One standard to rule them all? Descriptive choices for open education

Robertson, R. John and Campbell, L. and Barker, P. and Yuan, L. and MacNeill, S. (2010) One standard to rule them all? Descriptive choices for open education. In: OpenCourseWare Consortium 2010, 1900-01-01.

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Drawing on our experience of supporting a nationwide Open Educational Resources programme (the UKOER programme), this presentation will consider the diverse range of approaches to describing OERs that have emerged across the programme and their impact on resource sharing, workflows, and an aggregate view of the resources. Due to the diverse nature of the projects in the programme, ranging from individual educators to discipline-based consortia and institutions, it was apparent that no one technical or descriptive solution would fit all. Consequently projects were mandated to supply only a limited amount of descriptive information (programme tag, author, title, date, url, file format, file size, rights) with some additional information suggested (language, subject classifications, keywords, tags, comments, description). Projects were free to choose how this information should be encoded (if at all), stored, and shared. In response, the projects have taken many different approaches to the description and management of resources. These range from using traditional highly structured and detailed metadata standards to approaches using whatever descriptions are supported by particular web2.0 applications. This experimental approach to resource description offers the wider OER community an opportunity to examine and assess the implications of different strategies for resource description and management This paper illustrates a number of examples of projects' approaches to description, noting the workflows and effort involved. We will consider the relationship of the choice of tool (repository, web2.0 application, VLE) to the choice of standards; and the relationship between local requirements and those of the wider community. We will consider the impact of those choices on the dissemination and discoverability of resources. For example, the implications of resource description choices for discovery services which draw on multiple sources of OERs.