Do only aliens use OERs?


The OER movement = The universe

OpenCourseWare = A galaxy

delicious = An inhabited planet

Open educational resources pile up, “we live in an age of content abundance”, quoting David Wiley, Brian Lamb and others, but, is there anyone out there reusing such resources?

We know that keeping track of OERs is not a simple issue, but there are some users who tag and share OERs (more concretely, OpenCourseWare) using social tagging services such as delicious, for example; we know it is a very small population but may be we can learn something from such users…

If we try to analize such “aliens”, how they tag OERs and, specially, which OERs are they interested in, we obtain very interesting results; we will skip some methodological details (please don’t hesitate to ask) but what we did is more or less this:

1) Retrieve from delicious “all” resources “related” to opencourseware; by “all” we mean 80 pages of urls, 25 pages of users per url; by “related” we mean that we are using the delicious search engine (exactly like this)

2) Select the urls shared and tagged by, at least, 25 people; this generates a list of 1137 different urls, shared by 36855 different people, thus creating a data set of 154457 pairs (url, user)

3) Select the tags used, at least, 1000 times; this generates a list of 150 different tags (although some of them are equivalent, i.e. “math” and “mathematics”)

4) Use factorial analysis followed by a Varimax rotation to extract the most relevant factors from this data set (154457 samples x 150 dimensions); we use R for such task

We expect factorial analysis to create clusters around the sets of tags that are jointly used, thus revealing the internal structure of such data set.

Results: the first 11 components cluster tags as follows (only the most relevant dimensions are shown for each component):

C1: free online courses learning education university college
C2: scheme lisp sicp programming
C3: books ebooks textbooks book reference textbook math ebook mathematics
C4: web2.0 collaboration teaching wiki community curriculum tools resources technology
C5: video science lectures physics videos math lecture
C6: programming development computer algorithms cs code
C7: podcast audio mp3 podcasts itunes audiobooks
C8: business management mba finance economics innovation research
C9: tutorials webdesign tutorial webdev howto web reference
C10: library copyright culture archive research content opensource politics media
C11: cryptography security tutorial course

yes, I know there are a lot of unclear decisions here (why 11 components and not 12?, etc.) and that the methodology does not address important issues (i.e. equivalent words, plurals, etc.), but we can discuss that if you are interested; when I see these results, what first comes to my mind is the following question:

Do you need to be a computer scientist, mathematician or physicist in order to reuse OERs?

I just wanted to share these preliminary results with you; my concern is that in order to reuse OERs, you need to be aware of the OER movement and have some previous experience in creating and sharing, such as those people involved in the Open Source movement, namely computer scientists, mathematicians and physicists

So, what do you think?

And do not forget to take look at the overview of our project: metaOER

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