Posts filed under ‘intralibrary_conf08’
Note: Slides are available here
Intrallect held their annual conference in Edinburgh on 22-23 February at the rather nice BMA meeting rooms on Queen Street. The event – which spanned two days and offered several presentations interspersed with hour-long parallel workshops – showed off the new version of intraLibrary, which had undergone an interface lift and been updated with new features such as a similarity search, search of metadata at all levels and tagging of resources. Adding tagging is hardly a surprise but the lack of a tag cloud certainly is – tags with numbers after them is not as visually pleasing or useful as the cloud representation. Still, some updates were promised for v3.1 so this feature may be incorporated at some point in the future.
The presentations started with Catherine Bruen from NDLR, talking about strategies for community enhanced learning repositories. Catherine mentioned three distinct strategies: taking existing content, developing bespoke content and support communities to do both themselves. Highlighting the benefits and threats associated with each strategy, I was interested to hear about “lurking communities”, which ‘steal’ support given to other communities. Catherine’s succinct sound bite was effective: “Use, build, own, populate, reuse”
Tim Denning of CLA reported on using a VLE with intraLibrary. I was intrigued by the experimental tag clouds – rather than just displaying most popular, there were also options to display most searched, most recent, etc. This could be useful for keeping track of ‘hot’ topics, rather than just relying on the total number. Refreshingly, Tim advised of a wish list for enhancements, such as Google-type searching and document text searching/indexing.
Staff from Oxford Brookes University talked about combining a research outputs and learning object repository. One of the popular feature requests was for a staff page to link to the repository and list current research. This perhaps private choice was contrasted with being able to view what other people had gone on to read after looking at a particular item, akin to the feature on the Amazon shopping website. Sarah Currier’s breakout session looked at user interface issues for a metadata editor, where we saw a demonstration from Rob Tice. The audience felt that bulk record editing was desirable, along with fixing VCARD issues (which will be fixed in the updated version of intraLibrary).
Martin Morrey and Charles Duncan demonstrated intraLibrary Connect, showing how users benefit in the areas of informing (RSS, FeedForward), gathering (OAI-PMH) and storing (SWORD desktop client). FeedForward and the SWORD desktop client were demoed at the recent MDR SIG meeting (see report here), and their benefits were/are obvious.
Ian Watson began the second day by talking about an open search interface, showing a ‘stripped down’ alternative for a handheld version and describing the current limitations, such as inconsistency with Google search syntax, lack of taxonomy browsing and character mapping issues. For the future, Ian advised of the hope for OpenID, a ratings system and importing via RSS.
The following parallel session saw a demonstration of Compendle, a tool to “draw resources from a repository and be delivered by a non-technical person”. Like others, I was unsure about the overall benefit of this tool, with the forced linear structure of using ‘groups’ – why not allow customised lecture outputs, weeks, etc? – seeming to be a little unintuitive. Nevertheless, the drag-and-drop interface seemed easy to use, although there was a lack of ability to add instructions, forcing the user to add a narrative as separate html (contradicting, somewhat, the benefit of being a non-technical user). In addition, the lack of ability to disaggregate resources and issues with authentication (if the resources were in Jorum, for example) undermined the usefulness of this tool.
The afternoon featured similar presentations, which project outputs covered issues such as lack of time/incentive and IP/copyright/trust issues regarding barriers facing the depositing/sharing of material.
I enjoyed the first day, as there was a good range of informative presentations throughout the session, with a fine balance between the new software and other intraLibrary use. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel there was enough variety to merit the second day being as useful, with two or three presentations offering very similar information. Last year, there was one day for developers and another for users, which I thought worked better.