Gibbs, Graham R. (2009) Open Educational Resources in the Social Sciences: Evaluation Issues. In: Requallo C-SAP e-Learning Conference, January 2010, London. (Unpublished)

From May 2009 to May 2010, the C-SAP along with collaborators from 8 UK universities was engaged in a Jisc funded project to make available to other interested academics 360 credits worth of educational resources in the social sciences.

Along with the collection, preparation and deposition of the 360 credits of materials, one of the key things that the project promised was to investigate the tacit understandings embedded in lecturer’s selection and use of teaching materials. Lecturers may have particular students, settings or assessments in mind when they develop materials and the project sought to examine these so that their resources may be made usefully open.

To this end, an evaluation was carried out to examine the understandings and models held by the six partners in the project – social science lecturers at six different UK universities – whose task was to produce the materials that would be made available in the Jorum open archive. The general aim was to establish partners’ experiences of opening up their educational resources and to examine to what extent other academics could do the same with their material (with or without project support).

Two main foci of this evaluation were issues about preparing for archiving and issues relating to how users of the archive might find materials once archived.

Partners generally had a very straightforward model of the potential users of the resources and hence of what resources they might require. The majority saw other lecturers as the main user and commonly believed students would not be able to make much use of the material. They saw users as needing academic and subject expertise both to appraise and select material appropriate for their needs and to judge the quality of that material. In fact, quality issues were subsumed under the normal institutional evaluation processes and partners, and probably teachers generally, did not have any clear criteria for the quality assessment of their teaching resources.

Partners also had an simple model of how potential users might find appropriate materials. In the main the feeling was that course titles would be sufficient. In fact the project promoted a deeper solution to this issue with the use of a Mapping Tool that required partners not only to deposit learning outcomes and aims but also to contribute appropriate keyword terms at the module level. Nevertheless, there remains much work to be done here, not least in the design of the repository, Jorum, in order to achieve adequate and flexible retrieval of resources.

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