Travel Well Criteria
How can teachers, publishers or repository owners recognize content that truly lives up to the promise of Open Educational Resources’ (OERs) re-usability, flexibility and quality?
European Schoolnet (EUN), an international partnership of 30 European Ministries of Education, has been active in the field of Open Educational Resources for over a decade. It has particularly focused on promoting the exchange of quality OER at the pan-European level via the Learning Resource Exchange for schools (LRE). The LRE was developed in order to provide Ministries of Education and other stakeholders with access to a network of learning content repositories and associated tools to more easily exchange high quality digital learning resources for K-12. Today the service enables educators and learners to find over 200,000 OERs from more than 50 content providers.
The LRE, as a pan-European exchange, needed a clear and rigorously tested set of criteria to help assess which Open Educational Resources had the potential to travel across national, cultural and linguistic boundaries. This need has been addressed in eQNet, a three-year (September 2009-2012) project coordinated by European Schoolnet and involving nine Ministries of Education that was funded under the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme. After three years of reflection, dialogue and systematic testing by teachers in different countries, eQNet has published a set of ‘Travel Well’ criteria.
These ‘Travel Well’ criteria have already been effective in improving the overall quality of Open Educational Resources in the LRE. Any teacher, repository owner, publisher and vendor can now use the ‘Travel Well’ criteria described below to identify quality digital learning content with a high potential for re-use.
'Travel well' criteria
(* Must be present)
1. Trans-national topics *
The resource addresses curriculum topics that could be considered trans-national. For example, teaching multiplication is usually covered in every national curriculum, but teaching the folklore of a very specific region is not. It can also be a resource well suited for use in multi-disciplinary or cross-curricular contexts.
The example resource is a division game for students in primary grades: http://www.arcademicskillbuilders.com/games/pony-division/
2. Knowledge of a specific language is not needed (language independence) *
The resource can be used without having to translate accompanying texts and/or the resource may be available in at least 3 European languages. For example, a resource might be a video where the narrative can be turned off, or it employs icons, images, animations, maps, etc. making its contents understandable for everyone.
The example resource comes in three European languages: http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/frames_asid_290_g_3_t_3.html?open=activities&from=search.html?qt=
3. Stored as a file type that is usable with generally available software
The resource can be used in any environment (online and off-line) and runs on multiple platforms (also hand-held, IWB).
The example resource plays in a variety of platforms without the need to download a player: http://www.khanacademy.org/video/ape-clarification?playlist=Biology
4. Methodological support for teachers is not needed
Subject teachers can easily recognize how this resource meets their curriculum requirements or how this resource could be used in a teaching scenario without further instructions. This criterion should not be used to assess the usability (technical qualities) of a resource.
The example resource is clearly related to curriculums that include topics such as atmospheric phenomenon: http://www.animfyzika.wz.cz/teplafronta.swf
5. Intuitive and easy to use
The resource is intuitive to use in the sense that it has a user-friendly interface and is easy to navigate for both teachers and students without having to read or translate complex operating instructions.
The example resource is a timeline presenting key events in the history of science and chemistry in particular. Users can browse the timeline and click thumbnails to see more information: http://www.rsc.org/chemsoc/timeline/pages/timeline.html
6. Interactivity with or without feedback in a digital environment
This kind of resource invites or requires a significant degree of user input or engagement, other than just reading something on a page in an online or offline environment. The interactivity can be simple or complex. Simple forms can be feedback on correct or incorrect answers in a drill/practice scenario. Complex forms can be lab activities that produce different results depending on user actions or hints to help complete tasks successfully in an online environment. An interactive resource that does not provide feedback but still requires user input would be a geometric 3D shape that can be moved and turned. Examples of non-interactive resources are a worksheet you print out to hand to students or a power point presentation that presents information to students but does not react to student input.
The example resource is a simple interactive form providing feedback on correct or incorrect answers in a drill/practice scenario:
7. Clear license status *
If you would like eQNet teachers to review your resources, make use of this free service by contacting: