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New Open Source Platform for OER

The University of California, Irvine, has developed and released an open-source platform for hosting OER, called OEWeb, now available on GitHub.  We asked UCI to share more information about the software:

  • Why did you decide to create a new open source platform for hosting OER?

The platform most used at the inception of our consortium was EduCommons. For a number of years, it was updated and supported by a couple of developers, but, sadly, this is no longer possible. Five years ago, we created a very simple application to support our needs at UCI. Over time, our needs grew, and we added features such as Common Cartridge export and a flexibility to identify relationships among multiple resources, authors, and universities. Last year, we realized that newer open education projects would have similar needs – small staffs with a growing quantity of OERs. So we began to plan to open-source it.

  • What are some of the key features of the platform?

The platform ties together a set of easy-to-populate forms with a graphical, drag-and-drop backend. A lecture can be published with a PowerPoint presentation using a video URL and a file upload. Even a complex collection like a conference can be organized easily. Standard pages – home, about us, contact us – can be customized through templates.

But more importantly, we have tied these elements together with the notion that our projects need to have business plans associated with them, so we included the capability to publish testimonials and seek donations. We even have the capability to add non-OER textbooks to a page as needed.

  • What are the benefits to using a common platform for hosting OER?

We have discussed with our developers the idea that they would directly offer support options to the open source package. So you could have a hosted instance with very little staff time devoted to it or even request a new feature. Or for the more adventurous, the idea of downloading the software and customizing it could be attractive. If a community develops, then we could really begin to add some value to each of our projects. Crowd-sourcing the future development will help us all.

  • How can we learn more about the software?

Our project director, Stefano Stefan, has developed extensive documentation, complete with screenshots and the video walk through. And the ReadMe file on GitHub also has important information for installing the software. To view and download the files, click: https://github.com/lmsasf/uci-open . Also, you can view a demonstration of OEWeb from our March 10 webinar here: https://youtu.be/drpKh_5NxPw.