From February I’m going to be involved in a new project, STELLAR – Semantic Technologies Enhancing the Lifecycle of LeArning Resources (funded by JISC). In some ways the project connects with previous work I’ve been involved with in the Lucero project in that it will be employing linked data, and will be working with learning materials, in that I’ve had some involvement with our production and presentation learning systems through the VLE. But STELLAR will be dealing with a different area for me, in that we’ll be looking at my institution’s store of legacy learning materials. So it’s a good opportunity to learn more about curation and preservation and digital lifecycles.
STELLAR is particularly going to be looking at trying to understand the value of those legacy learning materials by talking to the academics who have been involved in creating those materials. There are quite a few reasons why older course materials may still have value, they might be able to be reused in new courses on the basis that reusing old materials might be less costly than creating new materials. They might have value in being able to be transformed into Open Educational Resources. Or, for example, they might have value in being good historical examples of styles of teaching and learning. So STELLAR will be exploring different types and models of expressing the value of those materials.
Finding out about the value that is placed on these materials can also be an important factor when trying to understand which materials to preserve as a priority, or where you should expend your resources, and we’d hope that STELLAR would help to inform HE policies as institutions build up increasing amounts of digital learning materials.
As part of STELLAR we will be taking some digital legacy learning material and transforming it into linked data (with some help from our friends in KMi). This gives us the opportunity to connect old course materials into the OU’s data.open.ac.uk ecosystem by linking to existing datasets on current courses and OER material in OpenLearn. By transforming the content in this way we can then explore whether making it more discoverable changes the value proposition, makes the content more likely to be reused or opens up other possibilities. It should be an interesting project and one that I’m looking forward to, as there are going to be a lot of opportunties to build up my understanding of these issues and aspects.