Tracking the Use of Open Educational Resources

As part of our support for the HEFCE, HE Academy, JISC UKOER programme CETIS are running a “2nd Tuesday” online seminar to discuss the tracking the use of OERs on Thursday 20 Nov (* Yes, I know, perhaps they should be called alternating 2nd Tuesday and 3rd Thursday seminars). Details about timing and how to join will be sent to UKOER projects through the usual strand mail lists; others who are interested should contact David Kernohan (d.kernohan /at/ JISC.AC.UK) about possible extra spaces.

Here’s the full description:

“As far as is possible projects will need to track the volume and use of the resources they make available”

At least that is what the call for projects for this programme said; the aim of this session is to help projects with this requirement. The rationale for tracking use from the funder’s perspective is clear: they want to know whether the resources being released with their money are useful to anyone apart from those who created them. Of course, as any who has tried to work with access statistics for a web site knows, we have to be cautious in interpreting such data. For example, how do we compare a simple “viewing” of a resource with someone taking the resource and embedding it in their own course site? Is it even possible to measure how often the latter happens? Another, perhaps more interesting, aspect of tracking use is what it tells us about what a resource is useful for. Being able to show how other people have used a resource might help someone considering using it themselves, but is there any way to capture this information.

As well as simple access logs and tools like Google analytics, tools similar to track-back on blog postings and the usage information provided by sites such as Flickr and Slide Share (i.e. counting the number of views on-site and number of embeds in other sites) are worth considering. Perhaps more contentious but also worth considering are the techniques such as re-direct URLs and web bugs.

We shall seek to clarify what tracking is required and pragmatically desirable and how it may be achieved. This session will be led by CETIS but we don’t pretend to know the answers to this problem, in fact we’re trying to learn from projects what is useful and achievable, so we will be relying on participants in the meeting to bring their own experiences and potential solutions. For this to work we would like to know in advance who has anything to say, so any project or individual with experience to share should contact Phil Barker as soon as possible.