One Standard to Rule Them All?: Descriptive Choices for

Open Education*


R. John Robertson1 Lorna Campbell1 Phil Barker2 Li Yuan3 & Sheila MacNeill1


(1.Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement, University of Strathclyde,UK;

2.Institute for Computer Based Learning, Heriot-Watt University,UK;

3.Institute for Cybernetic Education, University of Bolton,UK)


Abstract: Drawing on our experience of supporting a nationwide Open Educational Resources programme (the UKOER programme), this paper discusses the diverse range of approaches to describing OERs that have emerged across the programme and their impact on resource sharing, workflows, and an aggregate view of the resources.Because of the diverse nature of the projects in the programme, ranging from individual educators to disciplinebased consortia and institutions, it was apparent that no one technical or descriptive solution would fit all.  Consequently projects were mandated to supply only a limited amount of descriptive information (programme tag, author, title, date, url, file format, file size, rights) with some additional information suggested (language, subject classifications, keywords, tags, comments, description). Projects were free to choose how this information should be encoded (if at all), stored, and shared. In response, the projects have taken many different approaches to the description and management of resources. These range from using traditional highly structured and detailed metadata standards to approaches using whatever descriptions are supported by particular web2.0 applications. This experimental approach to resource description offers the wider OER community an opportunity to examine and assess the implications of different strategies for resource description and management.This paper illustrates a number of examples of projects approaches to description, noting the workflows and effort involved. We will consider the relationship of the choice of tool (repository, web2.0 application, virtual learning environment) to the choice of standards; and the relationship between local requirements and those of the wider community,and the impact of those choices on the dissemination and discoverability of resources. For example, the implications of resource description choices for discovery services which draw on multiple sources of OERs.

Key words: OERUKOER resource description metadatacontent packagingrepositoriesweb2.0resource management

CLC numbersG434

Document codeA

Article ID1007-2179(2010)05-0059-08

* This paper was first published on OCWC.

The Author: John Robertson is a researcher in the field of repositories and currently work for CETIS providing support for projects in JISC's Open Educational Resources programme, and he is based in the Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement (CAPLE) at the University of Strathclyde (;Lorna Campbell is one of the CETIS Assistant Directors with responsibility for the area of systems and content and she is currently based at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow; Phil Barker works as a learning technology adviser for JISC CETIS and in the School of Mathematical and Computer Science at Heriot Watt University; Li Yuan is a Learning Technology Advisor for JISC CETIS and a senior researcher within the Institute for Educational Cybernetics, the University of Bolton;Sheila MacNeill is an Assistant Director with JISC CETIS based at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK.




约翰·罗比森1 洛娜·坎贝尔1 菲尔·巴克2 袁莉3 希拉·麦克尼尔1


1. 斯特拉思克莱德大学 学术实践和学习促进中心,英国;

2. 赫瑞瓦特大学 基于计算机的学习研究所,英国;

3. 博尔顿大学 教育控制论研究和应用学院,英国)