OER1108 Oral Presentation pptx

Thursday 12 May 13.30 Breakout Room 4/4a

Serendipitous dynamic aggregated remote searching for lo-carbon Open Resources

Rob Pearce, Loughborough University, Engineering Subject Centre

Conference Theme: Collaboration and communities

Abstract: The Engineering a Low Carbon Future OER (EALCFO) project is taking a proof of concept idea (presented at OER10) of a search facility that is able to pull together appropriate OERs from a number of sources to a working service with a specific subject focus. The project blends a foundation of specific, expert-selected OERs with dynamic remote searching to produce relevant results as well as encouraging serendipity in recognition of the importance of this aspect of searching and discovery. The HEA/JISC funded OER pilot projects (2009/2010) encouraged the exploitation of technically sophisticated web-based services such as YouTube, Flickr etc. to present OERs released by the project. The dynamic part of the project pulls together appropriate resources spread over a number of such services and university repositories utilizing established web data interchange standards. The linkage with pre-selected best-of-breed OERs will, it is hoped provide "serendipitous" opportunities to connect with OERs related to the target subject on the web yet offer more information and presentational flexibility than the de-facto benchmark search tool, Google. Employing real-time data interchange techniques will allow the aggregation of related resources from online services, ensuring the collection remains up-to-date and connected to the broader community of practice. Other dynamic references will be aggregated such as relevant news and events, with the aim of further increasing serendipity. Another aim is to avoid creating (yet) another database that duplicates (possibly incorrectly) information held elsewhere eliminating the confusion that may cause and the maintenance load that checking and updating causes. These issues will reduce the sustainability of such a project output. This approach is not without problems however; initiating searches involve multiple service providers, most of which are free-to-use commercial products and therefore with no service level agreements. Technical stability and business longevity in a fickle, developing marketplace also mean added risk. Although the risk is high so are the rewards for such an approach. This paper presents an attempt to embrace the sophisticated interconnectivity available from these services and the human, technical and metadata considerations of building a useful service.

Keywords: Risk; technical interoperability; web2.0; standards; sophisticated; distributed; methodology; OER tracking; usage