The lack of simple solutions for sharing OER resources is a serious limit on the take up of OER and the growth of the OER community.
RedFeather is our proposed solution to this problem. RedFeather is a lightweight server-side script that fosters best practice OER sharing without the overheads associated with the installation and use of a full-scale repository platform. By eliminating the need for complex server infrastructure and emphasizing a concise, simplified workflow, RedFeather provides an out-of-the-box solution for users wishing to quickly annotate their OER and make them available in a variety of formats (including HTML, RSS, RDF and JSON).
With RedFeather we have created a system that should satisfy the majority of small-scale contributor requirements (in-line previews, commentary, organisational tools, and high quality, indexable OER metadata) with minimum configuration, while still allowing straightforward customisation through a plugin architecture and design templates.
Our hope is that RedFeather will make a significant impact towards the democratisation of the process of OER contribution, and unlock the long tail of potential contributors.
We expect impact to be visible in a number of areas exemplified by scenarios of RedFeather use
- Access to the benefits of OER sharing are widened to users with small, simple cases without the need for an institutional repository
- Previously hidden resources will become available through access to simple OER good practice, increasing the breadth and number of OER resources.
The small project.
SMART is a JISC funded OER project to collate and release the diaries and writings of Christopher Strachey as a rich collection of computer history teaching resources. The project is a collaboration between four different institution’s libraries. Between them they want to collect all their materials together so that they can visualise the whole collection and determine which are of most value. At the end of the project the materials will be deposited in Jorum.
There are too many resources to email and even then the individual files would still need to be annotated. SMART are initially attracted to a teaching repository but soon realise such a system is over-specified for their needs since this is a one-off project and won’t have ongoing community activity. They identify RedFeather as a low-maintenance alternative.
SMART’s deploy RedFeather on project’s website so that all the files can be uploaded to one central point, where they can be visualised and annotated and reviewed. They use the RedFeather RSS Feed to import the whole collection into Jorum.
The solo sharer.
Joanna is a physics lecturer. She would like more people than her immediate students to benefit from her teaching materials by making them openly available. Whilst her institution does not prevent her from making these resources available, do not provide the means to do so. Joanna finds that RedFeather provides a comprehensive solution without any significant technical requirements. She is relieved to find out that all he has to do to install RedFeather is upload a single PHP file to her staff webspace.
The default RedFeather annotation schema, page layout and styling is perfectly adequate for Joanna’s needs. Her students are now able to browse all her resources from a central location and use the provided keywords and description metadata to find relevant material. Joanna also uses the RedFeather embeddable resource viewer to include her teaching materials in her personal blog.
The solution-oriented admin.
David is a systems administrator for the Language department at his University. The department want to release their teaching materials as OER to increase the profile of teaching in the department. Deploying a full teaching repository is a long term aim but David is able to deploy RedFeather to provide a rapid interim solution that will also help the department to learn about OERs and see the value of sharing.
Since David already uses PHP for the department website he can deploy RedFeather the same day. As an advanced user, Dave is able to change the stylesheet to fit the university branding and customise the workflow and metadata to suit the needs of the academics. David uses RedFeather to add the department resources to both the Xpert search and ROAR. He knows that when he has time to deploy a full solution he can easily migrate from RedFeather.
Evidence of Impact
RedFeather is already in use supporting small projects, deployed for
- The Southampton learning Environment project http://slep.ecs.soton.ac.uk/
- The Southampton Student Dashboard project http://www.sle-dashboard.ecs.soton.ac.uk/overview/
- A set of ECS WAIS group accessibility projects are deploying RedFeather
- The Digital Humanities group are evaluating the potential use of RedFeather