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23 February 2015
Open Education Resource hub and portal reaches important milestone
The OER web portal front-end, as it is currently being used for testing and demonstration purposes.

The GÉANT Association’s Open Education Resource (OER) service development pilot has reached an important milestone. The pilot resulted in a working prototype metadata-aggregation hub and web portal that can provide aggregated multimedia e-learning content to the higher education and academic research communities. The pilot has been completed and the preliminary project results and deliverables are available online. OER activities will continue in the GN4 (GÉANT) Project from April.

The goal of the OER initiative was to understand the use of OERs and what technology can best support educational institutions in offering sustainable open education facilities. One finding was that national research and education networking (NREN) organisations could be in a good position to facilitate how OERs are found and accessed. Another result was an understanding of how open content can be linked across multiple national and institutional repositories.

Born as an idea in the former Task Force on Media and funded as a small project by the GÉANT Association’s Amsterdam office (formerly TERENA) in 2014, the OER service architecture has two major components. The metadata harvester and aggregation engine uses standard protocols such as RSS (Rich Site Summary) and OAI-PMH (Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting) to collect information about mutimedia recordings and learning objects that are stored in connected national and institutional content repositories. The aggregated, translated and filtered, good-quality metadata are made available on a web portal front-end for testing and demonstration purposes.

Off to a good start

In the pilot phase seven content repositories were connected to the OER aggregation engine and more than 22,000 mutimedia objects were collected from Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Spain and the USA. After filtering according to the pre-defined metadata schema and standard vocabulary, the OER web portal is able to make more than 12,000 learning materials findable and accessible. These are structured according to subject and are linked accross multiple provider sources.

By being able to harvest iTunes U RSS feeds, and soon also various YouTube channels, the GÉANT OER portal creates a one-stop-shop brokering hub, potentially both for end users and for repository owners who wish to re-use the aggregated metadata set.

Future developments

With the OER pilot now completed, the preliminary project results and deliverables will be picked up in the forthcoming GN4 project in the service activity (SA8) on ‘Real-time Applications and Multimedia Management’, starting from May 2015. One of the aims of this activity is to further develop the OER prototype and bring it to the next level as a service.

In November 2014, the pilot project participants published a position paper ’GÉANT Association NRENs and Open Education’ that summarises the motives for the OER service development and its future directions. In the paper, the GÉANT Association also offered its knowledge and expertise to progress the objectives of the EC’s open education policy. The pan-European level GÉANT OER hub should bridge the gap between smaller institutional and national repositories and the large, global collectors, and contribute to flagship initiatives such as the EC’s Open Education Europa portal.

More information:

OER pilot project deliverables and all other technical documents are on the OER web pages.

OER metadata harvesting and aggregation engine back-end live statistics.

The OER web portal front-end (BETA) is available for testing and demonstration purposes only.