OER killed the Website Star

So you’re on a journey, you know roughly where you want to get too. On the road ahead are a few places you can get food, one slight detour away is a restaurant you know is good, and a way off the route is a restaurant you know is brilliant. So there is your dilemma, press on, take the quick route, eat the ok food or take a different route and enjoy fine dining.

So you’ve arrived. You need to make some learning materials. There is the default route,  advanced straight to go and focus on getting their quickly. Or there are approaches where you could look to take a long route, but in doing so end up with richer learning materials.

So you decide to try some new places when making learning materials. You can copy and paste text and images, download certain files. Let’s think of this as taking ingredients from the website. But you might also want to take out sections of the website (say something like a youtube embed code, or a widget), or you might like the website and structural elements of it, then you almost want to take away the entire site, a doggy bag, or sac-aux-chien from the michelin starred website-cum-restaurant.

For people to want to come to a website, it has to be engaging, well structured – provide a good user experience. But we also explicit make this website for the purpose of it’s quasi-destruction. We seek the export, the take away, the remix, the re use. For some people this is a website, for some people it is a shelf from which to take things. The people who want to use the site like the shelf perhaps don’t care directly for how well it works as a site, as they won’t be consuming the site itself.

Websites exist, and to an extent, their underpinning CMSes (CMSii?) and repositories to present content – they are the “destination restaurant” that is explicitly worth the visit.  They might sit well as a link in a powerpoint or pasted into a VLE. Explicitly any use of them requires that content to be assessed. If the website is perceived instead as a service for allowing a polyphony of content, then the site needs to almost provide a contextless approach for all content. Sadly a website babelfish – izer doesn’t exist – mostly because identifying all reuse cases is impossible (in advance), and also because it is a non-trivial piece of work to do so. Taking a list of possible types (such as this open learn example) shows how some forms exist, shows some forms exist – but are these the types people want? We’re moving to the point with Great Writers that we are thinking about how people want to take away content – we’ve got embed codes / download working, we’ll be looking into Capret – but we have no idea on the bigger forms – is common cartridge a term with any traction amongst teachers? How many VLEs support it? Is it worth us coding that in? Should we aim for something more oEmbed like – or is that again, too nerdy? Would we be better spent making powerpoints or word documents – some bread and butter, maybe not michelen starred bread and butter, but incredibly popular bread and butter downloads instead? You argue that for OER and reuse it makes sense to have the content everywhere, and not “just” on one website, so does OER, and working openly mean the website is dead?  Hopefully this will come up at our engage event as a topic for discussion.

It seems there is an almost Zen Perfection dilemma in the OER website. We want to make it as good as we can do, but accept that some people might want only a part of it, or to actively destroy it, or to just take it away. So it is no longer directly, a site, but more a pipe through which things can flow. If I was being clever, I’d refer to Marshal McLuhan at this point, perhaps pop will eat itself, but I prefer to think that OER might kill the website star, oh yes 🙂

Posted in Content, copyright, dissemination, Great Writers | 3 Comments

3 Responses to “OER killed the Website Star”

  1. dkernohan says:

    I cannot help but think of a Certain French Chef, a magic marker and various breakfast cereals…

  2. Jenny Gray says:

    From the OpenLearn logs, people like our printble format best, followed by (surprisingly) the raw XML and then the simple HTML package which acts as a standalone website. All the ‘official’ content packaging formats, including Moodle, come lower down the list.

    From that, I take it that people generally want bread and butter, or perhaps don’t understand ‘pain et beurre’ and so tend to avoid it.

  3. Patrick Lockley says:

    I would agree – not sure if anyone wants CC, or understands what it is

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