Bye bye Kavubob!

Today we wish a very fond farewell to R. John Robertson who is leaving us after six years working with JISC CETIS to emigrate to the US of A.

John joined the CETIS team at the University of Strathclyde in 2006 to take up the post of Repositories Research Team project officer. Coming from Strathclyde’s Centre for Digital Library Research, John made an invaluable contribution to RRT. In addition to participating in the Repositories and Preservation Programme synthesis, John was also the lead author, along with his UKOLN colleagues Julie Allinson and Mahendra Mahey, of the influential report An Ecological Approach To Repository And Service Interactions.

After the JISC Repositories Programmes ended, John took on the role of Technical Support Officer for the new JISC / HEA Open Educational Resources Programme in 2009 and it’s here that he really made his mark. John went on to support all three OER programmes and has personally interviewed every single project, (apart from one or two that disappeared into the ether), recorded their technical choices in the CETIS PROD database, and synthesised the outputs in an important series of blog posts. He also participated in the regular online Second Tuesday seminar series, attended all the programme meetings, contributed to scoping the technical requirements of the programmes and assisted in marking the numerous proposals received.

John has been tireless in promoting and disseminating the OER programmes and projects through a wide range of channels including JISC events, international conferences, academic papers, social media channels and of course his own blog, which quickly became required reading for anyone with an interest in open educational resources. In fact as Rowin’s recent post reviewing CETIS Year in Blogging showed, it was one of John’s OER posts that attracted more readers than any other.

Over and above his “official” role, John has been an enthusiastic and approachable member of the JISC community who was always available to answer questions or queries from projects and programme managers alike or to drop everything and dash off to a meeting at the other end of the country or even the other side of the Atlantic.

The Inimitable KavubobIn addition to supporting the OER Programmes John has also maintained a watching brief on the Learning Registry project in the US. John has been instrumental in communicating the potential impact of this initiative and disseminating regular updates to JISC and the wider community.

Above and beyond all that, John has been a respected and popular member of both CETIS and CAPLE, where has has also made a significant contribution to the academic life of the department. Equally importantly, he also proved to be a gracious and enthusiastic host at our irregular office soirees!

I know we’ll all miss John enormously but we wish him all the very best for the future and will look froward to following his adventures via twitter. Whoever happens to be successful in recruiting John will be very, very lucky indeed. I am quite sure we haven’t seen the last of @Kavubob!

A frontier too far?

Earlier today I had a quick browse around Learning Without Frontiers The Future of Learning Conference website and I couldn’t help finding it somewhat ironic that out of 30 Headline Speakers, only five are women. Of course, not that there is anything wrong with the 25 male speakers, there are many truly individual and inspirational thinkers there and I would quite happily spend an hour of my day listening to any one of them apart from Ed Vaizey. However I do find I do rather dispiriting that Learning Without Frontiers couldn’t find 25 equally inspirational female speakers.

Having said that, and this is important, I have no plans to go to Learning Without Frontiers, so if I can’t even be bothered to attend, do I really have any right to criticise the conference? Am I actually part of the problem? I’m sure LWF12 will be an excellent event but attending in person has never been an option as I have childcare commitments on Wednesdays and Thursdays that make it almost impossible for me to travel those days. Of course travel restrictions are a factor for all working parents and event organisers are much more aware of the importance of disseminating their events to those who are unable to attend in person. So I’ll be following the #lwf12 tag with interest and will hopefully catch a few of the keynotes and presentations on the live stream, I just wish that the profile of the speakers on the “stellar programme” was a little more balanced. It would be nice to know we all have a place in The Future Of Learning. </rant>

LWF12 Headline Speakers

The JLeRN Experiment

Towards the end of last year we reported that JISC had approved funding for the development of an experimental Learning Registry node here in the UK, the first node of its kind to be developed outwith the US. The JLeRN Experiment, which is being undertaken by Mimas at the University of Manchester, with input from CETIS and JISC, launched in early December. The JLeRN team is being led by Sarah Currier with the technical development being undertaken by Nick Syrotiuk and Bharti Gupta.

JLeRN / UK Contributors Learning Registry Hackday

The aim of this proof of concept project is to explore the practicalities of configuring and running a Learning Registry node and to explore the practicalities of getting data in and out of the network. The team are actively seeking any technical developers who would like to experiment with the node and, in order to facilitate this collaboration, CETIS and JLeRN are hosting a technical development day in Manchester on the 23rd of January. This event is aimed at developers contributing (or intending to contribute) data to the Learning Registry or hoping to build services based on the data it provides access to.

If you are interested in attending this event, you can register here. If you’re hoping to come along please also add a note to this Google Doc about what you’re doing, or hoping to do, and any of the issues you’ve encountered so far. If you can’t come along but are interested, please comment / leave a note as well.

JLeRN Blog

The JLeRN Experiment team have a blog ( up and running which they will use to disseminate regular progress reports, or as Sarah explained:

“to share all of our adventures, mis-steps, solutions, and creative ideas while working on the Learning Registry. It’s open notebook science in action!”

And the team have already been as good as their word. Nick has written a post on the Node of Mimas, a test node he installed on “a spare machine (he) had lying around” along with samples of the JSON documents the node outputs to illustrate what Learning Registry data looks like. And Bharti has posted a note on Some more exploring… which mentions the challenges of establishing a test node on a Windows Server 2008 machine and issues with getting Nginx setup correctly.

In parallel with the JLeRN experiment, CETIS will also continue to maintain a watching brief on the Learning Registry initiative in the US and will post updates of relevant developments on the CETIS blogs, so watch this space!