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Repository: figshare

Are you a teacher at Utrecht University and working on online educational material that you want to share with fellow teachers or students? 

The educational repository figshare can help you! Figshare is used worldwide to store, present and share all kinds of data. Utrecht University uses figshare as a platform for the sharing of educational material. The platform offers both storing and sharing functionalities that enable you to decide in what way you want to share your educational material. It is possible to publish your educational material openly, making it available for all through the use of a Creative Commons license and a persistent identifier. It is also possible to share materials through the use of a (timed) private link. 

Whether you want to safely share, get inspired or prepare your course more effectively; the educational repository makes it possible. It is a tool to store digital learning material in a sustainable way and to make it easier to find

  • You determine what you share
  • You can easily collaborate on course materials
  • You can easily integrate it into your learning environment or share it on social media

Within Utrecht University, teachers work tirelessly to develop new digital course materials. Be it in ‘traditional’ forms like presentations and syllabi or in the shape of more ‘innovative’ e-modules: the amount of digital learning materials is growing. Some materials, like e-lectures, are stored centrally. Other materials are being stored on hard drives and USB thumb drives.

But we can do better. Learning materials are often reusable. It saves a lot of time if materials are stored centrally and are well described. The quality of education will improve if teachers use tools that are already available. Exchange of information beyond the boundaries of the degree programme, faculty, and university will enable new collaboration opportunities.

If you have any learning materials you want to make available for reuse, please store in the figshare educational repository, which is open to all UU teachers.

Figshare is a user-friendly online platform that is used to save, discover and share data all around the world. Utrecht University uses figshare as a platform for teachers to save and share learning material made at the UU. Figshare ensures that all learning material can be easily managed and found – all in one tool. It is up to you whether you want to fully share your materials or work together in a project space.

Figshare allows you to share your learning material up to two degrees:

  • Share your materials with specific colleagues or students at or outside the UU
  • Share your materials with all colleagues, students and others world-wide

In addition, you can choose to distribute your materials through learning environments such as Blackboard, or to directly reference figshare.

Utrecht University uses figshare as a platform for teachers to save and share learning material (made by UU teachers). In addition, it is suitable for accompanying material which amplifies the re-usability of learning materials. These include: presentations, assignments, visual material, animations, but also course descriptions, guides, and rubrics. For material that is saved elsewhere (such as web lectures and knowledge clips), including a hyperlink and a description in figshare allows for it to be easily found. Such descriptions (metadata) will be indexed by all big search engines.

Consider the protection of personal data when storing and sharing educational video materials. This means that no images or materials may be published in which personal data is visible in text or images.

The AVG does not prescribe the exact form in which you have to ask permission. So it is up to you how you ask for permission. As long as you can prove that you actually got permission. If it is unavoidable to film students, give them the opportunity to sit out of the picture beforehand, for example by having students who object sit behind the camera position.

If materials are suited for open sharing (it is your own work and you have not used any copyrighted or privacy-sensitive content), the UU advises you to use a Creative Commons licence. The following licences are preferred: CC-BY or CC-BY-SA. In case of CC-BY, you allow others to copy, distribute, show, perform, and transform materials that you created – but only when you are mentioned as the creator. By adding the SA (share alike) to your licence, you allow others to create material based on your work only if they share it through the same licence as the original work. SA can prevent online materials from being marketed and allows UU teachers to reuse materials in open learning materials with a SA licence.

A licence without the additional SA is generally preferred in all other cases as it allows your work to be more easily found and reused.

For more information on copyright and learning materials, please visit the pages of the UU copyright information office

For more information on creative commons licenses go to the Creative Commons website.

Once saved to figshare, your materials can be easily used in other online environments, such as Blackboard. This can be done by, for example, embedding your material in the online environment using a code (iframe) or a hyperlink. Materials that you have denoted as private can be shared using a private link.

For more information on sharing your material, visit the figshare knowledge pages on sharing.

Using the UU house style will add to your learning material’s professional image and recognisability. The various UU visual elements, (PowerPoint) templates, and the image database can be found at: uu.nl/organisatie/huisstijl/ (Only in Dutch as of now)

For more information on using figshare:

Manuals for uploading and sharing of course materials

The university library is the first point of contact for all questions related to figshare. Please send them an e-mail (library@uu.nl) or give them a call (030-2536115)

What will happen when I publish materials on figshare?

When publishing materials on figshare, they will become publicly available and will therefore also pop up in search engines such as Google. By adding a user licence (creative commons) you indicate how others should treat your materials. If your material has been labelled as private, the material itself will not be available but the description (metadata) will be.

Is it possible for me to delete material that has been published?

No, that is not possible, due to the persistent links (Digital Object Identifier – DOI) that figshare uses. Nevertheless, situations may arise where, on request, material can be removed, for example in case of copyright or privacy violations.

Is it possible to edit material?

Yes, that is possible. You can always upload a different/new version of your material or edit the description. The hyperlink, will remain unchanged and will refer to the most recent version.

Why do I have to fill in so many details when publishing material?

The material will be found online based on the description (metadata). The fields denoted with a green dot are mandatory to create a persistent link (DOI). We would advise you to fill in the metadata in English.

Can I request a DOI before publishing?

Yes you can. If you are not ready yet to publish your educational resources, but you do want to know your DOI so you can include it in the material itself, you can reserve a DOI.

Click on the Reserve Digital Object Identifier link (almost at the bottom) on the metadata form for the item in question.  At this point you will be offered a DOI. Be aware that the DOI will only be active and citable after you have published your item.

Does the UU want me to share openly?

Yes, wherever possible. The UU wants learning material to become more easily accessible and ‘findable’. By sharing, you stimulate and facilitate others to reuse learning material. This can occur within your own organisation. But, the academic landscape is rapidly changing, and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science wants all learning material in tertiary education to be shared online and openly by 2025. Against this background, the UU intensifies her efforts to share materials more openly.

For more information on open education, please visit, for example, the website of the Open Society Foundations

Is it possible to only share within the UU?

You can share your material specifically with colleagues at the UU. There are two options to choose from. Any material uploaded to figshare can be labelled as private. The description will be openly available, but the material itself will not be. The other option is to use Projects. This is a good way to facilitate feedback and cooperation.

For more information on Projects, please visit the figshare knowledge page on projects

Is it also possible to share an entire course?

Yes, that is possible. To share a course, first upload the individual items. If your course contains much material, you can also use the desktoploader. Afterwards, the material can be bundled in a collection. This can be given a separate description and will also be given a persistent link. You can easily upload material once and then add it to an indefinite number of Collections. Being able to do so greatly enhances the reusability of material for various courses.

For more information on Collections, please visit the figshare page on using collections.

Is there a quality check?

When uploading educational material in figshare, no quality check is performed on the material itself or its description (metadata). The teacher is responsible for this her/himself. However, you can always ask the University Library for advice (by e-mail).

Is there a complaints procedure?

In case of questions or complaints in response to the learning materials on figshare, please contact the University Library by e-mail.

Who can give me advice on questions regarding copyright?

Answers to the most common questions can be found through the website of the Copyright Information Office. In case of doubt, please contact the University library (library@uu.nl). 

What will happen once I leave Utrecht University?

Utrecht University advises to transfer the figshare ownership of the material to the programme coordinator when leaving the UU since the UU is the owner of the material. If desired, a copy can be added to a (free) personal account on figshare.com