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Integrating Repository Function with Work Practice

Archive for the ‘Search’ 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 »

Search method proposals

Posted by Dawn on September 18, 2008

Mark and I meet earlier this month to discuss where we wanted to go regarding the search prototype. We decided that we would utilise the work already done by Mike on the SRU interface for the research aspects of the repository. This would provide us with an Input Interface for querying the repository.

Mark would come up with some ingenious methods of extending the basic search process. These will incorporate Elizabeth’s ideas about bookshelf browsing without relying on the latent semantic analysis (LSA) she is developing. The LSA current version is reliant on libraries not compatible with a web based apps and will take some time to translate. In the meantime we can put something together that gives the visual impression for testing with users.

The output from this would then be displayed in some visually interesting way, see interface designs here, possibly using PHP, JavaScript, Java servlets or the Google web toolkit. This is the bit I have together put together, after exploring potential technologies.

Today I received four ideas for the processing element form Mark. For those of you not so techy 😉 I have done a few diagrams to give you a better idea.

Method 1 – simple extension
Submit multiple searches, by getting search info. Then creating alternative versions using thesaurus. Rather than doing a single search do multiple searches using this information then produce results as a visualisation.

Method 2 – Iterative result reuse
Getting initial results from a search, extract keywords (or other metadata) of returned document, then use this to find related documents. Extracted keywords and those found in second pass should be standardised using thesaurus. For each set of search results, submit new search, then follow same process recursively (obviously removing common returned elements). Each iteration should result in documents less related to initial document.

Method 3 – Collaborative search via profile matching
Identify all searches performed by a user in a particular session i.e. build a profile of a particular users searches. X-reference this to searches performed by other users in a particular session. Identify different searches are commonly used within the same sessions. This should give a list of related articles that may be of interest to users who search for the dame type of things (even if the keywords, content or metadata of the documents is completely unrelated). The more sessions that a set of related searches are performed, the more likelihood that they are related in some way.

Method 4 – Collaborative search via document matching

Anytime a search is done cache the returned documents. When new searches are done get a returned resource and find all caches that also contain that document, then return the contents of each cache as secondary results. Again this could be done recursively.

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


Posted by Nick on September 17, 2008

I mentioned in the meeting yesterday that Streamline may want to look at Aquabrowser which is a novel resource discovery platform that the library has been looking at recently.

The screenshot below is from a library site running the software and shows results for “fox”; on the right hand side results are returned in a traditional manner; the “discover” pane on the left hand side is the clever bit which positions your search string at the centre of a colour coded web of association; spelling variation; translation; thesaurus terms; discovery trail.  A user can click on an association which is pulled into the center of the web; the search results on the right are modified accordingly so if I click on “desert” my results comprise “The desert fox” and “The Black Rock Desert” by William. L. Fox etc

To have a go visit:

Posted in Search | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »