Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New and exciting

I subscribe to Ben Toth's Libraries in the NHS blog and there was a link on it yesterday to the blog of Tim Berners-Lee. I had a look at it and now subscribe to that too. Keeping up with the inventor of the world wide web is very interesting and you find out all sorts of things about new web languages, the semantic web and how the usage of the web is changing.

There is also a blog entry by Tim on net neutrality; how we must keep the web/net country neutral and not let one single body have authority over it. Through listening to one of the History of Information audio lectures from UC Berkeley this morning I went on the moveon.org site and noticed that they've got a Save the Internet campaign going on the same issue of net neutrality - please visit the site and register your support any way you can. It's crucial that we preserve the incredible freedoms we enjoy on the web and are able to continue to explore new ways of sharing information (including RLOs) and collaborating on projects.

All of my recent reading on RLOs/repositories and my work with our institutional VLE is leading me to think about how web users (especially students) will shape our own online world. Imagine if everyone used a piece of personal web space to link to or interact with every aspect of their online world. So, you'd have all of your links (bank, e-commerce etc.), communications (blogs, MySpace, email etc.), work (institutional VLEs, RLOs etc.) and recreation (music, films, books etc.) hosted in the same space and every new link that you found could be added to it. Visually it could look like a mind map. It would make a lot of sense to someone like me and maybe it's already happening with the semantic web. Tim Berners-Lee (and others) is creating a new type of web broswer, the Tabulator. If anyone can help me to understand if this is moving in the right direction let me know.


I went to a demonstration of the Intrallect repository software yesterday. Several HEIs already use their IntraLibrary product to host electronic learning objects, so too do the BBC with their Jam initiative. The JISC JORUM project use IntraLibrary too and I've been looking closely at JORUM to see if we'd consider contributing learning objects to it.

During the demo we discussed the idea of an institutional repository but apart from generic skills (IT, studying, referencing etc.) we were unsure about why, for example, a medical academic would want to upload subject specific material for a history academic to use. How re-usable are subject learning objects within an institution? I can see the value in contributing and re-using learning objects from other institutions that are maybe useful to you but not within your own university. However, we need to find out what academics think about this, maybe a SWOT analysis of all possible contributors.

After the demo I got to thinking about the responses to our email and how there are several other HEIs hosting their own IL RLOs and that maybe a national/regional site to host objects is much more logical - just like the North West Information Skills Group Moodle site. I can't remember if we've mentioned the Library Instruction Wiki (?) but it's another example of a pool of materials, ideas and ways of doing things. I've never written material on website evaluation because I've already found at least two excellent worksheets/flowcharts which do the job brilliantly, one from the Quality on the Web site and one from the Cardiff site mentioned in the link on the right, proof that we don't all feel the need to 're-invent the wheel'.

Maybe once we've put out some feelers we'll get a better idea of how a repository would be used and by whom. I'll also be contacting other users of IntraLibrary to find out how they have found it.