Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Jorum Steering Group

On 17th October I attended the first meeting of the Jorum Steering Group at Mimas (excuse the delay in posting). The group has been convened to provide strategic input to Jorum during what is a transitional year for the service, with members asked to act as advocates and critical friends especially in regard to grassroots perspectives, market intelligence and user feedback.

UKCoRR has been identified as a potential partner organisation to Jorum during this time and although the expertise within our organisation is primarily Open Access to research, which arguably has occupied a different space to Open Educational Resources (OER), both in terms of technical infrastructure and also, I think, national and institutional stakeholders there is nevertheless a degree of cross-over; Jorum runs on a modified DSpace repository and a minority of UKCoRR member institutions do manage OER in their repository alongside their research. Perhaps more importantly, however, I would argue that recent political and economic developments in UK HE, combined with a zeitgeist that had already moved a long way towards “open” dissemination of scholarly output (even before the Browne review* was published) has brought OA and OER closer together, possibly a conflation in some respects (in the public mind) but also a real phenomenon as illustrated in this post in the Guardian and subsequent discussion during Open Access week:

“arguably no other aspect of digital holds the promise of the open access (OA) philosophy and open educational resources (OER)

* The Browne review, of course, may make it less attractive for institutions (though perhaps not individuals?) to openly share teaching & learning resources if they perceive it as giving away a competitive asset which is, perhaps, in contrast to renewed drivers towards Open Access to (publicly funded) research exemplified most recently by the government white paper Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth.

Against this background, it is extremely important that Jorum is both responsive to its existing users’ needs and is able to attract new users; in the changing landscape of HE what are likely to be the mainstream requirements; what do (potential) users need and want and how can this be evidenced? What is the evolving relationship between HE and FE and how can Jorum / ukoer support it?

User requirements have been discussed throughout phases 1 and 2 of the ukoer programme particularly on John, Lorna and Phil’s CETIS blogs and on my own institutional blog and the Jorum team are now blogging regularly at http://www.jorum.ac.uk/blog/.

Early priorities include work on the existing user interface to make it easier to download  resources, particularly when they comprise just a single file and improved metrics, with a “dashboard” for users to visualise, for example, how often their resources have been downloaded. Longer term, the plan is to redesign the user experience in a more fundamental way, in response to collated user feedback - so please, if you use or manage OER yourself, or are interested in ukoer in your institution and the wider sector, do get in touch.

The full membership of the steering group is as follows: Margaret Coutts (Chair) (University of Leeds), Jackie Carter (Mimas), Laura Shaw (Mimas), Lorna Campbell (CETIS), Phil Barker (CETIS), Joe Wilson (Scottish Qualifications Agency), Rachel Bruce (JISC), Amber Thomas (JISC), Hetesh Morar (JISC), Luis Carrasqueiro (British Universities Film & Video Council), Brian Kelly (UKOLN), Antonio Martinez-Arboleda (University of Leeds), Simon Bains (University of Manchester), Doug Belshaw (Northumbria University), Jean Downey (The Higher Education Academy), Bob Strunz (University of Limerick), Nick Sheppard (Leeds Metropolitan University & UKCoRR).


  1. Thanks for this post Nick, and your support on the Steering Group.
    The Jorum team has been busy since we saw you on a variety of activities including relicensing content that was previously held in Jorum but under non-CC licences (see http://www.jorum.ac.uk/news/new-featured-collection), talking to organisations that want to use Jorum as a hosting platform for their collections of OERs, engaging with the US Learning Registry, and thinking very hard about the Business Case for Jorum. More on that in the New Year.

  2. Some more Jorum news on improvements to the Jorum user experience is at
    with more technical details of this work at