After the inspiring opening keynotes and a bit of shuffling around and organizing of rooms I found myself in the Open Content studio hidden away around the back of MACBA.
The advertised Open Textbook hacking didn’t really materialise – instead there was a conversation about OER/OCW findability with representatives of Creative Commons, OCWC, Connexions and both academics and developers.
This is a topic I’m pretty familiar with and e discussions had a familiar feel about them. The push for a more structured approach to metadata – essentially looking to the Linked Data movement for guidance (and the dreaded semantic web term was dropped..). This approach tends to fit more into the ‘big oer’ idea as Martin Weller talks about it and I do wonder if it is a realistic aim sometimes.
That said Clay from OCWC made a very interesting comment about in some ways getting people to technically mark up their open content more precisely with metadata was similar to the early days of convincing people of the need to write technically accessible code for screen readers and the like. In the end it wasn’t so much altruism that led to that becoming common but rather the acknowledgment of the side benefits like better Google ranking🙂. If those sorts of benefits can be identified for OER metadata then it is more likely to gain currency.
There was also some discussion of the NCSL Learning Registry project in the US and the fact that they are looking at usage data to try and build intelligent recommender systems (as it happens this is the approach I am interested in..). This led to conversations about Amazon and the fact that while they have useful recommender systems they are also able to enforce detailed metadata per item which makes it a bit easier.
All in all it was another interesting conversation about a major issue facing OER – I’m not sure the answers are going to come out of this festival but we are creeping closer all the time..