OpenEd21: Making OER “Findable”

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3 min read

Session Description

This discussion session will provide the opportunity for us to share what we have been learning through the development of our repository and open courses. You will hear from members of our team including our User Interface designer, Publishing Manager, Instructional Designers and Open Course Lead all bringing different needs and perspectives to this challenge.

Presenters: Josie Gray, Selina McGinnis, Melanie Meyers, Krista Lambert (BCcampus)

Discussion Notes

A second session on Findability, this time from my BCcampus colleagues who are working to solve a very similar problem to the ISKME project I blogged about earlier today.

Josie began with background on the BCcampus open textbook collection starting at 2012 with the launch of the collection. Melanie picked up at 2019 with a description of the current project with a goal of “improving the findability of our open textbook collection”. But it soon became apparent that focusing on open textbooks was too narrow and that findability was a broad term. Once someone found an OER resource in our collection, how would they know it was complete? Reviewed/?Good for their purposes?

BCcampus is expanding its open collection from open textbooks to open courses. BCcampus currently has 10 complete courses in the collection with 7 more coming in the coming months. These will be rolled into the open textbook collection to create a single repository of open resources, but textbooks and courses.

Melanie then talked about the importance of metadata and the FAIR (Findability, Accessibility, Interoperable, Reuseable) framework for the collection of metadata.

Krista ran a Menti activity crowdsourcing people’s experiences with searching for OER. Here are the common challenges.

After the Menti activity, Selina took over to talk about the process BCcampus went through to improve the findability of the collection, starting with the current challenges, noting that it isn’t just about making the content findable but also surfacing whether the content is useable or not.

BCcampus did a soft launch of a site and then ran user testing and learned some valuable lessons including users who mistook the site as an LMS. So BCcampus used the lessons learned to develop a new site, which will be launched in 2022.

My Takeaways

Note: I work at BCcampus and have been peripherally involved with this project.

Like the previous ISKME session, this one focused on ways in which you can make resources more findable and discoverable and the work BCcampus is doing to redesign our open collections as we expand from open textbooks to include open courses (we currently have 10 fully developed open courses with another 7 on the way this year).

What wasn’t really highlighted in the session (and from my perspective, one of the great improvements I am seeing in both the IKSME and BCcampus projects) is a focus on solid UI design techniques and research including numerous consultations with actual users of OER repositories to build personas and user stories. There is also a renewed focus on metadata and the importance of metadata in surfacing resources. Metadata is a topic that causes many eyes to gloss over and seems to have fallen out of favour in the OER community in recent years, but any conversations around building new search techniques – beyond ones that are human-powered (ie small tightly curated collections, which is a really valuable approach to findability as well) need to consider issues of metadata.

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