Browsing OpenJorum

Browsing OpenJorum… and its not a fun experience. A shame as OpenJorum is a fantastic resource and needs to be supported by the UK education sector – not just the funders but the tutors and students who stand to benefit by using the resources that exist on OpenJorum. The HEA-ICS recently published a number of complete courses on OpenJorum, so there are some fantastic resources there – I think. I’m sure I’ll find them eventually – though the search features seem a bit underpowered and the browsing experience is simply awful. Worth comparing with the advanced search features on OER Commons to see how it could be done…

Start browsing OpenJorum, and it isn’t long before the problem becomes apparent… browsing for content relating to computer science in HE, the following is an excerpt from the first page of results (click here to see how it looks on OpenJorum itself with formatting intact):

Tom Boyle (2010-01-13)
Staffordshire University (2010-03-02)
UKOER; Open Educational Repository in Support of Computer Science; Rong Yang (2010-02-02)
UKOER; Open Educational Repository in Support of Computer Science; Rong Yang (2010-02-01)
UKOER; Open Educational Repository in Support of Computer Science; Rong Yang (2010-02-01)
UKOER; Open Educational Repository in Support of Computer Science; Rong Yang (2010-02-01)
UKOER; Open Educational Repository in Support of Computer Science; Rong Yang (2010-02-01)
UKOER; Open Educational Repository in Support of Computer Science; Rong Yang (2010-01-21)
UKOER; Open Educational Repository in Support of Computer Science; Rong Yang (2010-01-21)
UKOER; Open Educational Repository in Support of Computer Science; Rong Yang (2010-01-21)
UKOER; Open Educational Repository in Support of Computer Science; Rong Yang (2010-01-21)

This set of results seems pretty typical – a page can have anywhere from 3 to 9 identically titled resources with no information to explain what the difference between them is – without clicking through each one individually. Compare with browsing on OER Commons. As soon as I start browsing, a rich set of options on the left allows me to specify more exactly the type of resource I’m looking for, and an ‘expand all’ button at the top of the results allows me to see a summary of each resource without having to click through each one individually.

If it takes too long to find useful resources in a repository, I won’t use that repository much. Luckily OER Commons is an index to materials on other respositories – with any luck they’ll provide the interface that OpenJorum needs.

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