Jorum Blog

Be Open and Pay Attention to the Music Playing in Your Head**

Posted by Frank Manista on 24th October 2011

Rationale for this Blog Post:

For Activity Week 2011, we thought we’d highlight a bit of what's been going on with Jorum and some of the exciting things coming out of JISC, particularly with OERs. Since the 1st of August, which as many know, marked a big transition for Jorum. Since then, we’ve moved to being an open repository, hosting only those resources which are under a Creative Commons licence. Even with those items which are no longer visible in Jorum because they carried a non-CC licence, our collection has continued to grow, and we now have over 12,500 items which can be used and re-purposed as teachers and scholars need, ostensibly making all of the materials housed in Jorum OERs for all intents and purposes.

New Relationships

In addition to the many individual users, we have also attracted the attention of the Saylor Publishing, an American not-for-profit foundation, who champions OERs and their re-use. They design and disseminate modules in various disciplines with the idea of people benefiting from free and open education: "We believe that everyone, everywhere should have access to a college education. [Saylor's website] will serve as a zero-cost alternative to those that lack the resources to attend traditional brick-and-mortar institutions and, if they are willing, a complement to mainstream education providers." In the spirit of collaboration, Saylor will start uploading some of their modules and courses into Jorum as they become available. Several prominent British institutions, which are not in HE or FE, have also requested "trusted depositor" status, which is something we give out on a case-by-case basis, particularly if the company, individual, or institution are designing resources which are open and connect with our mission of hosting resources for teachers and learners, but are not part of the HE or FE system in the United Kingdom. More information is forthcoming, but these recent "new friends" to Jorum not only illustrate how important the idea of "openness" is to many around the world, but the importance of being able to find what they're looking for. Users need to be able to find resources, and depositors want to be sure that what they put into Jorum can be found!

Changes to Featured Resources:

Some of our favourite resources are now highlighted every month directly on the Jorum homepage in a rotating carousel. These are OERs which we looked at and thought were interesting and useful to the community. We've tried to ensure that they are not in one particular discipline and that they are not overly similar to one another, so one resource this month is focused on World War I aviation; another is on gender and sexuality, with a focus on the representation of hair; a third is about religions and cultures; the fourth is an interactive training resource for navigation; and only the 5th is about actual teaching practices, entitled “Online teamwork and collaboration”. They are all items which can be easily surfaced and used in many different kinds of educational settings, and most importantly, they are flexible enough that they can be put into different contexts.

Featured Resources

JISC's "How Open Are You?" Tool:

This marks an exciting development and is a great fit to the Open Activity Week ethos and to Jorum. More information will be forthcoming from the folks at JISC, and there's a great opportunity for people to play with a fun and interactive tool.

Jorum Learning and Teaching Competition at ALT-C:

We remain a usual presence at ALT-C, a relationship we value significantly, and as in previous years, we held a Learning and Teaching competition, from which emerged 6 short-listed resources, and three winners. All the resources were put into Jorum, and the 6 and then the 3 were featured in our news items:

1st place went to "Testing the Functional Integrity of Ocular Reflexes", which the judges said had particularly clear objectives and interesting realisation, plus a very effective use of the technology.

2nd place went to "Citing the Law Tutorial", which was described as very useful for students of a range of disciplines - not just law - and potentially administrative staff.

3rd place went to "The Virtual Genetics Education Centre (VGEC)", which was regarded as being full of rich content for learners of all ages, clearly structured and navigable.

All the resources submitted were interesting and well developed, and we are pleased to have them as part of the OERs in the repository.

JISC Query: Why OER?:

An interesting query to be posed by the JISC OER people, linking to the Jorum resources, with particular emphasis on the UKOER Phase 3 Projects, discussions of literature reviews, as well as talk about the value of producing and sharing OERs. Watch the Activity Week site for more information coming!

The Helpdesk:

We have also made some changes to the help desk procedures, and we have openly encouraged users to tweet about things that they have noticed about Jorum. Initially, this meant that we were receiving help desk queries directly via tweets, which meant we could also respond to them in the same way. The process created a much more transparent dynamic and gave Jorum a different kind of public persona; more importantly, users could see some of the issues other users were having and be able to deal with our repository much more effectively.

Increasing Use and Benefits of Twitter:

The unanticipated bonus of using Twitter in this way was that users started tweeting about specific resources in Jorum; it may have been simply their own resources, and the tweets were a good way of publicising their work, but there were cases of people using twitter to highlight something that they discovered and thought useful. Twitter became a means of emphasising our remit to encourage re-use and re-purposing of learning and teaching resources, over and above the usual means of newsletters and blog posts.

We discussed this in a previous blog, "Highlights from Jorum's Participation with the UKOER Phase-2 Projects", but it merits repeating that we want members of the community to suggest to us which resources could be featured on our homepage in that carousel; we want the next collection to come directly from those resources which people are talking about, so tell us what you'd like to see by tweeting and using #jorumteam!

** The title of this post is a paraphrase from an interview given by Tommy Shaw, guitarist for the band Styx and the lyrics from "Lady Madonna" by The BeaTles ... "see how they run?" (capital T used intentionally to protect copyright logo and because we are fans)

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