RSS, Yahoo Pipes, and UKOER projects

or Making finding my way around the UK OER programme one feed at a time a little easier with some help from Yahoo.

In an effort to familarize myself with the OER programme I hunted for project websites and blogs to add their feeds to my netvibes. As not all projects are blogging this is only a partial method of engagement but the mixture of news and discussion of issues on the blogs that exist has helped me begin to find my way around. In the process of doing this I not only found blog rss feeds but one or two feeds of OER resources. Although projects will all be producing RSS feeds for their resources as part of the programme I hadn’t expected to find any yet.

As convenient as this all was now, I still had twenty or so new boxes in netvibes to scan along with all the others. However, one of the things that clearly emerged from the  UKOER 2nd Tuesday on metadata that Phil and I ran was that that feeds of resources are going to be very important in this programme. I think we all knew this, and the programme had mandated that projects should produce a feed of their resources, but I was struck by what projects where already doing and some of their future plans. Coming from a repositories background I’ve tended to think of feeds for announcements or, with SWORD, deposit but thought of OAI-PMH or the like for ‘serious’ resource discovery or aggregation. I think OAI-PMH will have a role  (and so do CCLearn: – more on that another time) but it came home to me how important RSS/Atom is – especially -in an environment were resources are being managed and made available using many different types of software with all that in mind it was time to finally try some pipes..

Simple Yahoo pipe of feeds from UKOER Individual strand projects

Simple Yahoo pipe of feeds from UKOER Individual strand projects

I pulled together by strand feeds from the project blogs I could find to make these feeds:




And then the one feed to rule them all…

However, that feed could get quite busy – so for those days when life’s too short to hover over 10 new blog post titles – here a version that only gathers posts with the word metadata associated with them.

It looks a bit like this:

Yahoo pipe for UKOER project blogs with word metadata associated

Yahoo pipe for UKOER project blogs with word metadata associated

By the way, for those interested in a feed of UKOER / OER tagged posts from CETIS here’s a feed from our (John, Phil, Li, Lorna, Sheila, Rowin, Scott) blogs

With this done I decided to have use the time I’d saved (…) to try something else a pipe for the resource feeds.

Now I need point out that this last feed is in many ways a ‘toy’ – I don’t know how the resource feeds I’m grabbing have been set up so I don’t know what coverage over time it’ll give. I also know it’s a very poor imitation of the much more careful work done on aggregating by the Steeple project and Scott in the Ensemble project One thing I noticed in particular was that the feeds from different software seem to diverge in their use of different metadata fields within RSS.

That said, as of today, my imperfect aggregation is showing 112 OERs so far and the programme’s just getting started.

From the web: tools for project management and how to contract developers

Over on the IE blog Andy McGregor has a useful annotated list of some of the online tools that he has used to help with programme management.

Many could be just as useful projects – distributed or not.

On a related note David Flanders has a useful and extensive reflection and how to guide on contracting out software development.

Repositories Research Team

The short introduction to my job is that I’m the JISCCETIS representative on JISC’s Repositories Research Team (RRT).

Within the team I have a focus on e-learning and provide a degree of support for the e-learning projects in the DRP Programme. As this programme comes to an end and we begin to work more with the Repositories and Preservation strand projects the team’s focus will shift to more research and synthesis and we will have fewer direct support commitments. In the ongoing research of the team I provide a perspective from the JISCCETIS community and will also be focusing on liasing with the eframework.
The team’s self-description from the RRT wiki is:

Repositories Research Team
As part of the Digital Repositories Programme, JISC have established the Repositories Research Team. The remit for the work of the research team is quite wide and includes helping projects find and exploit synergies across the programme and beyond, gathering scenarios and use cases from projects, liaising with other national and international repositories activities, including liaison with the e-Framework, synthesizing project and programme outcomes, and engaging with interoperability standards activity and repository architectures.

The Repositories Research Team is a collaboration between UKOLN and CETIS. UKOLN have worked previously on repositories in a number of contexts including ePrints UK, the Open Archives Forum and Delos, and CETIS, the Centre for Educational Technology Interoperability Standards, has considerable experience in supporting the development of digital repositories for e-learning.