This post has been written by the Information Literacy Group’s Chair, Jane Secker.
In the last few months there has been a resurgence of interest from the academic community in open educational resources (OERs), which are teaching resources shared with an open licence. No doubt this is partly prompted by the pandemic as lecturers and teachers try to avoid spending time ‘reinventing the wheel’ when it comes to creating teaching materials. However, when I spoke about the role of librarians supporting online learning last October at an information literacy conference in The Netherlands, I discovered there was a particular interest in OERs amongst the Dutch information literacy group. I have now joined a small group of European librarians who are exploring how to share information literacy teaching materials as OERs. However, my time is limited and I suspect there might be others who could also contribute to this initiative.
I’m therefore looking to recruit a small working group to discuss how the UK might contribute to this project and how ILG can support the sharing of teaching resources. We hope to work in conjunction with the ALT special interest group on Copyright and Online Learning, which I am co-chairing with Chris Morrison. This group is currently compiling a list of copyright education resources, and there are potentially some overlaps or synergies between the two projects.
For those with a long memory (or have been around too long) you might know I worked on one of the JISC OER projects in about 2012. The project was called DELILA (Developing Educators Learning and Information Literacies for Accreditation) and I was the project manager, working with Nancy Graham, who at the time was at the University of Birmingham, and several other colleagues. We shared a range of digital and information literacy resources as OERs and it went on to form an important part of the Jorum collection on information literacy that was set up shortly afterwards. It had always struck me that librarians played an important role in developing OERs, because of their understanding of copyright and licensing. However, as teachers in their own right, librarians are also well placed to share their own educational resources openly. Many do this informally, but imagine if these resources could be pulled together in some way?
After DELILA, Nancy and I worked with UNESCO to try and build an international collection of OERs, using a platform that UNESCO hosted. The project had some interest but eventually ran out of steam. However, there were some key lessons learnt at the time, about how to make OERs sustainable, the problems of creating centralised repositories of resources (that need to be kept up to date,) and how to encourage people to share their educational resources in the first place. That was without all the challenges of curating resources in different languages. So this new project is probably going to need some creative thinking to get off the ground.
If you are interested in joining an exploratory meeting then please do get in touch with ILG. We need a variety of people involved including those with an understanding of open licensing, repositories, metadata and of course OERs and information literacy. The time commitment will be fairly minimal, for example to attend two or three online meetings over the next few months. We’d particularly welcome new professionals to get involved, but those with previous experience of supporting OER projects are also very welcome.