The University of Oxford has a strong global strategy, aiming to attract the best students and staff to our organisation and to showcase internationally the high quality and unique content produced by UK HE. The OER is a key part of our outreach and impact activities along with strategic partnerships with schools, colleges, employers and alumni.
The purpose of our ‘Oxford OER International’ project is to identify suitable elements of the University of Oxford’s existing OER collection to be showcased internationally. By improving the web presence of Oxford’s OER outputs, designed with the international user in mind, the project was able to promote a selection of resources hand-picked for their suitability for an international audience.
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). The project evaluated strategies to improve discoverability of content by an global audience and investigated a range of tracking and feedback methods for understanding their use, and these are to be included in a case study for the HEA.
‘We aim to publish once and deliver in multiple channels’
The aim of the publishing process for material has always been to aim for a publish once but deliver in multiple channels so that it reaches the widest possible audience and benefits from central marketing and evaluation opportunities.
The publishing process for content is based on a cataloguing engine that produces RSS feeds. It was designed from the outset to allow individuals and departments to take ownership of cataloguing their own outputs supported by a central service to help on technical challenges and to maintain the legal sign-off process. By centralising the cataloguing process but allowing all departments to contribute new material it is possible to deliver into multiple publishing channels at one time and hence achieve an economy of scale in terms of maintenance and long-term support. Clear guidance and training on publishing formats for media has been important to allow projects to create material that may be used on local departmental web sites but also published into the institutional channels.
Existing metadata were reviewed with an international audience in mind and options for improvement considered. Descriptions were revised to ensure that the audio and video items were described clearly for the international user and a field was added to existing metadata to indicate level; introductory or general interest, intermediate, advanced or research. These enhancements are of advantage to all our users. In this project it was possible to work with only a small selection, in the future we hope to improve our keyword and captioning toolset for all our OER.
There were some technical issues limiting what could be done. E.g character limits in description and keyword fields. Ideally, keywords should be selected from an internationally recognised standard thesaurus/keywords list. We now offer a revised a set of descriptions in an attempt to make these more suited for all audiences; local, national and international.
International comparability and discoverability is increased if shared standards for metadata can be used. We do this by using keywords and classifications that are recognised by international distribution channels (like iTunes U and JORUM).
Although it would be impossible to make all podcasts available in several different languages, it may be possible to offer supporting resources to help international users. Such supporting resources could be transcripts of the spoken text, translations of (the transcripts of) the texts, subtitles, vocabulary lists, references etc.
The case study can be found at http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/projects/detail/oer/OER_int_005_ox1 .