The purpose of Oxford OER International was to identify suitable elements of the University of Oxford’s existing OER collection to be showcased internationally.
‘I’ve had responses from as far away as Iran, the USA, Portugal and Kyrgyzstan to my iTunes lectures: far beyond their original delivery in a lecture theatre in Oxford. Oxford’s open projects and the Creative Commons license enable us to extend our work into courses in other universities, and to encourage more people from around the world to develop their academic interests.’
We aimed to improve the web presence of Oxford’s OER outputs, designed with the international user in mind. We now promote a selection of resources hand-picked for their suitability for an international audience.
‘I just can’t get over the fact that Oxford University freely offers the wealth of its knowledge to the world at large- to anyone, anywhere. I’m finding that it’s even more than knowledge that its courses teach, but instead a characteristically human way in which these fascinating philosophical and human questions are approached.’
‘There’s always going to be more written than you can ever engage with, so to be able to hear people who’ve spent time go into depth with the work and engage with those is just like an absolute treat isn’t it?’
The project enhanced the potential for engagement with international audiences by ensuring that the selected content was more easily discoverable through improved descriptions and additional metadata to indicate level (introductory, intermediate, advanced). Advocacy from world-class academics and appreciative users, clear routes to Oxford’s other OER projects, and the inclusion of other links focussed on international admissions were all included to present a true showcase of Oxford’s best international outputs.
The project briefly explored strategies to improve discoverability by an international audience and methods for understanding their tracking and use, and these are to be included in the final case study. The case study will highlight successful approaches, for example by describing how metadata can be used to enhance discoverability and demonstrating how tracking methods can support international promotion.
A significant part of this project is the preparation of a case study. This will report on the strategies implemented at Oxford to enable discoverability by an international audience, improvements which can be made to metadata, and discussion of the use of the ‘Oxford’ brand in promotion of OERs.
‘What are the options for enhancing our existing metadata in order to facilitate and increase discoverability by an international audience?’
I hear you cry.
We considered a number of options to meet the needs of an international audience:
- Translation: provide some or all information about an item in more than one language
- Improve descriptions to make them easy to understand also for non-native speakers and users from international backgrounds
- Ensure an internationally recognised vocabulary/thesaurus is used for keywords, include alternative spellings
- Use international metadata standards for automatic discoverability and exchange
- Provide all resources in different languages
The project includes a report on understanding your audience with tools such as Google Analytics and how these can help you to increase international impact, written by a digital marketing specialist with the aim of making both basic and advanced web marketing easy to understand and realistic to implement.
There is a desire to undertake further work to continue the improvement of the web presence of Oxford’s open projects, particularly a ‘signposting’ page which brings together information on each project and provides some introductory materials and guidance on OER. This will benefit all users and will provide clarity for our local and international audience alike.
And there is demand for much more material:
“I’ve had the pleasure, over the last couple of days, of having your introductory Philosophy lectures accompany me on my daily walk. I downloaded these lectures from iTunes U. And I’ve enjoyed them immensely. Unfortunately, there are only two lectures; both of which stand out for their clarity. Are there any plans to post the balance of this lecture series online? At the end of the 2nd lecture, you refer to lecture 3 and the upcoming discussion of induction and Hume. And I was just getting warmed up.”
Oxford has already undertaken work on automatic speech to text transcription (see the outputs of the Spindle project) for the purpose of improving keyword metadata and producing a captioning toolset. Within the area of internationalisation a logical next step would be to pursue discussions with academic contributors regarding the release of automatic transcripts and to investigate automated translation of the transcripts for the benefit of international users.