Repository Fringe 2009

A few brief notes from the first day of the Repository Fringe (#rf09) event in Edinburgh. A lot of the presentations were somewhat orthogonal (can’t use that word without thinking of the late great Claude Ostyn!) to my main areas of interest. There were one or two mentions of using repositories to manage teaching and learning materials (two to be precise) but the main focus of the majority of the presentations was squarely on institutional repositories of scholarly works and the research publication workflow and lifecycle.

Having said that, Sally Rumsey and Ben O’Steen’s opening keynote raised some interesting general points which I’ve noted randomly below:

“Sir Thomas Bodely built an “ark to save learning from deluge” and instigated a “republic of lettered men”. Are we building the digital equivalent of the Bodleian?”

“Repository staff act as catalysts for community building.”

“The most successful repository is the internet. How can we make institutional repositories more like the internet? Adding urls to resources for example.”

“People search for “things” not documents. Things have names in real life, however not everything on the web has a name. We can give things names? We can certainly give them urls. It is key to know how a document relates to the thing. The real power comes from the relating of things.”

“We’ve reinvented too many wheels. We need to use the defacto standards of the web, they work, don’t fight them.”

“Almost anything can be regarded as a repository (e.g. flickr, youtube, eprints, etc) but these things don’t have much in common.”

“We need to cut the complexity and aim for one click deposit. We need a solution to the multiple repository deposit regime (MuRDeR) problem.”

“Preservation is useless without access. We should rename preservation – assured secure storage and permanent access.”

“Disproportionate feedback loop – the perception that a small effort brings enormous benefit. The ultimate feedback for the academic is peer review.” (I though that this particular disproportionate feedback loop sounded rather like harnessing the power of professional vanity to fill repositories.)

“Print on demand is going to be huge.” (Oh really??)

A few other notable, and in some cases questionable, quotes from the day:

“…..of course if we’re talking about people a strings….”

“Linked data is going to take over the world.”

“The Semantic Web isn’t just about better search, it’s about aggregation.”

“Institutional repositories are ultimately marketing tools really.”

One of the mentions of learning resources came from Richard Jones of Simplectic who said they were involved in a project that was developing a learning object repository based DSpace augmented with Mahara to facilitate communities of practice.

One last thing, one of the “novel” aspects of the Repository Fringe was the Pecha Kucha sessions. Some of these were notably more successful than others. Les Carr was excellent of course, as were William Nixon and his colleague from Glasgow University’s Enrich and Enlighten projects. However I couldn’t help being reminded of Alt-C panel sessions with three or four short rushed powerpoint presentations with very little time or inclination for comments at the end. More opportunity for discussion would have been greatly appreciated! As one of my colleagues diplomatically put it:

“….the message was somewhat hampered by the medium.”

I decided against attending the second day of the conference but was very sorry to miss Cliff Lynch’s closing keynote. Hopefully It’ll appear online sooner rather than later.

Random Quotes 6 – JISC Learning Activities and Resources Conference 2008

A few random quotes from the JISC Learning Activities and Resources Conference, January 2008

Allison Littlejohn, Glasgow Caledonian University

Knowledge sharing is akin to learning¦.actions of users¦.knowledge sharing is an essential art of academic lives¦.information sharing rather than knowledge sharing¦.learning approaches¦.learners as consumers¦.learners as contributors¦.beyond the limitations of networks¦.collective learning¦.charting¦.wisdom of the crowd¦.set goals and chart learning paths¦.sharing adapting and reusing knowledge and ideas¦.new shared knowledge¦.competencies for knowledge sharing¦.knowledge economy¦.guidance teams¦.key goals and personal priorities¦. beyond pdp¦.learning trails¦.connect with peers¦.consume resources¦.contribute resources¦.contribute to collective resources¦.connect different environments¦.they want My Space to be their space¦.tacit knowledge¦.business goals, authentic tasks¦.trusted networks¦.reflect and record practice¦.knowledge base for the collective¦. charting is a key aspect of collective learning¦.charting is learners planning their own learning paths¦.evolutionary step¦focus on personal goal.¦planning on micro as well as macro level¦.autonomy in setting learning goals¦.self regulated learning¦.autodidaxy¦.learner motivation¦.assessing current expertise¦.periodic table of expertise¦.beer mat knowledge to contributory knowledge¦.from novice to expert¦.help learners make faster transition from novice to expert¦.learning trails¦.scaffolding¦.different learning choices¦.big challenges ahead¦.novices prefer a linear step by step approach¦.experts are adept at integrating information¦.implications for the way learners connect with resources¦.rapid prototyping is essential¦.make sure community needs are met¦.lots of challenges¦.fantastic opportunities¦.transformational change in institutions.

Discussion and Comments
Design will become ever more critical¦.The Joy of E-Learning¦.disenchanted learners¦.are learners students or people who are learning?…. more casual learners¦.ideas from workbased learning¦.developing research mindedness in undergraduates¦.research – teaching linkages¦.much of what is done in workbased learning is negotiated¦.requirements of an university to control and manage accreditation¦.cultural challenges¦.need to look at the actions to know what we should support¦.emphasis on productivity¦.its about having a job and doing well in it¦.universities value system is different from workplace value systems (good point!)¦.does this mean we need to adapt assessments to a business facing pedagogy?….universities need to diversify¦.selecting universities and recruiting universities¦.what are the hallmarks of higher education?….team work is natural in industry¦.other people are a tremendous stimulus¦.there is nothing like people to make you think¦.intellectual interaction¦.

Miles Metcalf, Ravensbourne College
Students own technology and use technology¦.network, enterprise and functional IT¦.once students have their own technology they cut across this¦what are the effects fo students having technology?….once students have their own laptops they wast access to institutional systems¦..personalisation¦preferences¦choices¦investment of time¦better equipment¦better tools¦network access is a given¦dont be a mobile phone nazi¦dont be hostile to students that check your facts on wikipedia¦IMS Enterprise or microformats¦.vast infrastructure that is not accessible to the user¦data-portability ¦ invent nothing, use what si out there¦rss, foaf, opened, rdf¦.enterprise vs individual¦vles are enterprise silos¦doesnt have to be¦.silos act against users instincts¦.provide semantic sugar with what you expose, e.g. microformats, RDFa¦.syndicate what is useful¦.build the scaffolding¦if you want to integrate user owned technology dont start by banning Google and wikipedia¦find ways to enage user owned technology e.g. back-channels, mobile phone voting¦.students dont necessarily use technology for learning, use can be infantile¦their space, your tools¦.the social stack ¦extra-institutional communities of practice¦.competencies recognised¦vles are moving towards one tool to rule them all¦could simplify vles to be a basic repository¦could you make an eportfolio out of the activity that takes place on extrainstitutional tools¦

Andrew Comrie, TESEP
Why bother?…high level strategic objectives that move the institution forward¦improving student experience¦growing the market¦yes, but¦.start o make change happen¦.revert to tried and tested practice¦content and resources development¦.virtual stoor¦.used by very few¦.tutor led practice¦.technology to point at¦.process of transformation¦.make lasting change¦.pedagogically driven approach to change¦.what are we setting out to do¦.play to peoples passions¦.people are passionate about teaching not about technology¦.shift control away from tutor to the learner¦changing attitudes, changing behaviours¦.underworld of technologies students are using¦.policies prohibitive to this use¦lets stop doing that¦empower learners¦.next leg of the transformation journey¦.change attitude and behaviour¦.express preferred learning and teaching model¦.work across subject disciples, FE & HE¦.build on current learning and teaching practices¦.staff going on their own transformation journeys as well¦.stop developing content, spend more time developing learning activities¦.stop thinking about vles¦.give learners tasks but offer a choice of technologies and a choice of resources¦use technologies in different ways¦critically evaluate¦if youve enjoyed it go and tell others¦.get people to reflect on their experiences¦.transformation journies¦.TESEP¦.

Random Quotes 5 – JISC CETIS Conference 2007

Ramdon quotes form the plenary sessions of the JISC CETIS Conference 2007….

Oleg Liber, JISC CETIS

Institutions dont realise how much theyre going to be challenged¦transformative nature of technology¦the content is out there¦one node in the global learning environment¦we always need new content¦need to invest in the process of content creation¦useful, valuable, true¦do we need universities at all?¦meaningful and responsible deeds of fully awake people¦universities validate a persons learning¦hard to see the journey youre on when you take small steps¦reflect on the last step, think about the next step¦JISC is doing lots of interesting things at the moment¦open content call is a real pointer to the future¦

Sarah Porter, JISC

Innovation, transformation and change¦key word is useful¦respond to changing needs of users¦increasingly fast changing external environment¦students of the future¦student as customer¦do things in different ways¦close the loop between learning and teaching and research¦policy drivers form government¦changing social situation¦top down drivers¦.innovation and transformation models¦technology uptake model¦buying seed corn¦were talking about people¦MIT 90s model¦the revolutionary end of things¦.why arent we seeing more change?¦be realistic about the complexity¦increasing diversity¦universities are slow and difficult to innovate as a single system¦led by practice and experimentation¦why does JISC exist¦people services¦several hundred projects¦get the holistic word in a few times¦allow for failure or less success as well as success¦learners dont see technology as anything special, just another tool to support their learning¦relationship between pedagogy and technology¦innovate for the student¦learning design, design for learning¦reload¦technology and tools to enhance the use of standards¦open content¦content can really be shared¦holistic change¦scale up holistic model to whole institution¦CETIS SIGs support networking and increase take up¦environment working together¦social networks¦senior management and other uninitiated people¦camel project¦cost saving and resource efficiency¦pull those stories out and put them across to people in a language they understand¦xcri¦very tangible problems¦what problem should we be trying to solve¦top down revolutionary innovation¦e-framework¦should be bottom up approach¦ also high level mapping of education domain¦tension between standards and innovation¦change is driven by a model that involves technology, policy and people¦JISC is owned by the community¦.secret agents for change¦increasingly competitive environment¦

Iain Stinson, UCISA

We have grown up a little¦view form a different part of the universities¦resources for IT¦IT strategy and planning¦e-learning¦architected IT and infrastructure¦governance¦information management¦disaster recovery¦services availability¦identity management¦24/7 support¦key issue is funding¦commodity computing¦Moores law does not apply to people¦efficiency gains targets¦resources dont just mean money¦space¦talk the language of those giving out the money¦outsource¦commodity systems like e-mail¦sla¦2 or 3 day interruptions¦shared services¦vat rules¦we dont have the sandboxes that we used to have where we can play safely¦IT strategy has to be subservient to institutional strategy¦IS and IT¦poor quality clip art¦ very cost effective¦concerned about e-learning¦costs a fortune¦core to what we deliver¦real digital natives in 2 years time¦how do we sustain e-learning systems¦how are academics sustaining e-learning content¦need an innovative environment with real students¦business systems¦on Wednesday afternoons the computers were turned off¦.change of patterns of working¦even JANET can fail¦business continuity¦we in computing cant do the business continuity¦governance¦where does the buck stop¦how do we govern computing in universities¦Oxford¦emerging issues¦green computing¦chain of resource¦carbon footprints for universities¦.government legislation¦important¦mobile computing¦

shrinking service offer¦conservative group¦divisive to not provide computer facilities at this point of time¦some students can not cope with commercial ISPs as they dont have a formal address¦

Mark Stiles, University of Staffordshire
Collaboration, communcation, confusion¦.holistic, inclusive¦alienate those we seek to help¦my last year of ranting¦too many men with beards¦.strategy and tactics¦vles stuffed full of powerpoints¦obsessed with interoperating everything with vles¦new orthodoxy¦encouraging the mundane¦.tying us down for the future¦strap a module into our corporate vle¦the big fat frog (again)¦control things even more subtly¦regulation to the solution to all problems¦fiddling around with learning technologies¦see them in a lecture, see them in a tutorial, see them in a corridor, see them in a bar¦watched measured monitored¦LSCs audit process for distance learning¦does it track what everyone does¦does it help students or annoy them¦bypass our efforts to monitor and control¦sorry youre all old¦relating to needs of old people because were old¦how many young people are there in SL?¦. were obviously quite sad¦banging away with things like Facebook¦workbased learners¦addressing generational needs¦have educational practices become controlling¦regulation and satisfying the regulators¦conflicting internal structures¦freedom versus control¦loosen chains¦sustain innovation and run the business¦what is a university selling¦we dont sell content¦we sell accreditation and access to expertise¦nature of university promotes regulation and control¦conservative academic culture¦professional bureaucracy¦revolution, satalinism, glasnost¦policy used to control rather than enable¦its not yours and youre frightened of getting arrested¦wide range of collaborative tools¦everything they wanted to use was not allowed in the college¦drive the learning process outside the institution¦ownership, things put in it¦Facebook¦license to do anything they want with anything you put on it¦levels of control¦control, manage, facilitate, enable, recognise¦see where you think things belong¦is it enough we do nothing about it¦is that appropriate?¦clarity about IPR¦policy around conduct and behaviour¦process owned by course members¦desperately trying not to call it an e-learning strategy¦make appropriate use of e-learning technology¦whats expected¦all turns to mush¦on to Facebook, ironically¦daft, or possibly daft¦

High degree of desire to communicate outwith hearing of tutor¦tutor ruins group dynamics¦.a better learning environment than the one in the institution¦.all students want more direct contact with lecturers¦more subtle control might be a good things¦my gut answer is no¦dont really recognise the problem exists¦acknowledge we come form different positions¦were all being juvenalised¦revolutionary communist party¦INTERnational socialist¦ rules of engagement¦.principals that guided how to behave when doing e-learning¦policy aligned with job contracts¦enabling culture of sharing¦it isnt nice but it is enabling¦more contact on their terms¦