WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- If you have been keeping an eye on the Saylor Foundation's home page over the last few weeks, you will have seen a link to something called the Media Library. Today, we are pleased to officially announce our new(ish) repository of free-to-use learning materials, including more than 3,000 open educational resources (OER), covering a broad spectrum of curriculum across K-12, college, and professional education. Built using the popular open source DSpace platform, the library, which functions much like the catalog of a public or university library, is free to use and does not require registration. All the indexed items are available online in full.
Built to Solve A Problem
The Saylor Foundation's Media Library was built to meet the needs of the Foundation, its friends, its partners, and the public. Over the past few years, the free education initiative at Saylor.org has organized freely-available materials into more than 300 complete courses, which comprise tens of thousands of articles, chapters, videos, and more. The problem is that, while the materials were usefully organized in the context of the courses, others hoping to re-use materials of a particular type, subject, or license would have to search painstakingly through the site.
The Media Library solves that problem by drawing learning materials out from the courses, adding useful metadata (additional information such as author, license type, abstract, etc.), and making the items searchable by course, subject, keywords, license type, and more.
The library, while a work in progress, represents a "best of" list for learning materials that can be found around the Web. The Foundation has invested many hours in finding, vetting, and describing materials, saving end users from needing to "drink from the firehose" of the Internet. Use cases for the library include:
- Educators - Teachers across the elementary, secondary, college, and post-college levels can quickly find materials for use in their classrooms -- or build entire lessons from the items. Because the licenses are clearly indicated, educators will know whether they can modify or translate the resources or use them in commercial contexts.
- Students - Learners looking for additional help will be able to find materials to supplement their school lessons or pursue topics of interest on their own.
- Parents - Those with children often find themselves in the position of having to re-learn school subjects in order to help with homework and tests. Parents can search items by subject to rapidly get up to speed on everything from algebra to zoology.
- Institutions - Other organizations involved in creating online (or offline) courses, providing training for employees or community members, or otherwise interested in collecting materials will find it easy to gather and re-use items in the library for their own purposes.
- Individuals - In these days of ubiquitous learning opportunities, everyone is a student. Those who hope to meet some educational objective or merely to satisfy their curiosity will find plenty to enjoy.
According to the Saylor Foundation's Content Management Coordinator Thomas Bryan, the media library excels as a kind of "discovery engine":
"Our Media Library today accomplishes much more than what we had first expected it to do. You might be looking for at least one resource to use while writing a paper, creating a lesson plan, or for better understanding a topic from a class, and ten or twenty related items will appear. With everything categorized by license type, the user knows exactly what they can do with the resource and how they can adapt it to fit their needs without the hassle of figuring it out on their own."
What's in the library
With over 6,000 educational resources in the library, it is impossible to give a fair, complete sample, but those who visit will find the following:
- 3,000 open educational resources (OER), including public domain works and those shared under Creative Commons and other open licenses
- 2,500 articles
- 1,200 videos
- 124 full-length textbooks
At launch, the library represents thousands of hours of cataloging work. Even so, the library is young; the collections will expand, records will be refined, and new use cases will emerge. The staff at Saylor.org see many possibilities: in addition to sharing with individuals and institutions, those parties may, in future, be able to contribute items and entire collections. The library could also be used to facilitate downloading of content in bulk, which would go a long way toward serving the needs of people for whom network connections are undependable; complete courses or topics could be downloaded to create a mini-library on a local server.
"We want the Media Library to be a lot of things – but above all else, I want it to be clean and easily navigable," said David Rose, Senior Content Analyst for the Saylor Foundation. "All the best OER in the world doesn't matter if users don't know how to access it. I want our repository to be everything a user would need to find their resources, without all the clutter."
From its earliest days, the Saylor Foundation has worked to make self-paced learning easier, while advancing openness and sharing as fundamental values. The Saylor Foundation Media Library, available for use immediately and slated for continuing improvement, is the Foundation's latest proud step toward open education for everyone.
The Saylor Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to make quality education freely available to all. To this end, we employ experienced faculty to design college-level, professional development, and Common Core-aligned K-12 courses from the wealth of material available on the Web. Today, the Foundation's free education initiative at Saylor.org provides over 300 free online courses to anyone with an Internet connection.
CONTACT: Sean Connor The Saylor Foundation 202.904.6500 firstname.lastname@example.org
Source:The Saylor Foundation