I went to a session today on ‘Student blogging: assessing the new texts’, given by The University of Edinburgh’s Hamish Macleod. In his talk, Hamish covered the MSc e-Learning course, which requires continual blogging (supported by Elgg) and is delivered online to over 100 students. As Facebook was mentioned more than once during Hamish’s presentation I asked him what role this played in the course. He said that the students were “encouraged to use Facebook“, although “many already were”. This voluntary take-up of (educational) social software is interesting; while I was completing the same course at a different institution less than three years ago, Facebook – then called ‘Thefacebook‘ – was only just going through the launching of a US college-only service. It is interesting to see that students were one step ahead in the case of this course and inspiring that they were encouraged to use such social software in an educational setting. With no physical presence, one cannot underestimate the effect of online social interactions.
Of course, one would possibly associate distance learning with The Open University, and it is perhaps not surprising to learn that there is an official OU page in Facebook, with accompanying applications here and here. In fact, the OU’s ‘/use’ page shows just how widely the organisation’s online presence is developing. It weren’t like this when I were a lad!
Well…OWL and pizzas, to be exact: I was at an OWL workshop in Edinburgh this week and the practical examples involved creating an ontology of pizzas and ingredients. Using the Protégé tool, we created our ontology by adding ingredients and pizzas, and specifying what went into each pizza.
As interesting as the process was, it was a bit of a stretch to make it last two days: much of the time was waiting for the two organisers to free themselves from the tool’s problems – why insist on using an alpha software release? – and get back to the workshop as a whole. In fact, such was the time spent helping individuals with issues (myself included), the second day’s planning went out the window and the afternoon coffee break was only remembered five minutes after the workshop should have ended
Many of the attendees worked within biology and the Botanical Gardens enthusiast seated next to me left me in no doubt as to how useful OWL and applications like Protégé could be in building ontologies in that area.
It’s worth having a look at the software if this sort of thing interests you – the example we used was an effective way of building examples from real-life instances and it helped to map out the process. Sadly, the organisers failed to give us pizza for lunch and our hard work sorting out the meat from the veg was wasted
The second CETIS MDR SIG meeting of 2008 was held in Bolton this week and, rather oddly, the town was bathed in glorious sunshine; I swear it’s rained every time I’ve been before. Anyway, weather anomalies aside, the meeting went well and I’ve started adding outputs to the meeting page. Unfortunately, Andy Richardson was ill and couldn’t do his planned scoping session on Jorum’s development bay, leaving us a slot down in the afternoon. Luckily, Phil managed a couple of updates and kicked off a discussion session which took us nicely to the end of the day.
The second meeting of 2008 for the Metadata and Digital Repository Special Interest Group is next week on Tuesday 6th May from 10.30am until 3.45pm at the University of Bolton.
10.00: Registration and refreshments
10.40: Peter Kilcoyne, MrCute
11.20: Roger Greenhalgh, National Rural Knowledge Exchange
12.10: Michael Emly, MIDESS
13.50: John Robertson, HILT
14.00: Richard Davis, SNEEP
15.00: Andy Richardson, Jorum scoping session
Hope to see you there.
Update: Outputs available here.
Note: Slides available from here.
I attended the RSP Repository Services Day in Nottingham this week. Held at the city’s university, the event was to “showcase key repository and search services,” with several presentations on offer. One of the interesting points came during Peter Millington’s presentation on OpenDOAR with his mention of Repository 66. A mash-up of Google Maps, and ROAR and OpenDOAR data, the site shows a global view of repositories, with the possibility to display each marker according to the number of items within each repository. I found this interesting – a take on a tag cloud displaying more popular tags in increasing font size – as it enhanced a simple snapshot of repository population.
It got me thinking: we could see more of this sort of example in other representations, e.g., when displaying a list of previous SIG meetings, perhaps they could be sized according to the number of references in blog posts? Or could blog post headlines be sized according to the number of linkbacks or comments?
Unfortunately, flight times meant I missed the day’s afternoon discussion: feel free to leave a comment about it if you were there. Of course, I should have known my flight home would be delayed, although at least we were spared the usual “technical problem”: there are not many ways to disguise a hole in the runway!
Jorum is to offer open educational resources, in an announcement by JISC today. The move to open access – named JorumOpen – “will make it easier for lecturers and teaching staff to share and re-use each other’s teaching resources.”
The global aspect of sharing is interesting, and the Creative Commons aspect is a welcome addition, particularly if it follows something along the lines of Flickr’s approach, which offers a very visual overview. The announcement makes no mention of statistics, something I think would be useful in terms of seeing some geographical representation of sharing, e.g., seeing where the most highly rated content originated from or which areas were the biggest contributors.
Alongside JorumOpen will be JorumEducationUK, which is a ‘members only’ area for within the UK education sector.