You don't know what you've got til it's gone РRIP Jorum 

Typcial! The day I on holiday is the day that the announcement about the retirement and refresh of our national open learning repository, Jorum, is announced. I think the news came as a surprise to many, partly because it’s not quite clear just what the refreshed version will actually be, and just what kind of open it will be.

Unlike some of my former Cetis colleagues like Lorna, I haven’t had any direct involvement with the development of Jorum. However, I have always had a bit of a soft spot for it. Mainly because I felt it got an lot of unfair press in its early days, and that was due it being an idea just a little bit ahead of its time in terms of easy implementation and adoption. I remember the struggles trying to get instituitions to sign up to use it – legal-ese heaven for some; the struggles with content packages, the metadata, the federated searche engines – happy daysūüėČ

Back in the day, there was always a bit of eye rolling and sighing from certain quarters whenever JORUM ( and at that time it was upper case) was mentioned. I think many of those people forgot that any system at that time would have had to contend with the early licence issues, the technical issues of uploading content etc. Despite all of this, Jorum kept going, growing and developing. Its transition form into an open repository was a testament to all who worked on it, and also to Jisc in terms of supporting open education. Like many others, the news this week has surprised me and made me feel a little bit sad.

This is where I have to “fess up”. I have never put anything into Jorum, and can’t actually remember the last time I looked at it. But, and of course there has to be a but, I have always encouraged others to use it whenever and wherever I could. It was like Elvis said, always on my mind, when taking about OERs and indeed educational resources in general. 

So, maybe a new app/refresh approach might actually help me and others like me to share my stuff in/on whatever the new Jorum might be. It could be another step forward in the cultural and practice issues around sharing “stuff” which is at the heart of opened education.

In the meantime tho’, it does feel a bit like that Joni Mitchell song  . . . You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone . . . And maybe in this case it’s a bit orange taxi . . . 

Looking back towards the future – what Sheila's seen this week

This week I’ve been thinking about the past and the future a bit more than normal. I’ve just finished reading Life after Life by Kate Aitkinson which has the premise “What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?” The¬†¬†novel follows the many lives of Ursula Todd as she relives key episodes in her life. ¬†At times I think we all have the “if only I had done that” feeling. Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing. But what if we did know what the future was going to bring, would we change things?

A tweet from David Kernohan early in the week reminded me of an email exchange we had with BCCampus in Canada about a year ago.

Me and @sheilmcn predicting 2013 just under 1 year ago, for @dendroglyph at BCCampus. I think we did pretty well…

‚ÄĒ David Kernohan (@dkernohan) January 20, 2014

Looking back at it now, I agree with David that we did actually do pretty well. I had no idea this time last year I would have a “proper job” within an institution; and it has come to pass that, this week in particular, issues around which “areas of technology should be seen as commodities and those which should be considered as strategic investments.” Like many others we are having lots of discussions about our strategic developments in online learning, MOOCs, technology provision etc. ¬†In that respect the timing of the Cetis paper “Beyond MOOCs, Sustainable Online Learning in Institutions”¬†couldn’t really have come at a better time to give a balanced overview of strategic considerations for online learning provision.

I don’t think I would change anything from the overview we gave last year. I’m now working somewhere where we are developing an OER policy, we have 3-D printers, we are thinking about how to expand our online provison. But I do think that most people in the sector as still experiencing a bit of a groundhog day scenario with technology. ¬†We’re all too often still buying “stuff” without really thinking through the implications, and the integrations need. ¬†We have a solution without actually knowing what the problem(s) is/are. Although things are changing there are still too many assumptions that technology alone will solve all the problems we are facing. So I was heartened to see myself last year saying this:

‚Äúone last thing- everything is underpinned by the growing recognition of the need to develop digital literacy not just in the sector but beyond.¬† For us to make any sense¬† of ‚Äúall this stuff‚ÄĚ we need to ensure our staff and students are continually developing both the technical and meta-cognitive capabilities needed”

That’s an ethos I’d want to keep in any life.

And finally, because every blog post needs a picture, I’ve looked back to my blipfoto archive and this was my entry on Jan 24th last year. ¬†Sadly no sunshine here today . . .

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 09.53.18