I’m now back from a few day’s at Aberystwyth University, where I had been invited to speak at the launch of the HEFCW-funded Gwella project and to give a seminar on “The ‘Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World’ Report: Implications For IT Service Departments“.
As this involved a long train journey I also sought to maximise my time in Aberystwyth by participating in a regional meeting for Welsh Web managers. During the brief summaries of areas of work which the members of institutional Web management teams had been involved in I noticed that a number of the institutions were involved in the delivery of training in use of Terminal 4’s Content Management System. But why, I wonder, are institutions still developing their own training resources? As the meeting took place at the start of the first international Open Access Week I did wonder whether an institutional move towards (or commitment to) open access for research publications and research data shouldn’t be complemented by an institutional commitment to providing Creative Commons licence for institutional training resources. And shouldn’t Information Services departments and Libraries be taking a leading role in this area? After all it is staff in the IT Services departments who will be well-placed to develop the technical infrastructure to provide access to such resources and Library staff who can advise on access mechanisms, use of metadata, etc.
This suggestion is not new – back in 2005 I presented a paper on “Let’s Free IT Support Materials!“ at the EUNIS 2005 conference. But it is probably timely to revisit this subject, not only due to links with the Open Access Week but also the related interests in open access for learning resources, as described recently in an article entitled “Get it out in the open” published in The Times Higher.
Now I’m not saying that the availability of open training resources, which might include podcasts and screencasts as well as more conventional training resources, will necessarily always be used – perhaps trainers and user support staff will continue to prefer to use resources they have developed themselves. But if that is the case, then what is the point of services such as JORUM and funding initiatives such as JISC’s Open Educational Resources programme? Wouldn’t it be beneficial to the community in general if more people were involved in such debates?