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The action of the project will be to develop software that can help track open educational resources.

Track OER: Tracking Open Educational Resources

Project Background

Open Educational Resources are released with permission to transfer to other contexts and use, however often they are placed on a server that provides them with a “home” location. While the permission typically includes the rights to place on other servers and make changes, the need to provide an identified place for the content can mitigate against that transfer and indirectly inhibit reuse. Reasons for wanting to retain courses in one place include the wish to gather use data, build a critical mass of users around the course and to bring any changed versions back into view. These need to be balanced with the users potential wish to place them on local servers, manage groups of students and organise cohorts studying together, and the overheads inevitably involved in sharing back versions.

Project Aims and Outputs

The project aims to look at two ways to reduce tensions between keeping OER in one place and OER spreading and transferring. If we can find out more about where OER is being used then we can continue to gather the information that is needed and help exploit the openness of OER.

An important business reason is also emerging from the enhanced brand awareness that is one value of providing OER. However when content transfers the impact of the content may be reduced, and certainly the ability to measure that impact is limited. Knowing how much content does in fact go to other servers is an important measure to be able to report and understand if there is an actual issue. On the other hand if the content can be tracked information can be collated impact can be retained and help make the case for sustainable OER.

The action of the project will be to develop software that can help track open educational resources. This provides an enabling function to see the impact of releasing content as distinct from serving content without the option to take and remix. The software will be generic in nature and build from existing work developed by BCCampus and MIT, however a key step in this project is to provide an instantiation of the tracking on the Open University’s OpenLearn platform. The aim will be to understand the profile of use of materials from the OU’s OpenLearn and LabSpace systems. The two software solutions will be to:

  1. Track content that is downloaded from OpenLearn and the uploaded elsewhere;
  2. Add tracking information to cut-and-paste extraction of materials from OpenLearn.

The solution will build on earlier work, notably by OLnet fellow Scott Leslie (BCCampus) and JISC project CaPRéT led by Brandon Muramatsu (MIT project partner in B2S).

Project Documents

Project Staff

Project Manager:
  • Patrick McAndrew, The Open University, Institute of Educational Technology, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, Tel: 01908 652638
Start date
1 April 2012
End date
19 October 2012
Funding programme
Academy/JISC Open Educational Resources Programme Phase 3
OER Rapid Innovation
Project website
Lead institutions

The Open University