OER: Week 3 – Finding OERs

This blog post relates to my study of Open Educational Resources as part of my Emerging Technologies for Learning Program of study at the University of Manitoba. Instructions for this week in my course are to:

…critique a library web site near you (you can use University of Manitoba Libraries, or your own institutional library, or somewhere else). Are libraries repositories or referactories? Can you find examples of both (a library that is a repository, and a library that is referactory). Rant on your blog for this week.

It’s not often that I am instructed to rant on my blog, so let’s get to it.  Firstly, what is the difference between repository and referatory?  The following is an excerpt from Instructional Repositories and Referatories by Joseph Hart and Bob Albrecht published by Educause in 2004.  They have the following to say about defining these terms:

Even the terms repository and referatory are used somewhat differently by different authors; some writers restrict the term repository to online collections that contain the learning materials and use the term referatory to describe online collections of links to learning materials.  Within this definition, MERLOT would be a referatory, not a repository, because it contains no learning materials itself, only pointers to sites where materials are stored.  In this bulletin we use the term repository more broadly to include sites that contain points, while using referatory to describe sites that contain guidelines and links to repositories.  (http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERB0405.pdf)

This definition is in contradiction to Wikipedia which states:

A referatory is the name given to a web application system (also known as a database-driven website). It provides information such as the name and description, reviews, and hyperlinks (metadata) to resources or learning objects in a Publishing Repository. The repository provides the actual resource files, while the referatory is a website pointing at the resources. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Referatory)

Okay, so what does it mean to me?  I tend to like the latter definition because it seems less vague to me.  In the Educause report, they “… use the term repository more broadly to include sites that contain points.”  Huh?

So I am critiquing my insitution’s library in terms of whether it is a repository or referatory type service.  Might I say at the outset that I think our Library does a very good job with the amount of resources, both financial and human (no librarian jokes here :)) that they have at their disposal.  In terms of critiquing, I am considering all audiences to the library, rather than just teachers.

So is CQUniversity’s Library a repository or a referatory?  Answer:  both.

As a referatory service, the Library has:

As a repository service, the Library has:

  • a collection of learning objects for teachers and students.  Their premier repository service is Libguides.  These are guides for all manner of topics primarily for students, many of which can be re-used by teachers in their courses.
  • course resources online – a collection of digitised copyright journal articles, book chapters and so on, that are available for enrolled students under the provisions of the Australian Copyright Act
  • a service called Compass which “… guides you through the skills necessary to access and use the numerous information resources available via the Library.”
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2 thoughts on “OER: Week 3 – Finding OERs

Add yours

  1. Hi Damian,
    Thanks for so clearly defining repositories and referatories. I think referatories have led to repositories in open educational resources over time, i.e., Trying to access resources previously led to a fair amount of frustration in that the actual content was not accessible without codes and passwords–only an abstract of an article and perhaps a sample chapter was available. Today, access seems to be more easily available, although there is still work to be done to allow access to everyone, anywhere, anytime, e.g., if you are not a student or staff in an institution then you may not have access yet.
    I also read your comment that you posted on my blog pertaining to resources provided by Microsoft. True, there always seems to be an agenda by corporations to “hook” the reader, however, if these corporations didn’t provide resources such as PiL is doing in providing lesson plans and other classroom resources, some educators would not move forward. I guess we all have a task to educate our peers and lead by example! There is still much to do.
    Eva

  2. I found that getting my mind around the differences between a repository and a referatory was quite the challenge (still is) and still as you quoted they can often be interpreted in different ways. So, thank you for the clearly laid out explanation and relevant examples from your CQ University.

    In going through the website for the library and the various links you included, it seems that we have a ways to go before we really allow for “open access” as I still need a student number and access code to enter the site (both the referatory and repository sections).

    I second Eva’s comment that further effort must be made in allowing for complete access to all learners – otherwise the sharing and recreating (hopefully this will be ethical) of information probably will not be as successful as it could be.

    As more and more information is shared and able to be recreated what standards would (or should) be put in place to ensure the quality of the information being circulated? As things become more open I often worry that I will spend more time sorting through useless information to try to find the quality. Perhaps something for a future discussion or weekly chat.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas.

    Jonathan

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