OER Discovery 2009
Search and Discovery for OER
A working meeting focused on implementation and improvement of search and discovery solutions for global OER
Hosted by ccLearn and the Open Society Institute - June 2009
In evaluating ongoing challenges to the growth and impact of the open educational resources (OER) movement, the problem of being able to find appropriate OER on the Internet remains a top concern. However, there are many existing search solutions, including new tools that have been developed specifically for search and discovery of educational materials. At this meeting, representatives of key open education advocates and platforms will analyze the overarching search landscape, evaluate existing tools, and develop a strategy for implementing and improving on existing search solutions for the global OER movement. It is hoped that this one-day meeting will move the conversation about OER search and discovery away from vague complaints about the lack of good search capabilities and towards concrete analysis of existing tools, identification of their shortcomings and requirements for meeting the needs of OER consumers and producers.
Most web scale search tools available rely on full text search and specialized algorithms for inferring meaning from content. Site-specific search tools may rely upon custom data fields, such as user-entered ratings, to provide additional value. However, as currently designed, these systems are generally too labor-intensive to manage and scale up beyond a single site or set of resources.
Many believe that custom (or structured) data of some form is necessary if search outcomes for educational materials are to be improved. For example, design criteria and evaluative metrics are crucial attributes for educational resources, and these currently require human labeling and verification. Thus, one challenge is to design a search tool that capitalizes on available structured data (also called metadata) but is not crippled if the data are missing. In addition, this information ideally should be amenable to repurposing by anyone, which means that they must be archived in a manner that is extensible and platform-independent.
This one-day meeting will focus on the issue of enhanced search for open educational resources (OER). The meeting is timely because the search and discovery landscape continues to develop and many solutions to the general problems outlined above are now available. In particular, we suggest that we focus on the following items:
- DiscoverEd, ccLearn's prototype for addresing these challenges.
- Yahoo's announcement that they are indexing RDFa
- Google's announcement that they will begin to support RDFa
- OER Recommender, which takes yet a different approach to discovery.
- Others? Add here!
- To share insights regarding the applicability of current search and discovery solutions to the OER landscape.
- To recommend concrete courses of action for implementing identified solutions into existing and future OER projects.
- To generate lists of desired improvements to the existing and future tools.
We also plan to discuss outreach and awareness-raising plans, as well as possible follow-up meetings or other activities to expand the circle of people and organizations working collaboratively on improving discoverability of OER.
This meeting is by invitation only. If you are interested in this topichttp://maryprentissinn.com/, feel free to contact the folks at ccLearn so that we can gauge the potential for an open meeting on OER search and discovery in the future.
The meeting will take place in Boston, MA, USA, and will last one full day, on July 10, 2009 (Friday). The meeting will take place at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, in Cambridge, MA.
For those of you who are staying at the Mary Prentiss Inn, here is some travel info for getting there from the airport:
Address: 6 Prentiss Street • Cambridge, MA 02140 | T 617.661.2929
- Taxi - is about 20 - 25 mins and $40.
- Public transit - take the silver line from the airport, at South Station switch to the red line; exit at Porter Square and go to street level, turn left at Prentiss Street and go 4 blocks - the hotel is next to a wine shop with a big sign.
We will reimburse you for taxi fare, so do that unless you want to take transit. The Inn is walking distance to the Berkman Center, so we can all head over together on Friday morning.
For those of you coming to the meeting from the Boston area, please navigate your way to the Berkman Center by 8:30AM on Friday, July 10, for the start of the meeting.
Dinner is at 6:30PM at Harvest Restaurant, also walking distance from the Berkman Center (and the Mary Prentiss Inn). Please plan to join us if you can.
Agenda (final as of July 8, 2009)
8:30AM Arrive to Berkman Center, settle in, coffee.
9:00AM Meeting begins. Introductions and welcome from Ahrash and Melissa.
Round table discussion of OER search and discovery need and specs.
Overview of several specific applications relevant to enhanced search.
- OER recommender
- Specific aggregators: OERCommons, EUN, KnowledgeHub (Tecnologico de Monterrey), Others?
- Yahoo metadata indexing – BOSS
- Google CSE and other Google apps
- Powerset? Wolfram-Alpha? Others?
11:00AM Break-outs. Consideration of key integration challenges for specific communities, taking the different applications into consideration.
- International sharing?
- Specific types of media/content?
1:15PM Round table on findings.
- Suggestions for achieving buy-in and integration.
- Technical improvements that might be needed.
- Forms of outreach that might be useful.
- Collaborative work that might move things along.
3:00PM Get down to details.
- Who will take on what tasks?
- Which projects should be targeted?
- What development needs are there, and who will fund them?
- Metrics of success?
- Methods of sustaining the improvement cycle?
- What roles for other search and discovery operations?