Thursday, 23 June 2011

SPIDER: The Halfway Point

I have officially reached the halfway point of the SPIDER project.  It has been fantastic getting the chance to meet with the iTunes U teams of the Open University, Oxford, and Nottingham, as well as to research issues related to open educational resource production, promotion, and impact along with supportive colleagues from each of the above institutions as well as my home University of Leicester. I especially appreciate the support of SCORE colleagues and staff; it is a privilege to work alongside them.

Photo courtesy of CameraEye on Flickr

If I were to consolidate what I have learned from each of the universities for whom I am studying their iTunes U implementation, I might say something like the following:
Open University: Over 34 million downloads, many files BBC quality, but as their Vice Chancellor Martin Bean said (this is my paraphrase), “It is not the slick presentation, but the great learning material which gets the most attention and encourages people to register.”
University of Oxford: Over 10 million downloads, mostly audio-only captured lectures and seminars. Much evidence of re-use by high school and secondary school teachers, as well as informal use by individuals.
University of Nottingham: Real commitment to open educational resource production and sharing, of which iTunes U is only a part. Their Xpert OER search tool is outstanding and their Xerte tool is equally amazing.
In general, I and many others have seen that iTunes U is a great place to begin the discussion about open educational resources, because it has a “cool factor” (for want of a better term) which encourages academics and institutions to see the sharing of such resources as advantageous to themselves. This is necessary for any such project to be sustainable.
In the second half of my project, there are case studies to be finished, comparisons and analyses to be made, and software to be tested. I plan to produce a basic quality-assurance workflow appropriate to iTunes U, as well as a “philosophical how-to” plan for institutions considering starting an iTunes U site in particular, and in the sharing of open educational resources in general.
Thanks for sharing the journey.
Terese Bird, Learning Technologist and SCORE Fellow

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