Linked OpenCourseWare Data: a demonstration of the potential use of OCW Universia linked data
Edmundo Tovar, OCW UPM, Spain
Conference Theme: Innovation
Summary: Presentation of data query scenarios of OCW Universia linked through semantic filters and motor selection.
Abstract: OpenCourseWare (OCW) is one of the most successful emerging initiatives in the global promotion of free and unrestricted access to knowledge from the academia. In April 2001, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) launched OCW-MIT; releasing under open license educational resources that professors could use in their teaching practices. The great impact of the initiative has led many international and prestigious universities to join the movement; creating their own projects in coordination with OCW-MIT. Such is the case of Universia, which promotes and disseminates the concept OCW-Universia in Latin America.
The repositories, internal organization and structure of an OpenCourseWare project are diverse, and respond to the vision of each university. There is not a standardized way to implement OCW initiatives, however some guidelines and recommendations on the characteristics of repositories and the structure of an OCW project can be found. Even though, these agreements have offered enough momentum to drive the rapid adoption of OCW initiatives, they have created difficulties for the implementation of tools that can process OCW data automatically. Therefore, one of the greatest challenges that OCW initiatives, and in particular OCW Universia, have to face is the heterogeneity of existing OCW repositories. Heterogeneity leads to problems of interoperability and accessibility of open content among institutions and within them. The lack of interoperability shows some disadvantages in the discovery, reuse and remixing of OCWs.
Universia took a step forward in trying to solve this issue, taking attributes of OCWs and creating sites on which a search engine operates (based on Google’s search engine). The limitations in this service are the same as those found in regular Web browsers; wide range of results (hundreds or even thousands of OCWs), search based on word similarities instead of meaning, ambiguity problems in the returned results, few possibilities to enable automated discoverability with concepts associated with an OCW and are stored in other open data-sets.
In this paper, researchers from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM, Spain) and Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja (UTPL, Ecuador), show how the principles of Linked Data have the ability to enhance searchability and discoverability of OCWs created and shared by the universities associated to OCW Universia. The emphasis of Linked Data is closely related to the intention of exposing heterogeneous linked resources semantically improved; contributing to the construction of a Semantic Web. Two basic elements are described: 1) an infrastructure to integrate and access content from different repositories of universities associated to OCW Universia, expressed in different RDF formats accessed via HTTP and 2) a consultation mechanism to access data from OCW Universia.
The results presented reveal that Linked Data would offer a solution to filter and select semantically those open educational contents, and demonstrates how this solution allows users to obtain more information from an OCW, i.e., automatically linked to related information that is in the Linked Open Data Cloud.