We’ve now published the Jisc Final report for the STELLAR project on this blog. The report, all 80 pages of it, is now listed the Reports and Dissemination page as well as available from STELLAR Jisc Final Report.
Today is the last day of the eighteen month STELLAR project, we’ve had our last Steering Group meeting, been to a Jisc programme meeting during July and produced a fairly hefty final report which is with Jisc and we plan to publish shortly through this blog and elsewhere.
It’s been a really interesting project for the Project team and we’ve learnt an enormous amount about what it takes to establish a linked data environment for a digital library of learning materials. Many of our experiences are documented on this blog, in the documents in the Reports and dissemination section and will be in the final report.
Important lessons learnt for us are particularly around the very significant effort needed around metadata, particularly in an environment like ours where there are several different content types that need to be handled. We’ve also found areas where applying linked data tools within the digital library are going to start to pay dividends for us in our future development plans for that system. Being able to easily (and automatically) link to related material openly available in iTunesU is really useful.
I’d like to say thanks to the project team who have been working on STELLAR: particularly Liz Mallett and Sarah Brown who took on the Project Management, to James Alexander who led the technical development, to Lara Whitelaw and Alex Addyman for their metadata expertise, to Ruth Cammies and colleagues in the OU Archive and cataloguing teams, to Tom Welch for his work on the surveying and to Mathieu d’Aquin from KMi for his work on Stellar and particularly the adaptation of DiscOU. Thanks also to colleagues on our Steering Group chaired by Gill Needham and others who have helped from across the library, and also to colleagues in the University who helped with the surveying, took part in focus groups or completed the surveys. Last but not least thanks to Jisc and their programme manager Neil Grindley for their support in funding this project.
We’ve a few plans underway to disseminate what we’ve learnt and to take forward the recommendations that the project has made and we’ll be crystallising those over the next few months.
The pre-enhancement survey report for Stellar is now available [STELLAR-Project-Pre-enhancement-survey-report]. Although we have known for some while that there is value in old learning materials as it may be able to be reused in new courses, this is the first time that a comprehensive piece of work has taken place to identify different aspects of value.
Using a balanced scorecard approach as recommended by the espida project Stellar assessed four perspectives of value
Headline results from the online survey (completed by over 500 respondents) revealed remarkable uniformity of opinion in terms of the value of the materials across all four dimensions; across all departments and faculties; across all respondents’ primary roles within the OU community (academic, academic related, associate lecturer and secretarial and clerical); across the length of time staff had worked at the OU; and across those who were, and were not, involved in module production.
When discussing the personal and professional dimension of value, it was revealed that new academics use the archive of past materials to help bed themselves in to the culture of course production at the OU; that course production was seen as an integral part of the scholarly output of academics; that there was little agreement as to how strongly asset creators felt ownership of the material produced; and that academics and course managers, particularly, had different views of the value of the archive – the former emphasising its historical value and the latter its practical value in terms of reuse. All agreed, however, that the OU produced world respected resources and that that should not be forgotten.
Value to the higher education and academic communities had three components: firstly, that current academics were standing on the shoulders of giants and that to fail to maintain the archive was to remove the opportunity to learn from it, both pedagogically and in terms of course content; Secondly, that it has great value to future researchers and PhD students; and, thirdly, that it forms a great part of the OU’s institutional legacy.
Investigating the archives value to internal OU processes and cultures revealed a reliance on personal or departmental archives. It also revealed four facets of current reuse practices: firstly, that core materials in each subject are seen to be relatively stable and are often published separately from materials that change frequently, thus facilitating their reuse; secondly, a perception that many courses are removed from presentation for business or curriculum reasons and so much current course material is shelved prematurely and could be reused; Thirdly, that there is re-versioning of existing material for new and emerging markets; and, finally, that material no longer in presentation is reused in ways that may enhance the reputation of the OU.
When considering the financial dimension of value, interviewees focussed on four areas. Firstly on the cost-savings to be made through reuse – a complicated calculation, but one that could be made a great deal simpler if the archive were set up in such a way as to facilitate reuse; secondly, that much content could be, or is being, re-versioned in order to generate income; thirdly, that the archive could be promoted in such a way that it enhances the student experience and increases their perception of value for money; and finally, that the digitisation of past resources, while expensive, may have benefits to the academic community.
The report produced is clearly of wider relevance as it assesses attitudes to the value of non-current learning materials. The views in the report may be useful to a range of groups in policy formation. Within the library the data will help to inform the digital preservation policy that is currently in development.