Training researchers with Sakai
Jez Cope
Academic Digital Technologist

Centre for

Sustainable
Chemical Technologies

Ape...
Outline
1 Introduction
2 Why Sakai for research?
3 Centre for Doctoral Training
4 SEWPROF Initial Training Network
5 Elect...
Outline
1 Introduction
2 Why Sakai for research?
3 Centre for Doctoral Training
4 SEWPROF Initial Training Network
5 Elect...
Who am I?
• Computer scientist &

mathematician by training
• Brief flirtation with

computational systems biology
• At Un...
Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies
• Cross-disciplinary research centre
• Develop new molecules, materials and p...
Outline
1 Introduction
2 Why Sakai for research?
3 Centre for Doctoral Training
4 SEWPROF Initial Training Network
5 Elect...
Research vs Learning & Teaching
Similarities
• Busy, busy users!
• Diversity of technical inclination

Differences
• Relat...
Same place

Different place

Same
time

Face-to-face

Continuous task

Different
time

Where are we looking?

Remote
inter...
Requirements
Virtual Research Environment
• Robust file sharing 
• Collaboration options 
• Wikis, forums, mailing lists, ...
Our Sakai installation
• App server: virtual machine hosted by Computer

Services (BUCS)
• Database server: centrally-mana...
Outline
1 Introduction
2 Why Sakai for research?
3 Centre for Doctoral Training
4 SEWPROF Initial Training Network
5 Elect...
What is a CDT?
Centre for Doctoral Training
Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies
• Funded by a Research Council
•
...
Centre administration

• General knowledge base
• Research project proposal submission and allocation
• MRes project repor...
Research groups and projects

• Project worksites for each

PhD student 
co-supervisors
• Customization on request

for re...
Typical research group use

• File sharing (Resources)
• Wiki
• Mailing list (Email archive)
• Schedule
• Forums
• Drop bo...
Computational materials group
Central knowledge base for research group
• Minutes of group meetings
• Documentation on cod...
Outline
1 Introduction
2 Why Sakai for research?
3 Centre for Doctoral Training
4 SEWPROF Initial Training Network
5 Elect...
What is SEWPROF ITN?
“SEWPROF aims to develop inter-disciplinary and
cross-sectoral research capability for the next gener...
SEWPROF ITN
Requirements
Across 11 countries:
• Co-ordinate activities
• Share data, documents and other information
• Pla...
SEWPROF ITN
Implementation
• Wiki: general knowledge base
• Resources:
• Forum: social space for students
• Groups allow c...
Outline
1 Introduction
2 Why Sakai for research?
3 Centre for Doctoral Training
4 SEWPROF Initial Training Network
5 Elect...
Why Electronic Lab Notebooks?
Paper lab books are:
• Easy to damage accidentally (e.g. liquid, fire)…
• …and easy to lose ...
Sakai as an ELN?
Key requirements:
• Access control 
• Attach files 
• Remote access 

Options:

• Predefined templates 

...
Outline
1 Introduction
2 Why Sakai for research?
3 Centre for Doctoral Training
4 SEWPROF Initial Training Network
5 Elect...
Observations
Sakai as a Virtual Research Environment
• Slow but steady uptake
• Plenty of interest from across campus
• Po...
Challenges

• Data curation  wiki gardening
• Confusing array of access control options
• Tablet/smartphone access not per...
The future

Would like:
• Easier entry, manipulation  display of structured data
• Integration with institutional services...
That’s all folks…

Any questions?
Blog
Work stuff
Twitter
Google+

erambler.co.uk
people.bath.ac.uk/jc619
twitter.com/jezc...
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Training Researchers with Sakai

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Training Researchers with Sakai

  1. 1. Training researchers with Sakai Jez Cope Academic Digital Technologist Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies Apereo Europe 2013
  2. 2. Outline 1 Introduction 2 Why Sakai for research? 3 Centre for Doctoral Training 4 SEWPROF Initial Training Network 5 Electronic Laboratory Notebooks 6 Conclusions
  3. 3. Outline 1 Introduction 2 Why Sakai for research? 3 Centre for Doctoral Training 4 SEWPROF Initial Training Network 5 Electronic Laboratory Notebooks 6 Conclusions
  4. 4. Who am I? • Computer scientist & mathematician by training • Brief flirtation with computational systems biology • At University of Bath: • Academic Digital Technologist, CSCT • Technical Data Co-ordinator, Research360 project (secondment, now over)
  5. 5. Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies • Cross-disciplinary research centre • Develop new molecules, materials and processes for sustainability • EPSRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies bath.ac.uk/csct
  6. 6. Outline 1 Introduction 2 Why Sakai for research? 3 Centre for Doctoral Training 4 SEWPROF Initial Training Network 5 Electronic Laboratory Notebooks 6 Conclusions
  7. 7. Research vs Learning & Teaching Similarities • Busy, busy users! • Diversity of technical inclination Differences • Relationships between users • External collaborators (within and outside higher education) • Longevity of information • Highly user-led
  8. 8. Same place Different place Same time Face-to-face Continuous task Different time Where are we looking? Remote interactions Communication & co-ordination
  9. 9. Requirements Virtual Research Environment • Robust file sharing • Collaboration options • Wikis, forums, mailing lists, calendar, … • Fine-grained access control • Integration with enterprise systems • Ability to shrink wrap the problem • i.e. as simple/complex as required
  10. 10. Our Sakai installation • App server: virtual machine hosted by Computer Services (BUCS) • Database server: centrally-managed shared MySQL5 service • Mostly unmodified Sakai CLE • Straightforward integration with central services: • LDAP/CAS for user information and single sign-on • Temporary/external user accounts managed by BUCS • Default site roles: Owner, Organizer, Member, Observer • Customized skin with our branding Very little customization required
  11. 11. Outline 1 Introduction 2 Why Sakai for research? 3 Centre for Doctoral Training 4 SEWPROF Initial Training Network 5 Electronic Laboratory Notebooks 6 Conclusions
  12. 12. What is a CDT? Centre for Doctoral Training Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies • Funded by a Research Council • • • • — EPSRC Train PhD students in cohorts — 12–18/year Strategic research area — Sustainable chemical technologies Highly collaborative — 18 commercial partners Integrated (“1+3”) PhD course • Year 1: small research projects intensive training • Year 2–4: main PhD research additional training bath.ac.uk/csct/dtc
  13. 13. Centre administration • General knowledge base • Research project proposal submission and allocation • MRes project report archive • Public engagement coordination • Events: • Weekly student seminars • Occasional larger events • Meeting room diary
  14. 14. Research groups and projects • Project worksites for each PhD student co-supervisors • Customization on request for research groups • Ad-hoc user-created worksites for particular projects Examples • Research groups: • Hill • Scott • Chuck • Walsh • Research sandpits • Research360 project
  15. 15. Typical research group use • File sharing (Resources) • Wiki • Mailing list (Email archive) • Schedule • Forums • Drop box • Not to be confused with DropBox… • Polls
  16. 16. Computational materials group Central knowledge base for research group • Minutes of group meetings • Documentation on codes and clusters used • Diary of group meetings • Archive of presentations, documents, data and other files Customizations • Enable jsMath processing for wiki • Add additional programming languages for syntax highlighting
  17. 17. Outline 1 Introduction 2 Why Sakai for research? 3 Centre for Doctoral Training 4 SEWPROF Initial Training Network 5 Electronic Laboratory Notebooks 6 Conclusions
  18. 18. What is SEWPROF ITN? “SEWPROF aims to develop inter-disciplinary and cross-sectoral research capability for the next generation of scientists working in the newly-emerging field of sewage epidemiology.” • €4m, 4-year project • 16 Partners (including University of Bath) • 11 Early Stage Researchers • 3 Experienced Researchers • 11 countries across the EU www.sewprof-itn.eu
  19. 19. SEWPROF ITN Requirements Across 11 countries: • Co-ordinate activities • Share data, documents and other information • Plan meetings • Keep up-to-date with each other’s research
  20. 20. SEWPROF ITN Implementation • Wiki: general knowledge base • Resources: • Forum: social space for students • Groups allow control over who can access what: • Management team • Researchers • Core and non-core partners
  21. 21. Outline 1 Introduction 2 Why Sakai for research? 3 Centre for Doctoral Training 4 SEWPROF Initial Training Network 5 Electronic Laboratory Notebooks 6 Conclusions
  22. 22. Why Electronic Lab Notebooks? Paper lab books are: • Easy to damage accidentally (e.g. liquid, fire)… • …and easy to lose (e.g. public transport)… • …yet difficult to back up! Also: • Supervisors want easy access to students’ notebooks • Research groups and collaborators need better access to shared knowledge • Institutions want more protection for their main asset • Funders and publishers are pushing for data publication
  23. 23. Sakai as an ELN? Key requirements: • Access control • Attach files • Remote access Options: • Predefined templates • Wiki • Robust storage • Blog (Clog) • Structured import export ? • Portfolio • Mathematical formulae ? • Resources (plus • Visualise data • Alternative taxonomies • Chemistry-specific functions OSP forms)
  24. 24. Outline 1 Introduction 2 Why Sakai for research? 3 Centre for Doctoral Training 4 SEWPROF Initial Training Network 5 Electronic Laboratory Notebooks 6 Conclusions
  25. 25. Observations Sakai as a Virtual Research Environment • Slow but steady uptake • Plenty of interest from across campus • Positive feedback from users • Simple introductory documents screencasts help • Some interesting spontaneous innovations • OneNote synchronisation via WebDAV works • Student baking competition
  26. 26. Challenges • Data curation wiki gardening • Confusing array of access control options • Tablet/smartphone access not perfect
  27. 27. The future Would like: • Easier entry, manipulation display of structured data • Integration with institutional services: calendar, data archive, … • Shallower learning curve for developers • Better documentation for REST web services
  28. 28. That’s all folks… Any questions? Blog Work stuff Twitter Google+ erambler.co.uk people.bath.ac.uk/jc619 twitter.com/jezcope gplus.to/jezcope

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