September 2009
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Jorum Webinar reflections

Just thought I’d just quickly post a few reflections on the Webinar that took place this p.m. on Jorum. I’m on holiday from tomorrow and for all of next week so if I don’t do it now, the moment will pass. It is our ‘summer’ holiday. Devon has moved seamlessly from Spring to Autumn without bothering with Summer this year. This week though we have been experiencing an ‘Indian’ summer. I hope it lasts a little longer ‘cos we are only straying into Cornwall, albeit at the westerly end.

I found the webinar really useful and informative, so thanks to everyone who was responsible for preparing and presenting it. The no. of participants was impressive – I think it got up to the mid 40’s. At Exeter, because so many colleagues are now in open plan working areas, we gather in a meeting room and just one person (me) logs in and we project onto a big screen. So Exeter will only have had one registered user but in fact there were other lurkers.  Any stroppy postings I can then (pretend to) blame on my colleagues!

I also found the flood of chat very illuminating. We are all exploring the same challenges and with different levels of uncertainty and clarity. I felt it underscored the INST-OER chat recently re. having more f2f meetings.

One of our uncertainties is whether we should be using the current Jorum OER Deposit tool or skip over that stage completely and wait for the new JorumOpen when it becomes available in January. I did post this question in the webinar chat but it was not picked up. Exeter’s preference is to wait. In part this is for economy of effort and also because we wish to channel our efforts in getting our own repository up and ready.

Just to give a quick idea where we are up to, we have over 360 credits of material in various stages of readiness. We were drowning in IPR issues but are we are now beginning to swim, albeit unsteadily. Our servers etc. are in place. Just 2 days ago we finalised our metadata mapping from Dublin Core to LOM – in reality, more reverse engineered to DC from LOM – because we are using DSpace, which comes with DC. We note the compulsory fields and we have identified some optional ones. We will share this info on our web very soon and will notify you re. this blog when it is available. So, we are now poised to configure our DSpace. Packaging using Reload and adding the metadata are tasks that are imminent, though we still need to decide what level of granularity to use (objects, units, modules etc). By Christmas we hope to have lots of ‘stuff’. We then hit the ‘so what’ question, so the new year will focus more staff development issues.

Returning to my thoughts on the current Jorum OER Deposit tool, our view is that the above is what we would prefer to be focussing on.   However – we were delighted to be told in the webinar that Exeter has been chosen as one of the testing sites for Jorum’s new repository, which will be using DSpace and will have its soft launch in January 2010. The timing is perfect because it maps into our own DSpace development. I am confident that the synergies will be mutually beneficial and to the wider community.

Another question that was raised by several people was whether the link capability in JorumOpen could be used rather than deposit explicitly. This question has been circulating since the 1st get together in London last June. Other than in exceptional circumstances, it was stressed that depositing is mandatory. So that’s now clear. It then raises a number of questions re. minimising (hopefully eliminating) duplication of effort between depositing in the project institutional repositories and then also in JorumOpen.   A multitude of questions then come to mind but I’m sure these are the sort of things that will get resolved as part of Jorum testing out its new service in conjunction with Exeter and others as testers.

The 2 additional Jorum repositories, one restricted to UK users the other offering even further restrictions look very interesting, though my understanding is that they cannot be used for the JISC-funded OER projects.   Nevertheless, as we penetrate further into our instutions, seeking out the next wave of contributors, the availability of these additional services could help to increase the confidence of potential contributors who express some uneasiness re. totally OER.

The conversation around Q/A was very interesting, with the anticipated range of views being expressed, i.e. trust the depositor or have some sort of ‘validating’ mechanism. We will err more to the latter, though we recently changed our vocabulary from ‘validation’ to ‘enhancement’ because it is less threatening and presumptious!  As outlined on our Web, we have 2 stages. The 1st is an appropriately nominated person within the discipline agreeing that materials from that department are ‘suitable’. Defining suitable has, in our view, to be determined at the disciplinary level.  But because of IPR issues etc, these materials may not end up looking as they originally did. At this point, our ‘editorial panels’ step in. This is because Exeter takes a view on its reputation and does not want Exeter-branded material available as OER that may injure that reputation.  Here lies an interesting discussion re. pedagogical merit and the ‘business’ case …..

I must shamefully admit that I have not yet explored the Jorum Community Bay. It looks really useful. Perhaps a question to Heather – how might we use this and also our OER-INST mailing list where the postings are relevant to both contexts?

That’s it. Off to pack my bags. Lots of walking of Cornish  coastal path if weather permits. Lots of jigsaws if it does not.

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