Gold in them there hills – KML as an OER ore

Making an OER is – insert arbitrary difficult statement here. If you have some technical skills, then it’s no different to anything else, bar perhaps a slight time overhead in terms of making sure all licences are cleared and you’ve not got a lot of pirates waiting in the woodshed (possibly making new legs, possibly discussing pirate news of the day). If you don’t have any real technical skills, or perhaps lack some techno-confidence (insert own digital literacy reference – perhaps confidence is more important to literacy? – the digital stutter?) then OER is as hard as a closed educational resource, or an ajar educational resource or a dutch barn educational resource. It’s hard. And then when you finish a person appears and asks you about copyright. Not to present you with a medal for finishing, but to remonstrate with your intellectual property errors.

I’d go be a pirate and drink rum.

So maybe there needs to be a silver bullet, or in recessionary times, perhaps an aluminium bullet (the werewolves are now publically owned and can be made to agree to this) in which simple tools can make rich, visual OER? So suddenly this sounds like a sales pitch. But lets imagine a tool we can pretty much use anyway, and then add a little magic.

Google maps.

We can use google maps.

It’s not a huge step to make a google map.

My Places | Create Map

Two clicks

Then you can click away leaving pointers on the map.

Simple. You can add HTML and text to a point. Even add your own images as labels….. but – the map itself isn’t an OER. The map contains copyright information which would make getting a licence for reuse hard. Almost too hard.

Fail. No, because each google map you create can be generated as a KML layer. So what’s KML? It’s an open standard for encoding geographical information – because co-ordinates and text wrapped up in some formatting. But you don’t need to care about it, because you’re working at an abstract level.

So here is my map

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?msid=216242226870095893059.0004ba446e4d7ce682191&msa=0&ll=6.140555,39.375&spn=120.274357,270.527344&source=gplus-ogsb

Google provides a link directly to the KML

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?source=gplus-ogsb&ie=UTF8&authuser=0&msa=0&output=kml&msid=216242226870095893059.0004ba446e4d7ce682191

Google maps also lets me collaborate with others (multiple authors), and import other maps (as either URLs or KML files) so remixing is pretty much there. So the map isn’t OER, but the KML layer can be.

So here is a tool, simple enough to use, which comes with remixing and shared editing built in, as well as downloading and next to no licence issues. Sounds perfect.

Posted in e-learning | 2 Comments

2 Responses to “Gold in them there hills – KML as an OER ore”

  1. […] of not being “British”, and presenting the resources in an almost nation-agnostic way. My last blog post featured the fact that the first “British Empire” shot in World War one was fired in […]

  2. […] I had in mind were Timeline/Google Spreadsheet as a simple OER creation tool (in part influenced by Pat Lockley’s post on using Google Maps as an OER authoring tool); and using Google Spreadsheet’s built-in functions to scrape and automagically publish […]