OpenScout

OpenScout stands for "Skill based scouting of open user-generated and community-improved content for management education and training". OpenScout is a project co-funded by the European Commission within the eContentplus Programme. The project started in September 2009 and has a duration of three years.

Motivation

Open content for management education
Management is a large education and training business field in Europe. Training topics range from general management and leadership to very specific issues like managing risks in banking industry. The need for related training content in a full spectrum of application domains is increasing. Companies are aware of these requirements but often cannot afford expensive trainings that offer good quality specifically tailored to the needs of each employee. On the other hand a large amount of open educational resources on management topics is already available but this open content is significantly underused in the business sector and particularly in SMEs. For managers and trainers in their daily business it is difficult to find suitable online material, to access and re-use it and to judge whether the material addresses the respective learning needs. OpenScout wants to reduce these existing usage barriers. Here, OpenScout is inspired by the observation that there are many applications where openly accessible material is already creating business opportunities, for example Web 2.0 applications and services like open source software development, product ratings or personal networks. These areas provide promising models.

Objectives

User-friendly access to open management content
To exploit the full potential of open content for management education and training, OpenScout aims at providing an educational internet service with the following main objectives:
  • Enable user-friendly search and access to open management content.
  • Identify and connect existing repositories containing open management content.
  • Enable easy re-use and adaptation of open content to the need and context of learners and providers.
  • Enlarge the group of learners and providers that utilise open content for management education.

Expected Results

Internet services for open management content
OpenScout’s envisaged wide and large scaled education service will consist of the following components:
  • Web Services Infrastructure
    To enhance access to open content, OpenScout provides to end users federated, skill-based search and retrieval web services that can be integrated into existing Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS) as well as social network platforms.
  • Federated Content Base
    To make accessible content of different types from many disciplines of the management science, OpenScout inter-connects a large pool of different open content repositories to form a federated content base on which OpenScout’s web services operate.
  • Tool Library
    To facilitate (re-)use and improvement of open content in real-world educational scenarios, OpenScout provides a set of integrated tools and support mechanisms that enable users to modify, adapt and localise materials to their need and context.
  • Open User Community
    To achieve large scale adoption in real contexts of use, OpenScout establishes an Open User Community (with a focus on content providers and users) that open up their content to the Web Services, contribute metadata (such as skill-data, user evaluations, ratings, etc.) and furthermore support design and evaluation of OpenScout’s prototypes.

Working Groups

OpenScout works mainly in four steps which are reflected in the workpackage (WP) structure:
  1. Content Federation
    WP 1
    provides integrated access to all learning resources from the consortium and to external management-related resources by a federated infrastructure.

  2. Access and publishing service integration
    WP 2
    will integrate services for the publishing process. Starting with skill-based search, the group will integrate existing services into a common infrastructure.

  3. Improvement and adaptation services
    WP 3
    will enable users to adapt contents to their context, requirements and needs. This includes easy-to-use web authoring tools as well as metadata tools to make (improved) contents accessible to the public.
    WP 5
    works on the integration of contents in management education using mashups and integration in the learning solutions

  4. Large scale implementation and community building
    WP 4
    aims at a cooperative design and validation of the proposed solution in close cooperation with large existing user communities.
    WP 6
    will extend the user community and develop reference scenarios to enable a large scale adoption.
    WP 7
    works on awareness building and dissemination.

Partners

EFMD as an association representing the users will be mainly involved in the following workpackages:
  • WP1: EFMD will present the users’ perspective to facilitate the development of the federated infrastructure.
  • WP4: EFMD will lead this workpackage and coordinate the activities to build and extend the community of users.
  • WP6: EFMD will contribute to this work package by developing and validating reference scenarios. The first step contains the collection of good practices in the domain of enterprises. The focus of the own validation will be to create initial testing groups and, as a second step, large scale validations.
  • WP7: EFMD will work on the dissemination, in particular distributing and disseminating OpenScout in their network. They will also contribute to the establishment of the Open Content Association in the feasibility study and establishment phase.

For more information, please visit the project website: www.openscout.net