Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Open Scout

Crucial factors for mainstream uptake of open educational resources are reliable search tools and quality assurance of the resources they find for you. Searching for OER using Google may provide some useful results but since the entire web is covered you may have to sift through mountains of results before you find a relevant resource.

OpenScout seems to be a sign of a growing movement in providing more accurate and quality assured OER search. The project is funded by the European Commission's eContentplus programme with the aim of:

"... providing an education service in the internet that enables users to easily find, access, use and exchange open content for management education and training."

Basically you can search for open resources in the field of management training and OpenScout searches for material in a range of quality assured repositories for such material; a so-called federated search. So only relevant material turns up in your search results. You can search for material in 20 languages (admittedly some have very few resources so far) and search by type of resource, category of training and competences. There's a tool library listing and reviewing recommended tools for adaptation, collaboration, communication and for pop-up windows. In addition there are facilities to help you share your own resources using a Creative commons licence and a user forum for discussion.

For more detailed guides to using this resource there is a series of four webinars from last month that are all available as recordings. Here's a short introduction video with project coordinator Jan Pawlowski from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland.

If teachers are wary of OER due to a lack of trust and academic credibility it would seem that the creation of services like this should go a long way to calming such fears and providing reliable and simple means of accessing relevant and tested material. Let's see how this develops.

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