OER Personas Research in the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy

How can library UX research improve faculty and librarians OER discovery experience? This is the question that ISKME staff and collaborators Michelle Brennan, Selena Burns, Cynthia Jimes, Jeff Hecker, Anastasia Karalani, and Amee Evans Godwin explore in their article Five Faculty and Librarian Personas to Support OER Discovery, featured in a special OER-themed issue 21 The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy.

Read the full article: https://cuny.manifoldapp.org/projects/journal-of-interactive-technology-...

Based on research funded by IMLS intended to broadly support the improvement of OER search and discovery, the article discusses how in-depth think-aloud interviews with 35 research study participants were used to develop data-driven sketches of common types of higher education OER searchers.

Two faculty user personas represent two different approaches to OER discovery based on different goals: the Faculty Textbook Replacer is looking for OER that resembles the commercial textbook they want to replace as much as possible, and the Faculty A La Carte Curator is looking for a variety of different kinds of OER to curate and customize for their course. The three librarian types represent different roles associated with different needs in their discovery and curation process: the OER Reference Librarian is looking for OER for faculty, the Collections Maintenance Librarians is creating curated collections of OER, and the Course Redesign Support Librarian is trying map existing OER to state-level course requirements.

These five users have both similarities and differences in what metadata they value in their curation process and in their OER search needs and pain points. Similarities include wanting peer-reviewed, recent, accessible OER in easy-to-use media formats. Shared pain points include having to search across multiple sites, trying to distinguish between duplicates versus modified versions of the same OER, difficulty finding ancillaries that match core textbooks, and difficulty determining the accessibility of the OER they have found.

In the article, the ISKME team explains how OER Commons designers were able to use the personas to create design solutions to support user needs and alleviate pain points, including allowing librarians the ability to search for OER across curated microsites, creating better systems for identifying duplicate records, and designing ways to improve how key metadata is collected and presented. Authors also discuss some of the potential drawbacks of personas, including the danger of user archetypes that include photographs contributing to gender or racial/ethnic stereotyping.

The inclusion of an article on the OER search and discovery process alongside articles discussing both the affordances and challenges to implementing OER in classrooms puts OER search and discovery in conversation with larger issues in the field, including accessibility and the unpaid faculty time burden involved with OER adoption. As OER Commons designers continue to work to make the OER discovery process as user-friendly as possible, and ISKME continues to create tools such as the user personas to support this work beyond OER Commons, we invite our community to weigh in on the important conversations around this work. Please give our article a read and let us know your thoughts!

Publication Date: 
January 23, 2023