MrCute for Moodle

I really haven’t had chance to think about our VLE PowerLink which is languishing at the moment, with minimum functionality (ie. a lowly search box), on the X-stream (aka Blackboard Vista) development server.  Any sort of extensive development work really isn’t viable before the end of March or within the remit of the current project, nevertheless I am very interested in MrCute for Moodle which looks like it will offer much of the functionality that we should be aspiring to including full blown content package creation from multiple files and subsequent repository deposit (to multiple repositories including JORUM – Q.  Does it use SWORD?).

The search facility for a local repository appears to be more sophisticated than a simple search box and allows a search to be restricted by category.  In due course it will also be possible to search JORUM as well.

JORUM forum (which I missed)

I would have really liked to have gone to this event but unfortunately wasn’t able to attend – it sounds like an interesting day:

I will certainly be thinking more about potential synergies with JORUM in the new year.

This is not a citation

“Of a sample of 4,633 articles examined, 2,280 (49%) were OA and had a mean citation count of 9.04 whereas the mean for TA (Toll Access) articles was 5.76. There appears to be a clear citation advantage for those articles that are OA as opposed to those that are TA.”

Norris, Michael; Oppenheim, Charles; Rowland, Fytton (2008).  The citation advantage of open-access articles.  Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 59(12), p 1963-1972, DOI: 10.1002/asi.20898,

Naturally I am always looking for evidence that OA increases citation rate.  The paper above offers further evidence, and I’ve only presented it in the form of a citation, it’s not actually a citation of course, in the full academic sense, as this is a blog and not an academic paper.

We have lift-off! What next?

All in all I thought the launch party on Friday went really well, apart from my lacklustre attempts at carving an enormous, JISC branded (really!) cake with a very small knife. And where did all those students come from?  Pre-cake speeches from Barbara Colledge and Wendy Luker, then, were to a sizable crowd who applauded dutifully when Shiela Scraton, Director of University Research cut the golden ribbon, though we still had a good turnout even after the enormous confection and the students had disappeared (presumably back to their desks to scribble up essays in a frenzied sugar-rush.)

I would like to publicly thank Dominic Tate from The Repositories Support Project who, after the ceremonials, gave an excellent presentation introducing his Friday afternoon audience to the growing global infrastructure of IRs of which we are very-nearly a part (launch party notwithstanding we are not quite ready to register with OpenDOAR, more on that in a minute) and covering some of the key benefits of OA to research. I followed Dominic with a demonstration of our repository – both the Open Search interface and intraLibrary itself – emphasising that we are also managing RLOs as well as research, and hopefully gave the audience some idea of where we hope to be by the end of the project in March.

NB. A peculiar and occasional machine specific bug (i.e. it only seems to happen on certain PCs on the LeedsMet network) meant that I couldn’t actually access the Open Search interface on the development server which was frustrating and had to use my demo video – I only belatedly remembered that IMTS had made the interface live on the production server for me – – however, I did encounter the same problem with the new URL on a colleagues PC yesterday so if anyone has difficulty accessing the interface please let me know. When the problem happened with the dev server IMTS were baffled.

So…what next?  We may have successfully lifted off from the gantry but we are still a long way from achieving a stable orbit and with a little over 3 months before the end of the project a rough list of our priorities might look like this:

1.  Content: research

  • I’m reasonably happy with the metadata template we are using for research and the way that metadata is being returned and formatted in the Open Search interface.  Both will be subject to comment by a wider cohort of staff over the coming months and no doubt extensively tweaked.
  • We do perhaps need to think carefully about the ‘keyword’ field that is being mapped onto DC Subject.  We almost certainly want multiple (uncontrolled?) keywords or do we wish to use a controlled vocabulary?  Which one?  Or do we just want (multiple?) uncontrolled keywords and classify more formally against LOC?
  • I hope to start training a couple of colleagues from the library very soon and they can start uploading research material – before Christmas I hope – their input should also inform the questions above as well as broader metadata considerations and workflow development (see below)

2.  Content: Learning Objects

We have identified several potential sources of content including:

  • Resources already in X-Stream (the VLE) and it’s associated storage space
  • Skills for Learning & Centre for the Built Environment – both of whom have web-based resources to catalogue by URL
  • Learning Technologists, being faculty based, will have access to a range of LOs and should probably be the first user group to set up with intraLibrary accounts and let loose in the repository.

Progress will be subject to establishing viable workflows and appropriate metadata templates, concomitant user-testing and work being undertaken by Streamline.

3.  Workflows

The implications for workflow are naturally going to be different depending on type of resource:

  • For research, in the first instance, the workflow will be fully mediated by myself and colleagues from the library.  As mentioned above I hope to start training colleagues very soon and I hope the workflow will evolve organically though we may well have staffing and resourcing issues depending on the amount of content identified and submitted – this, in turn, will depend on the effectiveness of my advocacy work of course!
  • In the longer term we are hoping to implement a quick-deposit facility using SWORD, there will be implications here for authentication (see below).  Moreover, what will happen to resources deposited in this way?  Presumably they will have to go into a (library) mediated workflow meaning further staffing and resourcing issues.  What metadata will we be able to generate from deposit?  At the very least we would want depositor ID.

NB.  This is unlikely to be realised before the end of the start-up phase of the project.

  • For Learning Objects the workflow will be entirely different and, at this stage, I am much less clear how it might work though anticipate it being relatively straightforward as intraLibrary, after all, is a purpose built LO repository.  The work that is being done by the Streamline project will be important here and I am liaising closely with Dawn whose recent blog posts begin to tackle these issues here and here.

4.  Authentication

Once again, the implications for authentication, I think, are somewhat different depending upon type of resource:

  • For Learning Objects pragmatically I think we need to be able to provide ALL staff with some sort of access to intraLibrary. There will naturally need to be different levels of user with some having browse/search rights only; others being able to upload and yet others having full admin rights – I expect I can manage such a hierarchy through intraLibrary’s internal group management and it wouldn’t necessarily have any implications for a standard authenticated account for all (N.B. Might we also need to give students access to intraLibrary?)  Currently I am manually setting up user accounts with standard network usernames, but will this mean that when authentication by LDAP is implemented then these accounts will be duplicated and that any resources associated with the ‘old’ accounts will need to be moved/uploaded again?
  • Authentication is perhaps less of an issue for research material as it will be accessed on an Open Access basis via , however, currently we require authenticated access for library/admin staff to upload resources – again, I am currently achieving this by setting up manual accounts – will these be transferable to authenticated accounts?  In the longer term we are hoping to implement a quick-deposit facility using SWORD which I imagine sitting behind a Leeds Met authentication barrier (like the portal?) and that allows research staff to browse for a file on their hard-drive and upload it to the repository (to a librarian’s workflow?)  In this scenario we would want to know who had uploaded a research paper and I’m not sure what the implications of this might be in terms of capturing log-on information and having this recognised/populated in intraLibrary.

5.  Policies/usage agreements/licencing

  • These will be more straightforward in the case of research material where the main issue is around self-archiving permissions according to publishers’ and individual journals’ copyright transfer agreements (SHERPA/RoMEO).  However, there will be implications communicating the issues to research staff and for work-flow (i.e. the necessity for an academic, in most instances, to provide their own final draft of a paper for upload.)
  • The issue is potentially much more complicated for Learning Objects and will certainly require further consultation and input from the University community.  Dawn’s perspective, and I tend to agree, is that, initially, ALL LO’s should be restricted to only being discoverable to authenticated users within intraLibrary before we start worrying about making any of it openly available – though perhaps we could make metadata publicly available.  See Dawn’s post here.

5.  Search Engine Optimisation/OAI-PMH/registration with appropriate services

  • Ideally I would like to facilitate full text indexing by search engine bots but I’m not certain if this is currently possible with intraLibrary and we may need to look at setting up Google site-maps in the first instance.
  • Though I don’t think OAI-PMH is supported by Google any longer, it will still be important for third party harvesting services like OAIster.
  • I will need to review what other services we should register with.  The obvious ones, as Dominic mentioned, are OpenDOAR and ROAR.  We do not yet have enough content nor are we slick enough to register but I am confident that we will be by the end of March!

6.  Developing infrastructure


We are making good progress with the PERSoNA project and the main output will be a website comprising a variety of tools, widgets and links to facilitate social interraction with the repository.  A very preliminary blog has been set up at .  As it is hosted by WordPress it is difficult to add widgets to at the moment so the first job is to set it up on our own server space.

NB.  There are some exciting tools being developed that will tie in with PERSoNA like Stuart Lewis’ Facebook SWORD app –

  • PowerLink to X-Stream

This is already installed on the X-Stream test server and is kind of working albeit with a few bugs.  It would be nice if we can get it working properly for March but probably not an essential output at this time.  We will also want to enhance its functionality but that is almost certainly for a future project.

So that’s it really.  Not much to do.  And I never did have a piece of cake!