Thursday, 14 July 2011

Nottingham Student Focus Group

We held a small focus group on July 12, 2011 to find out what students think about the content and resources provided on WikiVet via the OVAL project so far. Seven students attended, a mixture of about to graduate students and current fourth years.

Overall, the impression was good. It looks like we are on the right tracks with both the content and resources we have created so far. Small improvements were suggested, e.g. keep questions and answers short within the flashcards and keep to the key points only. This is really only relevant to the flashcards we are producing from the CABI datasheet content as the Manson flashcards cannot be changed.

The main issue identified was that it is not widely known that WikiVet contains resources. Most students think of it as an encyclopaedia style information repository. Even the name (WikiVet) doesn't encourage thinking otherwise. We need to work on advertising the resources more obviously from the front page and each content page. The work regarding this had already started so hopefully we will see some improvement in the awareness soon.

It looked like creating podcasts from the content will be appreciated. Some students mentioned that they already listen to recordings of lectures whilst driving. Audio resources containing only the key information and avoiding anything that is difficult to follow, e.g. referring to an image that cannot be seen, will be preferential to these. More thoughts from the focus group can be seen here.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

WikiVet Pre-Conference Workshop

The workshop on July 12 was a success. During the morning session Nick explained the general concept and how WikiVet started, followed by Barbora briefly talking through the current content development. Gemma showed her Spanish version of the site in progress and Chris concluded with a showcase of our learning resources.

Following a short break we asked the delegates to discuss what they think should be our priorities for the developments in the near future. It clearly transpired that we need to have a 'roadmap' so that we do not get distracted with too many things and that we are clear in what it is we would like to achieve in small steps. Sky is the limit really but we need to aim there a bit by bit. The issue of expert review process was also mentioned and the need for it if we would like WikiVet to be supported and advertised by university lectures. More thoughts from the focus group.

After lunch the delegates were shown how to edit the wiki, upload pictures and provide both internal and external links. The team and some of the delegates then enjoyed an evening meal at he local pub.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Using Creative Commons to get the most of OERs

E-Health 2011 Conference Report

Speakers: Gillian Brown, Centre for Medicine, Dentistry & Veterinary Medicine (MEDEV)
Gillian Brown, from the Centre for Medicine, Dentistry & Veterinary Medicine (MEDEV) talks about the risks associated with OER and the value of Creative Commons to protect against copyright infringement.
Gillian first defined OER and invited us to explore how we can make OERs more accessible.
Ten to 15 years ago it was fantastic to use PowerPoint Presentations instead of overhead projectors,” she said. “Lecturers thought it was great. The material could be uploaded, they could copy and past images and show them to students.
Along came mobile phones and MP3 players, and students were downloading these files to their devices,” she says. “Then came social networking, and students found lectures so interesting that they started uploading content onto their profiles on the Internet.”
And here began the problem, because this raised serious copyright issues. “Within your VLE limited numbers of people saw it so it wasn’t really an issue, but once material is published online without permission then this becomes a problem.
OER was developed to sort out the kind of issues that arise with sharing material online, and it aims to promote best practice in this area. “These are resources with an open licenses to reuse and repurpose as you see fit,” says Gillian. “It’s not about re-inventing the wheel,” she adds. “It’s about sharing with colleagues and peers, and finding aspects that are useful for you and inserting it into your learning resources.
So what are the benefits of using OER? “Emerging evidence shows that the time staff spends on resources can be reduced by 50% by engaging with OER. Students also save time and money.
As Gillian explains, teaching staff need to arm themselves with the right information so they can understand and manage the risks associated with using OER, and in order to to make the most from OERs there are considerations to be taken into account. “What if you move institution?” says Gillian. “Cab you take the material with you? Do you own the copyright, or is it owned by the university?”
Or what if you got promoted? Are you entitled to use your predecessor’s work that they left behind?
Copyright is key with OER,” she says. “Creative Commons is a legal statement outlining what you can and can’t do with copyrighted work. It is the way to guard yourself against copyright infringement. And if you train your staff on how to create resources that are safeguarded against being sued for copyright infringement this will filter down to the students.
Websites of Interest

WikiVet - A New Model For Sharing OER

E-Health Conference 2011 Report

Speaker: Nick Short, Head of eMedia Unit at the Royal Veterinary College, London
During this session, Nick Short, from the Royal Veterinary College in London talked about WikiVet, a comprehensive OER resource for vets.
As Nick explains, WikiVet was established in 2007 using the Wiki framework to allow online collaboration and store resources. “Uploading into a repository can be clunky, and we wanted to avoid duplication,” he explains.
There was mixed funding, from the HEA, JISC, even the Donkey Sanctuary! A lot of people came in to fund this project,” he says. And now the site has grown to include over 4000 pages of information. “All the content is authored by student and recent graduates, and the web orientated content is accessibile via the web and mobile phone interfaces,” he adds.
It’s huge! And it’s indexed in a very intelligent way,” he says. “There’s a lot of different ways to access the content. The key think is to make the information easy to find for our target audience.
With 11,000 registered users and an average of 50 new users joining per day, the success of this project is clear.
All the content is OER compliant, and there are translations, with students translating the content,” he says. “It’s an international resource and we have international partners. Everybody seems to want to get involved.”
After the obvious success of the WikiVet resource, Nick feels that wider questions now need to be answered. “Do we really need an international audience? I don’t know the answer to this. And the issue of commercial partnership is also an interesting challenge. For example, would we be comfortable having Big Pharma involved?”
Ultimately, these issues raise the question – can OERs have a commercial value. “It’s great to share, but can we ever sell them?” he concludes.