UOC opens up its teaching materials

Guest author: Roger Griset
Learning Sources – Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

 

Roger Griset has a diploma in Library Science and Documentation from the University of Barcelona. He is currently working on the OpenCourseWare website at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Open University of Catalonia, UOC) where he forms part of the Learning Resources group. He also participates in innovation projects linked to the University’s teaching materials.

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Picture taken from OER Commons website. 

Starting point

Since it began, the UOC has always invested in creating and producing specific teaching materials that adapt to the UOC’s own distance education-oriented methodology. These materials are used in the teaching and in the UOC students’ learning process.

Where are we?

Since 2008, certain contracts for authoring and ceding usage rights include a clause that lets the University publish these materials under an open licence. Thanks to this authorisation, some materials have been published on the UOC’s OpenCourseWare website, which already holds hours of materials for around thirty subjects. We plan to expand the subjects currently on offer (and others) with new open content in the future.

Where do we want to go?

The UOC is currently working on a Director Plan for Learning Resources that is to set the guidelines for the coming years. As well as the obvious financial and sustainability aspects involved in this kind of open resource, the Director Plan is, inevitably, going to be influenced by two trends affecting the world of higher education: firstly, the movement to open-access scientific literature at universities, including educational resources; and secondly, the new educational trends (connectivism and social constructivism) and the reform of the European higher education system (EHEA), which bring a new focus on contents in the framework of teaching.

The two aforementioned trends have already had some effect, and have changed our way of thinking and working over the last three years. Since 2005, materials have been produced in XML – allowing us to reuse them. Thanks to this, in 2009, we now have a large amount of materials published in new formats: audiobook, videobook and ebook.

Upcoming challenges

We still have a long way to go before the UOC’s teaching contents can meet the full definition of OERs:

  • Break down the contents into smaller units (teaching materials are currently over 200 pages long).
  • Make production of materials more flexible, so that faculty can publish their own smaller resources more easily and more quickly, without doing away with the University’s centralised management that ensures the minimum quality standards.
  • Create tools for collaborative production of materials within the University.
  • Aid the production of materials in web formats: blogs and wikis.

We have made important progress by starting to open access to our contents. The rest will come with time and effort.

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