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Integrating Repository Function with Work Practice

Archive for the ‘Repositories’ Category

The Sharing Vision

Posted by Dawn on March 23, 2009

Prompted by the visit to Belfast we decided it would be a good idea to formally examine our (Leeds met) sharing philosophy regarding LOs. As this hasn’t been previously represented I also thought it might be a good idea to model pre and post sharing with regard to the repository. Again I have fallen back on adapting UML case studies to visualise these processes. Generally these are read from top to bottom connections show potential decision points, where either, both or none of the following process may be undertaken. Actors represent roles or systems playing a role within a process.


To facilitate this development I cornered our repository officer Nick Sheppard and did a short interview. I doubt there will be time to do a full transcription of this but it did give me some insight into past and future aspirations for the repository and the workflows surrounding it. I’m uploading three of the four intended workflows now, in case time runs away, with evaluations are my top of my agenda at the moment.


Pre-repository shows some learning content being packaged as a learning object using such applications as Course Genie and eCat. Similar to Belfast theses were often used within the VLE. The predominant process was the creation of content and storage on personal or shared drives. Conversations between colleagues were the main driving force for sharing; this resulted in direct hard drive access for the resource, link sharing or a hard copy being reciprocated, depending on the nature of the content and storage facilitated by the tutor.


The current state of affairs, extracted from the conversation with Nick, again has some strong links with Belfast. As we are still discussing the various issues regarding general public release of Leeds Met learning objects, all current upload and potentially any search and download, request go through the repository officer. The repository is as yet not ready for general institution-wide access, with only small pockets currently populating it under Nick’s guidance. One of the most difficult tasks regarding this filtration through one team is the back and forth communication required to gain complete metadata particularly. This is particularly prevalent when checking the copyright of repurposed learning objects.


The vision is to enable individuals to upload and download from the repository as part of their natural content development process. To enable this, the repository needs to be accessed from what ever personal work point an individual chooses to use. This is my simplistic version of this vision with and emphases on as few and seamless connections to as many interfaces as possible. I’m sure others including Nick will add to and comment on this to give it a more robust appearance.


The final and missing diagram, I’m currently extracting form Nicks interview, tries to capture the perceived next step…..

Posted in General, Personal space, Repositories, Search | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Even more use cases …

Posted by Dawn on March 6, 2009

Back in April last year I did a second round of use cases on LO and repository workflows from project members. One set was left till later as it wasn’t quite complete. Still not complete, there is a set of seven use cases of which I managed to get an overview and two specific scenarios finished. As time is running out am putting these up now and I’ll see if get round to the rest later. What’s interesting about these compared to the others previously presented, they give a broader view of the interaction process with a repository, rather than the detailed view of LO production. The first shows the choice of actions available to the user via a web interface to a repository. The following two, overview and detail, show different views of the process of searching for a learning object. I am revisiting these in view of the trip to Belfast next week as they will provide a good comparison with the workflows used by their tutors and developers.

Posted in Repositories, Search | Leave a Comment »

All set for Belfast

Posted by Dawn on February 26, 2009

Had my first video conference today, which went rather well considering how I feel about cameras of any sort. Regardless, the conference was with Pat and Paul from Belfast Met who we (Nick and I) will be visiting very soon. They have a greater experience of using learning objects then we do here in Leeds. This is probably, as expressed by Paul, due to the difference in structure between a HE and an FE and the impact this puts on staff time. There is it seams a greater impetus in FE to get into anything that is going to increase productivity and free up valuable time. Something that for them LOs have clearly achieved. They have a strong repurposing culture and it will be interesting to see how they deal with versioning and re-assigning metadata on the extended LOs. They are very interested to exchange experiences on the software that is being used by both institutions. This will be good for comparison with the prototype, both from a usability and workflow perspective. They suggested we talk to various people who are heading initiatives around the institution, so that we can get an idea of how they have approached the same problems we are currently facing. All in all a very positive experience and I’m looking forward to meeting them in person and having an interesting week.

Posted in General, Repositories | Leave a Comment »

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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