We have started experimenting with the OERca software which is currently being developed at the University of Michigan (UMich).  The OERca software was designed to support the dScribe process of clearing potential open educational resources for global use under open or Creative Commons licenses.

From the UMich dScribe Wiki:
dScribe is a University of Michigan initiative that uses students to convert curriculum materials into Open Educational Resources (OER). Each semester, motivated students collaborate with faculty and a team of U-M Open Educational Resource specialists to gather, review, edit, and publish course materials for use by students, educators and self-learners worldwide.

UCT has decided to use this method as a framework for our own intellectual property clearing process.  We were fortunate with our first two resources published to OER Commons, as they were not media rich.  The two manuals that were published did not contain any media elements that needed to be checked – to ensure that copyright issues were not being violated.  In the future we anticipate resources containing a variety of media elements, which will need to be individually scrutinized to determine the source.

The dScribe process is fairly rigorous.  I will let you review it on the UMich website.  The software is a tool which should help facilitate this process.  As with any piece of software it has functionality that we may or may not use depending on our localized need.

For our first glance at the software, we will go through the process of uploading a resource, and viewing how media elements are handled.  I am going to upload a very simple PDF document which contains two pictures.

OERca_process (1)

At this time we are uploading the resources to a UMich instance of the software.  We hope that once the software has matured we will have a local version.

I have logged in with Haley using her account.  She is dScribe in our scenario.  We have not yet begun role playing with the various agents in the dScribe process. You can see below that we have two resources currently attached to this course.  The status bar on the right gives a graphical display of the number of resources cleared, in process, or awaiting some sort of action.

OERca_process (2)

When I upload a resource I need to provide some information which will be attached to the object.  This is called metadata and is needed to help describe the object.  Metadata is an important part of any digital media object.  When you look at a picture or listen to a piece of music it usually will invoke thoughts or emotions.  Metadata helps attach this information as text to the object which means people can search for it using keywords.  The metadata needed here is fairly simple and that is ok because this is not a search engine as such.  We are going to describe the object in terms of Author, Material Type, and Application Type.

Material Types:
Discussion Group
Exams
Labs
Learning Objectives
Lecture Notes
Lectures Slides
Not Tagged
Photo Slides
Projects
Readings
Review/Summary
Schedule
Supplemental Media
Syllabus
Video Lectures

The Automatically Extract Embedded Content Objects check box should be selected as I believe that this is required to pull out any media elements in the file for clearance.

OERca_process (3)

Once the file is uploaded it joins the list with the two existing resources for this course.  You can see already that it has identified two resources within the PDF which may need to be cleared for copyright.

OERca_process (7)

When I click on the resource I can view the two objects that have been extracted from the PDF.  For some reason they are upside down!?!?  We have not been able to determine why, but this only seems to happen with this particular file.

OERca_process (8)

Now that the media objects have been extracted from the document we can begin the process of clearing them.  There is a number of things that we can do when we come to an image, clear it for OER, ask the lecturer where it comes from, replace it with something openly available, apply fair-use, or remove it completely.  This will depend on the individual image, and how much is known about it.

The option to upload a replacement is available to the right of the image.  We have not experimented with this function yet, but imagine how useful it could be if it actually replaced the images in the source document!!!

OERca_process (9)

The person clearing the images should have some knowledge about their origins.  The dScribe makes an initial recommended action and this gets elevated to the dScribe2 and/or lecturer for approval.  In the list below of recommended actions, I noticed a lack of a Creative Commons (CC) option.  I think it would be helpful here to quickly label and clear objects which have a CC license attached to them.

OERca_process (11)

If you select an option that suggests that the item should be cleared you will have to next enter the copyright information.  In our case the images were generated by our talented UCT illustrator.  So we will attach her name as metadata to image along with a short description and more detailed information if necessary.

OERca_process (13)

Because I am a humble dScribe in this process, I should only be able to suggest an action for the image.  We did not get to determine whether the software had logic built in to control this.  (Love to hear from uMich on this)  The images (I did the other one as well) both show “In Progress” which indicates that some action is required to complete the process, in our case confirmation from a senior that the images are in fact cleared for re-publishing.

OERca_process (15)

That’s all we have time for in this session!  The software is quite comprehensive and there are many additional things that we need to look at, including messaging and dialog, questions and answer tools (ASK forms), workflow, downloading of finished content, and much more.

First Glance at OERca Software

CC BY 4.0 First Glance at OERca Software by Michael Paskevicius is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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