"In the latest versions of the Repository (6.0 and above), users can now make the search and discovery mechanisms available to the public without a login."
Original post March 10, 2014
The Desire2Learn Learning Repository offers some publishing opportunities that few customers are taking advantage of. For example, you can create a Federated Search of public repositories such as MERLOT. This provides your users with easy access to MERLOT learning objects in addition to the local content housed in the Repository. See the screenshot at the right, click to enlarge.
In my opinion, one of the most useful, yet underutilized, features of the the Learning Repository is the public access capability. In the latest versions of the Repository (6.0 and above), users can now make the search and discovery mechanisms available to the public without a login. You can make certain objects publicly available, or collections of objects publicly available, or entire repositories publicly available. Why might you want to do that?
- to create and share an Open Educational Resource (OER) using some or all of the content in your Repository.
- to have your public-facing content searchable, browsable, and discoverable by external search engines.
- to allow others to link to your content, where appropriate.
- to allow others to download your content as SCORM objects, where appropriate.
- to share information about state standards, learning objectives, or other taxonomies.
- to allow non-account users to see reviews that have been written by account-holding users.
Some of those features may prove useful to you, but for me, the number one reason to use public repositories is to accomplish something that most educational institutions have not done a very good job with when it comes to online learning.
Informing students before the class begins
Historically, in my experience, online students have been operating with a dearth of information about the online learning courses offered by their institutions. They register for classes not knowing what awaits them in those classes. Educators could do a great service to students by giving them a sneak peek at the courses prior to the first week of the term. A small percentage of instructors open up course access prior to the start of the term, but the normal case is for a course to be closed until the first day of the term.
The first week is often a frenzy of drop/add activity. Many students find that some of the course requirements don't work for them. Examples could be synchronous meetings at times that interfere with the students' other responsibilities or discovering that the course content is something very different than what they anticipated. These issues could have been cleared up prior to the start of the term, thereby allowing the student to make more informed choices for their class schedules as well as opening up that virtual seat for a different student.
How could this work? Instructors should be encouraged to provide open access to at least the following items:
- Preferably the full course syllabus. Failing that, at least the following:
- Faculty expectations about student availability for required activities (including group work) and assessments.
- Textbooks and other resources/materials that are required and should be purchased prior to the start of the class.
- Types of assessments and relative weights on the final course grade.
- Technology or software to be used and expected skills with such.
- Samples of course content, operationalized as follows:
- Using the Repository, make one or Content Modules available to the public.
- Provide links to the content pages for viewing by prospective students, possibly in the course schedule, or on a school webpage dedicated to this information.
- Use the actual course content, not something that is merely representative. That content lives once in the Repository, but is used in the actual course as well as in the public-facing information page.
For example, here are three documents taken from one of our Desire2Learn Showcase Courses. These docs are from an elementary school course on Numeracy.
Along with a few other public pages, you could easily provide all the relevant information prior to the beginning of the course. If you had this type of open content for many or all of the courses at the school, you could also make available the Repository search page where people could search for resources for any or all of the classes, based on keywords or course titles.
In my example, I only have the three objects linked above in a Public Repository. If I wanted to, I could make the whole repository available by linking to the Repository search page.
You might also want to check out the brand new recipe in the Community Documentation Library (login required): Give Students a Sneak Peek of Course Content with Learning Repository. Another great recipe is titled Using Learning Repository Collections and Public Search.