LOR Characteristics and Considerations

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Invited talk for SREB's Educational Technology Taskforce, February 2004

Invited talk for SREB's Educational Technology Taskforce, February 2004

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  • 1. LOR Characteristics and Considerations Scott Leslie for SREB Educational Technology Cooperative Information Technology Task Group February 15, 2005
  • 2. Outline
    • Intro/Background on Research Project
    • LOR Issues
    • LOR Approaches and Features
    • High level summaries of the 6 products we reviewed
    • Conclusions
  • 3. Background
  • 4. Who Am I
    • Researcher with Edutools, Ed Tech Comparative Analysis site run by WCET
    • Manager of Learning Resource Centre development initiative for BCcampus, province-wide consortium in British Columbia Canada
  • 5. The Edutools LOR Research Project
    • Project to jointly evaluate possible LOR solutions
    • 2004 Project Partners
      • University System of Georgia
      • Utah Education Network
      • Virginia Community College System
      • Virginia Tech
  • 6. Edutools LOR Project(2)
    • Evaluated 6 products
    • Assisted partners with identifying needs; exposed them to alternative approaches and considerations
    • ‘ Guest Experts’ – Ed Walker (IMS), Flora McMartin (Merlot), Mike Mattson (Careo/Apollo), Kevin Harrigan (CLOE, Waterloo)
  • 7. LOR Issues
  • 8. Still early days yet
    • While it may not feel like it to some old hands, still early days
    • Also still early in the ‘learning object’ approach itself
      • dearth of standards-based content that has proven to be not just interoperable but (more importantly) re-usable
      • Authoring tools which support standards just starting to emerge en masse
      • shift in faculty attitudes and approaches to content development needed
  • 9. LORs are immature technology
    • LORs still struggling to define precisely the problem that is trying to be solved with them? Is it
      • the discovery and sharing of resources?
      • the management of content development?
      • the facilitation of content re-use?
      • the creation of communities of practitioners?
      • the archiving of learning materials?
      • the ingestion and re-composition of complex multimedia objects?
      • All of the above?
  • 10. LOR Market an Immature Market
    • Market for LOR technology is very immature and has some fundamental risks
      • unclear how large a market
        • vendors are trying to amortize costs to quickly across too few customers
      • if LCMS are also considered, clearly larger market but…
        • often ‘corporate’ in focus with attendant costs
  • 11. Early Days for Open Source LORs
    • Very few examples (outside of library world) of open source repository software that has been widely taken up by community of implementers
    • Many initial projects were developed institutionally on soft money and haven’t been transitioned that well to being inclusive ‘open source’ projects
  • 12. LOs, LORS and Existing Challenges
    • LOs and LORs initiatives exist against the general background of the explosion in networked based technologies and the related issues of intellectual property
    • There are still no widespread acceptable solutions to the Digital Rights Management question, only a large number of interim, provisional attempts to stave off the problem.
  • 13. Repository Approaches & Features
  • 14. Types of Repository Approaches
    • ‘ Referatories’
    • ‘ Classic’ Repository
    • Learning Content Management System
    • Generic Content Management System
    • Digital Asset Management
    • Institutional Repository
    • Repository as part of Course Managememt vendor solution
  • 15. Repository as ‘Application’
  • 16. Repository as Service
  • 17. Edutools Comparative Framework
    • Discovery Tools
    • Aggregation Tools
    • Community & Evaluation
    • Meta-tagging
    • Content Management
    • Digital Rights Management & Fulfillment
    • Presentation and Consortia Issues
    • Integration and Interoperability
    • Technical Considerations
    • Pricing/Licensing/ Other
  • 18. Evaluative Framework: Detailed Features
    • Discovery Tools
      • Searching
      • Browsing
      • Syndication & Notification
    • Aggregation Tools
      • Personal Collections
      • Content Aggregator and Packaging Tool
    • Community & Evaluation
      • Evaluation System
      • Context Usage Illustrators
      • Wish Lists
  • 19.
    • Meta-tagging
      • Metadata Markup Tool
      • Schema Support
      • Indexing Workflow Support
      • Import and Export Tools
      • Unique Identifier Support
    • Content Management
      • Authoring and Publishing Workflow Support
      • Version Control & Archiving Functions
      • Authoring tools
    • Digital Rights Management & Fulfillment
      • Digital Rights Management
      • Payment and Fulfillment
    Evaluative Framework: Detailed Features(2)
  • 20.
    • Presentation and Consortia Issues
      • Customized Look and Feel
      • Internationalization (I18n)
      • Multiple Collections
      • Media Transformation and Display
    • Integration and Interoperability
      • Federation and Harvesting
      • Course Management Integration
      • API and Web Service support
    • Technical Considerations
      • Authentication
      • Authorization & Personalization
      • Usage reporting
      • Operating System
      • Application/Database Server Requirements
      • Scalability
      • Support
    Evaluative Framework: Detailed Features (3)
  • 21. General Observations of Products we reviewed
  • 22.
    • We found that the defining characteristics of these systems, in terms of widespread feature support, were:
      • Support for searching and browsing of records
      • Metatagging tools, and standards-based schema support
      • Support for federation and harvesting
  • 23.
    • Overall, we found support lacking for the following features across all of the products:
      • Syndication and Notification
      • Community & Evaluation features (e.g. evaluation system, wish lists and context of usage illustrators)
      • Time-based Media support
      • Content Aggregation and Packaging tool
  • 24. Specific Product Summaries
  • 25. 6 Products
    • HarvestRoad Hive
    • Intrallect Intralibrary
    • North Plains Telescope Enterprise
    • DSpace
    • Concord Masterfile
    • Ex Libris DigiTool
  • 26. HarvestRoad Hive (http://www.harvestroad.com/)
    • A “learning content management system”
    • Strengths
    • Content management support
    • Workflow, roles
    • Strong integration with existing enterprise Course Management Systems
    • Weaknesses
    • Interface
    • Lacks both aggregation tools and ability to cope with aggregate objects
    • As an LCMS, has more than just repository features
  • 27. Intrallect Intralibrary (http://www.intrallect.com/)
    • A “classic” learning object repository
    • Strengths
    • Strong support for learning object standards
    • Awareness of practices and standards from the library world, including support for Thesauri
    • Interface very straightforward and intuitive for what it does
    • Weaknesses
    • Lacks workflow support
    • Lacks aggregation tool (but can handle aggregate objects)
    • Licensing model based on number of contributors to database and is geared to a model of only very few contributors
  • 28. North Plains Telescope Enterprise ( http://www.northplains.com/)
    • A ‘Digital Asset Management’ system
    • Strengths
    • Strong audio and video capabilities, including abilities to ingest, segment and caption video, and transform existing media formats
    • Strong content management support and unlimited step and role workflow
    • Ability to search for other assets based on their visual similarity
    • Weaknesses
    • Lacking off the shelf support for Content Packages
    • Because of the quite different domain and business model from which this software originates, it lacks any real support for the idea of ‘federation’ of repositories
    • License model may prove prohibitive to any but the largest educational organizations
  • 29. DSpace (http://www.dspace.org/)
    • Primarily an “institutional repository” system
    • Strengths
    • Freely available as open-source software; the “DSpace Federation” and user groups form a core of active support communities
    • Commitment to open standards and open access through protocols such as Dublin Core and OAI-PMH
    • Emphasis on archival and digital preservation features
    • Weaknesses
    • Lacks community and evaluation functions
    • Lacks true content management functionality
    • Lacks digital rights management controls
  • 30. Concord Masterfile (http://www.concord-usa.com/)
    • Described as an “Education Institution Content Management System”
    • Strengths
    • Content can be entered automatically into resource collections with minimal metadata entry
    • Content management system can add features to the authoring and delivery of online courses, such as versioning, media handling and low-bandwidth options.
    • Tightly integrated with Blackboard, and WebCT Vista 2.1 (soon)
    • Weaknesses
    • Modular system architecture likely means that multiple add-on modules would be needed.
    • Many features (metadata schemas, federated search) require vendor customization.
    • Lacks features designed to support learner interaction with resources, such as community tools or personal collections.
  • 31. Ex Libris DigiTool (http://www.exlibrisgroup.com/)
    • A “digital content management” system
    • Strengths
    • Broad support for formats, standards and protocols for media, metadata and data interchange.
    • Effectively designed interfaces, in particular for metadata entry and resource browsing.
    • Flexible options for structuring and presenting resources.
    • Strong complement of digital rights management and access control features.
    • Weaknesses:
    • Lacks content authoring support
    • Lacks community and evaluation, syndication and notification features
  • 32. Conclusions
    • Clearly there are many ways to address the need for ‘learning object repositories’
    • The one that is right for you will depend in part on
      • how you define your problem
      • who you have working on the problem
      • what systems and vendors you already have in place
  • 33. How do you define your problem
    • Are you building an application, a service, or both?
    • Are you trying to
      • share existing resources as widely as possible,
      • manage the creation of new resources,
      • manage just learning resources or all academic resources?
    • Do you care about inter-institutional federations or are you expecting all of the instructional material your faculty will ever need to be found within your own collections?
  • 34. Who is working on the problem
    • When you hear “learning object repository” do you emphasize the word
      • “ learning”
      • “ repository”
      • Both?
    • Is your initiative headed by
      • Educational Technologists?
      • Media Production Unit?
      • Librarians?
      • Information Technologists?
      • All of these?
      • Someone else?
  • 35. What systems you already have
    • Do you have an existing
      • course management system?
      • library system?
      • content management system?
      • authentication and authorization system?
    • Which of these systems are already in play, and also which particular brands, will likely influence how you frame the problem and the type of system you seek.
  • 36. Round 1 Results
    • Results of first round that I have presented here are available off the Edutools homepage: http://www.edutools.info/
    • Round 2 results will be available November 2005 (kept for partners private use for 6 months)
  • 37. Questions / Discussion
    • Feel free to contact me for further information on the studies, or with further questions at
    • [email_address]