10 Responses to OER repositories and preservation – the elephant (not in) the room?

  1. Pat says:

    How long does an OER live? How long does a course book live? A hand out? A slide? Should OER live forever? Is this a legacy of repositories as preservers, not quite working when faced with the dynamism of OER formats?

    Cat, meet pigeons

  2. Hi Nick,
    i think there’s lots of unanswered questions around the curation and appropriate preservation of learning materials more generally – ranging from keep everything to keep nothing. If anything it’s going to be easier to preserve OERs because the licenses will often permit derivative works removing at least one hassle.
    Although personally i’d like to see a more of an interest in preserving OERs (as historic/ cultural artefacts) i see a lot of sense in the argument that you rarely need a specific OER (in the identical bitstream sense and perhaps in the wider specific item sense) you just need something like it.
    One thing i’d note about some of the web2.0 tools used is that some have good export functions so from a curation point of view they’re perhaps better than some other options. For example – if we think about the use of wordpress – @josswinn was able to move OER content between eprints and wordpress using OAI-ORE. in itself that’s great. but i wonder if they might also be able to ‘ship’ it to the internet archive as well (as it’s increasingly supporting OAI-ORE for memento)

  3. Les Carr says:

    Although “preservation” is a startling complex issue, the problem for me as a lecturer can be simply stated: if I start to use an OER in my teaching this year, do I have to check that it is still there when the course is run next year? Because really, I can’t afford to use OERs if they’ve got that level of risk attached to them. Checking one OER in one course for one year might be an acceptable overhead, but checking a dozen in each of six courses for a decade is a nightmare. And it’s not just the checking that’s the problem (because it can be automated as Nick says), its finding an equivalent or working out a replacement activity.

    So my real beef isn’t that the repository has not been used “properly”, but that the provider of the OER (the author?) puts me in a position where they have made something that would really benefit my students (and make the learning experience better) but they haven’t made it safe to do so.

  4. Pat says:


    Surely OER should be downloadable? To me, with my OER hat on. I think that is a essential for the reasons you state?

    Do people believe that OER usage is low due to this reason?

    • Les Carr says:


      “Downloadable” as in “view them on my machine”? Or “downloadable” as in “provide a permanent home in my environment because they aren’t safe where they are” ?

      Yes, I want to use them and view them, but I don’t want to be responsible for making a micro-internet on my site. Especially when the context that a resource is embedded in may be just as useful as the resource itself.

      • Pat says:

        However, does “safety” relies on someone else maintaining micro-internet of content they may no longer want to use so you can use it?

        Does OER need to live forever?

        P.S Oer Africa – bad networks, poor electricity – downloadable is quite useful in some cases.

      • Les Carr says:

        I’m implying that “safety” relies on OER authors being responsible for their content rather than leaving it where they dropped it like unruly teenagers. “Safety” means that if you make a learning object public for community use, and publicise the availability of that object, you darn well ought to make sure that it’s not going to disappear just because you’re too busy to look after it.

      • Pat says:

        I can’t reply to Les’s reply. So am replying here.

        One site – which shall remain nameless moved all of the OER to new address. Over 9000 resources gone in a flash.

        So it’s not always the authors that create the problem.

        Surely all learning materials date though? How do you deal with the migration? Cirriculum (sp?) mapping of courses’ evolution?

  5. Nick says:

    No doubt those interested have seen Peter Burnhill’s reply to Les on JISC-REPOSITORIES.

  6. Pingback: Xpert vs Jorum? « Repository News

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