Project proposal funded through JISC Open educational resources programme:

OpenSpires - Open Content at Oxford University

Project Overview

Background

As a result of this project many hours of University of Oxford talks, conferences, research symposia will be available as user friendly free-to-download files via high visibility websites and popular commercial services. Much of this material will be provided by world class thinkers. Oxford academic colleagues will be supported in changing practice by becoming 'open content literate' to make informed choices regarding the materials they release and choose to reuse. The Open Spires project focuses on supporting strategic institutional learning and encouraging cultural change. The outcomes will promote the sharing of effective practice that will inform and influence policy in other research-intensive institutions in the UK and beyond. The body of work released will inspire and lead the UK open educational resources movement. Open Spires will enable Oxford to make a significant proportion of this valuable material available to be reused easily in education worldwide and with supporting cataloguing and contextual material this will form a core body of open content for UK HE.

The University of Oxford has an impressive track record in delivering e-learning technical and infrastructure projects and in making content publicly available. Currently the University has more than 500 audio and video talks and lectures from across all disciplines hosted in Oxford iTunes U (http://itunes.ox.ac.uk) and an identical web portal (http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk). Each asset is free to download and has written release permission from the speaker. Many objects are of global interest. Since launching in October the material has been downloaded approximately 550,000 times over a 19 week period.

This project builds upon a significant investment already made in the creation and publication of digital content at Oxford, and will overcome barriers to moving that public content along the 'openness continuum' to allow its release for reuse by users engaged in learning and teaching activities. As a result of this project significant amounts (in excess of the 360 credits detailed, including many complete lecture series) of digital learning content will be made available to be found, searched, used, analysed, aggregated and tracked in appropriate ways via appropriate platforms. Oxford academic colleagues will be supported in changing practice by becoming 'open content literate' to make informed choices regarding the materials they release and choose to reuse. The project draws upon our existing strengths in supporting a devolved and complex institution to offer a model for sustainable and scalable service for academics and students that will be relevant to any institution supporting multiple content streams.

Aims and Objectives

Resources in this project will be concentrated broadly in two areas:
  1. Working with individual and groups of academic staff to ensure that future and legacy freely available digital content can be released under a suitable open content licence, and published as feeds in OpenJorum and subject portals in perpetuity. Content created under an open licence will be deposited into OpenJorum.
  2. Consolidating legal/licensing issues and the development of appropriate development support materials for staff and documented workflows for cultural change to ensure that considerations of open release become part of the digital content creation cycle at Oxford University.

Core work for this project is to provide staff support materials. These will be integrated into the Oxford University staff development programme and shared amongst UK learning technology and staff development units. This supports the development of HEA professional standards programmes enabling 'lay' academic staff to engage and be confident in understanding the use of open licences and reuse of OER materials.

Overall Approach

Strategy

The journey towards making this content open will test and establish processes for technical and user support in making open release part of a sustainable institution-wide digital content creation cycle. The project will explore how best to licence and tag this content. Text transcripts will accompany audio and video content making the content searchable and more accessible. The momentum and enthusiasm for the publication of Oxford materials which has been generated across the university will be maintained. While iTunes U has been the most high profile project in this space, elsewhere in Oxford other parts of the University are already committed to making OERs available, e.g. JISC funded MOSAIC project in Continuing Education and the decision of the Maths Department to join the Open Courseware Consortium. The processes established by the project will enable us to sustain this level of activity and streamline workflows for institutional service-level activity. The workflows and guidance to document this process will be offered to the community via JISC/HEA.

Important issues to be addressed

The project team are aware that open content initiatives must overcome considerable barriers to reusing educational content including IPR, reluctance to ãgive awayä resources with potential value and concerns over attribution, reputation and digital and academic identity. The experience within Oxford University has indicated that many of the issues are not around the technology. The University of Oxford Learning Technologies Group (LTG) works to support the appropriate use of technology in teaching as one of the key knowledge areas included in the HEA professional standards framework for teaching in higher education.

The LTG see OER as an opportunity to support change and educational development in the area of learning and teaching by encouraging the development of skills of open content literacy. Open content literate staff are able to make informed choices about the appropriate licensing and copyright permission levels to choose when they publish learning materials as open. They are able to identify the appropriate platform for their materials; maximise the usefulness of their materials for other users; and understand the restrictions on materials they find and hope to adapt for their own teaching. The project will focus initially on our work related to audio/video and associated resources, and this project will act as a hub for all OER-associated work across the University.

Scope and boundaries of the work

In scope:

Out of scope:

Critical success factors

Project Outputs

The project's anticipated outputs include:

  1. An evolving selection of seminars, public talks, lectures and research papers released as sets of OER licensed material available for global dissemination. The University of Oxford does not use a module or credit system to structure teaching. For the purpose of this project we have taken 'amount equivalent to 360 credits' to mean roughly 'equivalent to the amount of content/hours of study of an undergraduate course'. The University is expressly committed to providing an exceptional education for both undergraduates and graduates, characterised by the close contact of students with distinguished scholars in supportive collegiate and departmental communities. The Collegiate University is distinctive in the high level of engagement of senior research-active academics in teaching of undergraduates. The OpenSpires project outputs reflect this feature of the education offered by the Collegiate University. Many of the lectures, seminars and research talks included in the project are equivalent to the lectures seminar and research talks offered on campus. Others have been adapted by teachers to present the subject to an open audience. A large proportion of the material is offered at graduate or M-level.

    The purpose of an Oxford lecture is often said to be to 'send students to the Library' for further study and reading. Where possible indicative reading recommendations are included with the seminars. The materials selected for OpenSpires is not all from one undergraduate course, and for any one hour lecture the notional hours of student study engagement varies from 5-10 hours. OpenSpires materials offers research led thinking on a wide range of topics. The University stresses the individual character of this education. In describing the environment that the collegiate University seeks to provide for its students, the emphasis is on a flexible framework within which each student is enabled – to varying degrees and always under guidance – 'to plot their own individual learning route'. The student is considered to be an adult participant in the pursuit of his or her academic development. The technical work on this project ensures that each asset from OpenSpires can be used alone or aggregated in feeds by subject, theme or research area, replicating this individual learning route. The work on this project will make it possible to release and publish materials licenced for re-use on a scale not previously possible at Oxford.
  2. The early material may include the following sets -
    • Medieval English
    • Conversations with Philosophers
    • Philosophy
    • German Politics
    • Constitutional Politics
    • Anthropology
    • Business Skills
    • Inside Science
    • Introduction to Maths for Science
    • Materials and Nano-technology
    • Global Health
    • Education
  3. A handbook/guide for creating a community of practitioners within an institution following our model for devolved content creation. Exemplar best practice and innovation with documented institutional activities
  4. Example legal and policy documents and workflows for checking copyright, technical quality and institutional sign-off. The work will document resource creation workflows: tracking issues; filming permissions and best practice; speaker's legal paperwork; logging of metadata; reviewing material; artwork; technical sign-off; paperwork sign-off; speakers contact details for and IPR/copyright tracking.
  5. Documentation for adoption of standards, for content workflow, accessibility, management, legal issues, to ensure best practice for sustainability of the architecture, and to ensure efficiencies in staff support and longevity of any institutional investments.
  6. Report into a survey of motivational factors for release of material by owners and insight into a model for providing a 'continuum of openness' related to OER licences for reuse.
  7. Documentation on designing and implementing media processing and media management architecture for public facing institutional audio and video activities. This will cover the needs for branding/watermarking/ album covers, key still frames and graphical skinning to suit institutional preferences. The report will cover tracking and displaying statistics on usage, trends, subscriptions, relationships to marketing, popularity and feedback of such data to contributors, departments and central services. It will act as key document for decision makers to understand strategies to measure institutional impact, branding and outreach activities.
  8. Document workflows and scripting tools to enhance metadata creation at encoding stage (e.g. technical metadata), repository ingest stage (e.g. user centric metadata) and licence choice for the owner. Best practice guides to minimise costs and procedures for multiple delivery channels important to an institution, such as generic institutional web based portals, subject centre portals and globally significant high impact channels such as iTunesU and YouTube.
  9. Demonstrator institutional web podcasting portal and a demonstration aggregation web site for subject specific material that can be used by partner institutions, national centres and subject centres. These activities will act as exemplars for open content aggregation and interoperability standards.
  10. Deposit of OER sets of materials/courses into Open Jorum
  11. Final Report for JISC

Project Outcomes

As a result of this project significant amounts of digital learning content will be made available to be found, searched, used, analysed, aggregated and tracked in appropriate ways via appropriate platforms. Oxford academic colleagues will be supported in changing practice by becoming 'open content literate' to make informed choices regarding the materials they release and choose to reuse. The project draws upon our existing strengths in supporting a devolved and complex institution to offer a model for sustainable and scalable service for academics and students that will be relevant to any institution supporting multiple content streams.

This project will be a pathfinder for institutions scaling up to distribute open content in audio and video formats and supporting contextual information. This will benefit nationally teaching, research and outreach. This project will report on the technical, legal and cultural support infrastructure needed to do this, with the particular example of the open content available through the current iTunes U and web portal presence. This project will also provide material for national initiatives such as OpenJorum, subject centre portals and national RSS aggregation services. Further third party services (YouTube/Edu Hub) are anticipated to be launched by other providers, and this work will offer help for institutions in preparing material for these channels.

This work will also consolidate and support (through requirement gathering, events, exemplars and community building) the UK-HE input to longer-term global sustainable open content communities.

This project will deposit open content materials into OpenJorum, ideally through RSS/ATOM ingest and also be easily discovered online through use of the chosen OER tag UKOER.

This project will produce a final project report for JISC.

Standards

University of Oxford has an impressive track record of delivering on JISC e-learning technical and infrastructure projects. The standards used in this project will mainly be connected with podcasting feeds, audio and video encoding, feed aggregation and web service calls between third party systems. Standard formats for podcasting are currently RSS 2.0 and increasingly ATOM for multiple related feeds e.g. audio, video and transcript. OPML is currently being used at Oxford for providing an umbrella XML overview of institutional sets of feeds and material particularly suitable for aggregating across institutions and subject centres.

Technical Development

This methodology is also used by OpenLearn at The Open University (The team have piloted sharing material in this way with three other UK institutions). Multimedia formats include the globally popular MP3 for audio, MPEG4 umbrella video formats (H264 codecs, MPEG7 metadata encapsulation etc). Metadata for content is stored in XML via the institutional system called OXITEMS (RSS/ATOM feed creator) and mapped to Dublin Core and has been locally expanded to cover content specific details (codec, height/width, resolution, bit rate, copyright etc.) and also mapped to include subject hierarchical categorisation and subject keywords. Media RSS, an RSS dialect is being investigated to provide more metadata opportunities including full time-coded transcripts, keywords and thumbnail images. Media RSS support linking to embedded players and has documented formats for associating Creative Commons type licences.

The aim is to refine the existing workflow tracking system used at Oxford improving licensing opportunities on ingest, improved metadata schema, full transcript support and a wider range of OPML, ATOM and RSS delivery methods. The current system tracks a podcasting entity from inception, through to delivery; additional work supports administrators to monitor checks and balances to handle the legal and technical processes. Work would provide a clear management overview of the content and its state of readiness. It will allow users to choose licence options in the workflow process and managers to monitor and control the overall task of gate keeping content.

Intellectual Property Rights

According to Oxford's policy on Intellectual Property , (which covers all respective University employees and students), the University claims ownership of a range of intellectual property rights with commercial potential. The University does not assert any claim to the ownership of copyright in artistic works, books, articles or lectures, apart from those specifically commissioned by the University. There are already legal policies and workflow in place for release of material by academics to the University podcasting projects. Material can only be released as OER licensed material with signed permission of the appropriate content creator, usually the academic speaker. These established policies will be built upon through the work of the project. The project will make reference to advice and outputs from the JISC funded web2rights project and includes direct consultancy support from University Legal Services Office. It is proposed to release project documentation deliverables either under a Creative Commons licence or, in the case of software, under an OSI-approved open-source software licence to maximise the benefit for the wider community. The University seeks to maximise the commercial potential of its intellectual property through its wholly owned technology transfer company, ISIS Innovation Ltd., in accordance with the desires of the JISC Programme.

Work Packages

Start month, May 2009 = M1

PD – Project Director (<0.2 FTE)
PI – Project Investigator (0.2 FTE)
PC – Project Coordinator
LO – Legal Officer (0.8 FTE)
CAT – Cataloguer
Web – Web designer
Info – Programmer
Comms – Head of Communication
Webmaster – University Webmaster

WP1 Scoping study and requirements analysis
Project start. Recruit Officers by M3/4. All project members must compile their experience of the podcasting and OER domain, with particular reference to the recommended workflows and best practices based on older use cases. A simple briefing document is needed to explain the workflow path - academic contribution form, recording/capturing, cataloguing, technical signoff, legal signoff and options for delivery channel for potential users of the system and project members.
Deliverable: Briefing document "OER Basics". Compilation of current user orientated literature on public website. Start of Podcast series explaining the Open Spires activity.
[Responsibility PC/LO]
Month M1 - M5
WP2 Compile use cases
Compilation of "use cases" from constituent departments and potential users who have already been active in this area. Emphasis on those departments with clear requirements and able to pilot. Document legacy material, current activity, audio and video format needs, recording situation, urgency of turnaround on recording content, mixing of material, scheduling etc. Understanding workflow for 'virtual' project teams.
Deliverable: 6-7 use cases typical of departmental and administrative needs for OER podcasting for JISC community
[Responsibility PC/LO]
M1-4
WP3 Training and support
A series of half day workshops will be held for departmental heads, academics and communications officers to brief on the workflow of open content and advise on open content licences. This will be supported by the OUCS training department and run by the Project Board members with input from Legal services.
Deliverable: Training workshops, support documents, focus group feedback for legal
[Responsibility PI then PC/LO]
M3-
WP4 Academic content providers
The project team will work with the existing 140+ academic content creators and future content creators to understand the issues surrounding releasing their material using the current podcasting service methodology licences ** and** a new Creative Commons licence. The aim is to have a sustainable process based around the current podcasting service using an (optional) new licence and contribution form.
[Responsibility PI/PC]
M4-
WP4a The project team will conduct a short survey to the existing 140+ academic content creators to ascertain the key factors that would influence them to release their material further using Creative Commons licences or similar. Factors to be looked at include attribution, goodwill, apathy, fear of modification, reciprocity, subject-orientated motivation. The survey would also clearly indicate those that are happy to be contacted to sign a further OER licence agreement.
Deliverable: Report into a survey of motivational factors for release of material by owners and insight into a model for providing a continuum of openness related to licences for reuse, with a fixed % of hours of material that can be aggregated to the OER and an indicative % of future material that can be used as an indicator for other HE institutions following the project methodology. Updated Podcast about survey methodology and results.
[Responsibility PI/LO/ Comms]
M4+
WP4b The project team will surface the early material from academics at the 5 early adopter departments (including Politics, Philosophy, James Martin Institute, Cont. Ed, English) who have shown particular interest in the OpenSpires project. This material will be recorded, stored and delivered through the normal Podcasting Service. RSS/ATOM mechanisms and processes (itunes.ox.ac.uk & podcasts.ox.ac.uk) and also surfaced via RSS direct to the OpenSpires site for others to review. This material should also form the core set of learning material at http://open.ox.ac.uk.
The client relations activity for this work package is of great importance to the project and communication and support mechanisms should be put in place to facilitate the technical processes and also any concerns. It is important to trial different support structures such as departmental OpenSpires facilitators to ease the time burden of the academic staff.
Deliverable: Core set of OER material from the early adopter departments under a CC licence. Report into the necessary costs and support mechanisms (client relations contacts in the department etc ) needed and how this extra work can be supported through the normal activity of the podcast service.
[Responsibility PC]
M4+
WP5 Training and support (2)
Evaluation of half day workshops and redesign/development of staff development materials/guides in the light of feedback and establish a model/framework for open content literacy support.
Deliverable: Training workshops, support documents
[Responsibility PD/PC]
M6-
WP6 Cataloguing, Content management workflow and technical work
The aim is to refine the existing workflow tracking system used at Oxford improving licensing opportunities on ingest, improved metadata schema, full transcript support and a wider range of OPML, ATOM and RSS delivery methods. The current system tracks a podcasting entity from inception, through to delivery; additional work supports administrators to monitor checks and balances to handle the legal and technical processes. Work would provide a clear management overview of the content and its state of readiness. It will allow users to choose licence options in the workflow process and managers to monitor and control the overall task of gate keeping content.
Deliverable: Full transcripts, improved web portal for contextual support, dynamic OPML RSS feeds for HEA subject centres and OpenJorum. Document covering Workflow and Metadata issues for wider aggregation. SAKAI VLE area and tool to support workflow.
[Responsibility LO/CAT]
M2-
Wp 6b Delivery framework - podcasts.ox.ac.uk & open.ox.ac.uk
This work will test, refine and produce a web delivery portal for audio, video and transcripts. The CMS used is likely to be the open source system - Drupal. There is an overlap with the slower paced work on a web replacement delivery channel for podcasts.ox.ac.uk and it is necessary to recognise that the delivery timeframes and complexities of each project might mean that open.ox.ac.uk might occur earlier on an intermediary framework.

Stage 1 Open Content licence options added to core systems
Creative Commons licence options added to OXITEMS RSS/ATOM system and PODCHECKER legal workflow system. Initially only for the project team to set but later for devolved user / content owner selection. This metadata will travel through to the RSS/ATOM feeds.[1 week - Responsibility LO/Info] .

Stage 2 Improved version of current web portal for CC search - displaying categories, audio feed, video feed.
This intermediary stage will allow the project team to track and report on CC material becoming available as the legal paper is signed and the content checked for copyright clearance. Deliverable: Open Content filtered version of podcasts.ox.ac.uk?filter_licence=CC_Oxford . [2 weeks - Responsibility PI/Info]

Stage 3 Open.ox.ac.uk ( See Appendix C )
Web portal, open.ox.ac.uk, for search, categories, audio feed, video feed, transcript feed, minor contextual description and album cover. Extra features include social bookmarks and inline video players The CMS used is likely to be the open source system - Drupal hosted by NSMS. The material will be presented so that material can be browsed by subject area and also search through tags/keywords. Google analytics will be used to track usages combined with Apache log file analysis from the host media server. [Responsibility PI/LO/Web Estimated 4 weeks] .
There is an overlap with the slower paced work on a web replacement delivery channel for podcasts.ox.ac.uk and if project time the faster paced open.ox.ac.uk web work can be merged to the podcasts.ox.ac.uk replacement work. ( Estimated 3 wks)

[Responsibility PI/LO/Web]
M4-M7
WP7 Legal Licences
The project will spend a considerable amount of time working with the Legal Services team to evaluate strategies for moving the currently freely available material into Open Licences. Current material is licensed for distribution via Apple iTunes U and Oxford web sites but not for further reuse, dissemination, modification or being part of educational open courseware.
Deliverable: A legal workflow map for staff to understand their options in releasing material, Aiming to achieve an overarching contribution licence form that can be signed by interested contributors and policy documents. Documentation of the process. Advise all OER projects
[Responsibility LO]
M1-M6
WP8 Training and support (3)
Half-day workshops for new content creators piloted to test staff development materials and open content literacy model. Deliverable: Training local/national workshops, support docs
[Responsibility PD/PC]
M7-
WP8b Beyond Borders Conference
One day Open Content Conference at Oxford around the Easter 2010 period. Expected to have 120 attendees. Invited speakers. Opportunity for dissemination, marketing outputs and sharing content knowledge across subject communities
[Responsibility PD/PI]
M5-
WP9 Evaluation
Evaluation of activities. Evaluation of impact of facilitation services at the institution. To include case studies, executive briefing, roadmap for the future. Issues include flexibility, costing models, alternatives, and exit strategy. Evaluation - how much material can be regularly released as OER
Deliverable: Case studies, Draft final report
[Responsibility PC/LO]
M6-
WP10 Marketing
The project will launch a marketing campaign for open.ox.ac.uk through external channels (Press releases/TV/Radio/Twitter/Blogs) and internal channels (Launch day/Newsletter/mail lists/front of ox.ac.uk/Internal Newssheets).
[Responsibility PD/PI/Comms/ University Webmaster]
M9-M12
WP11 Final Report
Creation, Publication and Integration of OER policy in an institutional podcast service Report back on the support structures needed, technical and legal workflows and the strategic decisions required to make use of a key emerging technology.
  • Service - Service level descriptors, critical success factors, cost-benefit analysis
  • Infrastructure - Hardware, software, hosting, delivery, processes, standards, facilities, maintenance
  • Future development - Upgrading infrastructure, updating content
  • Expertise needed - Competencies, roles, staff, suppliers, outsourcing
  • Management - Leadership, organisation, staffing, administration
  • Economic business models - Setup/ongoing costs, investment, income generation, advertising, sponsorship and needs of stakeholders
  • Marketing - Strategies for marketing and promotion, training and support
  • Legal and intellectual property - Simplified contributors form, IP rights needed, licensing & legal agreements, digital rights management, software registration
  • Risk assessment and management, including financial risks and legal risks

Deliverable: Final report
[Responsibility PD/PI/PC/LO]
M8-M12

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