A showcase of student work

Last week I was contacted by a colleague from my own faculty, Innovation North, about using the repository to develop an online “showcase” of student work. We are “the faculty of information and technology” and courses include Multimedia and Entertainment Technology, Computer Animation & Special Effects and Games Design. In addition, student work needs to be securely archived, searchable and easily retrievable.

To employ a dreadful management cliche, I have often found one of the biggest challenges in HE is “joined up thinking”. If such a thing even exists, an integrated information environment will surely be instrumental in achieving it; another crucial, and related, element is appropriate communication between the right people; to avoid the need to continually reinvent the wheel. Easier said than done (and other cliches).

So to the problem.

Final submissions in the faculty are made on DVD in a format that will auto-boot from a PC (also presumably a DVD player); I was given an example and asked if they could be archived in intraLibrary.

No they can’t. Not in a particularly useful manner anyway. These are big files (50 -100MB) which is not a problem in itself but intraLibrary is not designed to stream this kind of content and the only way the actual files themselves could be archived would be as .zip files that could presumably be downloaded and burned back on to a DVD. If we got hold of content in it’s original file format we may be able to do something with it but I’ve no idea how these things are produced; some of the content looks Flash based but could well be something more exotic. Can the finished product perhaps be exported in alternative formats, that can be viewed using client-side technologies for example?

I’ve also been told of some mysterious “Digital Asset Management system” that Innovation North has recently implemented but haven’t yet been able to track down any more information. Is it a server of some description? Is it capable of streaming files? Is there any metadata associated with resources? Is it networked?

In any case, what sort of metadata needs to be associated with this material? Even modest amounts of cataloguing information can add signicantly to the workflow and as a minimum we might need course, student, tutor, level, (degree) class, year…where is this information currently recorded/what administration systems are already in place?

Who needs access to the material? This depends very much on context – a “showcase” would presumably be openly accessible and would really need to stream whereas another potential use case is external examiners/moderators in which case a catalogued archive of .zip files might be adequate – I’m not certain if the current process is any more sophisticated than a cardboard box full of plastic DVD cases.

It would be nice to join some of this together – if not with intraLibrary then with other appropriate technology – and move ever close towards the utopia of an integrated information environment!


5 Responses to A showcase of student work

  1. Reinhold says:

    Hi Nick,

    very interesting blog!
    I have a comment about your post regarding showcase material: what if the students would given some guidance on how to prepare a repository-compliant subset of their work? Putting a whole DVD onto the repository is indeed not feasible, but putting some of the material that they have produced (MP3 audio, video trailers, flash games) would actually be quite ok. However, the work for making sure that the material is compatible should be done by the students themselves – they might get collect extra points if they successfully would provide their material in this way. And it would be really nice to have some of their really good work publicly available in this repository.

    Many regards,
    Reinhold Behringer

    • Nick says:

      Hi Reinhold

      Thanks for your comment. Initial feedback from INN has been that they don’t really see the point of another system which I can understand but it really comes back to joining things up and making content discoverable on the www. Your idea might be a good compromise however – it also occurs to me that students could then take responsibility for their own copyright and IPR – researching and applying appropriate (Creative Commons) licenses for example.

  2. Tony says:

    I intend to continue to work at discovering how best to get INN visual media stuff archived with the long term aim of suggesting that what ever process we discover is adopted as INN strategy for all groups all levels. I thin Reinhold is right I suspect it will be necessary to start the archive preparation process early in the creation process. That is certainly the mantra in quality circle from past experience. I have asked Caedmon reception to not move themodule boxes to the so called archive space in the basement of Priestley until I have copied the module box content onto a suitable drive which I then intend to give to you to start the electronic archiving process.
    Long term I see electronic storage as the only economically feasible option. I think it has the benefit of being comprehensive, secure, accessible and I see it eventually replacing the ludicrously antiquated labour intensive module box system but we need to establish the processes and benefits before we take it to management.

    • Nick says:

      Thanks Tony. Let me know how you get on. (I was waiting until you got back from leave before replying!)

  3. Tony says:

    Sorry about the typos. I forgot to say that my copying activities will star w/c 1 June upon my return from leave.

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