One of the issues that comes up repeatedly when talking about open educational resources (OER) is search and discovery. CC licenses provide the legal basis for sharing OER, but there’s a large technical component to sharing, as well. Publishers want to make sure their work is visible to users, and learners or educators need to be able to find resources relevant to the subject they’re interested in. Too often web scale search engines don’t do suffice: the amount of OER compared to the entire web is small, so the information you’re actually looking for is lost in the flood.
Last summer, CC, supported by Open Society Institute, organized a meeting of individuals working with OER repositories and tools to discuss the state of search and discovery for OER. There are many efforts under way looking at this issue, and the purpose of the meeting was to examine how these efforts can be made interoperable. For example, some countries are building national repositories, where the answer to the question is “put your OER in this big box”, while others — including Creative Commons, through our prototype DiscoverEd — are focusing on indexing a subset of the web, and trying to make results more relevant. We wanted to talk about how these different approaches can work together, so that consumers are able to find the resources they’re seeking, no matter where they’re located on the web.
What we discovered is that regardless of the approach being taken to solve the search issue, there are certain things that could be identified as best practices for publishers. We’ve pulled these together as an initial outcome from the meeting: Towards a Global Infrastructure For Sharing Learning Resources. As the title implies, this is the first step to building the interoperability needed to make OER discoverable. We’re going to be continuing examining these issues as part of the AgShare project, among others. If you want to keep up with that work as it develops, you can subscribe to the oer-discovery mailing list.