Thursday 16 September 2010

Visibility of OER Material: the Jorum Learning and Teaching Competition

The recent ALT-C 2010 conference saw the final six winners in the Jorum Learning and Teaching Competition present their resources, and receive their prizes, with those taking the top three places announced at the gala dinner.
Louise Egan, JISC-Repositories Email

This competition was designed to promote people sharing learning resources, and that's fantastic. Since none of the six winners' resources are actually deposited in the Jorum repository (just metadata records with a web link to the actual location), this situation provides an interesting insight into the advantages of depositing material (or a reference to material) into a repository. Since copies of all the winners material reside elsewhere on the Web, can we find out which link gets the higher ranking: Jorum or the original university? Is there any consistent pattern that emerges? In the following breakdown I'll list the Google rankings of each resource when searching for the title of the resource.

First prize: The Molecular Basis of Photosynthesis
There are actually three places to find of this work: Jorum, the creator's personal website and a Cambridge support site which contains the original version of this resource (one that hasn't been split into separate sections).
Jorum: 3,4
Author: 6
Institution site ( 1,2

Second prize: The Open Dementia E-learning Programme: Living with dementia
Jorum: 3
Institution ( 1,2

Third prize: Making the Creative process visible
The home of this material is on Vimeo, although it is also referenced by the HEAcademy who sponsored the project
Jorum: 1,2
HE Academy: 3,4
Vimeo: 6

Fourth Prize: Ayo Gorkhali
Jorum: 3,4
Professional Society Page: 1,2,7

Fifth Prize: Interpreting Skills Map
Jorum: 3,4
Professional Society Page: 1,2

Sixth Prize: Plagiarism Tutorial
There are a LOT of Plagiarism Tutorials offered by Universities all over the world!
Jorum: 66
Institution: 89

So in some cases JORUM boosts the ranking, and hence the visibility, of an item, whereas in other cases it doesn't. Can we draw any general patterns from this small sample? To be honest, I don't think so! The range of institutions is too diverse. Some of the alternative locations are highly visible, so it is not surprising that Jorum is eclipsed by their ranking (e.g. Cambridge, very newsworthy Gurkhas international organisation). Some 49% of Open Jorum's records provide links to external sources rather than holding bitstream contents directly. It would be very interesting to see the bigger picture of OER visibility by undertaking a more comprehensive survey.