Traditional Educational Repositories vs. Web 2.0 Resource Sharing


I have just started at the University of the Arts London, working with Andrew Gray. Last week Andrew and I attended a workshop at the University of Southampton on Traditional Educational Repositories vs. Web 2.0 Resource Sharing. Here are some notes from the workshop:

Introduction – Hugh Davis (EdShare, Director of Education, eLearning)

  • EdShare is mainly for lecturers at Southampton University (although students can at the moment upload material); Language Box is for language teachers throughout the UK.
  • Are open educational resources about archiving? No.
  • Do people want to browse categories of Learning Objects? No.
  • The word ‘repository’ has been banned in EdShare. Instead EdShare uses the word ‘share’. However, there is still disagreement about vocabulary over the use of the word ‘share’ (c.f. Dave’s report below).

Moving from traditional learning and teaching repositories to Web 2.0 – Dave Millard (Language Box)

  • Traditional repositories are about archiving (safe, permanent, official).
  • Traditional repositories are about indexing (curated, monitored).
  • Do we want teaching and learning resources to be archived in the same way?
  • No, because they can be re-used, changed. They are live documents, so it is not about archiving.
  • Sharing documents is about:
  1. hosting – allowing people to put their work on the Web;
  2. organisation – grouping documents together;
  3. community – providing the facility to tag documents and build up a community of users.
  • Sharing is more about: broadcasting your work and yourselves than altruistically giving your work over for the use of others.
  • Sharing is a secondary motivation that emerges out of broadcasting.
  • Hosting:
  1. minimum metadata required;
  2. inline preview when uploading any type of file is critical, as it is about the thing itself, not the metadata.
  • Organisation:
  1. Zip – i.e. upload a series of lectures as one item;
  2. Multi-file – i.e. upload a series of lectures separately;
  3. Collection (owned by someone) – i.e. list of resources, which includes other people’s resources;
  4. Tags – completely open.
  • Community:
  1. Profile page (MePrints), which provides an identity, and a home page for users.
  2. Re-mixing or re-using a resource that is already in the repository. This may lead to ambiguity about who owns what. You can extend a resource, add completely new material, or edit what is already there. You can also create variations of your own resources.
  • Cognitive ergonomics (used the example of the development of the computer mouse from a box-type contraption to an ergonomically-designed object that fits the shape of the human hand to explain about ergonomics) is about working out how people use our systems and providing the best ‘fit’ for education. For instance, the repository has to fit into the VLE that is used in the university.

Top Hats and Trainers: Formal repositories and informal Web 2.0 resource sharing: A dance for educational communities – Sarah Currier (freelance consultant)

  • Looking at the use of free Web 2.0 tools and social media (Diigo and Netvibes) to create a virtual repository for a small Scottish university’s career service involved in promoting employability.
  • Diigo allows you to highlight a passage on a Web page, comment on it and send it to students.
  • Netvibes groups RSS feeds together.
  • It is based around community / community of practice (CoP).
  • To start with there was low confidence in new technology.
  • Provided a training session for Diigo – as a place to share resources, collaborate and communicate.
  • Netvibes is a place to disseminate information – blogs, feeds etc.
  • Diigo has the best tagging system – previous tags come up automatically.
  • Sustainability – what if Diigo goes bust? Can save resources to Delicious and Diigo at the same time.

Discussion about metadata – led by Su White (EdShare)

  • What metadata should we throw out?
  • What has to go in?
  • What can be done automatically?
  • Owner: Who is the person who can change it? Who authored it? (Provides a valid academic identity.) Who owns the copyright? Knowing who created it and who recommended it is important for academic use.
  • Recommendation field for educational level and how the resource is used.
  • Course codes to determine level.
  • Need to think about metadata for finding resources.
  • BUT: metadata can stiffen up the resource. We need to be creative about how it is used.

The future for educational resource repositories in a Web 2.0 world: presentation from a national web adviser to the HE community – Brian Kelly (UKOLN)

  • Click here for presentation.
  • Web 2.0 is mainstream now – and so we need to embrace the term.
  • EdShare is embracing Web 2.0. Which aspects? What is missing? What are the risks?
  • EdShare has RSS feeds, tag clouds, URIs, embedding.
  • However, it is not open to all!
  • Communications / social Web services improve the more people use it (uses the telephone as an example).
  • But you have to remember the 1 – 9 – 90 rule (in most communities 1% of users account for most of the action, 9% contribute a little, and 90% are lurkers – Jacob Nielson, October 2006).
  • Web 2.0 is useful for academia though – for example, Slideshare: easy to upload slides; can be embedded in Web pages; provides stats; annotation facility; slides can be ‘favourited’; can see my fans and the other slides that they like; Amazon-style “readers who liked this book, also liked these”.
  • What happens if a third party provider goes out of business? For example, the British Library’s use of Google Maps.
  • As with everything we would need to do a risk assessment. There is nothing new about the collapse of systems.
  • However, we are likely to have systems managed in-house and external services co-existing.
  • Can we compete with services like Google?
  • Got to be realistic. Is it a good time to ask for more money for IT services? Yes! Let’s build an empire that would be difficult to close down – let’s use issues of ownership to stifle 3rd party solutions – let’s explore a blended approach (a 3rd way).
  • We focus on rules – they have to deliver the goods to make money.
  • Need to provide a hybrid approach – e.g. University of Bath’s OPUS repository.
  • Can’t not take risks in HE.
  • JISC is encouraging establishment of Critical Friends for sharing and enhancing effective practice, and Successful Scenario Planning.
  • The main issues are policy issues – not technical ones! For example, University of Southampton do not allow student emails to be forwarded to their private email addresses. The enemy within.

Discussion on Legal, security, IPR and other formal issues for educational shares – led by Ali Dickens (HumBox)

  • The HumBox project focuses on the Humanities and is a collaboration between four Humanities Subject Centres (LLAS, English, History and Philosophical and Religious Studies), and at least twelve different institutions across the country.
  • HumBox is aimed at academics within the University of Southampton. It is not open at the moment, but it should be.
  • Peer-review is the same as comments.
  • Questions arising from HumBox:
  1. Does the university own all materials? Who owns the materials?
  2. Who has access?
  3. What happens if permissions have been granted for 3rd party copyrighted materials – e.g. clips of film? Would the university get sued?
  4. What licence should the author select?
  5. What counts as commercial use?
  6. What counts as criticism / fair dealing?
  • What are the real risks of open sharing?
  1. Institutional reputation
  2. Individual reputation
  3. Risk of being sued / mitigation
  4. BUT with 3rd party content there would be a scale of risk – for e.g. Disney would probably sue for using a film clip, but you might get slapped wrists for using a colleague’s piece of work.
  5. Letting legal department drive the strategy
  6. People won’t deposit
  7. Migration of responsibility
  8. Abuse – advertising, pornographic images etc.

Brainstorming on “my favourite Web 2.0 feature” – led by Yvonne Howard (EdShare)

A brainstorming session was then held to discuss “my favourite Web 2.0 feature”. A number of features, such as RSS feeds, the ability to re-use content etc. and actual websites that use Web 2.0 feature (for instance, Get Glue, Spotify etc.) were mentioned.

Mary Burslem
4th November 2009


One Response to “Traditional Educational Repositories vs. Web 2.0 Resource Sharing”

  1. It was a good day and thanks Mary for writing this up. Maybe the one thing that really stuck out for me was Dave Millards assertion that web 2.0 has not been primarily about ‘sharing’. This of course was hotly debated and disagreements abounded all around. However it is very interesting for us where we are trying to utilise web 2.0 tools to primarily share! Should we change our tack? Does sharing come about simply because of web 2.0? If so do we promote a different idea to our academics/technicians/researchers? The option to organise their material? To promote themselves?

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