Open Education Week 2017: Making Sense of the OER World Map through the Use of Folksonomies

The OER World Map collects and visualizes information on organizations, persons, projects, services and events related to OER. Using linked open data technology, all entries can be easily connected, allowing the World Map to provide a the most complete and reliable model of the global OER movement so far.

At its core, the platform provides a fundamental data set, which supports a multitude of use cases. Currently we concentrate on three main user stories, which, in its shortest form, can be described as 1) finding OER sources, 2) connecting OER actors and 3) providing statistics on the OER movement. Arguably, after two years of development, the platform starts to offer real value for its users. Nevertheless it still can be difficult to find relevant data using the World Map platform. During Open Education Week 2017, we are planning to show, how the simple but powerful tool of folksonomies can be used to generate helpful lists of data included in the OER World Map.

There are two basic approaches available to the classification of information into taxonomic structures. Either a semantic structure can be imposed on the data (‘top-down’) or it can be seen to emerge from it (‘bottom-up’). The former has the advantage of guaranteeing a rational structure that can be demonstrated to be consistent. However, it cannot account for emergent information that does not readily conform to the accepted schema; essentially data must be made to fit with the categories chosen. The latter has the advantage of being able to accommodate emergent categories very simply but there is no guarantee that this approach will lead to a systematic and centralised schema.  

From the point of view of managing the OER World Map database a rigorous system of categorisation is needed, and has provided a very effective ontology from which to work.  But since openness is an area of innovation and creativity, there are some limits to this. The use of folksonomies or community tags offers a way to incorporate practitioner insights into the database. The decision has been made to open the map data up to tagging and folksonomic classification with the assumption that it is possible to combine these approaches in an effective approach which combines the advantages of each method: retaining the existing schema while an additional level of community tagging is incorporated.  

During Open Education Week we are planning to use community tagging in order to generate a couple of lists, which are of special importance of the OER community and/or the wider society:

  1. A list of all activity related to textbooks (“textbooks”)
  2. A list of OER researchers and research projects (“oer research”)
  3. A list of OER funder (“oer funder”)
  4. A list of lighthouse projects and services, which have proven to provide value for Education on a sustainable basis (“lighthouse”)
  5. A list of OER activity aiming at supporting refugee (“refugees”)
  6. A list of examples of open educational practices and open pedagogy (“open educational practises”)
  7. A list of OER related to ecological sustainability (“ecological sustainability”)
  8. A list of OER toolkits and instructional material on OER
  9. A list of OER sources for technical and vocational training (TVET)

You can participate in this activity in two ways:

  1. By registering on the OER World Map platform, you will receive instant editing rights. If you find any important entry related to a certain tag missing, just add it to the map. If you would like to contribute even more, you can help us edit data collected via Twitter.
  2. If you do not want to register by now, you can also participate using Twitter. If you find anything missing, just tweed us a link to the missing information as well as the related tag. Please also make sure, that you use the hashtag “#taggingOER”. We will then add this information to the map.

You can also propose additional tags you consider of special importance. The results of the activity will be summarized in a blog post. We believe that the OER World Map carries the potential to make a real difference for the development of the global OER community. Your contribution is essential, so we are looking forward to meet you during Open Education Week!

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