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Integrating Repository Function with Work Practice

Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

Visit from intraLibrary

Posted by Dawn on November 27, 2008

I spent most of today with Nick and Peter from Interlect resolving some of the issues with the repository. The discussion revolved around getting intraLibrary to do what we want in terms of learning objects (LOs). I haven’t had a great deal of time previously to play with the system and it was a good opportunity to sort out some of the complexities surrounding collections and application profiles and their relations to various elements with in the system.

There was some initial discussion with Wendy and Jill about the difference between LOs and research papers. While it is the aim of the repository project to develop an open access platform and community for research papers this is not necessarily the case with LOs. There is concern among staff about making LOs public. This has been highlighted by Nick and other repository developments . For now the general consensus is to proved access only within LeedMet and via a different interface to that used by the research outputs. Ideally we would like to link up to the research interface and at the very least allow access to LOs metadata. This will then enable interested parties to contact staff in to arrange access to objects on a one to one base.

Further to Nick’s post about the components and structure of intraLibrary I came up with the following diagram as an idea to understanding these relationships.

IntraLibrary concepts

IntraLibrary concepts

As Peter noted in our discussions it is the group that is essential to the process and defining an individual’s role and permissions within that group. I suspect a will amend my view of these elements as I continue to organise the repository and my understanding grows.

Another thing we discussed at great length was IP and LOM Right section. As a mentioned earlier I have included Rights in the mandatory minimal set of metadata for LOs in the repository. Peter suggested this what not a good thing. He suggested that this should be added later by a cataloger. I thought it would be very hard for anyone to trace Rights on a LO that has minimal information, hence leaving it up to the depositor. Peter then suggested using a Usage agreement that depositors need to agree to and a take down policy. This puts the onus on the depositor to check their content and then a standard Rights policy can be applied. Special cases will have to go through a more manual process.

Other Issues:

  • Authentication is still a big issue and realistically Peter suspected it could take up till March to resolve. This left us with the decision to manually setup user accounts for LO depositors.
  • There are still some CSS issues in Internet Explore particularly in the upload process and personal preferences. A more recent IntraLibrary build should sort this out and we have been promised to have this done by the end of next weekish!
  • IMS packages produced by the replica project have problems with viewing and metadata extraction. Hopefully peter has solved this one via a setting in the admin section. Unfortunately what ever we did crashed Interlibrary for a couple of our so we didn’t get round to testing it at the time. Job for first thing on Monday I suspect.
  • As mention previously I am currently unable to upload a single XML metadata file to associate it with content in the repository. This is essential for use with the generator we have devised.

Posted in General, Reflections, Repositories | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

What’s in it for them?

Posted by Janet Finlay on November 12, 2008

An interesting discussion at the Repository Day on Monday with one of our X-stream (VLE) team leaders. His question to us could we give him a 10-word summary of the benefits the Repository would bring to an average overworked academic. For the research side it is fairly cut and dried. Research assessment is in future going to be weighted towards citation. People cite what is accessible. Open access repository gets your work out there. Ok more than 10 words but the message is clear and will be understood by researchers, for whom sharing their work is a fundamental part of what they do.

But what about learning objects and resources? Here the benefits in real terms are harder to define.  In theory there is the share and share alike argument – you share what you have and gain access a much wider pool of resources through the Repository. We stop reinventing the wheel, save time and resources and have better quality materials. In theory. But we know in practice this is rarely how it works. This only holds true when a Repository has reached “critical mass” – and many repositories never reach this point for any given discipline. There has to be content for people to see benefit – and we can only have content if people contribute in some way altruistically.

But for academics this presents a problem. There is no recognised reward system for sharing teaching and learning, as there is for research. Unlike research papers, authorship and contribution are often distributed and harder to specify. Plagiarism is certainly harder to spot – and, if we are honest, probably taken less seriously. If we want to promote a culture of sharing learning resources, we need to develop a community that seriously values this and gives it appropriate recognition. This might be at an institutional level – giving credit for the learning resources shared in promotion and personal review. It might be at a community level – offering some kind of community recognition such as the trusty old “gold star” system from Forums. Any of this would of course need to be accompanied by peer review so that credit is given for quality not just quantity.

This is after all what we do for the outputs of research. Why not for the outputs of assessment, learning and teaching?

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JISC Innovation Forum

Posted by Janet Finlay on July 15, 2008

Wendy and I are attending the JISC Innovation Forum in Keele representing Persona and Streamline. After a few technical hiccups we had a successful “Market Place” session this afternoon on all three Leeds Met repository projects and got some useful pointers to projects that we might link up with (The Depot was one key one) as well as possible alternative uses for the keyword generation tool and a lot of interest in the way we are working together to develop an integrated solution and the role of the informal in what is conventionally a very formal space.

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Meeting with Critical Friend – Monday July 14th

Posted by johnrg on July 15, 2008

Janet and I met with Peter Hartley, the EMERGE Critical Friend for the Streamline Project, yesterday and enjoyed a really useful discussion. Hopefully we brought Peter up to speed with the project and the changes that we have made as the project has developed and gave him a copy of the revised project plan and work packages.  It turns out that Peter is also the Critical Friend for our partner project Persona and I think this is good news given the level of integration between these two projects.

In turn Peter sought to understand the range of groups that the project is working with and provided us with links to some wider projects and activities with complementary foci.  Some of these were for projects working with repositories such as the Southhampton institution exemplar project (which I think revolves around the ePrints repository). Others related to groups who were creating learning objects and storing them in a repository; two CETLS were mentioned here, The Reusable Learning Objects CETL (Tom Boyle et al, Cambrdige University and London Metropolitan University) and the LearnHigher CETL located at Liverpool Hope. We need to follow up these links to see if there is scope for working together and possible Benefits realisation opportunities.

Overall a useful meeting and good to meet Peter.

Posted in General, Reflections | 1 Comment »

Timing

Posted by johnheap on July 8, 2008

On the EMERGE blog, I recently wrote a piece (some might say a bit of a rant, but I prefer to think ‘critical but measured’) about the e-framework suggesting that the tightly structured form of many of the components of the framework (I was actually commenting on Service Usage models) seems to contrast with the flexible, participative, collaborative and evolutionary nature of web 2.0.    (Of course, I realise that I might be missing something and once I ‘see the light’ might change my view.)

Within 48 hours of my posting, there was an announcement of a workshop in October (29th) and I look forward to finding out more and having my views confirmed or ‘re-adjusted’.  It is amazing how often such events (a criticism and what seems to be a response) show such fortuitous timing …. I realise there is no causal relationship and I am not willing to suggest any kind of paranormal connectivity so I put it down to happenstance and lucky coincidence … and say thanks for something which might unravel my confusion.

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InrtaLibray training day

Posted by Dawn on June 19, 2008

The first training/design session with IntraLibrary was held today. The morning was a general overview the system and an opportunity to play around with the new version. The afternoon was spent in discussion with Nick and his team on what was need to get this all up and running.

Their new version 3.0 (Beta) has had a complete interface re-vamp and I wasn’t overly impressed. In my repository report I mentioned that the icons and interface for IntraLibrary was one of the things that I felt made it stand out from the rest. The general ideas have been retained in the new version but the icons are less prominent as they have opted for much softer graphics. One thing they have removed, which I suggested they put back, was the inline help from the question mark icon. For a none-novice user this is very handy, at least I thought so, as it assisted in clarify what you suspected certain areas and functions were for. Much faster than having to go through the full help list. They have also made the help icon almost invisible. I asked a fellow participant if they could find it and it took them over half a minuet which is not good.

The afternoon session was with Nick’s development team, Jill and myself. During this we discussed the types of workflow required for both learning objects (LOs) and research outputs; security and authentication; taxonomy creation and how this related to LOs and research. One of the main issues to come out of this was the need for an external (available on the public web) search and result pages. These need to be developed in house. Another university (I forget which) has already developed and released (open source) a solution to this problem. We also discussed the possible integration with Sword, a client side depositing application which is currently being developed.

All in all it was an interesting day and while I’m sad to loose the old interface IntraLibrary’s functionality is still more adaptable than the rest. There will be another two training/development days which I hope to attend and Peter (chap from IntraLibrary) said he would get the API’s to me ASAP so we can start looking at integrating the ideas developed in Streamline.

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TEL Day: Questionnaire

Posted by Dawn on June 13, 2008

The TEL day presented a good opportunity to promote the Streamline project alongside PERSoNA and the Institutional Repository. Nick and I put together a shared questionnaire between these three projects, which I have now done the preliminary analysis on. This report shows the questions I asked and some basic statistics gleaned from them. Nicks findings are available here on the projects respective blogs: PERSoNA and Repository.

We had twenty respondents in total many of whom also indicated that they were willing to participate in the focus groups Meg has mentioned. Unfortunately our first attempt at organising one has been cancelled due to lack of volunteers. Meg suggested that there is a lot going at the moment academically (exam boards and final marking) and that we would be better of in a coupe of weeks.

I’m going to take these results and re-examine them alongside our previous questionnaires. I’m manly look for patterns of positive or negative attitudes and work practices towards the process around learning object creation and re-use. I will post these up in couple of weeks with a more detailed report. I’m also going to have a look at the social networking questions Nick asked in regard to our ideas about the organisation and sharing of learning objects.

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TEL Day: promoting Streamline and The Institutional Repository

Posted by msoosay on June 10, 2008

The Technology Learning Day took place last Tuesday 3rd June and presented a good opportunity to promote both the above projects.  As we’re at the stage where Streamline prototypes have been built, user feedback is necessary to enable development work to progress steadily.  A decision was made to test the prototype and gather feedback from knowledgeable users and the likely participants were anticipated to be attending the TEL day.  Many were approached with a few questions, and indicated their willingness to take part in the evaluation. 

The proposed evaluation plan is to carry out a series of focus groups with about 8 people.   The discussion is to identify the difficulties and good aspects experienced while trying to create, find and reuse learning objects – particularly in adding metadata to a learning objects using any tool such as eCAT or CourseGenie or using metadata to do keyword searches within a learning object repository.

The outcomes of these focus groups will be a rich source to facilitate research!

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