As part of the HEA’s strategic initiative to support greater collaboration in eLearning within the higher education sector, the Universities of Ireland and the Institutes of Technology have embarked on a collaborative project to initiate, support and share eLearning resources (digital content, digital teaching materials etc.). The cost, effort and complexity of developing eLearning content for our courses is a significant barrier to successful usage of learning technology and blended eLearning.
Therefore National Digital Learning Repository (NDLR) project has been set up to support access to and support for development sharable digital learning resources.
We were delighted to welcome academic staff and eLearning practitioners in the seven Universities of Ireland, Dublin Institute of Technology and the thirteen Institute of Technology to the launch of the first such academic subject area of eLearning in February 2006. An associate partner of the project is HEAnet who are hosting the repository and NDLR website. The event explored the requirements and opportunities of establishing communities. The focus was on academics and learning technologists who are responsible for courses on any aspect of eLearning design, development, deployment, assessment or evaluation.
The NDLR project is investigating a framework to enable development and sharing of digital learning resources between the seven Universities of Ireland, Dublin Institute of Technology and the thirteen Institutes of Technology. More specifically it will:
1. Investigate and pilot a National Digital Learning Repository which will consist of:
- a digital learning resource repository
- a small set of tools to facilitate easy population of & retrieval from the repository
2. Investigate key practices regarding optimal reuse, repurposing, quality assurance and rights management for the NDLR.These issues are recognised as critical to the success and longevity of a national repository.Therefore the project will provide:
- Guidance as to policies and agreements regarding copyright and (re)usage, and
- Methodologies to assist development of (reusable) digital resources
3. Provide support for best practice in the dissemination and “awareness raising” programmes across the Universities and Institutes as well as supporting and nurturing “subject area networks” to encourage the submission, vibrant use and successful implementation of the repository.
Why does Ireland need a repository for shared content across the Universities and Institutes of Technology?
The development of quality digital learning resources is an essential element in enhancing learning offerings in the Irish University sector. Such resources are increasingly being sought for use for eLearning courses, blended eLearning, or for use in traditional forms of teaching in Irish Universities and Institutes of Technology. Departments, course teams and individual lecturers in higher education institutions are usually responsible for the production and development of most, if not all, teaching materials used in their courses.
‘The sheer scale and effort required in developing quality learning resources, particularly new materials for elearning, are often too much for a single University.’ (CHIU Report, New Forms of Learning 2004).
The NDLR is intended as a means of supporting academics in sharing digital content and expertise in the use of that content. Most Countries with a developed eLearning third level sector has already or are currently putting such national repositories together. These include UK (JORUM, JORUM++), Canada, US, Australia etc.
- JORUM free online repository service for teaching and support staff in UK Further and Higher Education Institutions http://www.jorum.ac.uk
- ARIADNE Foundation for the European Knowledge Pool http://www.ariadne-eu.org
- MERLOT Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching http://www.merlot.org/Home.po
- CAREO (Campus Alberta Repository of Educational Objects) http://www.careo.org/