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April 21, 2008

Jorum to move to open access

The JISC have announced that Jorum, the national learning object repository hosted and run jointly by MIMAS and EDINA, is to move to an 'open access' model.

This is good news, though one is tempted to wonder why it has taken so long!  I've argued for a while now that using a relatively closed licensing model and forcing registration before use would more or less stop the service in its tracks.

Through the development of JorumOpen, lecturers and teachers will be able to share materials under the Creative Commons licence framework: this makes sharing easier, granting users greater rights for use and re-use of online content and easier to understand. Importantly, it does not require prior registration. As a result availability is global as well as across UK universities and colleges. JorumOpen will run alongside a 'members only' facility, JorumEducationUK, that will support sharing of material just within the UK educational sector; this will be available only to registered users and contributors, as is currently the case.

Is the addition of JorumOpen enough to turn the service around?  I'm not sure to be honest.  It might be, though I'm not fully convinced that the notion of learning objects, as relatively complex packages of other objects, is compelling and/or simple enough to really succeed.  Can something like Jorum really take on the likes of Slideshare, Flickr and YouTube?

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Well we'll see. A few things: I'm not certain JORUM intends to compete with or replace Flickr or Slideshare etc. Inevitably there is a choice to be made. It will be interesting to watch in terms of how repositories within ac.uk (and wider academia) and those on the 'wider web' relate and evolve. JORUM is focused on a particular community which the likes of Flickr are not, but perhaps it is not focused enough - for example a subject grouping might be more attractive than a general learning and teaching focus, but you can argue the case for all different levels of community. I think we are all a long way off understanding the role (s) of the public and academic sectors and the business models on the web and how we work together. At this point in time having a service that is part of ac.uk has to have some value, even if it is simply as a change agent. I think it is more than that, of course :-)

By the way JORUM takes more than 'complex' learning objects, simple assets can be deposited too.

Yes it has taken along while to move to Open Access, and I think we'd ( by that I mean JISC/MIMAS/EDINA ) agree it has perhaps taken longer than we'd have liked. Just to ensure the 'relatively closed' licensing model is given some context. This was something that was necessary when we launched JORUM (around 2004(?)I think ). It was about Hefce managing risk; so re-use had to be done with clear definitions. It was also to do with the fact that 3rd party and commercial content was promoted as part of the learning materials to be deposited.

Anyway you know all this. It is a good example of how things have changed in the past three or four years.

Maybe it is too little too late (I hope not) but I'm dead pleased we've moved forward...

@Rachel. Thanks for the response. I probably came across more negatively than I really intended to in my post - nothing new there!

In making a comparison with Flickr, Slideshare, etc. I wasn't thinking explicitly of "competition" between the services. I'm sure that Jorum staff don't feel it is their role to "compete" in that sense.

Rather, I meant something fuzzier - attractiveness / compellingness to the end-user - something like that. "I have this thing and I want to share it somewhere - where do I chose?".

The last presentation I uploaded to Slideshare, an unofficial remix of the Byron Report for Children and Young People, has had something like 750 views in a couple of weeks. Now, we can argue about whether that is 750 valuable views or not - we can even argue about what a "view" is if you want - but rightly or wrongly, the concentration effect of large-scale, global services like Slideshare are hard to ignore - as an end-user I mean. Yes, the target audience is broad and undefined - so what... I build my own social network within that audience if I want to - but I get all the advantages of a global audience to boot.

If anything, I think I'd argue that Jorum needs less focus rather than more.

Anyway, I agree that we need to put more thought into understanding the social aspects of these kinds of services and I definitely agree that the addition of JorumOpen is a big step in the right direction.

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