University challenge

Dawn and I are currently putting together a questionnaire to use as a tool for gathering preliminary user information for our respective repository projects and as a new-comer to questionnaire building I’m finding it a tricky business. And this is the easy bit. Getting people to fill the thing in will present the real challenge!

Your starter for ten: Are you aware of the LeedsMet repository project?

Come on! I need an answer!

I’m still formulating the bonus questions but they will test the team’s knowledge of Open Access while subtly provoking interest amongst those who didn’t quite understand the question (Surely I’m not the only one who resorts to Google to follow up some of Paxman’s arcane interrogations. Am I?)

Ok. Relax and take a sip of water.

Early advocacy at several Faculty Research Award Sub Committee meetings and at the CRI Seminar suggest that knowledge amongst academic staff is, in fact, very limited and this is borne out by the experience of the wider repository community. I hope that our questionnaire will generate interest and preliminary data for us to move forward with our overlapping projects; Dawn is working on a section of the questionnaire pertaining to Streamline and I also need to generate some tightly focused questions for PERSoNA. And that project is rather more abstract, partly due to not yet having a functioning repository to hang the project on but also, I think, because of the inherent abstraction and rapid (r)evolutions of Web 2.0. Dawn and I had a lively discussion around some of the issues that I have tried to capture in a post at PERSoNA News – always difficult after the fact.


JISC Event

My first attempt at a live blog post from a beautiful setting on the banks of the river Severn in Worcester. Not sure if I’ll end up with anything more interesting than a few random records/thoughts and a bunch of links to follow…

I’m at a JISC event hosted by the University of Worcester: “Using Repositories for Teaching and Learning: Can we find a Recipe for Success?”

This is a crucial question for the LeedsMet Repository and now that the software for the repository has been selected (more on that VERY soon) our three discrete projects (LeedsMet Repository; Streamline and PERSoNA) are beginning to adopt a more integrated approach that should go some way to identifying some of the necessary ingredients.

We’ve had quick fire presentations from Julian Beckton from the University of Lincoln’s LIROLEM project and Steve Burholt from Oxford Brookes University’s CIRCLE project – which I have a particular interest in for reasons that should become apparent over the next week or so. Also from Sarah Hayes and Andrew Rothery from the projects of our hosts, the University of Worcester (DRAW and WRaP)

Helen Westmancoat from Yorks St John has just delivered 10 minutes on their DigiRep project which it is good to hear is experiencing a steady uptake – this in contrast to some of the other stories we’ve heard about the relatively low uptake of this type of repository.

Now Phil Barker from CETIS – Metadata and Repository Coordinator – is here to ask us:

1. What is the Model?

(What are repositories for?) Sharing/Dissemination; Gathering; Managing

(Architecture: how do they fit in with…) …other institutional systems?/…other similar repositories?/What is exchanged: metadata or object.

2. How do you know you’ve found a reliable resource?

(Quality assurance: peer review etc)

One of the main issues that has been flagged up throughout this morning as one of the crucial differences between an Open Access research archive and a repository of other Learning and Teaching objects and that needs to be borne in mind when developing a common platform (as we are) for both types of object is the lack of formal quality control of learning and teaching objects in comparison with the well established traditions associated with published research outputs (peer review etc); this was emphasised in the first presentation of the morning by Andrew Rothery (along with a raft of the other main differences as he sees them).

Currently listening to David Millard from the faroes project – not gonna try and take notes here as it’s really hard to concentrate (!) but some very interesting stuff that may be relevant to PERSoNA N.B. PuffinShare – a novel approach to a repository – rebranded as PuffinShare (pdf) – with the emphasis on using and sharing resources rather than just storing them in a “dusty old repository”: research repositories archive things/do teachers want to archive teaching materials (as such)?

pm (after lunch!): EdShare at the University of Southampton.

Summary: Andrew Rothery is asking what you would tell someone just starting to develop their learning and teaching repository! (That’s us!) We split into 3 groups to brainstorm before coming back together for a final discussion.

For the record our group came up with 6 bullet points:

  • What is it for? Identify the needs of the people actually using the system – not those that have commissioned it!
  • Look at successful implementations.
  • Support existing workflows.
  • Search engine optimisation (possible trade off; static/dynamic content?)
  • Quality control of LOs? (Don’t obsess about the peer review model as applied to academic publications)
  • Seed the repository with high quality material.

Random items from the other groups:

  • Third party issues; policies/procedures.
  • Audit of academic staff – what do they already do?
  • IPR – clear procedures.
  • Audience – know who they are.
  • Access decisions (OA/federated)
  • Start with a small, manageable collection
  • Solve problems for the user community – use case scenarios
  • Make sure it works – first time use
  • Interface and integration; VLE/library catalogue/portal/intranets/open web

PERSoNA (Personal Engagement with Repositories through Social Networking Applications)

The JISC funded PERSoNA project will develop alongside our main repository project (software to be announced very soon!) and the related Streamline project with the main aim of building a community of users and promoting use of the repository amongst that community via social networking applications.

Such applications may include social network websites (Facebook is the most well known but Nature Network is a comparable site exclusively for scientists); blogs, wikis and social bookmarking sites (eg

We hope to facilitate an interactive environment whereby staff using the repository are able to connect with one another to recommend and share resources in a way that will mitigate the anonymity of the web and build a community of trust.

The first stage of the project is to identify a pilot group of stakeholders to consult on their current use of social networking applications.

Project updates will appear on the dedicated blog called, you guessed it, PERSoNA News.