Jorum Blog

Reflections on the Jorum Final Report

Posted by on 10th October 2011

The Jorum Final Report was signed off by JISC and is now available: it outlines the history and development of Jorum from its inception in 2002, hosted jointly by EDINA and Mimas, but it focuses primarily on the past three years and our transition to Mimas at the end of July 2011. Aside from anything else, the report illustrates a service in development, which has learned a great deal and has had much success; particularly poignant is the point made that in 2002, “it was a cutting-edge development with few, if any, established exemplars or other repositories from which to learn.” The document also illustrates some of the key methods the staff at both data centres used to work on and improve the services offered: they listened to the community but constructively managed expectation, as well as kept a keen eye on social media and online sharing services. The result of which attests that Jorum possesses a robust, reusable infrastructure, it has a rich collection of content (more than 12,000, all under a Creative Commons licence), it actively engages with teachers, and it has invested wisely into Open Educational Resources (OERs) and become a networked participant in a rich landscape.

It is also interesting to note in the report that there remains a curious split among teachers and learners with regard to the service, namely those who use Jorum routinely and those who know nothing about it. On one side, we have the success of the engagement with specific users within different communities of practice, but the task before us remains one of trying to get to those “in the wild” to take a look at Jorum and begin using it. During this time of austerity, when we have to be careful with expenditures on marketing, how can we create better awareness in a more effective, cost efficient way? The report shows that Jorum’s use of its newsletters, blogs and Twitter feeds have all been effective, to an extent; however, the task in the coming year is how to connect with people who are not currently engaged, which means different strategies for targeting institutions and subject areas.

The report highlights some very integral aspects of Jorum, which many social media services do not have, with regard to teachers' and learners' needs. For starters, “those participants who already used Jorum found it to be a useful resource which they could trust and their experience on it was a positive one. The principles behind Jorum are regarded as credible” (italics, mine). Although social networking sites offer a range of services and opportunities for sharing, we are told by some of our users that those networks do not have that a priori trust and credibility benefit, which Jorum does among teachers who use the repository. We might have to tweak what we offer to look more like them, because of user expectations; however, many teachers are vitally aware of the added-value as a result of placing them in a repository like Jorum. Moreover, many teachers, we have been told, are not convinced that their host institutions see the influence and importance of those social media sites, whereas Jorum already has a reputation for usefulness and quality among those who use it.

The report does underscore the work that still needs to be done. Our move to being an open repository has brought with it a small amount of contention, even among the OER community. In addition, the transition to one national data centre means that we have to make do with even fewer personnel to assist in its development and improvement. We also acknowledge that we need to put together a much clearer focus for our activities, “so that [our] unique selling point can be understood by users faced with a variety of means of sharing ... resources”. As the concluding statement of the report attests, “the challenge for Mimas … will now be to build on the success of this project … and make Jorum a viable, sustainable service, which helps users discover Open Educational Resources and foster their reuse.”

This blog post has been a brief reflection of the 78 page document, highlighting just a few of the important details therein. For more information, you can download and read The Jorum Final Report in its entirety, as well as a comprehensive history of Jorum from 2002-2008 by linking to the Jorum History Documents.

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