Open-access Repositories as a Precondition for the Development of Open Education

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In this paper, I will discuss open-access repositories of scientific and educational content with the example of the repository created within the project “e-Schools: Establish a system for digitally mature schools (pilot project)”. To explain open-access repositories, it is necessary to define what is the digital repository. Digital repository is an online archive for the storage of digital content that includes scientific and professional articles, digital educational content and other types of digital content that arise as a product of scientific and educational activity. Clifford A. Lynch (1) identified the repositories as the key scientific infrastructure in the digital age. There are several kinds of digital repositories like institutional, subject-specific, specialised, government. However, some digital repositories are freely available free of charge, and some are accessed with membership fees or authentication. Open repositories are available free of charge. Such repositories are based on the concept of open access. Open access (OA) means free access to information and unrestricted use of electronic resources for everyone. Any kind of digital content can be OA,from texts and data to software, audio, video, and multi-media. (UNESCO) According to Jacobs (2) an open-access repository or open archive is a digital platform that holds research output and provides free, immediate and permanent access to research results for anyone to use, download and distribute. Open-access repositories allow free access to digital educational content and scientific and professional articles free of charge andauthentication.Patel (3) lists the following benefits of open-access repositories, as opposed to conventional digital institutional repositories:

  • Opening up outputs of the institution to a worldwide audience;
  • Maximizing the visibility and impact of these outputs as a result;
  • Showcasing the institution to interested constituencies – prospective staff,
  • prospective students and other stakeholders;
  • Collecting and curating digital output;
  • Managing and measuring research and teaching activities;
  • Providing a workspace for work-in-progress, and for collaborative or large-scale projects;
  • Enabling and encouraging interdisciplinary approaches to research;
  • Facilitating the development and sharing of digital teaching materials and aids, and
  • Supporting student endeavours, providing access to theses and dissertations and a location for the development of e-portfolios.

An example of a Croatian repository of teaching materials “Edutorij”: Edutorij is a repository of digital educational content that enables the publication, access, storage and sharing of digital educational content created primarily by teachers and students of Croatian primary and secondary schools as well as by professionals from other educational institutions (4). In addition to these content, the Edutorij contains educational material created on other CARNET systems and platforms as well as those created within the publishing industry. The Edutorij can store the following types of digital educational content: manuals, textbooks, books, lectures, workbooks, task collections, atlases, online courses, educational games, learning scenarios and lessons, lectures and scripts, final and seminar papers, educational modules, papers, journals and all other content related to education and teaching programs. Material input in Edutorijis enabled for all system users. For easier and simpler searches, all the materials stored in Edutorij are described by metadata based on the Learning Object Metadata standard developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE Standards Association).It is a standard for describing learning objects and other similar resources used in learning and teaching to facilitate their finding and providing optimal interoperability. Content can be organized in collections, which each user can create through Edutorij. The collections can be:

  • private – closed only for one or more persons on a call,
  • public – anyone who wants them can access either
  • arranged – closed, but anyone can request access to the collection manager.

The special collections in Edutorij are special themed collections of materials such as all digital educational content created within the e-school project, or all the digital teaching materials from the CARNET School Portal. Editorial content does not necessarily go through the review before it is published, but for those who are reviewed it is included with the content itself. It is the responsibility of the author and content owner to ensure that it is accurate, expert, and grammatically correct.Content quality indicators in the repository can be:

  • social popularity of content – likes, share, ratings and comments of other systemusers
  • peer review of teacher materials by its peers
  • the “Editor’s Choice” tag that Edutorij editors provide with some content.

Research on the impact of the use of digital content repositories in the e-Schools project: As part of the e-School project (5), a scientific research was carried out within of which the attitudes of the primary and secondary school teachers were examined. The research has shown a positive influence on teachers’ use of the repository on the development of digital competences of students. In addition, pupils whose teachers use the repository perceive less of the disadvantages of using information and communication technologies (ICT) in teaching.Likewise, teachers using the repository have more general and specific digital competencies as well as a more positive attitude towards ICT. About 50 % of teachers claim that although they did not use the repository, they support their development for learning and teaching purposes. Furthermore, teachers who used the repository of educational materials in the final examination had a more positive attitude towards ICT than teachers who did not use the repository.

Conclusions: The development of information and communication technologies enabled the creation of digital content, their publication and sharing over the Internet. Creating collections of such content with the help of repositories for their storage and retrieval resulted in the availability of scientific and educational content. Open-access repositories of digital materials are an infrastructure prerequisite for affirmation of open science and open education.Openness to science and education enables free access to scientific research results and open educational content and so does science and education more accessible to all levels of the population, which can lead to the progress of the society.

Location: Date: September 20, 2018 Time: 17.15 - 17:30 Jasminka Maravić, CARNET Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License