Cetis have published a new briefing paper on Activity Data and Paradata. The paper presents a concise overview of a range of approaches and specifications for recording and exchanging data generated by the interactions of users with resources.
Such data is a form of Activity Data, which can be defined as “the record of any user action that can be logged on a computer”. Meaning can be derived from Activity Data by querying it to reveal patterns and context, this is often referred to as Analytics. Activity Data can be shared as an Activity Stream, a list of recent activities performed by an individual. Activity Streams are often specific to a particular platform or application, e.g. facebook, however initiatives such as OpenSocial, ActivityStreams and Tin Can API have produced specifications and APIs to share Activity Data across platforms and applications.
While Activity Streams record the actions of individual users and their interactions with multiple resources and services, other specifications have been developed to record the actions of multiple users on individual resources. This data about how and in what context resources are used is often referred to as Paradata. Paradata complements formal metadata by providing an additional layer of contextual information about how resources are being used. A specification for recording and exchanging paradata has been developed by the Learning Registry, an open source content-distribution network for storing and sharing information about learning resources.
The briefing paper provides an overview of each of these approaches and specifications along with examples of implementations and links to further information.
The Cetis Activity Data and Paradata briefing paper written by Lorna M. Campbell and Phil Barker can be downloaded from the Cetis website here: http://publications.cetis.org.uk/2013/808
Update: For clarity, this is a piece of documentation for a specific group rather than a “regular” blog post. It may be of wider interest but it makes a number of contextual assumptions…
This document assumes that you have some familiarity with intent of the Learning Registry (LR) http://www.learningregistry.org/ and that you are interested in contributing information about your resources. It lists a few things to consider before you get into the detail of the how to guide. More extensive information is available from the Learning Registry document collection. This document draws on that documentation (By US Dept of Ed, SRI International, and others) and feedback from the LR development team. It’s primary audience are those in the UK community thinking about in contributing metadata/ paradata/ resources. It’s intended to help technical managers get a quick overview of the issues in contributing to the Learning Registry test node and forthcoming experimental node at MIMAS.
Preparing your data
The primary purpose of the LR record is to indicate the existence, location, and owner of the resource and related metadata and paradata. The LR allows you to submit full or partial metadata, and to (optionally) include the resource itself as payload. The more metadata you submit, the more discoverable your resources become. It does allow you to optionally include some basic information about resources to support filtering and browsing you can opt to include original records in the data rather than referring to them. The LR does not care what metadata formats you use (though data consumers who discover your information through the LR might…).
Contributors submit/push data about their resources to a node which distributes that data to other nodes in the system. In itself the LR will not harvest/ gather information about your resources, you need to actively contribute it.
However, there are issues of local practice that you may want to consider prior to the process of sharing your data. In particular – how are you identifying your resources (e.g. does it have a cool uri? and how are you exposing any usage/activity data which you have about those resources (the paradata format developed alongside the learning registry might be useful).
Mechanisms for LR deposit
Contributors have to create a signature (OpenPGP key pair) for themselves on the LR (anonymous contribution is not permitted). This is a relatively simple self –registration process and will let users interact with the LR test node. However, contributors should note that to contribute to the live LR they will need an agreement with a given live node which has opted to accept their signed data.
The LR uses JSON rather than xml and offers a number of approaches to publishing data, these are:
Policy and License Issues
Please note the LR requests that any data you create or publish to the LR is clearly licensed. A Creative Commons Zero (CC0) or Attribution (CC: BY) licence are good options [Reccommended by both the Learning Registry, JISC, and UK Discovery]. You should ensure that you have the rights to assign this licence if it not already assigned and that the data you publish conforms with appropriate data protection and privacy laws. whatever data you submit to the LR is likely to move between legal jurisdictions.
The Learning Registry: Rough Guide for Contributors by R. John Robertson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.