Spinning plates: A repository update

I feel at the moment that I’m trying to spin plates, rushing around like a guest act on the Paul Daniels magic show to impart sustained rotation – when I get to the last plate the first is beginning to wobble….and then someone throws me another, just to make it more exciting.

Oh and all the plates are different shapes and sizes (some of them I swear aren’t even symmetrical which gives them a lop-sided gyration that is really tricky to maintain…)

Currently research material collectively comprises one of the biggest and wonkiest sets of crockery:

  1. Peer reviewed journal articles
  2. Book items
  3. Conference proceedings
  4. Conference items (e.g. ppt presentations)
  5. Theses or dissertations
  6. Reports

All of these need to be displayed differently by the Open Search interface which means Mike is currently hacking away at the code to ensure they are picked up by Educational properties: Type of resource and then formatted appropriately.  In turn this is having a knock on effect for metadata entry and workflow and I’m still not sure how it will all tie together.

We are also relying on Mike to develop advanced search as part of the interface; work is progressing well and we are now able to cross reference (toggling AND/OR) Title; Subject; Publisher; Description (abstract); DOI; Type and Format  – the interface also has a free text box.  Mike is currently trying to implement probably the most important field – search by author – and has identified a potential problem due to limits on the way we can differentiate contributor roles in the metadata – currently we are only able to query Dublin Core rather than the full LOM record.  N.B. Recent testing has indicated that this may not actually be the problem we originally thought and it may be possible to query contributor role=author after all.  Then we’d also like to incorporate browse by author – though this is currently another plate yet to be balanced and spun….

Then there is the ongoing issue of differentiating content (i.e. research material vs. learning objects) and ensuring these are returned appropriately by an extended/alternative Open Search interface – this functionality is crucial to Unicycle of course to make OERs available.  We’re currently exploring using collection tokens which should allow us to submit a query incorporating an authenticationToken such that a given query only returns content from a particular collection.  Initial testing has gone well and we’re pretty confident we can implement this over the next week or so.

(NB.  I need to start thinking about license models for Unicycle and some flavour of Creative Commons will need uploading to intraLibrary, another one for the to do list…)

Ideally we could do with a functioning PowerLink for the VLE by September – as well as being crucial for the PC3 project, it represents functionality that will really get people engaged and allow us to demonstrate the benefits of storing and sharing teaching and learning materials in the repository rather than within the modular, inaccessible silos of Blackboard-Vista.  Also important for PC3 is implementing LDAP authentication (which really should be happening soon!) thereby giving teaching-staff – and the first PC3 cohort – access to intraLibrary – NB.  PC3 doesn’t require Open Access in the same way as Unicycle.

I’ve also been working with Rachel on developing a workflow for CLA material and ensuring that we can generate suitable reports for the CLA – during this process, we uncovered a bug in the metadata editor which slowed us down a bit but with help from Intrallect, we’ve managed to implement a work-around pending the bug being fixed in a future build and Rachel has started using intraLibrary to store and disseminate CLA material on a pilot basis.

The most recent plate JISC have thrown our way, of course, is the Bibliosight project which will almost certainly have an impact on the developing infrastructure beyond the specific deliverables of that project – our first meeting is on Monday 13th July for which there is a draft agenda on the project blog.

I just hope that we can keep all the plates spinning and don’t end up with a Greek wedding scenario!


Repository week

From 1st – 5th June is repository week when colleagues can come together to learn more about the repository and how it will contribute to the information infrastructure of the institution.

Projects that are supported by the repository include an Open Access research archive and research administration; reusable learning objects/Open Educational Resources and Personal Curriculum Creation and provision of distance learning.

The final programme of events is yet to be finalised but will be a series of learning lunches at Headingley and Old Broadcasting House. For more information or to register your interest please contact Nick Sheppard or Kirsty Maw.

A new era

In my last post I suggested that Repository News would be mothballed now that the final report has been submitted (still not published but soon!). However, our JISC funding was for a start-up project and we are still very much nurturing our neonate repository which, like a human infant, still has a lot of growing up to do.  I enjoy blogging and it seems rather artificial to start again so, like an infuriating parent sending a round-robin at Christmas, here is my first update of the new era.

All in all the little fella is doing very well though we were very disappointed to miss out on enhancement funding from uncle JISC – bid feedback was positive and stressed just how competitive the call had been. All is not lost, however, and we’ve just learned of institutional success in the recent JISC call for the Open Educational Resources programme; Unicycle will be underway very soon and will necessarily use our intraLibrary repository which should put us in a very good position with respect to JORUM – also based on intraLibrary of course – and I’ve already implemented the JORUM metadata template (with permission). The repository will also be an integral component of the PC3 project funded under the e-Learning Capital programme which is already underway.  In addition,  we intend to submit a bid for the rapid innovation call – the #jiscri projects are relatively small scale timetabled for just 6 months, but it would be very nice to get one; the deadline is Wednesday so it’s fingers crossed (again!).  Finally, there may also be a project in the pipeline with the NHS looking at deposit into multiple repositories using SWORD.

The difficulty is knowing where to start!  In terms of OA research the search interface still needs a lot of work to integrate advanced search; we also need to ensure that we are properly indexed by Google and I’m ashamed to say that I am yet to register with the Open Archives Initiative. Then there is the small matter of advocacy and full text content.  We also need to integrate with SFX, our URL resolver.

I want to look at using the repository for the CLA digitisation service emulating what Keele are doing with intraLibrary and a functioning PowerLink to the VLE would be nice, something like MrCute2 and more work around the conceptual PERSoNA outputs.

We have a meeting next week to discuss priorities and project management activities over the coming months which promises to be a headache inducing affair.

PC3 Project

On Monday I attended the launch of Leeds Met’s most recent JISC finded project headed by Janet Finlay; PC3 – Personalised Curricullum Creation through Coaching – and was very excited by the fact that The Repository will be an integral component:

In a nutshell the project focuses on new markets of part-time work-based learners and the idea that traditional curriculum design, with its focus on institutionally-defined content, will not necessarily meet the specific requirements of such learners, who need provision that can be rapidly adapted to their particular and changing requirements. Instead, learners need to be able to design their own curricula and access provision at the level and within the time frame they need.

As illustrated by the diagram above this will be facilitated, in part, by a “Learning Bank” which will provide remote access to resources and will build on our 3 ongoing repository projects.

For more information visit the PC3 project blog.