Streamline News

Integrating Repository Function with Work Practice

What’s in it for them?

Posted by Janet Finlay on November 12, 2008

An interesting discussion at the Repository Day on Monday with one of our X-stream (VLE) team leaders. His question to us could we give him a 10-word summary of the benefits the Repository would bring to an average overworked academic. For the research side it is fairly cut and dried. Research assessment is in future going to be weighted towards citation. People cite what is accessible. Open access repository gets your work out there. Ok more than 10 words but the message is clear and will be understood by researchers, for whom sharing their work is a fundamental part of what they do.

But what about learning objects and resources? Here the benefits in real terms are harder to define.  In theory there is the share and share alike argument – you share what you have and gain access a much wider pool of resources through the Repository. We stop reinventing the wheel, save time and resources and have better quality materials. In theory. But we know in practice this is rarely how it works. This only holds true when a Repository has reached “critical mass” – and many repositories never reach this point for any given discipline. There has to be content for people to see benefit – and we can only have content if people contribute in some way altruistically.

But for academics this presents a problem. There is no recognised reward system for sharing teaching and learning, as there is for research. Unlike research papers, authorship and contribution are often distributed and harder to specify. Plagiarism is certainly harder to spot – and, if we are honest, probably taken less seriously. If we want to promote a culture of sharing learning resources, we need to develop a community that seriously values this and gives it appropriate recognition. This might be at an institutional level – giving credit for the learning resources shared in promotion and personal review. It might be at a community level – offering some kind of community recognition such as the trusty old “gold star” system from Forums. Any of this would of course need to be accompanied by peer review so that credit is given for quality not just quantity.

This is after all what we do for the outputs of research. Why not for the outputs of assessment, learning and teaching?

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