What HumBox did next: real stories of OERs in action from users of a teaching and learning repository for the humanities
Kate Borthwick, University of Southampton, UK
Conference Theme: Impact
Summary: HumBox: real stories of OERs and practice-change from users of a teaching and learning repository for the humanities
Abstract: The HumBox is an online space for managing and sharing teaching and learning materials related to the humanities. Membership of the site is open to all and is entirely voluntary. It was created, as part of the HumBox project, with funding from phase one of the JISC OER programme and was kick-started by a collaboration of ten different UK HE institutions and 4 Higher Education Academy Subject Centres. Within the space of the project year (2009-2010), HumBox caught the imagination of many UK academics and by the end of the funding period it had a healthy 1100+ resources and 200+ users. It had become the hub of an active community of humanities professionals who were engaged in re-using and reviewing each other’s resources and making connections with each other through the HumBox system: it had become a teaching and learning repository that people actually used. Once project activities and funding had ceased, HumBox was driven almost entirely by the activities of its registered and unregistered users, and it continued to grow steadily. The number of registered users has more than trebled since the launch of the site in February 2010 and resources continue to be contributed at a slow but steady rate (currently 1514). The site is viewed by an ever-increasing number of visitors from around the world and the community activities of depositing, re-using and reviewing others’ resources continues. HumBox remains persistently popular. This presentation will report the findings from a range of monitoring activities which sought to understand how the HumBox and its resources were being used, and whether such usage could indicate changes in teaching practice. Monitoring activities included web tracking, a survey and follow-up interviews conducted with HumBox users exploring motivations for using the site, the different ways that users were engaging with the site and for what purposes. It will summarise the answers given to illustrate why people have responded positively to HumBox and the notion of publishing their work openly, and describe the areas of community activity which have not been adopted as broadly as the original project team hoped (e.g. reviewing/commenting) and reflect on why this might be. It will give a selection of case study examples of both resource usage and user experience to illustrate the range and variety of approaches to OER which can be facilitated by one repository. The presentation will conclude by analysing how responses in user feedback indicate changes in teaching and academic practice and by reflecting on how these responses relate to aspects of the repository design and the process inherent in managing the original HumBox project to lead to HumBox’s continued success as an academic community repository.