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The German speaking OER landscape in numbers

We recently published the OER Atlas, which gives a good overview on the actual state of the OER landscape in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The following post is a translation of the second chapter, which analyses and summarizes the collected data.

1. Entries per Type

OER Atlas 2016_Bbl_DRUCK 190216.indd

Figure 1: Number of entries according to entry type (persons, organisations, projects, services, events)

The database for the Atlas contains 157 entries in total. 134 of these were entered during the calls´ duration in November and December 2015 by using forms, all remaining entries were added afterwards.

The input is based on the OER World Map Data Model which distinguishes between actors (persons or organizations) and activities (projects, services, events). The distinction between the different types ca be difficult at times and is additionally complicated by an unclear usage of terms in common speech. In our rather technical language the term ‘project’ is defined as a targeted one-time undertaking that is limited by a certain start and end date [1]. In contrast ‘services’ [2], intend to provide additional value for one or more target groups on a permanent basis. In our understanding an ‘organization’ can run a ‘project’ which aims at developing a ‘service’, which is provided by the ‘organization’ usually after the ‘project’ has ended. In practice these distinctions are often blurred lines, and sometimes even the actors do no distinguish between organization, project and service, especially if the are named equally.

Therefore a number of entries had to be re-classified as different types afterwards. It occurs that entries, originally classified as a ‘project’, had to be ascribed as a ‘service’ by editorial review later on. Conversely, entries that were submitted as a ‘service’ were classified as a ‘project’, because the aimed at ‘service’ was not yet available.

With 64 entries the ‘services’ represent the largest group of submissions. Following the OER World Map Data Model there exists in theory at least one provider (organization or person) for every service (as well as for each project). Nevertheless this opportunity to submit a double entry (service and provider) was hardly used, potentially because of the relatively high effort to input the data [3].

The submitted ‘persons’ are not included in the Atlas– due to the small number of submissions, which was not representative.

2. Entries per country

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Figure 2: Entries per Country (D-A-CH Countries: Germany, Autria, Switzerland)

139 entries and therewith 88% of the total number are submitted from Germany. Austria contributes 14 entries (9%) and Switzerland adds another 3 entries (2%). Projected on a theoretically equal number of citizens this would equate to 131 entries from Austria and 29.4 entries from Switzerland. If this collection represents a realistic distribution of OER related activity in the three D-A-CH countries is questionable, because the data collection was initiated in Germany. As a consequence it is possible, that a number of Austrian and Swiss OER actors did not learn about the call or just did not participate.

3. Entries per Federal State (Germany)

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Figure 3: Entries per Federal State (Germany)

Concerning the entries submitted from Germany, separated by Federal State, it might be surprising that Baden-Wuerttemberg with 27 entries and Bavaria with 26 entries are head of the lead. One of the reasons for Baden-Wuerttemberg`s top position is that the “Zentrale für Unterrichtsmaterialien” (ZUM), as one of the oldest German OER initiatives, is located there. The metropolis region around Munich with initiatives such as Serlo and the Siemensstiftung as well as the association BIMS e.V. are the main cause for a high number of Bavarian submissions.

The German OER center Berlin is ranked third with 19 entries. Besides the public funded major project “Offene Bildungsmaterialien für Berlin” there are several OER producers as well as various actors, that can be accounted as political advocacy groups (Bündnis Freie Bildung, Creative Commons, Open Knowledge Foundation). Furthermore Berlin is home to the Wikimedia Germany Association that, amongst other things, held the large OERde 13 and OERde 14 conferences and completed the project “Mapping OER” just recently.

4. Entries/services per field of education

The participants of the OER Atlas were asked which field of education they connect themselves to. It was possible to name more than one field:

OER Atlas 2016_Bbl_DRUCK 190216.indd

Figure 4: Number of entries according to educational sector (early childhood education, school, vocational education, higher education, adult education, non- informal education)

According to that the school sector is numerously strongest with 102 indications, followed by the higher education sector with 82 and the adult education sector with 71 entries. At the end of the field are non-/informal education, vocational education and early childhood education.

The school sector got the most indications, but it can be assumed that its dominance is even stronger than what these data suggest. This conclusion can be drawn when you look at how many services where assigned to each educational sector in the table of contents (TOC) of the OER Atlas. In contrary to the statements of the participants (which allowed multiple answers), the assignement in the TOC required an assignment to only one educational sector:

OER Atlas 2016_Bbl_DRUCK 190216.indd

Figure 5: Cleared up number of services according to educational sector

From this perspective 55% of all submitted and counted services are taking place in the school field. Assuming that of the 21 services which were assigned to be cross-departmental a high number is rooted in the school sector as well, is occurs justified to speak from an obvious dominance of the school sector. The school sector outnumbers the following university sector by far and other sectors appear to be a lot less active in comparison.

The number of multiple indications can be interpreted as indication that within the field of OER the lines between the fields become blurred. There are various offers that address schools and universities at the same time, mainly because of the given thematically overlapping of upper secondary and tertiary education. Another example are offerings from universities that also address the field of further education. Finally all contents created in the context of formal education can be used as “collateral benefit” in the field of non- and informal education.

5. Services per subject

OER Atlas 2016_Bbl_DRUCK 190216.indd

Figure 6: Number of services by subject (science & mathematics, arts & humanities, infomation & communication technology, educational science, social science, health & welfare, generic qualifications, business & law, engineering, agriculture, services)

Regarding the subjects covered by the resources offered by the services it might be less of a surprise that most of the offerings are from the field of mathematics and science that are traditionally highly represented in digital media and open access. It is more of an unexpected result that 37 services offer capacities in the field of arts and humanities. Well represented here are subjects like languages, religion and philosophy as well as history. Following subjects are information and communication science, as well as educational sciences which can be explained by the fact that all services that cover the topic of OER are also counted as part of the education field.

6. Services per service type

OER Atlas 2016_Bbl_DRUCK 190216.indd

Figure 7: Services by service type ( mooc provider, text book provider, repositories, referatories, wikis, other)

The term ‘service’ is, according to the definition above, quite abstract and needs further concretisation. The development of a convincing system of sub categories therefore is an important research question. The OER Atlas is not capable of answering this question concludingly, but it can pose and set it into scientific focus. At this point two aspects can be emphasized:

6.1 Repositories and referatories

Recent studies distinguish between repositories (platforms to store resources) and referatories (platforms that contain links to resources). During the process of attributing the entries to one or another category the following became obvious:

  • The term ‘repository’ is still indistinct and requires further definition. Ideal-typical repositories are found in the higher educational sector as ‘institutional repositories’ which are characterize by providing a defined collection of materials which is accessible and managed by a specific repository software. In comparison this kind of repository can hardly be found within the school sector. Nevertheless there are numerous services which provide a stock of OER. This leads to the question if every website, which provides resource automatically can be classified as a ‘repository’.
  • ‘Referatories’ appear in different forms and diverse technological backgrounds. The simplest form of a referatory is a link list such as the one you can find on ‘CC Your Edu’. A more sophisticated approach is provided by social-bookmarking-services such as Edutags which allow to generate link lists collaboratively. The technically most advanced form are search engines  such as Elixier which index meta data or/and full texts of documents to provide fast information retrieval.

Relatively high in numbers are services that combine both repository and referatory functionalities, for example several of the German federal education servers. The OER Atlas counts these services as referatories – this assignment however is not necessarily mandatory.

6.2 Wikis

Figure 7 also points to another phenomenon: Wikis are the numerously largest group of counted services in Germany. 24 of a total 64 services (37.5%) are based on wiki technology. Wikis can be used to generate link lists (compared to the simple referatories mentioned above), as well as to upload documents (compared to repositories). Additionally they allow users to generate web documents in a very simple and quick way. The OER Atlas results show that wiki technology seems to be popular especially  in the school sector.

7. Services by license type

OER Atlas 2016_Bbl_DRUCK 190216.indd

Figure 8: Number of servcies according to used license type

One important aspect for analysing OER services are the used  licenses. 45 of 64 services stated to provide (also) CC BY-SA licensed material. This positive impression is supported by the fact that 44 services indicated to use only one of the license types CC 0, CC BY, or CC BY-SA. According to this 68.75% of the German-speaking services exclusively publish under licenses that are approved by the Creative Commons seal ‘Approved for free cultural works’. These licenses all match the requirements of common OER definitions. This (presumable also in international comparison) excellent result reflects the high priority which is given to licensing issues by the German OER community. Only 4 out of 64 services indicate to use other than Creative Common licenses, which is positively regarding the aspects of combinability and legal compliance.


 

[1] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Projekt.

[2] We use the term ‘service’ in the sense of ‘online-service’ including all different kinds of offers, which can be found in the web and which provide value to the OER community. The most prominent example are repositories. We adapted the term from the schema.org vocabulary. It seems to be somewhat irritating in and might be adjusted in the future.

[3] Unfortunatly the OER World Map input templates where not yet in place when we collected the data for the Atlas. We therefore had to use provisional templates to collect the data, which did not offer optimal usability.

 

 

 

 

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Can we map Open Education Week?

During a small research project starting during Open Education Week, we will try to look for ways to map Open Education Week, e.g. to put the activities of Open Education Week on the OER World Map.

Our interest in mapping Open Education Week data is twofold: on the one hand we made progress defining our data model by taking real world examples and trying to model them on the OER World Map. Initially we used OER stories for doing this on a micro level, targeting individual actors and activities. Just recently we produced the OER Atlas, giving us the experience of collecting data of a complete country. Collecting Open Education Week data will provide us with another interesting example of collecting real world data on a macro level.

On the other hand we assume that regular events (like conferences or Open Education Week) are good opportunities for regular updates of the OER World Map database. We already synchronised the data collection for the OER Atlas with the OERde 16 Festival and we guess that getting the data of the major global OER events would provide us with a solid set of the most important OER activities, even if smaller projects might be missed. Ideally, the data collection would happen automatically, so that the data being submitted for a conference or another event is automatically transmitted to the World Map. In order to analyse this idea more in detail, we will first take a closer look at the proposals submitted to Open Education Week.

We expect this activity to provide at least two different types of insights:

  1. We expect to learn, if it is possible to model the submitted data with our data model. If we find things which we currently cannot map we might extend or change our model.
  2. Posing the question “What should be put on the map?” also offers a good opportunity for Open Education Week and the Open Education movement in general to define and understand the value of mapping. Open Education remains an ill defined topic and trying to collect information about it in a structured way will provide deeper insight in the organization of OER ecosystems.

So what will we do in detail, and how can you participate? We started by putting all Open Education Week submissions (without the many events) in a Google Doc open to everyone. We also started reflecting on each entry and members of the OER community are sincerely invited to join this process of reflection by adding comments, especially to entries which are marked as “unclear”. Later on (probably within the next two weeks) we will summarize the results in another blog post and start mapping those events where data is available. In the long run, we will also consider improving identified shortcomings by extending the functionality of the platform.

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Printing the OER World Map: The OER Atlas

Last week, during the OERde 16 Festival, we published the first Version of the OER Atlas. The OERde 16 Festival was a major OER event, organized by Jöran und Konsorten and oncampus, which took place in Berlin (28th February – 1st March). The festival consisted out of several events, starting with a two day barcamp, followed by a one day expert forum, which aimed at connecting OER activists with OER policymakers. The glamorous highlight of the festival was the OER-Award, which recognized established OER initiatives as well as promising newcomers.

The OER World Map project was one of several partners of the festival and jointly responsible for the generation of the OER Atlas, a printed book with 102 pages, which documents OER activities from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Though a printed book might seem somewhat anachronistic, we assumed that there are many people – especially within the field of policy making – who still prefer print.

The Atlas includes a summary of the latest OECD report by Dominic Orr, an statistical overview of the collected data as well as detailed information for more than 130 entries.

Producing the OER Atlas turned out to offer many learning opportunities since collecting data for a complete country allowed us to test many ideas prior to their implementation in the World Map platform. Two of the most important lessons learned are:

  1. Our assumption that synchronising data collection for the OER World Map with major OER events was a reasonable thing to do turned out to be true.
  2. It is possible (with a reasonable amount of work) to collect at least big parts of the relevant data for a medium sized country like Germany.

The first version was generated manually. We believe that it would be a great feature for the OER World Map to provide printed reports on the state of the OER movement in every country of the world pressing just one button. If and when we will develop this feature is not yet clear. But it would be very helpful to see other countries start collecting OER related material using the OER World Map in a systematic way. In case you are planning to do something like this, please let us know – we are very happy to share our experiences.

Screenshot from 2015-12-23 09:52:49

Platform progress report v1.0

Just before the end of a busy year, this post briefly summarizes the last steps takes towards the release of v1.0 of the OER World Map, the final one for phase II of the project.

Input templates

Screenshot from 2015-12-21 12:49:53

The basic input templates have been refined. Most importantly, look-up functionalities for different value types are in place, which significantly enhances the usability. Controlled vocabularies such as the subject classification are presented in their hierarchies. The target audience(s) of a service can be entered in a similar way.

Screenshot from 2015-12-21 12:54:43

Linking entries with one another is another major use-case, consider e.g. adding a contact person to an organization. In the same way, services can be linked to their providers, projects with their participants etc pp. This lets the OER World Map grow into a highly interlinked database that allows to reveal many explicit and implicit connections.

Screenshot from 2015-12-21 13:26:36

The language of text values can easily be set and currently defaults to English. While not it is not exposed yet, we do support gathering multilingual data.

Events have been added to the data model and the input templates. An enhanced location-lookup widget is still in the making.

Export

Query results can now also be downloaded as CSV to be further processed as a spreadsheet. The UI is currently not exposing this functionality yet, nevertheless it is available using content negotiation.

$ curl -H "Accept: text/csv" "https://beta.oerworldmap.org/resource/?filter.about.location.address.addressCountry=DE&filter.about.@type=Organization"

JSON can be be obtained in the same way, using the corresponding header “Accept: application/json”. Expect the different representations to be available from the UI early 2016.

Widget

The map of individual countries can now be embedded into external website with ease. A precondition for this is that iframe-tags are supported by the target platform:

https://beta.oerworldmap.org/country/de?embed=true

This blog for example is hosted on wordpress.com which does not allow iframes. Being hosted, we cannot add the plugin that would allow us to do so. See this post on blogger.com for an example:

Outlook

We look forward to working on phase III of the OER World Map project. Refinements of all major functionalities are planned for 2016, see the proposal for more information. Happy Holidays!

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The OER World Map Openness Indicator – Background & Introduction

Since most of our team members are somehow connected to the library world, one of the first things we wanted to do, when we started phase II of the project, was to define a clear collection policy for the OER World Map, which should define which data to collect and which not. A clear scope, so we thought, would be especially important for a project like the World Map, since trying to collect too much often ends in collecting nothing right.

We consider ourself to be dedicated to Openness, which means that we support open licenses, develop open source software and even do most parts of our project communication openly on GitHub. Therefore our initial approach to define a collection policy was to restrict the OER World Map to entries, which are related to ‘real OER’, which according to my understanding meant in Creative Commons terminology CC BY, CC BY-SA and also CC BY-NC licenses and equivalents (though another strong opinion in our team argued that NC was no ‘real OER’ according to the Open Definition).

Discussing this issue occasionally, we finally came to the point that keeping this strict focus could not be maintained and that we had to loosen our collection policy. Some of the reasons for this were,

  • that also gratis services (=services, which provide free, but not openly licensed materials) offer some value for situations, where reuse is not needed,
  • that the gratis services of today may become the open services of tomorrow,
  • that the focus on licensing does not really fit for other things than OER collections. For example focussing on licenses only does not help very much to evaluate adequately a project focussing on developing open practises.
  • that otherwise openness has to be decided on before adding a resource to the map, which might raise practical problems.
  • it’s a rather paradox to build a service on open education with a very closed collection policy.

Though being based on good reason, we nevertheless felt that this decision challenged our initial goal to use the OER World Map as a tool to support ‘real openness’. Our solution to this dilemma was to develop an ‘Openness Indicator’, which would allow users to easily see how open a service is. By doing so, we believe that it is possible to be open and flexible as far as our collection scope is concerned, without losing focus on openness.

When we began thinking about how an ‘Openness Indicator’ could look like, our initial focus was to keep it as simple as possible so that it could easily be applied by OER World Map editors. We therefore came up with a very simple structure: three levels of openness, based only on the chosen license. The basic idea was to design the indicator similar to traffic lights, green for very open services, yellow for fairly open services and red for hardly open services.

While we were still thinking in this direction, we found that a special challenge was that we wanted to decide on the openness of a whole collection and not on the openness of an individual resource. It is easy to look up the license of a single resource, but how should it be possible to judge the openness of whole collections? In case a repository has a clear licensing policy, e.g. by stating that all included contents have to be licensed CC BY, this is quite easy. But according to our experience, this is rather the exception in the world of OER, where most repositories include heterogeneous licensed material.

Finally Adrian came up with the solution, which looked something like this:

  • Green: all resources are licensed under an open  license (CC 0, CC BY, CC BY-SA).
  • Yellow: Some or all resources are licensed under CC-BY, CC-BY-SA, CC-BY-NC, CC-BY-NC-SA
  • Red: All resources are licensed with ND-license or have no license indication at all.

Using this approach we found it was possible to combine the question of different levels of openness with the question of internal license heterogeneity, while abiding by the vision of a simple three colour scheme.

But again things turned out to be more complex than that. Rob was the first to express concerns that a simple three colour scheme might appear too offensive for some, while at the same time oversimplifying the topic. This concerns rang in the next level of development of the Openness Indicator. But the real breakthrough came when Pat Lockley from solvonauts joined the discussion. Actually it was him who hinted us to the “HowOpenIsIt?” Open Access Spectrum (OAS) developed by the Public Library of Science (PLOS) in cooperation with the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA).

OAS, in its own words, “moves the conversation from ‘Is It Open […]?’ to ‘How Open is it?’ and illustrates a nuanced continuum of more versus less open to enable users to compare and contrast publications and policies across a grid of clearly defined components related to readership, reuse, copyright, author and automatic posting, and machine readability.” We found this approach so appealing, that we instantly wanted to reuse it for the OER World Map. But soon we had to find out that, once again, things are not so easy, since the OAS, being developed for Open Access Journals, does not fit for OER-repositories for several reasons:

In the ‘reader rights’ component there are several points which refer to the length of an embargo period. In the field of Open Access it is common that new issues are available only for journal subscribers at the beginning and become open respectively free after an embargo period of several months. This does not seem to fit to OER. At the same time this dimension does not ask for compulsory registration, which arguably is a restriction of the access rights of the reader and can be found occasionally in some OER services.

The ‘reuse rights’ dimension introduces very similar levels of openness as introduced above, but does not give any answer to the question how to handle license heterogeneity. Probably this is because consistent license policies are much more common in OA-journals, than they are for OER repositories.

The ‘copyright’ dimension seemingly does not fit to OER without modification, if at all. This component mainly deals with the question, if the copyright is held by the author or the publisher. Since commercial publishers are still the exception in the field of OER, this section will make no sense in most cases. Within the field of OER, especially within Higher Education, it actually could be more interesting to ask if the copyright is hold by the author or by the higher education institution, which employs her. Though this analogy seems to be quite interesting, I`m not sure, if it really makes a difference for the openness of a repository. As long as it’s open licensed, I would argue, it does not matter, who holds the copyright.

Also the ‘Author posting rights’ and the ‘Automatic posting’ dimension seem to be closely related to phenomena typical for (and restricted to) Open Access Journals. While the former refers to the question, how preprints are handled, the latter refers to the question, if resources are automatically posted to other repositories.

Last but not least the machine readability dimension is quite interesting and certainly makes sense to be applied to OER as well. Nevertheless the dimension does not refer to open formats of the resources, which is frequently considered to be quite important for the openness of a resource. Also it does not include the use of open source software, which might be an interesting aspect, when talking about the Openness of a service.

All in all we concluded, that we cannot adapt the OAS without major adoption for OER repositories. We therefore started defining an indicator, which reuses OAS dimensions as far as possible. An initial version can be found here. We will describe its structure and fields in one of our next blog posts. We believe that the Openness Indicator should be discussed by a wider audience and therefore look forward to receive your comments and questions on this important topic!

(foto: “Open Door” by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson, CC BY 2.0)

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Platform progress report v0.3

This post summarizes the progress made since v0.2 and provides an outlook to version 1.0 which will be launched by the end of the year. Feedback is greatly appreciated either in the comments or by mail.

Statistics

Statistics

Statistics

The front page now features statistics on the distribution of subjects, languages and grade levels of services on the OER World Map. They are backed by Elasticsearch aggregations which have proven to be an excellent basis. For the visual representations of the statistics, currently only tables and pie charts are used.

More statistics and alternate visualizations are planned for the next release. Once the openness indicator is in place, statistics on the openness of services will be implemented. The vocabulary for OER activity fields will be the basis to summarize projects based on those categories. Where applicable, the visualizations will include bar charts and scattergrams.

Filters

Currently available filters

Currently available filters

Complementing the statistics, a filter section has been implemented in the resource listing. Currently filters for type, language, country, subject and intended audience (i.e. grade level) of entries are available. These are again based on Elasticsearch aggregations.

filters_ui

Concept for advanced filter UI

The exact behavior, i.e. possible combinations and operators, of the filters is yet to be defined. An advanced user interface is planned for the next release.

Authentication & authorization

The components for authentication are in place. The OER World Map is using the users’ email accounts as identity provider for authentication. Upon request, a one time password is created and sent to the user. Using his email address and this password, users can log in until a timeout occurs or they explicitly log out. This ensures that no weak passwords can be used and frees us of the burdens of password reminders and the like. We consider email accounts as safe; if a users email is hacked, the trouble is big anyways as email is usually used for password-resets of online accounts.

auth

Requesting a one time password to enable editing

While authentication verifies who a user is, authorization verifies what she is allowed to do in the system. Components necessary for advanced, activity based authorization are ready to be deployed. Thus in theory, general users could be granted write access. To ensure the well functioning of the system and more importantly data quality, the decision was made to open the platform incrementally, with write access for country champions only for now. This means that for the time being, there are three roles users can take in the OER World Map: visitors, editors (country champions) and administrators.

Input templates

form_person

No-frills HTML form to describe a person

The most important feature that makes authentication and authorization necessary is data manipulation. While this has been possible using the JSON API for quite a while now, work on the user interface to do so from within a browser has progressed. We still following the idea of a progressively enhanced hypermedia application.

Form widget to select a location

Location form widget

This is why the first iteration of the UI is still rather cumbersome: pure HTML forms act as hypermedia controls. They are in place for all resource types. Before opening write access to the public, the current forms will be progressively enhanced to increase usability. The design for all necessary widgets is done and implementation of those designs is currently in progress.

Data import

esc

Educational subjects classification

Last but not least, new data has been imported into the OER World Map. To support the use cases of filtering services by subject and grade level, two controlled vocabularies have been integrated. The educational subjects classification extends the ISCED-2013 classification, so far mostly by adding concrete languages to the concept of language acquisition. ISCED-1997 is used to classify services by their intended audiences, i.e. targeted grade levels. The integration of these classifications allowed us to import the list of OER repositories, created by Javiera Atenas and Leo Havemann, and index it by subject and grade level.

oec

Open Education Consortium membership organizations

Additionally, the OEC member list was added, resulting in many new entries and thus the need for clustering pins on the map. Finally, the list of country champions is constantly updated as our network grows.

Outlook

Planned revision of the front page

Planned revision of the front page

As we move toward the release of version 1.0 of the OER World Map, we will first focus on the usability of the editing templates. In this context there will also be a general revision of UI, including context-sensitive help. After that, the map will be extended with a calendar view for event data, a feature to export search results as CSV and finally the possibility to embed custom views of the OER World Map into external platforms such as blogs.

“Concord House – Holloway Head, Birmingham – Work in Progress” by Elliott Brown, CC BY-SA 2.0

OER World Map Project Interims Report

Provided to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Reporting Period: 01.12.2014 – 31.07.2015

1 Introduction

This report is an interim’s report for The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. It summarizes the overall progress about the project achieved in the reporting period. It focuses on four areas:

  • platform development,
  • data model & collection strategy
  • community development
  • legal inquiry and business model development

The report reviews the major achievements, focusing on central design decisions and connected lessons learned. Additionally, an updated overview planning for the upcoming months is presented. Technical details are described within the “Platform progress report” and the “Platform progress report v0.2” blog posts (both written by Felix Ostrowski).

2 Platform development

Within this section achievements regarding the development of the technical platform will be described. Within the reporting period two major milestones have been achieved. On the 11th of March we published version 0.1 of the system (“landing page”). On the 10th of July followed the publication of version 0.2 with significantly enlarged functionality.

2.1 Launch of landing page

The launch of the landing page was a consequent implementation of the agile approach in the sense that from the very beginning of the project functionality was delivered, which could be used for interaction with the OER community. The landing page presented a world map and allowed users to register. Registered user were counted and visualized for each country by using different shades of green. Even if the resulting first version of a heat map was not a result of a representative statistic procedure, the result delivered indication, which countries are most active in the field of OER. At the time of writing, 325 people have registered themselves on the page. The countries with the most registrations are:

Nr. Country Number
1. USA 57
2. Germany 54
3. UK 37
4. Italy 32
5. Spain 28
6. Canada 19
7. Russia 17
8. Australia 15
9. Brazil 12
10. South Africa 12
11. India 10
12. Portugal 9
13. Rumania 9
14. France 8
15. Greece 8
16. Belgium 7

Table 1: Numbers of registrations per counry

Additionally a call for “country champions” was launched with the landing page. For more information about the country champions see 3.3.1 and 4.1.

2.2 Launch of version 0.2

Version 0.2 of the platform included significantly more functionality than the landing page.

2.2.1 Stories

Deviating from the original planning, stories of OER activities were included in this version. The stories concept was developed during a workshop at the Hewlett Grantees Meeting and can be seen as an example of agile development, which picked up a suggestion from the OER community. From a functional point of view the stories can be seen as another front end module which allows to describe parts of the OER ecosystem in a narrative way. Until we will provide input templates (planned for version 0.3) the stories will be the primary way to input new data into the system. Using this approach will lead to a gradual and iterative development of the data base.

According to our experiences the story approach offers several advantages:

  1. Stories are easily written and understood, and can be used to stimulate interest and participation of the community.
  2. Stories provide real world examples of OER activity and can be used to develop the data model. We found especially this aspect very rewarding, since it gave us a possibility to check our data model with reality in a relatively early stage of the project. Later on the stories could be used for training purpose, by demonstrating examples of data modelling with country champions, e.g. in blog posts and webcasts.
  3. Stories can be used as a means of assuring the quality of the data, assuming that projects, services and institutions mentioned within a story are more likely to be relevant to the community.

Working with the stories approach also triggered two lessons learned which are important to the strategic direction of the project:

  1. Quality over quantity: Instead of “flooding the map with pins”, it seems to make sense to concentrate on high quality data, which provide real value to the community.
  2. Activities over Actors: While during phase I of the project our emphasis was on institutions and persons (=actors), we learned from reflecting on the activity focused story approach, that projects and services (=activities) probably will be more important for the community. Services provide solutions to concrete problems (e.g. finding resources), while projects provide lessons learned, which can be shared with other OER projects. Compared to this the value of data about institutions is relatively small. The most important aspect of collecting institutional data is, that it allows to locate projects and services on the map. One important conclusion of this discussion was that the project will concentrate on the collection of services and projects during phase II.

Nevertheless it has to be stated that editing stories requires considerable resources, since not all provided stories are of high (editorial) quality. Editorial operation for stories was not planned within the project budget planning. This has to be kept in account for the continuation of the project. In the long run one solution might be to shift this effort to the country champions.

2.2.2 Enhanced backend development

As a side effect of the stories approach backend functionalities of the platform are quite advanced, since extracting the data included in the stories required that the backend already can handle all major data types (organizations, persons, projects, services).

2.2.3 Country views

One major deliverable of version 0.2 were the country views.

countryviews

Figure 1: Screenshot of Country View as implemented in Version 0.2

The country views combine the geographic map with basic statistical information of the regional OER activity and will provide a fast overview of the status of the OER movement within individual countries. They also provide information about the country champions in a very prominent way.

3 Data modelling & collection strategy

One of the most crucial goals of the project is to provide answer to the questions, which data has to be collected, how it should be modelled and how it should be collected.

3.1 Which data to collect?

3.1.1 Ill-defined concept

Every library approach to collecting data needs a collections scope or strategy, which determines which data to collect and which to ignore. One of the fundamental lessons learned of the project is that this collection strategy is quite difficult to define precisely. Despite the good OER definitions which have been provided by UNESCO and The Hewlett Foundation the concept remains ill-defined in many regards:

  1. Openness: Though it is widely agreed that licenses are central to the question of openness, it is still not agreed, which concrete licenses are open and which are not. For the OER World Map Project we will assume that while “Non Commercial” (NC) licenses will still meet the requirements of real openness, “No Derivatives” (ND) licenses will not. Another challenge will be that the Creative Commons framework is not the only provider of open licenses.
  2. Educational: There seems to be no definition for what makes a resource an educational one. One answer to this question could be that all resources which can be used for learning are educational resources. Though this answer makes quite sense on the one hand, it also extends the collection scope into the indefinite. In fact one could argue that in this case the project should not be named “OER World Map”, but “Open Content World Map”. Another answer could be that OER require a certain didactical coinage or intention. Nevertheless this would exclude important content collections. Also it will be difficult to check this didactical intention in practice. Stories of OER use can help to provide information about the use of resources and so provide educational context while a clearer picture emerges.
  3. Resources: Compared to the other two questions, the concept of resources seems relatively clear. Nevertheless it is e.g. discussed, if MOOCs are OER themselves, or if they are courses, which include OER, if being open licensed. We also found that it might be unwise to concentrate on resources only, since there seems to be a shift from resources to practices. Therefore the platform will be prepared to incorporate Open Educational Practices and other aspects of Open Education in the future.

In conclusion it has to be stated that this question remains unanswered for the moment, though it should be noted that we have flexibility within the data model to allow for an agile approach. We would argue, naturally, that the OER World Map provides excellent opportunity to refine the existing concept of OER.

3.1.2 Openness indicator

Bearing in mind the need for an iterative approach to understanding openness we decided to extend the scope of collection. Originally we aimed at restricting the collection scope to services which provide resources which are either CC BY, CC BY-SA or CC BY-NC licensed. We now believe it makes sense to include services which provide (arguably) less open content, on the basis that the “gratis” services of today may become the “open” services of tomorrow. Also we learned that there are many services, which do not make use of the Creative Commons licenses toolkit, which will make it even more difficult to decide if a certain service can be collected or not. Instead of restricting data collection we decided to assure appropriate focus on openness by the integration of an “openness indicator” in combination with a standard configuration of the display restricted to open licensed material. By doing so we hope that providers of “gratis” services will be motivated to move into the direction of real openness.

3.2 How to model it?

One of the major deliverables provided within the reporting period is an initial version of a detailed data model. Generally our decision to use schema.org as a basis metadata scheme was validated, there being little need to add fields to our data model, which where not already included in schema.org.

Collecting data always carries the structural risk of including too many fields, which in theory increases the informative value of the dataset, but in practice might prevent its development due to the increased collection and curation effort. To make sure that only necessary data is collected we include only fields which are connected to a concrete user story (see column “user story”).

Through close cooperation with country champions it will be assured that the data model does not get too complex to handle. Nevertheless, we already learned that the distinction of actors (=organizations and persons) and actions (=projects and services), though being logically sound, is time consuming and sometimes intellectually demanding. Since the OER movement is characterized by many self-organizing grass root initiatives, we also learned that sometimes it even can be difficult to distinguish between actors and activities.

Though we still aim very much at intuitive usability, it therefore might be necessary to provide basic training opportunities for country champions and data collection services to increase data quality. The complexity of the data model will also significantly influence the degree up to which non trained community members can participate in the data collection process.

3.3 How to collect the data?

There are generally two ways to collect the data needed for the OER World Map. On the one hand it can be collected by trained experts (e.g. librarians), on the other hand it can be done by volunteers (crowdsourcing). While the former contains top down elements, the latter can be classified as a bottom up approach. Our original strategy, to combine both approaches was overall confirmed but refined in several ways.

Our goal is now to provide a skeleton of high quality data with the help from OER data curation services (see 3.3.1) and country champions (see 3.3.2). We believe that this will be a good basis for crowdsourcing the further enrichment and updating of the data. Since providing the basic data can be both time intensive as well as intellectually demanding (see 3.2), we believe that this approach is more promising than expecting the community to provide complete data sets.

3.3.1 From data curation projects to data curation services

From analyzing “data curation projects”, we learned that many of them (e.g. POERUP, EMUNDUS) did not succeed to provide regularly updated data, while others (e.g. ROER4D) rather aimed at indeep analysis of single projects than at extensive data collection. At the same time it appeared that other kind of data providers (“OER data curation services”) might be able to provide qualified data on a sustainable basis:

  • OER conferences & festivals (e.g. OEC-Global, Open Education Week, Open Ed, OER16, OERde16, etc).
  • OER Funders (e.g. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation)
  • OER Consortia (e.g. Open Education Consortium)

The OEC membership data already have been prepared and can be imported any time. Additionally, we started to develop a concept to include data from Open Education Week 2016 as well as from OEC-Global 2016.

3.3.2 Country Champions

Our call for country champions (for more information on the country champion network see 4.1) received a quite strong response. One of the major responsibilities of the country champions will be to take care of collecting data as well as assuring its quality. One of the advantages of this development is, that in contrast to the “data curation projects”, the OER World Map country champions will use the World Map platform from the onset, so that it will not be required to develop potentially expensive interfaces for them.

3.3.3 Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing data collection was of minor importance within the reporting period, since the therefore needed input templates will not be available before version 0.3 of the project.

4 Community development

Beneath the development of the technical platform community development is the second component, which will be essential for the success of the project. Core activities in this field, which were performed in the reporting period, were the development of a multiplier network, the presentation of the project at major OER conferences and ongoing information by the use of social media.

4.1 Multiplier network

At the heart of our efforts was the development of a multiplier network, which consists of two levels.

On the first level are the country champions, which should ideally not only collect and check data, but also raise awareness of the project, e.g. by the use of social media. With regard to the question, who can become a country champion, we took a pragmatic approach, which allowed us to make even single persons a country champion, especially for smaller countries less active in the field of OER. Nevertheless, we prefer institutional partners or evolving “country champion networks” for bigger or more active countries. Examples of “ideal” country champions we recruited are the OER Special Interest Group in the Netherlands, OER Africa in South Africa, the Project Cyfrowe Project in Poland, the OER Research Hub in the UK and the Opening Up Slovenia Project. The main motive for participating in the project seems to be the wish to get an overview of the evolving OER movement in their own country. We also learned that the planned “gadget exporter”, which will allow to include a filtered map into another website or blog seems to be of high interesting for the country champions. Our goal for phase II is to find for each major OER country a reliable country champion. Until now we found 17 country champions, a complete list can be found in the appendix.

On the second level we are looking for one or two regional points of contact for each continent, which oversee the development on a multinational level and who can help finding regional country champions. Ideally the regional points of contacts will actively use the world map as well. In doing so we hope that experience and commitment will be gained that can be used to support strategic management decisions.

4.2 Strategic Partner Network

Besides the country champions based multiplier network a strategic partnering network will be implemented. In order to do so promising conversations with many leading OER actors and institutions were held at OEC Global in Banff. The strategic partnering network is planned to be launched together with Version 0.3 of the platform.

4.3 Conferences

During the reporting period the project was presented at following conferences:

  • Open Education Conference 14 in Washington, USA
  • Hewlett Grantees Meeting in Sausalito, USA
  • OER15 in Wales, UK
  • Open Education Global Conference in Banff, CA
  • European Library Automation Group (ELAG) Conference 15, Stockholm, SE

4.4 Social Media

To support communication with the community following social media accounts are being used:

  • Blog
  • Twitter Account
  • Facebook Account

To support the technical development we are using a github account, which allows to see and comments all included issues. Important information was also disseminated on the major OER E-Mail lists.

4.5 Project Budget

One major lessons learned is that especially within the field of community development the project is underfinanced. To provide dynamic and intensive communication with the community one additional full time employee would have been desirable. As a countermeasure a trainee will be hired to support community building within the upcoming weeks. In the future it will also be desirable to provide funding for micro-grants to support country champions and regional points of contact.

5 Legal inquiry & business model development

5.1 Legal inquiry

In order to comply to German and international data privacy laws a specialized lawyer with extensive experience in open approaches was consulted. Together with him we are taking a “privacy by design” approach which assures that the technical development considers legal requirements right from the beginning of the project.

5.2 Business model development

During the Open Education Global conference in Banff an initial version of a business model canvas was developed during a workshop with Paul Stacey. We are planning to refine this version and participate in the Open Business Model project of Creative Commons.

One important goal will be to achieve additional funding for the project. In this context a positive development is that the German Government provided a first statement on its direction concerning OER, which proposes the development of a platform which provides reference to all OER sources in Germany.

6 Updated Milestone Planning

Name Version 0.1 Version 0.2 Version 0.3 Version 1.0
Date 11.03.2015 10.07.2015 15.09.2015 01.12.2015
Goal An initial web presence is installed. World Map Module and general search module are available. Data input & statistics Data export & help system
Features – A landing page is available (done)

– Users can register (done)

– Necessary prearrangements and initial analysis have been undertaken  (done)

– A high level view on the OER world (heatmap) (done)

– A detail view for individual countries (exposing institutions, services, projects and people as pins on a country map) (done)

– A search interface (done)

– An initial set of real-world data (done)

– publication of OER stories

– User registration (second iteration)

– Registered users can enter projects, institutions and services

– Registered users can create their user profile

– External data can be ingested via the API

– Statistics on grade level, country and language are available

– Calendar

– (Timeline)

– launch of OER World Map strategic partnership programm

– Data formats for export

– Help system / User documentation

– A German OER editorial team has been installed

Table 2: Updated Milestonplanning. Blue colour indicates changes from the orignal planning

Picture: “Concord House – Holloway Head, Birmingham – Work in Progress” by Elliott Brown, CC BY-SA 2.0