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Phil Greaney

One of my presentations on Slideshare has three hundred views (more exposure than I've had for anything): http://tinyurl.com/9unu3p This tells me someone is using the site. I thought it might be phishing bots (perhaps this says something about the confidence I have in my presentations? :-)

I'd add that the quality of presentations seems to have rocketed recently, at least the ones I've seen: much more imaginative and containing multi-media in many cases. There's some rich resources on Slideshare - maybe people step up when they know they are delivering to a live audience?


Bill Fitzgerald

Slideshare does better on searches than the other sites you list out -- this points to a basic weakness in how many open content repositories are structured: they do not support easy reuse of content. Slideshare, on the other hand, has an ad-driven model (or at least that's part of their plan) so clearly seo/easy embedding is something they addressed in their design.

As to a true oer package, I don't think that claim can be made about slideshare because if they go away, so does their content.

Actually, I mean if slideshare goes away, they take our content with them.



Terry Hogan

Thanks Martin. Yes, we do need to work this from both sides of the institutional fence. OU, MIT, et al have done a magnificent job providing us with these amazing Open Resources. However, it seems it is going to take outsiders to effectively move these resources to the nontraditional potential users.

Bill Fitzgerald

Actually, I just saw the rss feeds off the OpenLearn courses.

Full feeds of all content? That can be ingested into another site and repurposed at will? That ROCKS!

Nicely done!




@Phil - yes, there is a 'backpressure' into real life from many web 2 sites. Flickr is a great example - people don't just share, they become better photographers _because_ of Flickr.
@Bill - glad you found the RSS feeds! But yes, commercial operations seem to get this simple sharing facilitated much quicker. Perhaps, because as you suggest, their pay packets depend on it.
@Terry - yes the question is can OERs get the same sort of reach commercial operations achieve?


I don't think I'm telling you anything you don't already know (because you've said as much in blog posts), but...

* Slideshare simply supports the types of simple but powerful mechanisms that support contribution and reuse. It's easy to contribute, and to frame the contribution in a way that is meaningful to yourself, not some abstract set of ideas cooked up by some committee. It supports embed code, which I still think is the most under-rated functionality going. Related to that is the strong syndication potential Bill references.

* SEO is near the top of my "need-to-learn" list. It has always had somewhat cheesy associations to me, but at last year's Open Ed Conference Gary Lopez made a comparison between a foundation-funded, exquisitely designed set of OERs on some worthy subject (I forget the subject, let's say rainforest ecology). Well, when you Googled "rainforest ecology" it came up on Google's 17th page of results. The number one result was some funny thing, "Fred's Wacky Page of Rainforest Resources" or something...

And of course, SEO in Google is contingent on PageRank, which depends on incoming links, which is fed by the social web. I tell people that if they want their repository to get traffic (do they?), they should attach a blog, and link to and engage in conversation every relevant blog they can find. Yet people in our field are told to "get serious" about "content management strategies" (which means trying to ramp up non-existent interest in repositories) and that blogs are not worth the effort. (This is not hyperbole. I've told those things.)

Oh yes, Bill, RSS on OpenLearn makes course reuse possible with an ease that SCORMers can only dream of:


Sorry for the rant Martin, please don't ban me, I'll behave...


@Brian - you're on commenting fire! I agree totally - I think very few people have really twigged the significance of embed. Embed, embed, embed. The second point you raise also hints at another problem - online it is the simplest solutions which tend to work - Flickr, Slideshare, YouTube, all do one thing well. In education we tend to think of the most complicated use cases and work towards them.
New rules - keep it simple, love embed. Get that tattoo now.

stuart brown

Don't forget Scribd too - those OpenLearn units we stuck on there a while back went down a storm. full embed / stats / ipaper support etc.

Andy Lane

Martin, come to this post a bit late and look forward to reading the JIME article when it comes out. Here are my responses to your questions:

We can see Slideshare is way out in front. This raises several questions:

i) Are people more likely to share stuff through something like Slideshare?

Yes they are because a slide presentation is such a standard tool used in so many situations, not just education (although heavily used in secondary schools where students have to develop presentations)

ii) Is the basic unit of sharing (the presentation) at Slideshare, something people understand more than courses and units at OER sites?

Yes because it is such a familiar format and of a relatively small scale. Courses and units take much longer to put together and may require using a number of tools not just one.

iii) Is the comparison fair? Can we consider Slideshare an OER repository of sorts?

Only of sorts since it is strictly open access only and terms and conditions imply only personal use. There is no open licensing and in principle while you can embed you should not rework. Now does that matter to the learner? Not a bit. Does it matter to the teacher. Yes it may.

iv) Are commercial operations just better at this than educational ones?

I cannot tell from your graph since you are not comparing like with like. Slideshare has many different categories of slides, not just for education, and so traffic is coming for a variety of purposes and from many more people than those interested in education/learning. MITOCW and OpenLearn are education specific, but what if you compared total traffic to all MIT and all OU sites (where there is also open access (but not embeddable) stuff? Would they look so different?

v) Are people 'learning' from Slideshare? If so, how does it compare with learning from OERs?

This is the most critical question and will take considerable effort to answer but perhaps OLnet (www.olnet.org)will have a go.


Hi Andy
yes I'd pretty much agree with everything you say. I think it's just worth raising as a potential comparison, but as you say, there are lots of issues mixed up in there.
But at its heart I do feel that there is maybe a lesson to be learnt from Slideshare and their ilk, and it's something along the lines of we trade complexity for reach. Now it depends if reach is your sole aim, but there may be a trade-off we have to make in education.
I'll be speaking with Patrick so can explore these further in OLNet.
Thanks for the input.

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