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Open mindset

Enabling a culture of sharing with free access to educational resources

Teaching and Learning

By Courtenay Griffin

Dr. Jane Costello believes that creating a culture of open education at Memorial University can add value to both instructors and students.

Since 2010 she has dedicated a significant amount of work and effort toward that goal through the creation of stor, a learning object repository that provides the teaching and learning community with free access to digital resources.

Open initiatives

This week marks Open Access Week, a global event in its eighth year that touts the benefits of open access to information. In support of the global celebration, and to draw awareness to all open initiatives at Memorial, Dr. Costello and her team in the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) have released an improved site for stor.

“Instead of creating something on your own, why not use something that someone else has created, if it works for you and your purpose?”  — Dr. Jane Costello

“Creating an open culture really requires a shift in mindset,” explained Dr. Costello, a senior instructional designer with CITL. “People work so hard to create their resources, they want to make sure they get recognized and get credit for it, as well as protect their intellectual property. You can do that very easily with anything you contribute to stor — all resources clearly identify who the creators are, how the the objects can be reused or repurposed, and what the digital rights are.”

stor contains thousands of digital learning objects that both instructors and students can use or re-purpose for teaching and learning. Learning objects within stor include images, documents, videos, audio and others, which are searchable by key words, descriptions or media type. For each learning object in stor, information is provided about how it was used (learning design), as well as the digital rights for its reuse and re-purposing through Creative Commons licensing.

“Faculty understand that there is inherent value in the learning object itself, but the value add comes with the learning design — how they use those objects in their teaching and learning,” Dr. Costello said. “While an object can stand on its own, the real benefit that the students get is how faculty and instructors use their object.”

Site improvements

While the repository was initially launched in 2013, the team have since made improvements to the site with a more visual layout and design, and a cleaner, responsive interface. The homepage now includes a rotating carousel of select objects, as well as a series of featured collections that have been pre-selected based on current events and relevant topics.

The functionality of the site has also improved with a Google-style search capability. Users can easily create their own collections of objects within stor that they can then use or share.

The following video demonstrates the ease with which stor can be used, and highlights some of the noted improvements.

Through building and refining stor, Dr. Costello hopes to assist instructors in their teaching, and to help build collegiality and the notion of openness and sharing. Plus, using and sharing open resources can also help reduce costs for instructors, students and the institution.

“By using open educational resources, you’re showing students that you can reuse things and that objects have affordances. Instead of creating something on your own, why not use something that someone else has created, if it works for you and your purpose? At the end of the day, by sharing resources with others they’re not taking anything away from you. You’re just sharing with others, and they’ll share back.”

For more information about stor, please visit here.

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