlackBoard. And there is a lot more material. Overall, it is unknown which DER were created and where they can be found. Let alone, when and in which course the resources are used, and if re-use of resources in other courses is possible or permitted. This situation asks for a solution.

ER&I, IT, and the Library are working on a solution in which WUR teachers are able to search for and find DER from different origins in one single environment. We call it the Library 4 Learning (L4L). Via this L4L, WUR teachers can share their DER and re-use the resources others created. It is work in progress, but as we would like to know what you think, in this blog we share the results of our pilot.

The L4L is a kind of smallish Google to allow teachers to find Education Resources, indifferent of where these ER are.

What is the L4L?

The L4L is a search box, like in Google, that searches in a large box of data. The difference with Google is that in our box of data the only objects that can be found are educational resources made by WUR staff members. The similarity with Google is that the DER themselves are not in the box, but they are on the internet servers where they were originally published. In other words: the L4L is a kind of smallish Google to allow teachers to find DER, indifferent of where these DER are. We strive to make it available for students as well.

Use Case: Using what is already there

Imagine you are a teacher for a course at WUR, and you need to create teaching materials for a new topic. First you want to check if existing material is available and useful, but where would you look? The L4L can help you finding different types of materials. You can search the L4L on topics, but also on course codes, year, teachers, etc. The next step is to check whether you are allowed to duplicate it in your own course or modify it.

Another use case: Sharing your resources with other teachers within WUR

You have made short video clips for a course you are teaching. You have recorded these clips in the ‘Knowledge clips’ studio and stored them on the WURTV2 server. You are quite certain that the clips might be useful for other teachers as well, and it would be a waste of time and money to keep these for yourself. The L4L makes it possible to share your work and make it available for others under the conditions you choose. In other words, the L4L is a tool that helps to avoid doing the same thing twice.
Even if your video clip might not be suitable for reuse, it might be a source of inspiration for other teachers.

The L4L is a tool that helps to avoid doing the same thing twice.


So far we have created a pilot L4L. In this pilot you will find Education Resources from WURTV2 and from the Library collection of MSc theses. In the next months, we will include three new collections: video material from YouTube, an Image collection and the Library Study Collection, which includes textbooks and course packs (“readers”). In the pilot we developed the ‘trick’, so now we can apply the trick to other sources. An important element to make our ‘trick’ successful is the quality of the metadata of the resources in the original database. This is a point of concern at the moment.

In the next months, we will also include the L4L search box in MyPortal, so that WUR teachers can start using the L4L and give us feedback. This is a first, small step in creating a tool that allows to make complete course arrangements from the search results in the L4L.

Sharing education resources within WUR or beyond

Sharing Education Resources in the L4L requires an Open Mind, a willingness to share and show your cards. It is obvious that reusing material from others saves time, but uploading your own material for others to reuse is for most too big a step for several reasons. It is scary and a lot of work, and questions arise if it is allowed by the employer.

With the L4L, we make it possible to start sharing your work within Wageningen. Most of the DER will end up in the L4L without a lot of effort, and if the material has restricted access, it can only be found, but not opened. Furthermore, you can set your own conditions for reuse in the form of a user licence. As a default, we intend to use a Creative Commons CC-BY license, which is an open license allowing almost everything provided that proper acknowledgement to the original creator is given.

With all these measures, we gradually prepare Wageningen to be able to share course material with the whole world. A great opportunity to help improve education across the globe and to support the Dutch government’s ambition towards Open Educational Resources.

Picture: Searching by Tim, 2010 (CC-BY-NC-ND)

By Marianne Renkema

I work in the library as team leader of the group Education Support. I teach information literacy, which is about finding and using scientific information, and support students and researchers in setting up database queries. Furthermore, I give advise on copyright in research and education.
In this blog, I will address topics on online and open education.

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