Media and Learning 2011

What is the best way to create sustainable, media-rich learning repositories?

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Media and Learning Circle

Already there are several different models of educational repositories in place, those that offer a subscription service and those that are funded by either their own funding or external support. In the last 12 months we have seen the demise of two well-known educational repositories with a huge amount of valuable video content, TeachersTV in the UK and AthenaWeb in Belgium while the largest video repository of them all – YouTube - goes from strength to strength.

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Moderator: Annemie Boonen, Merzouga media and communications, Belgium


Fred de Vries

It is appealing to put ones favorite learning resources online and wait to see others start using it! Technically it is quite easy but how to do it to make it actually worth it. Let's see what comes with it in the coming 4 weeks before we all join the discussion on the podium in Brussels.

In the introduction of the session above it is already mentioned… there are many places on the internet where you can find all kinds of learning resources, including well organized repositories with tagged materials using proper metadata.

From my experience the easy part is as often the case… the technology, the tough part are the people, in this case fellow educators and students.

How do we get them to use and re-use learning resources and start sharing themselves..? In other words, how did you tackle this in your own project(s)?

Erwin Verbruggen

Dear Fred,

thanks for your challenging question - with EUscreen, this question is just beginning to arise. We've held a number of user sessions with teachers and people from the education domain to get their feedback on the technological aspects of the portal. While I understand the point you try to make ("technology is the easy part") we do have to make sure to get this part right before trying to trigger wide audiences.

As the portal went live only last week, and technical modifications that respond to the needs of educators are to be made during the last year of the project, this topic will highly influence the research we are developing in attracting users.

Fred de Vries

Can you share the url of the portal with the participants in this discussion? I invite everyone to post some urls of repositories they particularly like, in any language! Please explain your preference.

Alma Taawo

Dear Fred,

I thank you too for your challenging question. In our case Länkskafferiet has been online since 1995! But it's not easy to compete with services like Google, Youtube etc. In the first years everything looked different, as these services did not exist. But of course everything changes by the time. I think there can be variuos ways to tackle this. One way to engage users can be to do like youtube, to have a login functionality where users can upload stuff, rate and comment. The sharing options must be easy to use also, preferably an embed function like on Youtube. Länkskafferiet is a link referatory, where videos are just one of many resource types. But the service is just a one way channel today. The users can't login to our service and interact with the contect and do some networking with other users. But we are working on a new technical platform that will be more modern and much better I hope. Until now, as a coordinator of the service, I have tackled this by running an active Facebook fan page, and this week I also started a Google+ page, for Länkskafferiet. In this way it's easy for the users to quickly get tips about new, and old but good links, and share them with others and spread the word to a wider audience. We also have an active twitter account. Another thing that has been good is to contact the big companies in your country that deliver digital media to schools and give them access to your metadata. We have done this to some compaines and the schools who use their systems now get access to our metadata through their systems. The teachers don't have to visit our site in the first place to find our stuff. I think it might be more of this in the future; you run a database with metadata of good quality, and the teachers get access to it through their own schools' LMS and other systems that they normally use every week.

Fred de Vries

Alma has an interesting point, by building a collection of resources, typically as libraries are used to do, you can help the teachers in your country /  domain. It is indeed not necessary that you host the materials themselves in your repository, metadata only can do the job. What makes it attractive and trustworthy for teacher is the fact that a renowned institute recommends it! So some selection is necessary…. The approach to have teachers recommend materials to each other… is also valid as opinions can vary.. a quality resource may be very useful in on context and useless in another. In Europe there are a few examples of this approach (will post some links later ).

Ursula Simmetsberger

Dear all,
in my opinion, users will not be very willing both to share and to access resources on a web portal if it is not easy for them to do so. Teachers are usually very busy and will not want to spend a lot of time orientating themselves on a website or finding a resource which is actually useful for them... We are currently developing a new, updated version of the web portal(s) we are offering and this is an issue we are working on intensively.
In addition, I think users will only share resources if you provide them with an appealing web environment - an environment they can and will be proud to be a part of...
One last thing I would like to mention in my first post here is the issue of compensating the users providing resources - it is problematic to expect them to come up with materials without giving them anything for it; on the other hand paying them per resource is 1. impossible in most cases and 2. could result in them just providing anything - quality should always come first...

Fred de Vries

Useability is an important factor for the use of all kinds of software... on the internet or on your mobile device. Any service that wants to be successful needs an easy interface and structure.

Considering the sharing itself, teachers may have some reservations in sharing to a public service. The visibility is far bigger than giving copies of your work to colleagues in your own institute. What can you do to overcome this hurdle?

Considering your second point ... this is touching upon the OER discussion. Can something that a teacher has written as part of his normal job not be made available for free to everyone else?

Ursula Simmetsberger

I am not sure if teachers will have reservations concerning the publication of their work in the Internet... as I mentioned, I think it is crucial to provide teachers with a platform they are proud to be part of...
However, I would like to bring up a theory stating the Internet is not necessarily a hurdle in terms of sharing resources... Teachers are usually a very critical audience and a teacher giving copies of the material they created to their colleagues might be worried about being criticised for the work they did. However, the Internet does provide a certain sense of "anonymity" and thus teachers might even be more willing to share the material they created with a "anonymous crowd" than with colleagues they see every day...
Concerning your 2nd question, I would briefly like to tell you about the system Education Group uses for getting resources... We offer 38 subject portals covering all the subjects taught in Austrian schools as well as special portals dealing with educational principles and various school types. The content of these portals is provided by about 100 teachers from all over Austria – true to the motto “by educators, for educators”. They only get a "symbolic remuneration" for the work they do - in our case (as we rely on a relatively small number of users) it is extremely important to show them we do not take their efforts for granted - even though it is impossible for us to really compensate the content they provide us with...

Grainne Conole


I think it is about harnessing the affordances of social and participatory media to augment and enhance. It is not about using any one particular platform, more about working across different media and aggregating discussions in a meaningful way

24 - 25 November 2011 Flemish Ministry of Education Headquarters, Brussels