Detection of reuse: Using, for instance, plagiarism detection technologies, it is possible to identify reused instances of fragments of educational resources. This is important information in many ways. First of all, as researchers, it enables us to investigate what kind of resources are more reused than others, how these resources are reused, etc. On a more pragmatic level, information about reuse of resources can help to rank more relevant candidate resources higher, either in search results or in a more proactive setting as recommendations.
Distribution aspects: As we are nearing a critical mass of open educational resources, it will be possible to analyze whether there is a Long Tail effect in terms of topics covered, authors and institutions contributing, downloads, reuse, etc. [ 4]. This "Web science" perspective on open educational resources can help to understand their longer term evolution and sustainability.
Context based recommendation: The abundance of learning material that the OER movement is unlocking leads to a paradox of choice where the multitude of options may actually make it more difficult for teachers or learners to select the most relevant material at the appropriate time. Recommendation techniques can help suggest resources based on information about the context of the user, including time, location, interest, goal, background knowledge, mood, etc.
In "A Frankenstein Approach to Open Source: The Construction of a 3D Game Engine as Meaningful Educational Process," Brett E. Shelton, Jon Scoresby, Tim Stowell, Michael R. Capell, Marco A. Alvarez, and K. Chad Coats describe and analyze a case study that focuses on the collaborative development of an open educational game engine by students, reusing existing open educational resources in the process. This "design research" approach is quite appropriate for studying the educational value that such a process can provide.
Rafael de Santiago and André L.A. Raabe describe an architecture for sharing OER in "Architecture for Learning Objects Sharing among Learning Institutions—LOP2P." It is interesting that they follow a peer-to-peer approach with a plug-in to make OERs available from within the Learning Management System (LMS). It is nice to see peer-to-peer architectures for sharing learning material discussed again after early systems like Edutella, LOMster, and Lionshare.
Hugh C. Davis, Leslie Carr, Jessie M.N. Hey, Yvonne Howard, David Millard, Debra Morris, and Su White analyze two projects on sharing resources in higher education. "Bootstrapping a Culture of Sharing to Facilitate Open Educational Resources" deals with two communities, one in a more formal organizational setting and the other in a more informal community of practice. The focus on "design for the user" rather than on "design for other systems" is a particularly welcome contribution to the research in this area.
"Bridging the Bandwidth Gap: Open Educational Resources and the Digital Divide" by Björn Haßler and Alan McNeil Jackson focuses on the problems caused by lack of affordable bandwidth in the developing world, which creates a rather difficult barrier for access to OERs. As explained in the paper, caching and reduction in size of resources can help to address this issue.
Teemu Leinonen, Jukka Purma, Hans Poldoja, and Tarmo Toikkanen discuss design decisions for the LeMill system in "Information Architecture and Design Solutions Scaffolding Authoring of Open Educational Resources." This paper is a nice case study on the design of and experience with an authoring environment specifically intended for a "share and reuse" approach to educational content production.
E. Duval is with the Computer Science Department, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200A, 3000 Leuven, Belgium. E-mail: email@example.com.
D. Wiley is with the Instructional Psychology and Technology Department, Brigham Young University, McKay School of Education, 150-E MCKB, Provo, UT 84602. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on obtaining reprints of this article, please send e-mail to: email@example.com.
Erik Duval is a professor in the Computer Science Department of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. His research focuses on the management of and access to structured and unstructured data. This includes metadata, repositories, federated search, and harvesting, but also more end-user-oriented aspects like information visualization, mobile information devices, multitouch displays, and massive hyper-personalization ("The Snowflake Effect"). Typical application domains are technology-enhanced learning, access to music, and "research2.0." Dr. Duval teaches courses on Human-Computer Interaction and problem solving and design. He cofounded two spin-offs that apply research results for access to music and scientific output.
David Wiley is an associate professor of instructional psychology and technology at Brigham Young University. His research focuses on access to educational opportunities, including open content, open educational resources, licensing, related business model issues, and uses of educational data mining to improve teaching and learning. Dr. Wiley teaches courses in open education, instructional design, grant writing, and new media in learning. He is the Chief Openness Officer of Flat World Knowledge and founder of the Open High School of Utah.