FAQ's and Documentation


General Guidance

We're in the process of completing the Simshare guidance and it should be available soon. In the meantime a temporary pdf file is available for download. This document covers registering, sharing, and downloading simulations. It also explains the various social features of Simshare. If you have any specific questions you can direct them to Paul Swain from the UKCLE.

Creative Commons

1.1 What are Open Educational Resources (OER)?

They are resources that are made available to be used and shared by others, often on a non-commercial basis. The resources can often be repurposed and re-used. If shared over the web the resources are generally deposited in a repository that is open to all users, globally.

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1.2 How are OER shared?

There are many different forms of sharing, based often on open licence structures, such as those promoted by Creative Commons[link]. We use these licence structures in Simshare. As for the medium of sharing, the web has been hugely helpful in sharing and re-purposing resources of any sort - think encyclopaedia vs Wikipedia...

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1.3 Are there many examples of OER on the web?

There are hundreds of examples on the internet. Many are small-scale projects, by their nature unfinished, and literally open-ended. Some are large-scale, extensively-funded projects - MIT's OpenCourseWare project is one example, with hundreds of courses posted online by MIT staff. The number and variety of resource repositories is enormous. Some examples are listed on our Links page

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1.4 Who creates OER?

Generally, people who are interested in sharing learning resources, either their own or others, or are interested in collaboration in some way. And it doesn't need to be academic staff either. OER is really one version of the impulse of people to share knowledge - user groups, discussion forums etc are other forms of this, and of course the largest example of all is Wikipedia.

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1.5 Why do people create OER?

There are a number of general reasons why this is happening:

  1. Philanthropic: Sharing and providing education to people all over the world, with special attention to those in developing countries or without access to high-quality local education.
  2. Strategic: Adapting educational practices to the changing world culture may increase viability of educational institutions.
  3. Pedagogic: The act of sharing may increase attention to quality; the act of adapting or remixing may increase quality; the use of new technologies may enhance educational engagement amongst learners.
  4. Economic: Cost-savings to the institution by digitally archiving their own materials, and then sharing and reusing within the institution and amongst peers.
(Adapted from: http://mfeldstein.com/itoe-motivations-for-open-education/)

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1.6 Who might use the OER on Simshare?

Many people, but it largely depends on the purpose of the repository and the purpose of users exploring it. The 2005 report on the MIT OpenCourseWare Project, for instance, identified that 43% of users were self-learners and 47% were students - and the students included many MIT students, who used the resources as flexible, distance-learning materials. Our prediction may be wrong, but given the nature of the resources that will be posted up onto Simshare it's probably fair to say that many of the users will be other educators.

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1.7 If others are using my resources, doesn't that mean fewer students coming to my programmes in my institution?

No. This question, and it's a common one, assumes there's a fixed number of students who will study on your programme at your institution. But as the MIT study proves, OER can act as a powerful marketing tool to increase the pool of potential students thinking about studying at your institution.

The question also assumes that there's a direct correlation between availability of resources on the web and student choice. In reality student choice is much more sophisticated and multi-modal. Students used the web in many ways to try to 'personalize' the future for themselves - they want to know what the experience of learning at your institution might be. If your name, associated with your resources and institution, are available on the web they will be discovered by potential students, and will give students an insight into your methods of teaching. And we know that many students are attracted by methods of learning that involve interaction and working with knowledge in practical ways.

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1.8 Why are OER useful?

The benefits have been listed as follows:

  • lowers the costs of educational materials for students
  • fosters pedagogical innovation and relevance that avoids 'teaching from the textbook'
  • gives faculty tools to gain control over learning content and delivery
  • enable staff to share and remix learning materials for customized and localized use
  • fast feedback loop on quality and relevance of learning materials leads to continual improvement and rapid development
(adapted from: http://edtechpost.wikispaces.com/OER+Benefits)

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1.9 What damages an OER project?

There quite a few proven negatives that will hinder an OER project. Here are some:

  1. poor quality resources
  2. no business plan
  3. no sustainability plan
  4. focus on product to detriment of community
  5. no community
  6. no embedded sense of a remix culture
  7. other employment factors, eg management rules, the blocking of use of OER by an institution, etc.
  8. the community takes and doesn't give in return.

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1.10 Can I develop my own resources on this site?

Of course.

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1.11 Can I develop others' resources?

Of course - so long as it is in line with what they have licensed you to do with their resources. Generally we encourage authors to make their resources as open as they can be, to enable further development, localization, etc.

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1.12 Can others develop any aspect of my resources?

Pretty much, so long as you give them permission via the licence you attach to the resources. And that's one of the great freedoms we can give to each other as teachers - that we can help each other to learn by giving ourselves the permission to draft, improve, change, make our own work anew.

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1.13 What do I get out of sharing stuff on Simshare?

It's nearly always a pleasure to see others use and adapt our work - there is that basic motive! But there's a lot more you can get out of contributing to Simshare. You will be helping students, self-learners, other teachers and many others to improve their understanding of your subject. And of course you get the pleasure and fascination of working with others' resources, and re-purposing them for your own local situation, culture and purpose.

But there is more you can get out of it. Most OER projects are based upon a consumerist provider/user model, where resources are made available by a provider and used by an end-user. However Simshare envisages a community of practice approach, where you can be involved in the re-purposing of your own and others' simulations. In other words there is a move from 'knowledge for all' to 'construction of knowledge by all' (UNESCO 2005).

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1.14 What licence agreements are available if I want to contribute resources to Simshare?

There is available to you a wide variety of licences via the Creative Commons. You choose what you would like your users to do with your resources. You can find information on this further below, or by going to the Creative Commons site.

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1.15 How else can I contribute to the project other than by uploading resources?

There are two ways:

  1. Donation of funds. We're trying to keep this open project open, and that means we need funding to develop. If you are able to donate funds after our funding runs out in April 2010, please contact Patricia McKellar at UKCLE.
  2. Imagination. We're always seeking people who are interested in taking forward the project creatively. This is a chance for you to get involved in a great project with the goal of improving learning across the university sector.

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1.16 How can a project dependent on donation ever be sustainable?

Depends what you mean by 'sustainable'. If Simshare were setting up as a commercial company it wouldn't last long. But the aim of Simshare is quite different - it aims to be part of the open-source ecosystem, where participation is free and is the transactional coinage. It helps staff understand a relatively unusual area of pedagogy, and gives them resources to get started with it. An ecosystem like this doesn't need huge start-up costs, lots of infrastructure, many employees (think of Linux vs Microsoft). Its products survive because they are being given, used, re-purposed. Its products are its transactions. Almost all they need is participation (think Encarta vs Wikipedia).

Your participation makes the project sustainable. Your participation isn't free in the sense of 'free beer' (someone, either you or your employer, is paying for your time); but in donating your time and your resources you are collaborating in a community of practice that is sustainable because it is built on donated time and effort, with rewards coming in the form of reworked resources, better community practices, and the like.

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1.17 Where can I read more about OER?

The literature is growing all the time. You could start with the links on our page, at [link]. Further reading on OER theory and initiative development would include the following texts:

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2.0 General guidance questions to go here

3.1 What is Creative Commons licensing?

Creative Commons (CC) allows authors and collaborators to share and edit information. Full copyright can sometimes be restrictive should you wish your work to be shared and built upon. CC licences protect the original copyright of the author while granting certain freedoms to others for use, sharing and amending.

CC clearly conveys your desires, as the original author, about how you want your work to be used. It is also important to choose an attribution name and URL (this could be anything from your personal website to your institution staff page) so others can credit you as the author of the work.

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3.2 What are the various licences available to me?

There are six main licences offered within a Creative Commons licence. We have listed them from the most accommodating to most restrictive. You simply choose the licence that suits you. Simshare recommends the Attribution-Share Alike licence (by-sa), this will allow you to retain some rights while allowing others to build upon your initial deposit. Below is a full list of CC licenses.


Attribution (BY)

Share Alike (SA)

Non-Commercial (NC)

No Derivative Works(ND)

Attribution (by) allows others to distribute and change your work. Whether it's a slight tweak or a complete overhaul, this licence will allow that usage provided you are credited for the original creation.




Attribution Share Alike (by-sa) lets others make free use of your resource in whatever way they wish, provided that it does not infringe your moral rights. The only requirement is that they attribute the work (or part of it) to you.




The Attribution No Derivatives (by-na) licence allows free use of your resource, provided that it is attributed, but it must be used it in its original form and it cannot be converted into a new resource.




Attribution Non Commercial (by-nc) licence allows people to freely use your work, provided it is attributed, but it cannot be sold or incorporated into a commercial product.




Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa) licence lets others change and build upon your work non-commercially. They have to credit you and license their new creations under identical terms. Others can download and redistribute but they can also change and produce new works. These new works carry the same license and must be non-commercially available.



The Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd) licence allows redistribution as long as you are credited as the original author. Users cannot change these works in any way or use them for a commercial nature.



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3.3 What's the best way to illustrate my chosen Creative Commons licence?

A CC licence is only effective if other users can see it, so it is important to clearly mark your content. Depending on the type of content available there are multiple ways to do this but the core of the CC marker should contain:

  1. The URL to the licence (these are available above)
  2. The CC licence logos or marker text. These can be found at http://creativecommons.org/about/downloads/. Simshare allows you the option of choosing your licence during the submission phase. You may still want to license specific items inside the simulations though.
  3. The phrase 'some rights reserved' can also be used instead of the restrictive 'all rights reserved' phrase. Remember that it is important to clarify the specifics of the licence you have chosen.

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3.4 How do I mark Creative Commons licence information inside my content?

Text based content.

Text documents should contain CC markers. These can be in the form of an image or a line of text stating the licence wherever the copyright statement would go. The full URL to the license should also be included.

For example:

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial

The abbreviated licence names may also be used. For example, the above text would read

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under CC BY-NC http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Sample markers can be downloaded from http://wiki.creativecommons.org/CC_markers

Marking CC inside images

A CC marker should be displayed either inside the image or with the image reference. These should ideally be the CC markers but can also be plain text captions.

Marking CC inside audio

There are a couple of ways to do this, however specialist software could be required depending upon your choice. Audacity is an excellent piece of open source software for recording and editing audio.

  1. You could create an audio bumper at the start of your file. This could be a recording of your voice saying "this recording has been created by **AUTHOR NAME** **DATE** and is covered under Creative Commons Attribution licence. Further information can be found at **LICENCE URL**".

    Further guidance can be found at http://creativecommons.org/podcasting.

  2. You could also place a text marker next to the audio reference inside the simulation.
Obviously the latter option is the easiest but be sure to add all of the necessary information; author, date and CC licence.

Marking CC inside video

The most effective way of illustrating licence information inside video is with a video 'bumper' (example below). These can sit at the beginning and end of the footage and state the author information and the licence type. If you are creating your own bumper, be sure to include the CC licence icons and the full URL.

Sample bumpers (licence 3.0) can be downloaded from http://wiki.creativecommons.org/CC_video_bumpers.

Microsoft Office 2007 offers a plugin that allows you to place Creative Commons information directly into Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. A Creative Commons plugin for earlier versions of Microsft Office can be found HERE.

The Creative Commons site offers a wizard based HTML generator which allows you to easily generate HTML code based on your desired license.

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3.5 Where can I find additional information on Creative Commons?

The Creative Commons website is a useful resource for everything CC. It contains logos, specific licence details, case studies, videos and news. The wiki also contains useful resources.

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