Learning Technology

Making OER available on multiple platforms (U-Now, iBooks, eBooks) (ALT-C Presentation)

October 4th, 2013 at 02:10

Since 2007, the University of Nottingham has released teaching resources as Open Educational Resources (OER) through the U-Now website. Resources made available in U-Now are licenced under a Creative Commons licence, and users can view the resources on the site or download them in re-useable formats. The OER publication model at Nottingham is strong, with over 70% of schools having a U-Now presence. Through RSS technology, U-Now resources are automatically available through some of the world’s high traffic OER sites, such as MIT’s OpenCourseWare Consortium, OER Commons and Xpert. During 2012, Nottingham expanded its OER delivery model by creating openly licenced iBooks and publishing them as free-downloads through the Apple iBook store. In addition, it created e-Book versions of the same content, enabling access through platforms such as the Kindle e-book reader and Android devices.

The catalyst for this open iBook/eBook innovation was the JISC funded Promoting Academic Resources in Society (PARiS) project. PARiS facilitated open publication of 100 credits of Nottingham teaching materials in the form of ten 10-credit modules in the area of sustainability from different subject perspectives. The modules were embedded within the taught curriculum, specifically within the Nottingham Advantage Award, an optional programme focussed on improving skills that employers are looking for in talented new graduates.

The method used to complete this work began with creating traditional U-Now HTML versions of the content which facilitated the copyright clearance of third party materials. Once these were published, work began on converting some of the modules into iBook versions. The aim being to present the same educational content, whilst harnessing the design led elements of the iBook author software. EPUB versions of the content were also created for use with e-Book reader platforms. Engaging with the Apple iBook store also ensured availability of content to a high number of potential consumers. The titles published to date in iBook/eBook form are: Sustainability and Engineering; Sustainability in the Arts and Humanities; Sustainability – The Geography Perspective; Sustainability – The Business Perspective.

A requirement of the project was to include existing third-party OER in the modules, and this was adhered to by incorporating OER from a number of different sources. The iBooks enhanced this process further as text elements were illustrated with Creative Commons images, making the books strong examples of OER re-use as well as demonstrating how OER can drive up quality. iBooks/eBooks also provide opportunities to enhance reward and recognition. This is often highlighted as important for OER sustainability. For example, ISBNs have been allocated so authors gain an enhanced publication presence through offering content as OER.

This presentation discussed benefits and barriers to publishing openly licenced content using iBook/eBook platforms in comparison to more traditional publication methods.  It discussed evaluation results and differences in download popularity for the different versions of PARiS content, providing useful data for those considering similar activities. It discussed how the success of the initiative is influencing current OER practices at Nottingham and offered a case study of innovative OER re-use.

Delivered at ALT-C on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 by Andy Beggan &  Steve Stapleton

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