Two important features of any OER repository

I suppose it is the nature of working on a project that you figure it out as you go along – some steps are only shaped when the previous step is taken. Somehow I began work on the Manufacturing Pasts project, knowing that I would be putting together openly-licensed open educational resources (OERs) about Leicester’s industrial history. But I didn’t quite get the fact until recently that I would need to figure out a way to present and distribute these materials as well.

Of course, this means building a website.

Many universities have ‘OER repositories.’ MIT Open Courseware was the first. The Open University has OpenLearn, and University of Nottingham has its U-NOW site. Even the University of Leicester has an OER repository. And there is Jorum, which I think of as a central searchable site for the various repositories to either link to or store material in.

If I build a small repository for only the history-based OERs we create for Manufacturing Pasts, I don’t feel I can come close to competing against the repositories I’ve mentioned above. But there are two elements it must have: it must have a good search facility, and it must be at least somewhat attractive to look at.

Searchable UK map in Historical Directories site

Today I happened upon a site containing digitised British trade directories from the eighteenth through twentieth centuries, called Historical Directories: a University of Leicester project. It is a subset of the My Leicestershire digital archive, but it acts as a separate site with its own very good search method. I especially like the ‘Find by location’ featuring a UK map – just click on a county, and see what goodies are available for that county. As for looks, its design is attractive in a very simple way. It’s not fancy, but it works.

I am not sure yet how our Manufacturing Pasts OER site will look, but I am looking at other sites for good practice. Is there a searchable site you have found useful? Please leave a comment and let me have a look!

Terese Bird

Learning Technologist and SCORE Fellow

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4 Responses

  1. Try using WordPress?
    We did politicsinspire.org in wordpress

    • Politicsinspires.org is lovely and it works well. Never thought of using WordPress that way, but yes why not. I guess it doesn’t have to be D Space or Drupal to serve out OERs nicely. Thanks as always, Pat!

      • +1 for WordPress. I have found the Relevanssi search plug-in and the Atahualpa theme help with the two features you’re after. The Atahualpa theme is very flexible; Relevanssi fixes lots of shortcomings of the default search.

  2. Phil, thank you so much for these suggestions! (Sorry for my slow reply:-)) I will pass these on to my colleagues who are looking at options from a tech viewpoint. Hope you don’t mind if I come back to you — and Pat as well — for further advice!
    Terese Bird

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