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June 30, 2008

Article 2.0 contest from Elsevier

This is interesting...

We’ve worked hard to build the Article 2.0 dataset, and now we’re opening it up to developers via a simple, straightforward REST API. We will provide contestants with access to approximately 7,500 full-text XML scientific articles (including images) and challenge each contestant to be the publisher. In other words, each contestant will have complete freedom for how they would like to present the scientific research articles contained in the Article 2.0 dataset.

Elsevier have announced a competition entitled Article 2.0, asking entrants to build new services on top of a scientific article data that they are making available (though I must admit when I first saw the name I thought they might be asking people to experiment with what academic journal articles of the future might look like).

June 27, 2008

Doin' the Museum Mash

The Eduserv Foundation has a programme of sponsorship and I'm pleased to say that we sponsored the recent Mashed Museum 2008 event, just prior to the UK Museums and the Web Conference 2008 in Leicester.  Mike Ellis, a colleague at Eduserv who organised the day, has just released this video of what people got up to - taking museum-related data sources and connecting them together in a range of different ways. In Mike's words, the remit of the day was to:

"...give us an environment free from political or monetary constraints. The focus...is not IPR, copyright, funding or museum politics. Our energies will be channeled into embracing the 'new web': envisaging, demonstrating and (hopefully) building some lightweight distributed applications."

For more information, visit www.mashedmuseum.org.uk.

June 26, 2008

What makes a good tag?

Yonks ago (that's... like.. you know... quite a long time ago) I suggested to the web-support@jiscmail.ac.uk mailing list that we needed an agreed set of tags for labelling UK universities and colleges in Web 2.0 tagging services.  I'd raised the issue because we had just agreed with John Kirriemuir that he would create a Flickr pool in order to collect images of UK HE and FE activity in Second Life, as part of the series of snapshots that we are funding, and we wanted a way that people could consistently tag images according to which institution they represented.

I don't recall the details of what I suggested at the time but I think it was to use tags of the form 'universityofbath' (based on the list of names used by the HERO service).  Whatever... the specifics aren't important.  What happened was that I got deluged by replies offering different and conflicting advice about what makes a good set of tags - from totally unique but not very memorable UCAS codes, thru DNS domain names (bath.ac.uk), to human-readable but ultimately rather long strings such as the form I'd originally suggested (with or without hyphens and/or using camel-case).

Some useful points came out of the discussion, like the fact that unique but incomprehensible tags based on codes of one kind or another aren't very useful because no-one would ever 1) think of searching for them, or 2) remember them.  Unfortunately, nothing approaching consensus was reached.

We had a brief but rather similar exchange on Twitter yesterday because Brian Kelly suggested that the JISC Emerge project had got their tag strategy wrong by using 'em0608' for their current online conference, largely (I think) on the basis that Americans might get confused as to whether it meant June 2008 or August 2006. I responded along the lines of, "who cares, a tag isn't meant to be parsed anyway", to which Brian, rightly, responded that parsability and memorability are intertwined.

To cut a long(ish) story short, two things have emerged (excuse the pun) from this exchange:

  • firstly, having a conversation in bursts of 140 characters isn't ideal - and is probably annoying for those people not interested in the discussion in the first place, and
  • secondly, there is still little consensus about what makes a good tag!

I suggested that tags (particularly in the context of Twitter) need to be relatively short, relatively unique and relatively memorable.  But as Brian noted, there is a significant tension between shortness and memorableness (is that a word?).  Further, Steven Warburton questioned the value of uniqueness in the context of a relatively short-term forum like Twitter (i.e. it probably doesn't matter too much if your tag gets re-used a year later because the Twitter context has moved on).  However, it's important to remember that tags get shared across all kinds of Web 2.0 services (del.icio.us, Flickr, blogs, YouTube, Slideshare and so on) in order that applications like Hashtags and Onetag can pull everything together and that persistence requirements in those other services may be very different than they are in Twitter.

David Harrison asked a practical question concerning an upcoming UCISA conference - what did we think of 'ucisa-usc2008' as a tag? (Though it subsequently turns out that he meant 'ucisa-usc08'.)

I said that I thought it was too long - 14 characters (you need to prefix the tag with a '#' in Twitter) is 10% of the available bandwidth in a Twitter tweet.  I think that's too wasteful.  I suggested dropping the hyphens and using something like 'ucisausc08' or 'uusc2008' as alternatives but Brian commented that the hyphens were important to improve the tag's 'recitability'.

I'm not totally convinced... though I concede that our use of 'efsym2008' for our symposium earlier this year may have had less impact than it might because people didn't find it easy to remember (either because they didn't know what the 'ef' and 'sym' bits meant or because they got confused about whether it was '2008' or '08').

Ho hum... as I say, and this is basically the whole point of this rather long-winded post, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of agreed best practices around what makes a good tag.  And perhaps that's right and proper - we are talking about user-generated content after all and, in the case of the tags for universities, folksonomies are supposed to grow organically rather than be prescribed (though this isn't true for meeting tags which necessarily have to be prescribed by the organisers in advance of the meeting).

FWIW (which probably isn't much given the apparent level of disagreement) my current feeling is that brevity trumps clarity (at least assuming a desire to use the tags in Twitter), which means that 2-digit years are better than 4, hyphens are usually superfluous, and other strings should be kept as short as possible - but, as always, I reserve the right to change my mind at any point in the future.

Information Card Foundation - second attempt

I've been doing some work recently on a draft blogging policy for Eduserv staff and one of the things it suggests is:

Don't pick fights, be the first to correct your own mistakes, and don't alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so.

(Those of you who are familiar with IBM's policies in this area will probably recognise the wording!)

Well it's time for me to eat my own dog food and hold my hands up (not an easy combined activity at the best of times :-) ).

Kim Cameron pulled me up for being overly negative about his blog post on the new Information Card Foundation (ICF) in my original post of the subject yesterday.  And he was quite right to do so.  I put an apology in a comment but that probably isn't sufficient - so I'm writing it here as well.

Sorry.

The fact is, I'm basically guilty of judging someone and something on the basis of my personal views about the company they work for and that is, frankly, unacceptable.  I don't know enough about the space to form a sensible opinion and therefore shouldn't have done so.  I'll think much harder before doing it again.  It's particularly inappropriate for me to do it, since I sometimes feel like I am judged in association with the company I work for!

Whether one views Microsoft as 'good' or 'evil' is pretty much a religious issue - and most of the time I try to keep religion out of my blog posts.  Clearly, on this occasion, I failed to do that.

For the record, and irrespective of how I came across on the blog, my first reaction on seeing the announcement of the ICF was to initiate some discussion in Eduserv about becoming a member.  (As an aside, I'm also hopeful that we'll join the W3C and the OpenID Foundation.)  This is an important initiative, for all sorts of reasons, and I'm hopeful that positive and open things will come of it.

June 25, 2008

Putting the 'new' into New South Wales' schools - outsourcing email to Google

So schools in New South Wales become the latest area of education to migrate their email from an 'in-house' solution (Outlook and Exchange in this case) to Google.  And a pretty sizable migration it is by the sounds of it - Australian schools dump Outlook for Gmail for 1.3 million students.

Wow!

On the face of it, the transition brings significant benefits, not just in terms of cost (the Education Department are reputedly saving something like 11 million quid over three years) but also in the amount of storage available to each student (6GB instead of 35MB).  But the Google garden isn't to everyone's taste and one certainly hears some grumblings about limitations and performance issues with the Google Apps offering.  How significant they are I'm not sure?

Outsourcing email to Google was one of the areas touched on in discussions at our symposium last month.  As some of you will already know, we are currently funding a series of snapshots tracking the use of Second Life within UK higher and further education.  I wonder if now would be a good time to start doing a similar series of snapshots around institutional outsourcing of services like email?

Information Card Foundation

Yesterday, Kim Cameron noted the creation of the Information Card Foundation (ICF).  Here's the start of the press release:

An array of prominent names in the high-technology community today announced the formation of a non-profit foundation, The Information Card Foundation, to advance a simpler, more secure and more open digital identity on the Internet, increasing user control over their personal information while enabling mutually beneficial digital relationships between people and businesses.

His post ends with a slightly odd looking (to me at least), though admittedly positive, reference to OpenID:

One thing for sure: the Identity Big Bang is closer than ever.  Given the deep synergy between OpenID and Information Cards, we have great opportunities all across the identity spectrum.

Why do I think it's odd?  I'm not sure... a natural tendency to scepticism I guess, especially given the events around the "standardisation" of the Open Office XML format (see the comments on Brian Kelly's post on the subject for some of the discussion around this).  As Joe Wilcox on Microsoft Watch notes:

I notice that while ICF claims Equifax, Google and PayPal as founding members, their executives aren't listed as board members. Now why is that? Perhaps no coincidence, most ICF board members come from companies supporting Microsoft technologies, such as CardSpace. I make the distinction for clarity purposes only. ICF's press announcements indicate broad industry support and lofty interoperability goals, but not without Microsoft's heavy hand in the process—or so I perceive.

Well, I guess its no big surprise that most interest in Information Cards comes from those already in the CardSpace camp.  What will be more interesting is to see how this space develops over the coming months.

June 23, 2008

Creative borrowing?

Charles Arthur, What's the right way to talk about copyright stuff? (Guardian Technology, June 23 2008), asks, "How do you describe it when someone sells a photograph they don't have a right to?".

He is referring to the fact that "some people who had put photos on Flickr under a Creative Commons non-commercial licence found that they were being sold on eBay by someone who was claiming the rights to them".

Simple question?

Apparently not - and, judging by the responses to the article, using words like 'theft' and 'steal' clearly rub some people up the wrong way... "The photographs in question simply are not being stolen. They're being copied. No thieves in existence there, but copiers. Illegal copiers I'm sure...".

I have to confess that when I used to talk to my own children about illegally downloading music on the Web I tended to use the analogy of shoplifting, on the basis that each time they downloaded a track they would be denying a shop (and the artist) a sale .  So what was their typical reaction?  Basically, they thought I was completely mad (and they probably weren't wrong - either in the specific or general case!).

As ParkyDR says in a comment on the article: "Nothing has been taken, the original owner still has the photo, in this case even copying it was ok (CC licenced), the license was broken when the photo was sold".

Well, yes...  but it still feels a lot like theft in many ways?  As Nickminers says, "if you make money from a photo that was taken by somebody else, you have effectively stolen the money that the copyright holder should have earned from the sale".

Dvdhldn suggests using the phrase "copyright theft" as a compromise between "theft" and "illegal copying" which sounds reasonable to me.  Whatever... the key point here is that I don't think many people would disagree that selling someone else's CC-BY-NC images without permission is wrong.  The issue is only with what words we should use to label the activity.

So here's a less clear cut scenario...  Brian Kelly tweeted the other day about a new competitor service to Slideshare called AuthorSTREAM.  The new service looks interesting and offers some functionality not currently present in Slideshare, though I have to say I feel slightly uncomfortable about how far the new service has gone to make itself look and feel like the original.

But the service itself isn't the issue.  Brian also noticed that someone had taken copies of a large number of old UKOLN Powerpoint presentations and uploaded them to the AuthorSTREAM site.  I took a look for my own presentations and sure enough, a few of those uploaded were mine.

Hmmm... that's a little annoying.  Or is it?  No, perhaps not - there's no attempt at passing these presentations off as being by someone else so perhaps it is just good visibility.  On the other hand, I know of at least one case where the continued availability of old, technically out of date, material on the Web does more harm than good and I'd prefer to be in control of when I publish my own crap thank you very much.

So, it's not clear cut by any means...

I also noticed that one of my more recent presentations has been made available, uploaded by someone called 'Breezy' and labeled on AuthorSTREAM as andy powell presentation, though the original on Slideshare is called The Repository Roadmap - are we heading in the right direction?  This is more frustrating in a way.  The presentation is already available on the Web in a very accessible form and someone else uploading it to a different service just waters down the Google juice of the original.  That's downright unhelpful, at least from my perspective.  If Breezy had asked, I'd have said no and asked him or her to link to the original.

Now, I must stress that Breezy has done nothing legally wrong here.  The original presentation is made available under a CC-BY licence (at least that was what I intended, though I've just noticed that in fact, on this occasion, I forgot to add a CC licence until just now!).  So in some sense, I am explicitly encouraging Breezy to do what he or she has done through my use of open licences.

But supposing Breezy had taken all of my presentations from Slideshare and replicated them all on AuthorSTREAM.  Would that have been OK?  Again, according to the individual licence on each presentation Breezy would have done nothing wrong - at least, not legally.  But morally... that seems like a different kettle of fish?  At least from my point of view.

It's frustrating because what I really want is a licence that says, "you can take this content, unbundle it, and use the parts to create a new derivative work but you can't simply copy the whole work and republish it on the Web unchanged" and more fundamentally, "you can do stuff with the individual resources that I make available but you can't take everything I've ever created and make it all available at a new location on the Web wholesale".

The bottom line is that there's a difference between making a new, derivative work and simply copying stuff.

Enough said... at the end of the day Creative Commons licences are the best we've got for making content openly available on the Web and in those few cases where things go a bit wrong I can either learn to live with it or try to resolve the situation with a simple email.

June 18, 2008

Interview with Stefan Tilkov on REST

One of the commentators/bloggers I most enjoy reading/hearing on the topic of the REST architectural style and resource-oriented approaches is Stefan Tilkov. Stefan was the guest interviewee in a recent episode of the Software Engineering Radio podcast, and the result is a very clear introduction to the principles of REST and its implementation in the HTTP protocol, and an entertaining conversation around the value of the approach.

June 17, 2008

Google Tech Talk on RDFa

A nice overview of RDFa and its potential applications, mostly here looking at Javascript client-side stuff, by Mark Birbeck, one of the co-editors of the spec, given as a Google Tech Talk. Probably best to look at the high quality version on YouTube to see the code examples, which according to Mark's comment there are also available from the lib-xh Google Code repository.

June 16, 2008

Web 2.0 and repositories - have we got our repository architecture right?

For the record... this is the presentation I gave at the Talis Xiphos meeting last week, though to be honest, with around 1000 Slideshare views in the first couple of days (presumably thanks to a blog entry by Lorcan Dempsey and it being 'featured' by the Slideshare team) I guess that most people who want to see it will have done so already:

Some of my more recent presentations have followed the trend towards a more "picture-rich, text-poor" style of presentation slides.  For this presentation, I went back towards a more text-centric approach - largely because that makes the presentation much more useful to those people who only get to 'see' it on Slideshare and it leads to a more useful slideshow transcript (as generated automatically by Slideshare).

As always, I had good intentions around turning it into a slidecast but it hasn't happened yet, and may never happen to be honest.  If it does, you'll be the first to know ;-) ...

After I'd finished the talk on the day there was some time for Q&A.  Carsten Ulrich (one of the other speakers) asked the opening question, saying something along the lines of, "Thanks for the presentation - I didn't understand a word you were saying until slide 11".  Well, it got a good laugh :-).  But the point was a serious one... Carsten admitted that he had never really understood the point of services like arXiv until I said it was about "making content available on the Web".

OK, it's a sample of one... but this endorses the point I was making in the early part of the talk - that the language we use around repositories simply does not make sense to ordinary people and that we need to try harder to speak their language.

June 13, 2008

Learning From Online Worlds; Teaching In Second Life

A live blog from the Learning From Online Worlds; Teaching In Second Life final project meeting, held at the London Knowledge Lab on 13 June 2008.

Note that the text below has been edited to correct typos and so on but no substantial changes have been made to the original.

This was a really interesting event, organised at the end of a one year project that we funded in last year's round of grants.  As you can tell from the live blog, parts of the meeting stretched my limited knowledge of learning and game theory to breaking point.  Despite that, I hope that my notes are interesting and useful.  On reflection, I think the live blogging would have worked better if I'd pre-arranged for several others in the room to contribute to the blog via the commenting mechanism - that would have provided a more rounded and balanced summary of the day to remote readers.

Learning From Online Worlds; Teaching In Second Life - final event (06/13/2008)
Powered by: CoveritLive
10:57
Andy Powell -  people are still having coffee but we should be starting shortly i think
11:00
Andy Powell -  there are about 30 people in the room
11:01
Andy Powell -  first up, we have Diane Carr, Martin Oliver and Andrew Burn talking about the project that they'd been working on for the last year
11:06
Andy Powell -  note that i'm fully expecting some of this to be over my head... bear with me
11:07
Andy Powell -  ok, we are starting
11:07
Andy Powell -  Diane Carr is starting with a project overview - note that the project ended about a month ago
11:08
Andy Powell -  project - what can our experiences in Second Life (SL) and World of Warcraft (WoW) teach us about good teaching practices in virtual worlds
11:09
Andy Powell -  how do the cultural aspects impact on this
11:09
Andy Powell -  team had been 'playing' WoW for about 18 months prior to project start but were all new to SL
11:10
Andy Powell -  started by learning SL - kept game diaries of their experiences
11:10
Andy Powell -  from this experience a set of themes were identified
11:12
Andy Powell -  expertise, conventions, SL pain barrier, gatekeeping and territorialism, creative practices, drama and performance, voice issues,
11:13
Andy Powell -  Diane and Martin describing early experiences in SL - -ve experiences of orientaation island, etc.
11:14
Andy Powell -  early part of project spent playing... err... learning i mean
11:14
Andy Powell -  exploring issues around self-representation - hey, it wouldn't be an SL project with that!
11:14
Andy Powell -  integration of voice in SL coincided with early part of the project
11:15
Andy Powell -  project also looked at WoW - which martin will be talking about later
11:16
Andy Powell -  describing WoW is a place that can be explored - SL more like a bunch of addresses - i.e. more like the Internet
11:17
Andy Powell -  project team have maintained a blog thoughout the project - noting that has been useful and interesting in context of research practice - surfacing stuff that wouldn't get surfaced normally thru formal research publication
11:17
Andy Powell -  OK... the project staff also undertook teaching sessions in SL
11:18
Andy Powell -  4 teaching sessions over 2 semesters
11:18
Andy Powell -  trial sessions to make sure that poeople could get in world and find things, etc.
11:19
Andy Powell -  machinima, role-playing, research ethics, discussion session
11:19
Andy Powell -  assessment of those sessions based on student's own assessments
11:20
Andy Powell -  this has been written up on their blog - learning to teach in second life - http://learningfromsocialworlds.wordpress.com/
11:21
Andy Powell -  meetings in SL are odd - anarchic, chaotic but motivating - keeping track of stuff is difficult
11:21
Andy Powell -  distance learners rated the SL sessions highly - and noted complementary aspects of virtual worlds with existing learning management systems
11:22
Andy Powell -  SL sessions more time consuming for the lecturer in terms of preparation - require lots of structuring - hopefully hidden from students (e.g. there tended to be lots of background IMing between tutors
11:24
Andy Powell -  in-world learning activities tended to be potentially ambiguous, potentially disoriented - but these aspects were positive - e.g. student confused by role-playing exercise in-world learned a lot about his relationship to the group
11:24
Andy Powell -  Q: what were the range of ages of students?
11:25
Andy Powell -  A: working with MA students - adults but they were distance learners so details non-obvious even to the tutors on the course - mid-20s - late 20s (guess)
11:25
Andy Powell -  the project team also undertook research in parallel to the teaching experiments
11:26
Andy Powell -  gate-keeping - SL 'pain barrier' - drama and performance - learning and methodology - martin and andrew will be addressing these later
11:26
[Comment From Sirexkat]
Where are Martin and Diane based?
11:26
Andy Powell -  both at the London Knowledge Lab - part of the University of London
11:27
Andy Powell -  describing how project has had internal impact within LKL - SL is now used on other courses
11:28
Andy Powell -  Future research... what would the project team like to do next
11:28
Andy Powell -  investigate the relationship between pedogogic experience and learner experience...
11:29
Andy Powell -  how can negotiation between student and teachers in virtual worlds lead to new pedagogies?
11:29
Andy Powell -  thanks Nick
11:30
Andy Powell -  investigate using virtual worlds for informal support of distance learners - a virtual student 'bar' for example
11:30
Andy Powell -  more investigation into discourse, rhetoric and social practice in virtual worlds
11:31
Andy Powell -  how do social factors impact on learner experience?
11:31
Andy Powell -  finally - methodologies - sorry i fell behind there and missed stuff :-(
11:31
Andy Powell -  Diane now handing over to Andrew
11:32
Andy Powell -  looking at the teaching of machinima in SL
11:34
[Comment From Guest]
sounds like a really interesting and useful event - glad you are there to tell us all about it Andy :-)
11:34
Andy Powell -  we have a slight pause here - tech glitch
11:35
Nick Noakes -  Andy, do you know if the session is being recorded?
11:36
Andy Powell -  no, not as far as i know - sorry - it's not my event and i'm right at the back so won't record it myself
11:37
Andy Powell -  oh... looks like we are switching round to cope with the hitch
11:38
Andy Powell -  Martin Oliver now speaking
11:38
Andy Powell -  "exclusion and communities" first
11:38
Andy Powell -  then "couples playing warcraft"
11:38
Andy Powell -  explaining why the team chose to look at exclusion and communities
11:39
Andy Powell -  theory = an example of the narrative construction of second life
11:39
Andy Powell -  pedagogically = if we are sending our students in, then we need to understand what they will find
11:39
Andy Powell -  research = much interest in what happens within VW like SL
11:40
Andy Powell -  introducing Wenger's Communities of Practice
11:40
Andy Powell -  oh dear - this is where i get out of my depth :-)
11:40
Andy Powell -  i knew this would happen
11:41
Andy Powell -  CoPs defined using concepts such as regimes of mutual accountability, sustained interaction, etc.

11:41
Andy Powell -  this may include hostility
11:42
Andy Powell -  what the team did was to study a sub-group of second life users and how they created a sense of community thru attempts to include and exclude people in an external discussion forum
11:43
Andy Powell -  membership could be claimed - using language such as "i am ..." , "one of us", etc.
11:43
Nick Noakes -  in a forum??
11:43
Andy Powell -  membership could be denied
11:43
Nick Noakes -  does he mean SL group?
11:43
Andy Powell -  @Nick, not sure but yes, i think so
11:44
Andy Powell -  @Nick sorry - not SL group - a more traditional forum i think
11:45
Andy Powell -  discussion in a forum outside SL but about SL
11:46
Andy Powell -  describing the kinds of language people use to include and exclude people from a social group
11:46
Andy Powell -  negative things happen in VWs
11:46
Andy Powell -  need to be aware of them when sending students into SL
11:46
Nick Noakes -  strange to be researching an indicator of SL community that is outside of SL - does he say which community/forum? Seems this might be very different from language used in live text/voice interactions within SL
11:49
Andy Powell -  I'll (try and) ask about this ...
11:52
Andy Powell -  ok, i asked... picture obtained from forum discussions is a kind of charactature of what may be going on in-world but isn't necessarily an exact picture of it - best the team could do given research ethics questions and timescales of the project - so, limitations are recognised by the team
11:53
Andy Powell -  sorry, i haven't captured that exactly - suggest looking at stuff on the blog
11:54
Andy Powell -  now looking at "couples who play WoW"
11:54
[Comment From @silversprite]
11:39 Good that VW other than SL are recognised.
11:54
[Comment From @silversprite]
Communities of Practice (inc. Wenger) has good Wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_of_practice
11:54
[Comment From John Kirriemuir]
Draft report linked from 11:29 a good read. Some great quotes/VLE interest in it. Cheers.
11:54
Andy Powell -  sorry john... missed those comments so they appear out of sequence...
11:55
Andy Powell -  looked for clear examples of stable social patterns - couples used as the simplest unit of analysis
11:56
Andy Powell -  10 people - 4 hetrosexual couples - one mother-son pairing
11:56
Andy Powell -  1 couple who share an account
11:56
Andy Powell -  1 couple where one partner has stopped playing
11:56
Andy Powell -  found that greater experience leads to greater risk taking
11:57
Andy Powell -  couples tend to learn about their identity in terms of the partnership
11:58
Andy Powell -  but also being jealous, getting frustrated, and feeling resentment, ...
11:58
Andy Powell -  tension between sharing resources vs. argument aver availability of resources - whose turn next
11:59
Andy Powell -  i apologies - this is beyond my capabilities to both listen to and understand/blog
12:00
Andy Powell -  implications - boundaries exist in the use of VWs - but they are hard to pin down (they are both permeable and negotiated)
12:01
John Kirriemuir -  @Andy Powell - you're doing fine; appreciate the blogging.
12:01
Andy Powell -  to understand education in VWs we need to understand their use in relation to other social commitments
12:01
Andy Powell -  this has implications for how we organise courses
12:02
Andy Powell -  learning takes place in relation to several topics - social patterns, resource management, structures perceived in the game
12:02
Andy Powell -  noting that much of this work is "toe in the water" stuff - not enough time in project to get into any of this in much detail
12:03
Andy Powell -  Comment from audience: expertise in WoW more easy to recognise than in SL
12:05
Andy Powell -  we're in question and answer mode at the moment
12:06
Andy Powell -  next up is Andrew Burn and Britta Pollmuller talking about "Teaching Machinima in SL"
12:07
Andy Powell -  there is an interview with Britta in on the project blog
12:08
Andy Powell -  Britta is an artist who works with schools in Norfolk but who has now set up independently, initially working in SL as part of Schome Park
12:08
Andy Powell -  we're going to see two pieces of machinima - one created by teenagers and one by Britta herself
12:08
Andy Powell -  talking about CoPs again
12:08
John Kirriemuir -  12:03 Intuitively agree. Constance Steinkuehler's research in WoW area well work exploring.
12:09
Andy Powell -  teacher as artist - teacher as avatar-artist - teacher as learner in SL
12:10
Andy Powell -  in rl - art teachers are always artists - but this is not always true in other subject areas
12:11
[Comment From Janet Ward]
Hi Andy, I used reflective practice with my students to gather what they saw as the learning from SL, anyone here mentioned/used this?
12:13
Andy Powell -  talking about discourse of distinction - how machinima is similar to animation but different from it - similar to film but different from it, etc.
12:13
Andy Powell -  technical discourse - discussion tools and techniques
12:14
Andy Powell -  Andrew is sceptical about CoP in general - but was impressed by cohesion of the group in the case of the work that Britta was doing with teenagers
12:14
Andy Powell -  talking about "epochal change" - haven't quite grasped the significance of this
12:15
Andy Powell -  "ephocal change" predicted the widespread distribution of technologies of production
12:15
Andy Powell -  sorry this is from an old article but i missed who it is by
12:16
Andy Powell -  machinima may be easier than older animation technologies - but still difficult - production not as fully democratised as some rhetoric might suggest
12:17
Andy Powell -  constrained by need to learn semi-professional practice
12:17
Andy Powell -  Britta now talking
12:17
Andy Powell -  pain barrier - couldn't stand SL initially
12:18
Andy Powell -  could only understand it when using it as means of production
12:18
Andy Powell -  working with 12-17 year olds in teen grid - on Schome Park
12:18
Andy Powell -  in space also used to teach science, maths, english
12:18
Andy Powell -  can't teach painting in SL - so chose machinima instead
12:19
Andy Powell -  set up machinima group
12:19
Andy Powell -  met once a week in evening
12:19
Andy Powell -  some communication using IM...
12:19
Andy Powell -  but most via in-world chat - little use of in-world voice
12:20
Andy Powell -  Britta didn't realise how fast teenagers can type - totally overwhelmed
12:20
Andy Powell -  lol
12:20
Andy Powell -  got used to it and managed to get a word in edgeways by the second week
12:20
Andy Powell -  google 'schome park' for details - others are welcome to join
12:21
Andy Powell -  Murder of a Gentleman - title of the current project
12:21
Andy Powell -  now being shown
12:22
Nick Noakeshttp://www.schome.ac.uk/
12:23
Andy Powell -  it's a film about the first murder on a steam train
12:23
Andy Powell -  scary music
12:23
Andy Powell -  the deed has been done (in case you were interested)
12:23
Andy Powell -  set in hackney i think
12:24
[Comment From Gia]
are any of the clips shown online anywhere?
12:24
Andy Powell -  @gia - not sure, i'll ask
12:25
Ladyjane -  @gia yes i think so - via schome wiki
12:27
Andy Powell -  discussing SL pedagogies...
12:27
Gia -  @ladyjane - thx... looking now
12:28
Andy Powell -  student led (whereas most SL work with teenagers in US tends to be adult led)
12:28
Andy Powell -  playful learning - Britta did not know who her students were
12:29
Andy Powell -  cultural resources are found, synthesised, made, performed
12:29
Andy Powell -  noting UK government agenda around creativity in learning in schools
12:29
Andy Powell -  noting that transforming artifacts can be as creative as building your own
12:29
Andy Powell -  Britta tried to introduce voice - but students did not like it and naturally stopped - too personal
12:30
Andy Powell -  voice made them inhibited
12:30
Andy Powell -  voice disrupted avatar coherence
12:30
Andy Powell -  in terms of teaching it took eveyone back to the noise of the classroom - chat is different
12:31
Andy Powell -  but... the students did use the voice channel to play music to each other (poor quality music!)
12:32
Andy Powell -  group production - and with traditional roles - including actors - which you don't get in animations - also noting synergy with drama production and teaching - but also like using puppets
12:32
Andy Powell -  citing Matt Kelland - "Short Fuse" - book
12:32
Andy Powell -  machinima as breaking new ground and as being very traditional
12:33
Andy Powell -  Q and A
12:33
John Kirriemuir -  Anecdotes and research have personally come across so far show voice at best to be mixed response, more usual negative, in teaching attempts.
12:33
Andy Powell -  Q: how is theory of machinima imparted to students?   A: via the forum before going in world - part of schome park forum
12:34
Andy Powell -  noting that this isn't much different from any other after school club - also difficulty in determining the differences between what happens in-world and what happens in external forum
12:35
Andy Powell -  Q: pedagogy and negotiation between teacher and learner - does the virtual environment help with this?
12:37
Andy Powell -  student experience of other gaming environments has direct impact on their experience of SL and how they present themsleves within the environment
12:39
Janet Ward -  Hi Andy, Only 3/46 undergraduates had any experience of other MMOGs at Newcastle this year
12:39
Andy Powell -  SL didn't offer much to students on campus - but did appear to be attractive to distance learners
12:39
Andy Powell -  sorry - i'm picking bits and pieces out of discussion here
12:39
Andy Powell -  its a bit random
12:40
Andy Powell -  Q: how does copyright work in hugely collaborative machinima environment like SL
12:40
Andy Powell -  A: huge area of debate currently in machinima circles
12:41
Andy Powell -  but in case of Britta's work everything is public on the schome park web site
12:43
Andy Powell -  teachers spend a lot of time on Schome Park negotiating between students about who builds what and when
12:43
Andy Powell -  Q: say more about ethical issues?
12:44
Andy Powell -  followed general guidance about ethical issues in internet research - OAIR ??
12:44
Andy Powell -  no big issues
12:46
Andy Powell -  teaching ethics - e.g. issues around use of SL client - had to ensure that all students had an alternative way of engaging - if they couldn't connect to SL
12:46
John Kirriemuir -  Hmmm, copyright good point. If an academic creates a learning resource in SL, in a combination of work and home time/resource (which many do) but then uses it for their university lectures, does he/she or the uni have claim on it? Wonder if this issue will arise in UK.
12:47
Janet Ward -  Hi John,
12:48
Andy Powell -  Q: there has been little reference so far to the relationship between people and their own avatars and the way that their investment in their avatar impacts on their sense of identity
12:48
Gia -  @JohnK I would guess that depends to a degree on their contract
12:48
Nick Noakes -  Linden's ToS also gives them rights to it which is an issue
12:48
Andy Powell -  students not in-world for any major length of time - so investment low
12:49
Andy Powell -  not enough time in project to investigate these kinds of issues fully
12:49
Janet Ward -  At Newcastle anything we produce on our work pc's is considered university property. However I have just produced materials as part of a grant so this then becomes more complicated
12:50
Andy Powell -  students tended to distance themselves from their avatars - disposable
12:51
Andy Powell -  where lecturer has invested a lot in their avatar - e.g. hair, shoes, emotes, animations - this can be quite intimidating for new student avatars
12:52
Andy Powell -  in Britta's work in schome park - most teacher avatars are quite basic
12:54
Andy Powell -  we are about to see Britta's award winning machinima - will give you the title in a mo - then it is lunch
12:56
Janet Ward -  Thanks Andy it has been really interesting
12:57
Andy Powell -  will be back after lunch at 2pm with talks by Tanya Krzywinska and Aleks Krotoski
12:58
Gia -  thx Andy
12:59
Andy Powell -  think machinima is called "Bad Things" - set on 'grim babies' sim in SL i think??
1:00
Andy Powell -  this was a winner at the 48 hour machinima comp recently
1:04 [Be Right Back Countdown] 60 minutes
1:06
Ladyjane -  Link to the murder clip: http://schomepark.blip.tv/file/971966/  Thanks to Shri for that.
1:56
[Comment From Shri Footring]
Hi, just had a skype message from Jane telling me about this and asking for the url for the Schome machinima. I've sent it to her:
2:05
Andy Powell -  ok, i'm back and we are starting
2:05
Andy Powell -  a few images are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/eduservfoundation/sets/72157605592770875/ just to give you a feel for the place
2:06
Andy Powell -  Tanya Kryzwinska up first
2:06
Andy Powell -  talking about WoW
2:06
Andy Powell -  learning the "language" of WoW
2:06
Andy Powell -  how can we understand the game in terms of learning?
2:07
Andy Powell -  about 50% of the room have played WoW - maybe a bit less
2:07
Andy Powell -  what is WoW?
2:08
Andy Powell -  MMoG - started 2004 - using aspects of game mechanics that were originally developed for table-top role-playing games
2:08
Andy Powell -  fantasy based - e.g. as per lord of the rings
2:08
Andy Powell -  but somewhat tongue-in-cheek
2:09
Andy Powell -  cartoony influence
2:10
Andy Powell -  comes out of a set of games called "Warcraft" - which originated circa 1994
2:10
Andy Powell -  players located in a troubled world in which there are factions
2:11
Andy Powell -  slow evolution (thru patches) additional material - usually making the world larger
2:11
Andy Powell -  players progress thru layers
2:11
Andy Powell -  players can play solo or in groups
2:12
Andy Powell -  but long term players tend to treat it as a team game
2:12
Andy Powell -  groups form thru guilds
2:12
Andy Powell -  guild membership helps you to progress
2:12
Andy Powell -  WoW demands a lot of time and energy to play
2:14
Andy Powell -  what questions might we ask? - commerce, socio-cultural, formal/textual/design
2:16
Andy Powell -  commerce... how are players retained? who is it aimed at? how do commercial factors shape the game, etc.
2:18
Andy Powell -  socio-cultural - what is being learned, why is it important, what are the implications of interacting via avatars, how does the formal game element shape people's interactions, are there significant playing patterns, addition, how are rules and policies policed?
2:19
Andy Powell -  formal/textual design - how do aesthetics relate to mechanics, how is player positioned within game space, what factors encourage engagement, etc. ??
2:21
Andy Powell -  key questions are around meaning, learning and pleasure
2:22
Andy Powell -  games and virtual worlds are exciting because they bring together people from multiple disciplines
2:22
Andy Powell -  going to talk about game literacy
2:23
Andy Powell -  how are players conceptualised?
2:23
Andy Powell -  implied player vs. real player
2:24
Andy Powell -  relationship between players and game text
2:24
Andy Powell -  games industry is risk averse
2:27
Andy Powell -  in WoW you only see the game from the perspective of one virtual player typically
2:27
Andy Powell -  to learn the game we have to learn to decode what is on offer
2:28
Andy Powell -  'decode' cf Stuart Hall (not the one from It's a Knockout)
2:28
Andy Powell -  players bring things to the game, the game gives things to players
2:28
Andy Powell -  ok, now onto learning thru playing WoW...
2:29
Andy Powell -  range of reasons for playing WoW...
2:29
Andy Powell -  social, escape, fun...
2:29
Andy Powell -  but learning is foundational to playing WoW
2:29
Andy Powell -  individual learning is key to progress thru the game
2:29
Andy Powell -  this is linked to the game design
2:30
Andy Powell -  it keeps you learning - even after 4 years of playing
2:30
Andy Powell -  how can we understand that learning - in terms of understanding games as 'texts'
2:30
Andy Powell -  pattern recognition is core to this
2:31
Andy Powell -  game demands high level of information and communication management
2:31
Andy Powell -  players must 'read' the game's cues
2:32
Andy Powell -  proxemics - not heard this before - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proxemics
2:32
Andy Powell -  judging the semiotics of spatial relationships
2:32
Andy Powell -  kinesics - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinesics
2:33
Andy Powell -  reading the actions and movements of monsters, etc
2:33
Andy Powell -  representing yourself - being able to 'read' other player's gear
2:34
Andy Powell -  self-representation options more limited than second life
2:35
Andy Powell -  avatar representations tell you about the player's history
2:36
Andy Powell -  gear stats - relatively complex mathematical processing required to compare and balance the kinds of gear that are on offer
2:37
Andy Powell -  quest patterns - quests are a core part of the game - but some players weigh up which quests are worth doing
2:39
Andy Powell -  guild/raid management - running a guild and/or a raid is a complex task - some guilds are 350 (one even 2000) people - so running it is a full time task
2:40
Andy Powell -  management experience is real - timekeeping, time managenment, structuring loyalty to the guild, rewarding members
2:40
Andy Powell -  reward structure set by the guild - not by the game itself
2:42
Andy Powell -  guilds are very broad and diverse - e.g. 40 person raid will include people from all over europe and inter-player communication is not just about the game but about people's real life issues
2:43
Andy Powell -  recent in-world meeting/conference 'University of Azeroth' looking at use of WoW for learning
2:44
John Kirriemuir -  Read somewhere recently that running a WoW guild is increasingly good thing to have on CV (so long as interviewers are of course clued up).
2:44
Andy Powell -  summing up - skills learned in WoW are transferable to real-life
2:46
[Comment From Janet ward]
I wonder if they have compared other shards of WoW than just Europe
2:47
Andy Powell -  we're in Q&A at the moment
2:49
Andy Powell -  Aleks Krotoski coming up next - but prob after a quick tea-break
2:50
Andy Powell -  Q: is WoW a database that people are invited to play with?   A: No, that's what SL is(!) - WoW is a narrative experience - WoW shares characteristics of a movie
2:50
Andy Powell -  SL more frightening because of lack of structure
2:51
Andy Powell -  WoW is primarily a social space
2:52
Andy Powell -  Comment from audience: "protest in SL is an attempt by players to bring a ludic element" because they are so desperate to bring some kind of structure to it
2:53
John Kirriemuir -  2:50 Hmmm. Frightening to people who need crutch of structure? WoW arguably more frightening as real time, against you, onslaught of onscreen information in many forms. Find am less in control of things social, pace of events, in WoW than in SL. Just personal view.
2:54
John Kirriemuir -  Question for speaker: Have there been any demographics of people found (apart from people with a lot of time! and researchers) who are significant users of both WoW and SL?
2:56
Gia -  @John K - WoW more frightening BECAUSE of structure maybe? For a n00b existing complex social hierarchy may be intimidating
2:57
Andy Powell -  WoW has more learning built into the game - but less flexible in terms of allowing educators to structure their own approaches to teaching
2:58
Andy Powell -  sorry, john questions cut off before i could ask - had one of my own as well - will try later
2:58
Andy Powell -  5 minute break now for tea - back in a mo with Aleks
2:59
Janet Ward -  Hi
3:01
Janet Ward -  I think there is a cultural perspective to which is more frightening. Asian postgraduate students found Sl very confusing in contrast to WoW or The Sims whcih they had expereince of.
3:02
Gia -  @ Janet - interesting! I wonder how much culture does play a part and how much is individual personality
3:02
John Kirriemuir -  Janet: interesting.
3:03
Gia -  I think it is also a question of age: SL seems to appeal much more to 25 and overs
3:03
Janet Ward -  I think it will be interesting to see HiPiHi the MMOG the Chinese are developing
3:10
Andy Powell -  hi, back again...
3:10
Gia -  *waves @Andy*
3:10
John Kirriemuir -  Picture of next speaker: http://www.flickr.com/photos/toastkid/1813567627/
3:10
Andy Powell -  focus back again on second life

3:10
Andy Powell -  Aleks Krotoski, University of Surrey and the Guardian
3:11
Andy Powell -  title of presentation is "Putting the social into social world research"
3:12
Andy Powell -  general overview - looking at social networks within second life
3:13
Andy Powell -  has been working at Linden Lab continuing her PhD work
3:13
Andy Powell -  SL as platform rather than game - (a "capitalist nightmare")
3:13
Andy Powell -  no aim
3:14
Andy Powell -  different affordances than games like WoW
3:15
Andy Powell -  being social in SL takes multiple forms
3:16
Andy Powell -  group chat in public
3:16
Andy Powell -  more intimate - talking in private in public environment or talking in a private environment (both in-world)
3:16
Andy Powell -  what is "ludic"?
3:17
Andy Powell -  Community vs. code
3:17
Andy Powell -  CoP = a consensual hallucination (Gibson)
3:17
Andy Powell -  mutual experience - collaborative
3:18
[Comment From Candy Schwartz]
playful
3:18
Andy Powell -  ah, thanks
3:19
Andy Powell -  SL is a communal space but coders inside LL don't think about community at all
3:20
Andy Powell -  need to create that community
3:20
John Kirriemuir -  Andy: On-off debate about Ludology in games research area e.g. http://www.ludology.org/articles/ludology.htm
3:20
Andy Powell -  Community vs. ToS
3:21
Andy Powell -  in the beginning SL was a big group hug
3:21
Andy Powell -  as it grew things started to devolve
3:21
Andy Powell -  e.g. demise of town hall meeting
3:23
Andy Powell -  LL is now seen as a service provider - cf. an ISP - which means that they do not control all aspects of the service
3:23
Andy Powell -  talking about the Tax Revolt
3:23
Andy Powell -  first organised protest within the world of SL
3:25
Andy Powell -  talking about Copybot - tied up with the attempts to make the grid open source - allowed code out that let people copy everything in-world - lead to concerns about IPR, value of in-world property, sales, etc.
3:27
Andy Powell -  second life branding issues - LL trying to grab back their ownership of the SL brand
3:28
Andy Powell -  Community vs. currency
3:28
Andy Powell -  what is valuable?   individualism vs. collectivism, capitalism vs. communism
3:29
Andy Powell -  who has influence? - social capital, what does it mean to trust?
3:29
Andy Powell -  who is friends with who?
3:30
Andy Powell -  what makes and breaks reputations?
3:31
Andy Powell -  important to remember who is behind the avatar
3:33
Andy Powell -  researchers tend to psuedonymise (sp?) the person behind the avatar - but probably need to psuedonymise the avatar as well
3:33
Andy Powell -  because avatars are long term constructs
3:35
Andy Powell -  concern that presense of researchers in-world would take from but not give to the in-world community
3:35
Janet Ward -  Concern from who?
3:36
Andy Powell -  concern from other avatars when Aleks first started doing research inside SL (I think)
3:37
Andy Powell -  sorry, i'm struggling to follow the thread here - probably my fault
3:37
Andy Powell -  suggesting that LL know very little about how much educational use is being made of SL
3:38
Andy Powell -  other than in limited case - e.g. island sales that are explicitly for educational purchases
3:39
Andy Powell -  noting that singapore government is sponsoring educational institutions to go into SL
3:39
John Kirriemuir -  Yes. Have encountered "research fatigue" (as a researcher) from people/avatars who are fed up being asked survey or research questions.
3:39
Andy Powell -  LL recognise that educational community will become increasingly important to help to sustain SL over time
3:39
Gia -  that is surprising as they recently released a 20min podcast ("Inside the lab") that dealt specifically with Education
3:40
Andy Powell -  but LL don't quite know how to foster that community
3:40
Janet Ward -  SLED
3:40
Andy Powell -  LL considering implementing tagging, so that you can flag land and other objects as educational
3:41
Janet Ward -  Sorry, just meant to say that SLED database was very active
3:41
Candy Schwartz -  "Educational" doesn't necessarily mean connected with teaching and learning activities - sometimes more marketing
3:43
Andy Powell -  noting that LL suffer a little bit from having their material seen purely as 'promotional' in nature - even when it is intended to be made available in research context
3:44
Andy Powell -  into questions...
3:44
Andy Powell -  and answers...
3:50
Andy Powell -  sorry, asking a couple of questions myself so not blogging - Q: are LL aware of our current SL snapshots and are they of vaklue to them... also whether Aleks' work investigating social networks extends outside of SL to take account of how people use their avatars to blog, tweet and so on.  A: yes, snapshot reports are known about and valuable - no research to date not really considered social networks outside SL
3:51
Andy Powell -  Q: how much anonymity does education in SL need - and how much does LL need to know about what is going on in that space?
3:52
Andy Powell -  80% of people that hit the registration web page are lost within 1 hour - LL suspect that large proportion of that doesn't like psuedonymity
3:53
Andy Powell -  LL looking at getting rid of psuedonymity for first avatar (i.e. will offer the ability to use your real name)
3:54
Janet Ward -  Perhaps its more to do with the problems inherent in the registration process
3:54
Andy Powell -  yes... i wondered that also
3:55
Candy Schwartz -  Or with what happens once you're in, in terms of slowness and crashing
3:56
Andy Powell -  note: two meanings of anomymity - anonymity from other avatars (even people on the same course as you possibly) and anonymity from LL
3:56
Janet Ward -  They could really improve the orientation process as well
3:56
Andy Powell -  Note that NMC have tried to build an improved registration and orientation experience targetted at educators
3:57
Janet Ward -  Yes, but I was getting my students to assess SL so they needed to do through SL process
3:57
Andy Powell -  ah, ok
3:59
Andy Powell -  Q: can only understand elearning by following individual learners over time to understand how and why they participate in these kinds of virtual spaces - most work we have heard about today is too general
4:00
Andy Powell -  Q: suggesting that Aleks is too close to LL and that will change the kinds of questions that she asks/researches!   blunt or what!?
4:01
Janet Ward -  Back to use of reflective practice of individual learning
4:02
John Kirriemuir -  3:59Q slightly unfair; lack of funding, lack of time since some VWs emerged means major longitudinal studies difficult?
4:03
Andy Powell -  OK, day finished - apart from drinking session and the like
4:03
Janet Ward -  Thanks again Andy
4:03
Andy Powell -  hope this was useful - and apologies for obvious lack of knowledge on my part thru most of it
4:03
Candy Schwartz -  It was great - thanks so much
4:03
Andy Powell -  over and out
4:03
John Kirriemuir -  Andy: great stuff. Very useful; I have a few potential research ideas out of it; cheers.
4:06
Ladyjane -  thanks Andy
4:07
Gia -  Thanks (sadly missed the end due to office interference)

Schedule
11 - 12.30
Session 1: Learning from Online Words, Teaching in Second Life
Diane Carr, Martin Oliver, Andrew Burn.

1.30 – 2.00 Lunch provided

2 – 4 pm: Tag team events
Each session will begin with a 20 min presentation from an invited speaker. 

2 pm – 3 pm
Session 2: Virtual Worlds, Subjectivity and Methodology
How do we conceptualise the participating/learning/playing subject, and how does this relate to the questions that we ask as researchers, and the methodologies that we employ? How will we know learning (or meaning or pleasure) when we see it?
Invited speaker: Tanya Krzywinska

3 pm - 4 pm
Session 3: Putting the Social into Social World Research
How should we define or study the social in Second Life? What of the intersections between agency, community, code, terms of service, and various in-world currencies (such as reputation, stats or credibility for instance)? How might these things relate to learning and teaching practices? What do newbie educators and students need to know about SL culture and etiquette?
Invited speaker: Aleks Krotoski

June 12, 2008

Scenius and innovation

Kevin Kelly, over at the Technium, has an interesting piece about the "extreme creativity that groups, places or "scenes"" can occasionally generate", Scenius, or Communal Genius. Most of the post describes a climbing camp known as Camp 4, originally set up in the Yosemite in the 1930s, and is well worth a quick read.  As Kevin says:

Although many have tried many times, it is not really possible to command scenius into being. Every start up company, or university would like their offices to be an example of scenius. The number of cities in the world hoping to recreate the scenius of Silicon Valley is endless, but very few have achieved anything close.

Most technology companies make vague claims that they are in some way "innovative" - Eduserv is no exception.  How many achieve it in any real sense?  Not many I suspect.  It's certainly something that we struggle with here.

The Talis strapline (which comes to mind partly because I spoke there the other day), "shared innovation", is nice because it explicitly acknowledges that innovation has to take place within a wider "scene", beyond company boundaries.  And Talis appear to be quite successful in doing that, at least from the perspective of someone looking in from the outside.

I'm trying desperately not to end this post on a downer, but it seems to me that the sad fact is that most of us spend our working lives looking for scenius and that, in the main, there isn't enough to go round.

As I get more, err..., senior (in terms of the organisations I work for) I have also come to realise that, increasingly, my primary role in terms of encouraging innovation is to give people the space to be creative, then get out of their way.  Or as Kevin puts it, "... the best you can do is NOT KILL IT. When it pops up, don't crush it. When it starts rolling, don't formalize it. When it sparks, fan it".

Great expectations?

Another interesting looking report from the JISC, this time focusing on how well UK universities are meeting the ICT expectations of new undergraduates, Great Expectations of ICT: how higher education institutions are measuring up.

There's a lot of material here, which I haven't looked at in detail yet, but the key findings are reported as follows:

  • General use of social networking sites is still high (91% use them regularly or sometimes). Frequency of use has increased now that they are at university with a higher proportion claiming to be regular users (80%) - up from 65% when they were at school/college.
  • 73% use social networking sites to discuss coursework with others; with 27% on at least a weekly basis.
  • Of these, 75% think such sites as useful in enhancing their learning.
  • Attitudes towards whether lecturers or tutors should use social networking sites for teaching purposes are mixed, with 38% thinking it a good idea and 28% not. Evidence shows that using these sites in education are more effective when the students set them up themselves; lecturer-led ones can feel overly formal.
  • Despite students being able to recognise the value of using these sites in learning, only 25% feel they are encouraged to use Web 2.0 features by tutors or lecturers.
  • 87% feel university life in general is as, or better than, expected especially in terms of their use of technology, with 34% coming from the Russell Group of universities saying their expectations were exceeded.
  • 75% are able to use their own computer on all of their university's systems with 64% of students from lower income households assuming that they are able to take their own equipment, perhaps due to lack of affordability and ownership.

The following comments, from towards the end of the JISC Web page for the report, also feel significant and present a somewhat less than positive view about staff attitudes to the innovative use of ICT for learning within the university sector:

Students do not perceive HEIs to be leading the way in developing new methods of learning. Their perception is that current technology training for students tends to focus on how to use different systems. There is little sense that the HEI has a remit to encourage these students to think differently about information, research and presentation.There is also emerging evidence that student-driven ICT, including the use Web 2.0 features is very beneficial in their learning despite relatively few feeling they are encouraged to use Web 2.0 features in this way. Attitudes as to whether social networking sites could be used in teaching are mixed, however, where social networking emerges organically among the students, it is shown to be more successful than networks put in place by the teacher...

June 10, 2008

Talis Xiphos Research Day

This blog entry was used to host a live blog report from the Talis Xiphos Research Day, held at the Talis offices outside Birmingham on 10 June 2008.

Note that this page, and the live blog it contains, has been edited after the event to correct minor typos and so on.  However, no substantial changes have been made.

The day's agenda was:

09:00 Coffee & Registration
09:30 Welcome & Introduction
09:45 Peter Murray-Rust, University of Cambridge - Data-Driven research.
10:30 Andy Powell, Eduserv - Web 2.0 and repositories - have we got our repository architecture right?
11:15 Coffee
11:30 Carsten Ulrich, Shanghai Jiao Tong University - Why Web 2.0 is Good for Learning and for Research: Principles and Prototypes.
12:15 Alan Masson, Senior Lecturer in Learning Technologies, University of Ulster - Formalising the informal - using a Hybrid Learning Model to Describe Learning Practices.
13:00 Lunch
13:45 Chris Clarke, Talis - Project Xulu - Creating a Social Network from a Web of Scholarly Data.
14.15 Alan Trow-Poole and Ian Corns, Talis - Project Zephyr: Letting Students Weave Their Own Path.
14:45 Attendee discussion and feedback
16.00 Close

As you may note from the live blog transcript, there was a small modification to the afternoon agenda, adding Nadeem Shabir (Talis) at the end of the programme.

Clearly, I was unable to live blog myself.  Rob Styles and Nadeem Shabir added comments to the live blogging system as my talk progressed.  Unfortunately, comments in the Coveritlive system that I was using need to be approved by the live blog author in real time and I was not available to do so, meaning that their comments only became visible after I had finished my talk and had started live blogging the next speaker.  Apologies that things go slightly out of order at that point.

Overall, the day was very enjoyable and interesting, with talks covering a range of topics relevant to learning and research.

Talis Xiphos Research Day (06/10/2008)
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9:36
Andy Powell -  ok, Peter Murray Rust (PMR) is just starting...
9:37
[Comment From AdrianStevenson]
Don't suppose there's any audio feed?
9:38
Andy Powell -  @ade no, sorry, no audio - i may try setting something up later, but too rushed now with my talk coming up next
9:40
Andy Powell -  PMR saying thast publishers are primarily about preventing access to content - then asking if there are any publishers in the room - which there are! lol
9:40
Adrian Stevenson -  @AndyPowell OK. Shame I didn't spot this event. as would have attended An audio recording at least would be great. Slides anywhere?
9:40
Andy Powell -  my slides are at http://tinyurl.com/4fehq8
9:40
Adrian Stevenson -  cheers
9:40
Andy Powell -  not sure about others
9:41
Andy Powell -  PMR not using slides as such
9:42
Andy Powell -  PMR currently outlining topic of his talk - open data, repositories, etheses, semantic data, science commons, ...
9:42
Andy Powell -  openNoteBook science
9:44
Andy Powell -  showing graph of atmospheric carbon dioxide
9:45
Andy Powell -  arguing that ability to share digital copies of data and analysis (a graph in this case) very important
9:46
Andy Powell -  scientific publication = discourse (human readable), embedded facts, etc. but using of PDF prevents machine re-use
9:47
Adrian Stevenson -  Cheers for this micro blogging btw Andy. Don't feel obliged to do it all day!
9:47
Andy Powell -  i find it helpful for me :-)
9:47
[Comment From Paul Miller]
Presentations should go up at www.talis.com/xiphos/events shortly.
9:49
Andy Powell -  in chemistry, some data available thru some chimcal databases (repositories) but embedded chemical formula, etc. only available in human-readable form
9:49
Adrian Stevenson -  Ta Paul
9:50
Andy Powell -  patent office is looking at sharing semantic data
9:50
Andy Powell -  this disrupts gatekeepers who currently re-purpose non-semantic data for industry
9:51
Andy Powell -  gatekeepers currently quite powerful
9:52
Andy Powell -  talking hangovers from paper age of publishing - from victorian age - still affecting the way publishing happens today - e.g publishers asking for graphs to be removed from papers to save "space"
9:53
Andy Powell -  talking about the importance of publishing data as well as results - so that results can be verified, re-tested, etc.
9:53
Adrian Stevenson -  Anybody there able to cover Andy's talk? Unless he's going to do both ..
9:54
Andy Powell -  now showing 'real' scientists at work - journal of visualized experiments www.jove.com
9:55
Andy Powell -  reports of expeiments using video
9:55
Andy Powell -  and text explanations
9:57
Andy Powell -  noting importance of publishing science in sufficient detail that it can be repeated
9:57
Andy Powell -  big science epitomises the data deluge and data is well supported
9:58
Andy Powell -  long-tail science also generates lots of data
9:59
Andy Powell -  err, no, i aint going to do both - but i'm just saying the same old stuff :-) repositpories, tada yada, web 2.0 yada yada, semantic web yada yada - that kind of thing
10:00
Andy Powell -  most science done in the long tail - small lab work and so on
10:00
Andy Powell -  how do we deal with the long tail of science - not currently well catered for
10:00
Andy Powell -  repositories don't currently meet the needs of long tail science
10:01
Andy Powell -  paul might cover my bit - paul, you can comment without moderation - hint hint
10:02
Andy Powell -  domain repositories currently cater better for long tail science - you don't use your institutional repository
10:02
Andy Powell -  30% of scientists have lost their data at some point
10:03
Andy Powell -  showing a typical thesis
10:03
Andy Powell -  graphs, molecules, equations, ...
10:04
Andy Powell -  PDF == reading with boxing gloves on
10:04
Andy Powell -  can't get at the interesting data that is embedded in the document
10:04
Andy Powell -  showing robot (called oscar) that reads word files and extracts interesting data
10:05
Andy Powell -  xml exposed by word much better than pdf in terms of processability
10:06
Andy Powell -  table constructed automatically from text of document
10:07
Andy Powell -  can process large part of the chemical literature using this kind of technology

10:07
Andy Powell -  but... copyright (to publishers) prevents re-use
10:08
[Comment From PeteJ]
This sounds similar content to PM-R's OR08 keynote session. Not that that's bad thing. Just sayin'.
10:09
Andy Powell -  demoing another tool called CrystalEye - wwmm.ch.cam.ac.uk/crystaleye (I think)
10:10
Andy Powell -  grabs ToC for laterst issue of journal and then draws molecules that are not in the original publication based on info extracted
10:10
PeteJ -  Memories of fierce MSWord v PDF arguments between text miners & preservationists @ OR08
10:11
Andy Powell -  PMRs robots could go thru whole chemical literature and open it up - but strong business/publisher lobby prevents it
10:11
Andy Powell -  now showing what can be done with theses
10:13
Andy Powell -  chemistry "not much fun to read in bed"! lol
10:13
Andy Powell -  you heard it here first
10:14
Andy Powell -  showing more automatic analysis of research data (based on RDF data I think)
10:15
Andy Powell -  i'm getting a bit lost here - talking about chemical data which i don't understand - think the underlying message is that a picture is worth a thousand words - but the way we share words prevent people from drawing pictures easily
10:16
Andy Powell -  ah... now onto repositories
10:16
Andy Powell -  asking about sourceforge and eclipse
10:17
Andy Powell -  sourceforge is a repository - for managing computer code
10:17
Andy Powell -  collaborative environment
10:17
Andy Powell -  i.e. it supports social interactions
10:18
[Comment From Guest]
@andypowell - reading chemistry in bed probably wasn't what was making the floorboards squeak in your hotel...
10:18
[Comment From Silversprite]
Bloated PDF can be nightmare for researchers handicapped by tide-dependent broadband :-(
10:19
Andy Powell -  sorry - i'm being slow to approve comments!   concentrating on presentation too hard
10:20
Andy Powell -  talking about bioclipse - open source tool
10:23
Andy Powell -  now moving on to science commons
10:23
Andy Powell -  outgrowth of creative commons
10:24
[Comment From Paul Miller]
Wondering if Owen can take over when Andy speaks, next?
10:24
Andy Powell -  possibly... but think i'm going to present from my own machine
10:25
Andy Powell -  need to protect our data (as being open) before others come along and "steal" it
10:25
Andy Powell -  explicitly flag data as being "open"
10:25
Andy Powell -  talking about publishers agin - it's NOT their data!
10:29
Andy Powell -  in Q and A
10:29
Andy Powell -  I'm up next... so live blogging will stop for next 45 minutes
10:30
[Comment From Chris Keene]
Thanks Andy, hopefully someone will blog a summary of your presentation to go along with the slides.
10:33
Adrian Stevenson -  Don't forget to hit the Audacity record button Andy
11:23
Andy Powell -  ok, i'm back now... but we are going into coffe so there'll be a brief pause
11:38
Andy Powell -  right... next session about to start
11:38
Andy Powell -  Carsten Ulrich, Shanghai Jiao Tong University - Why Web 2.0 is Good for Learning and for Research: Principles and Prototypes
11:39
[Comment From Nadeem Shabir]
Andy Powell starts his talk ... on Web 2.0 and Institutional Repositories
11:39
[Comment From Nadeem Shabir]
andy talking about how we need to get the achitecture for repositories right
11:39
[Comment From Rob Styles]
"PDF is a cul-de-sac" nice quote.
11:39
[Comment From Rob Styles]
"we tend to focus on service-oriented approaches" that is we focus on services on the content, rather than the content itself
11:39
[Comment From Rob Styles]
Flickr, YouTube et al - successful repositiories, based on the social activity surrounding the content
11:39
[Comment From Rob Styles]
insitutional repositiories don't match the social networks of researchers, which are subject-based, cross-institutional and global.
11:39
[Comment From Rob Styles]
Andy suggesting that global subject-centric repositories as a possible solution
11:39
[Comment From Rob Styles]
nice quote "Thou Shalt Deposit" to force content into repositories that would otherwise remain empty
11:39
[Comment From Rob Styles]
arxiv.org as good example of how to do it, but started before we knew how to scale things like that
11:39
[Comment From Rob Styles]
Q: Why do blogs work when institutional repositories don't?
11:39
[Comment From Rob Styles]
very difficult to have a real conversation about what's best as many just want to get the next step - opening up the research using reporitories and OAI-PMH - done and embedded.
11:39
[Comment From Rob Styles]
slideshare shown as an example of a web2.0 repository
11:39
[Comment From Rob Styles]
Summary: Go Simple - RSS, Tagging, full-text indexing, microformats (maybe)
11:39
[Comment From Rob Styles]
Alternatively, we look to the semantic web and add real meaning
11:39
[Comment From Rob Styles]
references to FRBR, SWAP, ORE and DCAM
11:40
[Comment From Rob Styles]
Digital Photography and Flickr fundamentally changed the nature of photography - the growth of something different and new,
11:40
[Comment From Rob Styles]
whereas scholarly publication is taking what we have done on paper and replicate it on the web.
11:40
[Comment From Rob Styles]
Carsten: "ah, so repositories are about making content available on the web"
11:40
[Comment From Rob Styles]
"I didn't get what arxiv.org was for, but had no problem understanding slideshare"
11:40
[Comment From Rob Styles]
andy: complexity is because we live in this hybrid web/paper world
11:41
Andy Powell -  apologies to rob and nadeem who tried to cover my talk - but i hadn't approved them in advance so the rest of you didn't see it
11:41
Andy Powell -  wish coveritlive had a 'approve all' mode
11:44
Andy Powell -  Carsten talking about web2.0 and learning
11:44
Andy Powell -  web 2.0 as a research tool
11:45
Andy Powell -  going to cover 3 examples i think
11:46
Andy Powell -  describing pedagogy associated with traditional teaching methods - teacher imparting knowledge thru lectures - little opportunity for discussion by students
11:46
Adrian Stevenson -  Cheers to Rob  and Nadeem. Doesn't really matter wasn't live for us remoters.
11:46
Andy Powell -  arguing that LMS (learning management systems) are teacher centred
11:47
Andy Powell -  intelligent tuoring system try to model the knowledge of experts - e.g. in physics
11:48
Andy Powell -  based on cognitive learning theories
11:48
Andy Powell -  can recognise when topics have been understood by the student - but very expensive
11:48
Andy Powell -  still based on the idea that expert has knowledge to impart to others
11:49
Andy Powell -  citing stephen downes as example of theorists that have embraced power of web 2.0
11:50
Andy Powell -  quoting confucious: "tell me and i'll forgot - show me and i may remmber - involve me and i'll know it forever" (sorry paraphrasing)
11:50
Andy Powell -  suggesting that there has been little analysis of the pedagogical value of Web 2.0
11:51
Andy Powell -  what is web 2.0?   tim o'reilly and so on...
11:51
Andy Powell -  participation
11:51
Andy Powell -  important in learning as way for students to express themselves and as new tools for teaching
11:52
Andy Powell -  "participation" as in expressing themselves in pictures, videos, etc.
11:52
Andy Powell -  facilitates "constructivist" learning
11:53
Andy Powell -  @silversprite session will remain on efoundations
11:53
Andy Powell -  requires open approach
11:54
PeteJ -  Jumping back a bit to Andy's presentation... while SlideShare, Flickr et al do the cross-institutional/social bit, they do tend to divide the world up by resource type. My "scholarly works" include papers, videos, still images, audio etc w relationships between them that cut across resource type boundaries. (This video is delivery of those slides based on that paper etc).
11:54
Andy Powell -  web 2.0 increases audience - but needs to be exploited
11:54
Andy Powell -  @petej yes, agreed
11:55
Andy Powell -  web 2.0 - huge variety of data available - thru apis - often annotated - increasingly semantic linkedData
11:56
Andy Powell -  interesting for teaching - gives ability to re-combine vast array of material from real networks - real contexts
11:56
Andy Powell -  open linked data - big potential for learning
11:57
Andy Powell -  architecture of assembly - access via apis - functionality via widgets
11:57
Andy Powell -  in education can build prototypes very quickly - e.g. using yahoo pipes
11:58
[Comment From Silversprite]
When the day is done, is there a way of getting this whole "Cover It Live" session (not in PDF!)?
11:58
Andy Powell -  talking about personal learning environments
11:58
Andy Powell -  showing scott wilson's diagram
11:59
Andy Powell -  PLE for language learning built from iGoogle - drag and drop to build it
11:59
Andy Powell -  web 2.0 = perpetual beta
12:00
Andy Powell -  in education the improvements in functionality can be good but also distracting
12:00
Andy Powell -  e.g. need to adapt manuals, etc.
12:00
Andy Powell -  but developers open to feedback - which is good
12:00
Andy Powell -  e.g. asking twitter developers to open up channels explicitly for learning application
12:01
Andy Powell -  web 2.0 independent access to data - long tail - lightweight models
12:01
Andy Powell -  principles of web2.0 enable social and active learning
12:02
Andy Powell -  best used for t&l when you exploit these features = active role for teachers
12:03
Andy Powell -  web 2.0 for research - multitude of services with aerchitecture of assembly - easy to combine stuff - quick prototyping
12:03
Andy Powell -  good for assessing hypotheses
12:03
Andy Powell -  ok, 2 examples...
12:04
Andy Powell -  1st example: learning resource creation - intention not to overload lecturers
12:04
Andy Powell -  authoring learning resources is hard, time consuming and costly
12:04
Andy Powell -  how can we help them?
12:05
Andy Powell -  hypothesis that social bookmrking should help them
12:05
Andy Powell -  get lecturers to use del.icio.us to bookmark resources - but with predefined tags for concepts, subjects, instructional types and difficulty/level
12:07
Andy Powell -  used this to extend the LMS by embedding links from del.icio.us - very low cost to implement prototype
12:07
Andy Powell -  why? - because of the del.icio.us api
12:08
Andy Powell -  feedback from lecturers was +ve - lecturer suggested also allowing students to tag resources
12:08
Andy Powell -  but students don't tag resources if textbook is good enough - so plan to use this approach on course where textbook material isn't rich enough
12:09
Andy Powell -  2nd example: using microblogging for language learning
12:09
Andy Powell -  vocational learners shy, seldom active, limited time
12:09
Andy Powell -  goal was to provide practice possibilities
12:10
Andy Powell -  microblogging (twitter?) increasing sense of community
12:10
Andy Powell -  encoutraged participation by reducing transactional distance to teacher - quick and easy way of active participation
12:11
Andy Powell -  yes, using twitter for this
12:11
Andy Powell -  example shown is EfL courses
12:11
Andy Powell -  implemented by downloading all twitter contributions - grades based on number of contributions - not quality of contributions
12:12
Andy Powell -  made use of twitter api - but also needed screen scraping because of limitations in twitter api
12:13
Andy Powell -  98 out of 110 students participated - 5574 twitter updates over 7 weeks
12:13
Andy Powell -  teachers also contributed - ~3 updates per day
12:13
Andy Powell -  questionaire at end of experiment
12:14
Andy Powell -  most students liked it - only 5% of students anti the use of twitter on the course
12:14
Andy Powell -  "twitter is the same as the schoolyard"
12:14
Andy Powell -  50% students said that they communicated not just with each other but with other native english speakers thru twitter
12:15
Andy Powell -  but - correction of mistakes typically not done
12:15
Andy Powell -  lessons learned...
12:15
Andy Powell -  web 2.0 can stimulate learning and participation
12:15
Andy Powell -  use of twitter continued after course had finished
12:16
Andy Powell -  social dimension was very important
12:16
Andy Powell -  students encouraged each other to participate
12:16
Andy Powell -  though sometimes students reverted to native language
12:16
Andy Powell -  teacher as both moderator and participator
12:17
Andy Powell -  little use of mobile devices - too many updates from twitter
12:17
Andy Powell -  no students integrated twitter into their blogs (they weren't shown how to do this)
12:18
Andy Powell -  now going to talk about Totuba Toolkit - start-up company in Shanghai
12:18
Andy Powell -  seeking feedback about whether what they are doing sounds useful
12:19
Andy Powell -  toolkit for creating and storing "notes"
12:19
Andy Powell -  automated intelligent suggestions for realted resources
12:19
Andy Powell -  find stuff and bookmark it
12:20
Andy Powell -  add addional info and notes - what kind of resource it is
12:20
Andy Powell -  ability to export reference list of bookmarked resources
12:21
Andy Powell -  visualise what has been collected in different ways - e.g. as knowledge map
12:23
Andy Powell -  goal of totuba is to facilitate process of learning and research by removing unnecessary steps - automate integration work - make it easier to find associated resources and peers
12:24
Andy Powell -  lessons learned again...   about use of Web 2.0 for elearning generally
12:24
Andy Powell -  architecture of asembly good - prototyping good
12:24
Andy Powell -  but - reliance on third party api
12:25
Andy Powell -  yet another login - but e.g. open social graph, and openid should help with this
12:25
Andy Powell -  not all functionality available via the api
12:25
Andy Powell -  web 2.0 less suitable for "designed instruction"
12:25
Andy Powell -  good at building community
12:26
Andy Powell -  but have to be prepared for side-effects - e.g. in the 2nd example students started using twitter avatar image to share photos!
12:26
Andy Powell -  requires active teacher - stimulating use of tools
12:26
Andy Powell -  again - noting reliance on third-party tools
12:27
Andy Powell -  linked open data is still for experts
12:28
Andy Powellslideshare.net/ullrich for the slides
12:28
Andy Powell -  ok, now taking questions...
12:30
Andy Powell -  PMR: HE is about getting a degree - not about learning - web 2.0 great for learning, poor for assessment ??
12:31
Andy Powell -  Alan Masson, Senior Lecturer in Learning Technologies, University of Ulster - Formalising the informal - using a Hybrid Learning Model to Describe Learning Practices - up next
12:34
Andy Powell -  technology provides opportunities but need to work out how to enable teachers and learners to take advantage of it
12:34
Andy Powell -  going to be talking about Hybrid Learning Model (HLM) and implications of its use to help lecturers reflect on their teaching practice
12:35
Andy Powell -  facilitating "learner centred" reflective practice by teachers - but need to change teaching practice in order for this to happen - not easy to do
12:36
Andy Powell -  need to describe current practice - disseminate new practice - ensuring learner is "core"
12:36
Andy Powell -  developed "modeling framework" to achieve this
12:37
Andy Powell -  practitioners have a comfort zone - focus on content and assessment
12:38
Andy Powell -  learning design - i.e. IMS LD spec. - provides basis for work
12:38
Andy Powell -  structure within which content and assessment can be placed
12:38
Andy Powell -  formal schemas and vocabs
12:39
Andy Powell -  But LD not reflective in nature - it's about design - UI of tools not yet mature - beta interfaces
12:40
Andy Powell -  HLM brings together "8LEM" model (Uni of Liege) and "Closed set of learning verbs" (Sue Bennett, Uni of Wollongong)
12:40
Andy Powell -  focus on interactions between participants
12:41
Andy Powell -  describing 8LEM - see http://cetl.ulster.ac.uk/elearning/index.php?page=8LEM-1 for details
12:42
Andy Powell -  now looking at the learning verbs
12:42
Andy Powell -  need to see slides for this bit!
12:43
Andy Powell -  we have been given cards in our delegate packs apparently
12:44
Andy Powell -  have used to cards with lecturers - facilitated, informal context (to improve reflection) with model transcribed into relevant data grid
12:45
Andy Powell -  how are cards used??
12:45
Andy Powell -  teaching staff bring along a set of objectives
12:45
Andy Powell -  1:1 sessions lasting 45 mins to 1 hours
12:46
Andy Powell -  describing cards being used to facilite understanding about what lecturer is trying to achieve (in a specific lesson)
12:48
Andy Powell -  trying to captuire what the teacher thinks they are doing and what they expect the students to be doing
12:49
Andy Powell -  link these activities to resources and something else - urghh, i'm struggling here
12:50
Andy Powell -  HLM results in text based grid and animated activity plan - but staff also like to see a mindmap
12:51
Andy Powell -  showing a completed grid - presented as an animated walk-thru
12:51
Andy Powell -  walk-thru shows teacher's role, learner's role, and what will be learned
12:52
Andy Powell -  intention is to help students understand the process rather than just the outcomes
12:53
Andy Powell -  result is that lecturers are formalising processes that haven't be articulated before
12:53
Andy Powell -  they are creating artifacts that formalise what they do - but also that challenge what they are doing
12:54
Andy Powell -  i.e. that challenge their teaching values
12:55
Andy Powell -  this model potentially helps bridge divide between "wooly" teaching practice (what actually happens in the classroom) and highly formalised constructs such as IMS LD
12:56
Andy Powell -  benefit of the model is that small chunks of structured information provides very useful building blocks for teachers
12:58
Andy Powell -  practitioner feedback about developoment and use of the model +ve - e.g. "encouraged me to think about leaner's perspective rather than just focusing on the teacher"
1:00
Andy Powell -  describing evaluation by learners of the use of the model - intention was to help year 1 students to new learning environment of uni
1:02
Andy Powell -  student: "helped me to bring everything together and know what is expected of me"
1:03
Andy Powell -  verbs helped students understand what processes were expected of them
1:08
Andy Powell -  sorry... i'm still here... but struggling to get my head round some of this... my problem, not the speaker's
1:10
Andy Powell -  use cases in which this approach is expected to be relevent...
1:11
Andy Powell -  raising awareness of learner perspective in teaching and learning processes
1:11
Andy Powell -  reflecting on and reviewing current practice
1:11
Andy Powell -  planning and designing course materials
1:11
Andy Powell -  providing reference framework for course administration
1:12
Andy Powell -  assisting students to adapt to new learning situations
1:13
Andy Powell -  summary - light model - easy to capture stuff - focus on practice - focus on learner perspective - multiple use cases - +ve evaluations so far - model formally embedded into Uni of Ulster (thru staff induction) - formalising the informal
1:15
Andy Powell -  one of the drivers for this is need to bring more diverse range of students and address issues around retention
1:15
Andy Powell -  also trying to address cultural issues between student base (partic. new students) and older base of existing staff
1:17
Andy Powell -  it'll be lunch in a minute... back in a while
1:20
Andy Powell -  assessment of model follows: "usability, use, impact" track - project is in 1st year - so not into 'impact' phase yet
1:20 [Be Right Back Countdown] 30 minutes
2:00
Chris Keene -  thinking Chris Clarke should just be taking stage?
2:06
Andy Powell -  ok, i'm back from lunch - sorry we are running slightly late now
2:07
Andy Powell -  Chris Clarke, Talis - Project Xulu - Creating a Social Network from a Web of Scholarly Data
2:07
Andy Powell -  describing the early web
2:08
Andy Powell -  what we have today is a web of documents - millions of documents - but they are human oriented - machines can't understand them
2:09
Chris Keene -  yes, how dare you take lunch away from your laptop :)
2:09
Andy Powell -  looking at a 'simple' google query "how many people were evacuated during hurricane katrina"
2:09
Andy Powell -  Google gives a fairly decent answer - from wikipedia page
2:10
Andy Powell -  but - more by luck than judgement
2:11
Andy Powell -  one of the problems with the web is that the meaning of links in hidden - not machine-understandable - makes page rank less useful than it might be
2:11
Andy Powell -  semantics of links cannot be determined by machines
2:11
Andy Powell -  arguing that we need a machine-readable web
2:12
Andy Powell -  back to wikipedia page about katrina - it contains lots of assertions about facts and so on
2:12
Andy Powell -  DBpedia has derived 218 million assertions out of wikipedia
2:13
Andy Powellwww.powerset.com have built a user-experience out of the DBpedia data - which is openly available
2:13
Andy Powell -  gives much better result than that obtained by simple Google search
2:15
Andy Powellhttp://dbpedia.org/
2:15
Andy Powell -  just like web of documents, the web of data is distributed
2:15
Andy Powell -  lots of participants
2:16
Andy Powell -  describing what talis is - i'll spare you the details - mentioning the talis platform
2:16
Andy Powell -  "doing the heavy lifting for the semantic web"
2:16
Andy Powell -  chris going to talk about project xiphos
2:17
Andy Powell -  what can we (talis) do using a web of scholarly data?
2:17
Andy Powell -  given metadata for 500 articles by a friendly company - sorry, i missed the name of the company
2:18
Andy Powell -  developed visualisation of the relationships between those articles
2:19
Rob Styles -  The visualisation is Relation Browser by Moritz Stefaner
2:19
Andy Powell -  thanks rob
2:19
Andy Powell -  different colors representing different relationships between entities in the data
2:19
Andy Powell -  19800 distinct articles - mainly thru citations
2:20
Andy Powell -  21029 people
2:20
Andy Powell -  instigated a small talis project to investigate how this data can be made useful
2:20
Rob Styles -  4 people for one month, for all design and coding
2:21
Andy Powell -  developed a scholarly social network prototype
2:22
Andy Powell -  demoing from PoV of real female researcher who is listed in the sample graph
2:22
Andy Powell -  search for "flowers" (a person's name - the name of one of her collaborators)

2:23
Andy Powell -  results categorised into 4 tabs - things, people, subjects, collections
2:23
Andy Powell -  TP Flower (the person she is looking for) appears under 'people' tab
2:24
Andy Powell -  Xiphos can pre-build 'home' page for people based on knowledge in the sample graph
2:24
Andy Powell -  'home' page shows 'work', 'knows' and 'collections' tabs
2:25
Andy Powell -  the xiphos system then allows end-users to augment the computed information by hand - e.g. by clicking on an 'i know this person' link
2:26
Andy Powell -  system prompts for registration info, then tries to marry up name and other info against knwoledge in the graph
2:26
Andy Powell -  takes newly registered user to their new homepage - a rich page because of knowledge in the graph
2:27
Andy Powell -  though it might also contain some errors because of fuzziness in the graph
2:28
Andy Powell -  info includes the person's 'network' - 4 types of relationships - people you know, people you cite, people who cite you, people that you are watching
2:28
Andy Powell -  the last of these gives people a way of "watching" (i.e. tracking) someone, without indicating that you formally know them
2:29
Andy Powell -  "watching" someone is a one way relationship i.e. you know who you are watching but you don't know who is watching you
2:30
Andy Powell -  clicking on a 'work' (i.e a publication) takes you to a page for that work - overview, citations, cited by, collections
2:31
Andy Powell -  also offers a thumbnail preview of the document itself - but small enough not to break copyright (arguably)
2:31
Andy Powell -  navigate thru citations both inbound and outbound
2:32
Rob Styles -  The thumbnails in the prototype were generated with permission ;-)
2:32
Andy Powell -  collections give a way to organise stuff in ways that are relevant to the end user
2:33
Andy Powell -  collections can be watched
2:33
Andy Powell -  people can be members of collections i think
2:33
Andy Powell -  ??
2:33
Rob Styles -  did he mention you can add people to collections
2:33
Andy Powell -  not sure
2:34
Andy Powell -  can also organise stuff by events
2:35
Rob Styles -  well, people can be collaborators on the creation and management of a collection, they can also be an entry in a collection - as in a collection of people of interest
2:35
Andy Powell -  (events not implemented - just wire-framed currently)
2:35
Andy Powell -  also offers 'repository' functionality in the form of a 'Vault'
2:36
Andy Powell -  bit like sourceforge - but could offer view across distributed set of repositories
2:36
Andy Powell -  why a social network?
2:37
Andy Powell -  because it encourages users to clean/correct the data in ways that can't be done purely automatically
2:37
Andy Powell -  what else can be done with the graph?
2:38
Andy Powell -  want to see other players to be able to build stuff on it
2:39
Andy Powell -  encouaging people to think about "if you own metadata, what is it's place in the web of data?"
2:39
Andy Powelltalis.com/xiphos for full details
2:40
Andy Powell -  Q: what is your business model?   none currently - this is a prototype - but could think about pay-per-view - open access
2:40
Andy Powell -  PaulM: this work is about showing what is possible - new business models may emerge
2:41
Andy Powell -  Talis looking for/hoping for new data set that can be made more openly available
2:41
Andy Powell -  source code is available
2:41
Andy Powell -  or can be made available
2:42
Andy Powell -  Q: platform is a place to put data - but what stops it from becoming yet another silo - what still needs to be put in place to be able to work across different 'platform'-like services
2:43
Andy Powell -  robots will gather it all in - by following links in the data - open linked open data are working on this
2:44
Andy Powell -  Q: do tools exist right now?
2:44
Andy Powell -  ask Tom Heath :-)
2:44
Andy Powell -  Both Google and Yahoo are working in this space
2:45
Andy Powell -  Q: how are modifications to the graph treated - in terms of versioning?
2:45
Andy Powell -  stored in such a way that changes can be rolled back
2:47
Andy Powell -  next up...
2:47
Andy Powell -  Ian Corns, Talis - Project Zephyr: Letting Students Weave Their Own Path
2:48
Andy Powell -  disconnection of teaching/learning styles - students of google generation
2:49
Andy Powell -  digital natives - desire multimedia environment - always connected - real and virtual in parrallel
2:49
Andy Powell -  multi-plexing
2:50
Andy Powell -  disliked activities are simply skipped - huh??
2:50
Andy Powell -  they are content producers - particularly in a "rip, mix and burn" context
2:51
Andy Powell -  52% of first year undergrads are mature students (>21) but characteristics of google generation now more widely shared
2:51
Andy Powell -  now talking about resource lists - existing product is talis list
2:52
Andy Powell -  take a reading list from a lecturer and represent it electronically
2:52
Andy Powell -  access to resources more seemless for students - management of resources better for library
2:53
Andy Powell -  but - talis list not meeting the needs of google gen. students
2:53
Andy Powell -  project zephyr intended to overcome this
2:54
Andy Powell -  web of scholarly data - the reading list provides a significant way of linking resources - very interesting and valuable semantics
2:54
Andy Powell -  talis list is seen of a library application - major hurdles in getting lecturers to engage with it
2:55
Andy Powell -  student gets most benefit - costs lie with lecturer
2:55
Andy Powell -  need to find a way to provide lecturer with some value
2:55
Andy Powell -  zephyr intedned to do this
2:57
Andy Powell -  1st benefit to lecturers: by creating list in one place (zephyr) it can be surfaced in multiple places (facebook, library, etc.)
2:58
Andy Powell -  2nd benefit to lecturers: improve quality and depth of reading lists - e.g. see which resources have already been used elsewhere in other lists
2:59
Andy Powell -  3rd benefit: connecting the student with the lecturer - social networking - allowing student to ask questions, provide feedback, etc. - also connecting to peers
2:59
Andy Powell -  typical list has 500 items in it??   did he really say that!?
3:00
Andy Powell -  student experience... talis list is very much of the 'web of documents' vein
3:01
Andy Powell -  now showing screen shots of zephyr
3:02
Andy Powell -  lists presented thru navigable interface based on uni organisation hierarchy
3:02
Andy Powell -  having selected a list - student is shown a list of books and other stuff
3:03
Andy Powell -  can then filter by type
3:03
Andy Powell -  can also view superset of multiple list
3:04
Andy Powell -  can spot trends in terms of resources that are used in multiple modules
3:04
Andy Powell -  student can prioritise reading based on this
3:04
Andy Powell -  preserve structure of list as created by the lecturer
3:05
Andy Powell -  drill down into individual resources - including reviewing and rating by end-users
3:05
[Comment From Owen Stephens]
500 items not atypical - especially in humanities/arts (although sounds high as an average - science lists tend to be v short)
3:06
Andy Powell -  can also add resources into groups for collaborative activities, assignments, etc.
3:09
Andy Powell -  now looks like we have Nadeem Shabir (Talis) - not on programme i think
3:12
Andy Powell -  Note that Owen Stephens has been blogging day's talks at http://www.meanboyfriend.com/overdue_ideas/
3:12
Andy Powell -  presentation title is Open World Thinking
3:13
Andy Powell -  asking "what is the most widely used resource in first year undergrad comp sci courses?"
3:13
Andy Powell -  how can we answer that question?
3:13
Andy Powell -  data buried inside institutions
3:13
Andy Powell -  HE is silos within silos
3:15
Andy Powell -  institutions have been walled gardens - therefore solutions sold into institutions by third parties reflect that
3:15
Andy Powell -  the value in being open not recognised
3:15
Andy Powell -  not a technical problem
3:16
Andy Powell -  need a fundamental shift in thinking abouit openness
3:16
Andy Powell -  linked data is not just the semantic web done right - it is the web done right
3:17
Andy Powell -  designing for appropriation
3:17
Andy Powell -  us census data was made open without a specific application in mind
3:18
Andy Powell -  openness of description = coming to an agreed view on ways of describing things
3:18
Andy Powell -  then you can share stuff - integrate stuff - relate stuff
3:19
Andy Powell -  open descriptions + dereferenceable uris gives you interoperability for free
3:19
Andy Powell -  ontologies - formal representation of set of concepts within a domain
3:19
Andy Powell -  foaf - sioc - skos
3:20
Andy Powell -  e.g. the hybrid learning model (HML) (shown earlier) provides us with a simple ontology
3:21
Andy Powell -  Talis ontologies include...
3:22
Andy Powell -  Academic Institutions Internal Structures Ontology
3:22
Andy Powell -  Generic Lifecycle (workflow) Ontology
3:22
Andy Powell -  Resource List Ontology (sioc, bibo, foaf)
3:22
Andy Powell -  see www.vocab.org
3:22
Andy Powell -  Openness of access...
3:23
Andy Powell -  anywhere, anytime, anyhow (i.e. not necessary within a web browser)
3:23
Andy Powell -  this is a key to personalised learning
3:25
Andy Powell -  don't sell applications anymore - build contextualised views on web of data
3:26
Andy Powell -  it's only by being more open that the first question can be answered
3:26
Andy Powell -  openness is key to being able to rip, mix and burn
3:27
Andy Powell -  Xiphos is being built from ground up to embrace these kinds of questions
3:31
Andy Powell -  last presentation has finished - we are going into open discussion session - am going to sign off shortly

June 04, 2008

FRBR & "Time-Based Media", Part 4: Alternate Forms & Supplementary Materials

Another post continuing my ruminations on the use of the FRBR model for Time-Based Media. Here I'll examine three different cases which I loosely group together as dealing with "alternate forms" or supplementary resources (for/to the original video).

First, suppose I create a short "summary" or "trailer" video for my full tutorial. This might be something very short which acts as a "moving image thumbnail" e.g. for display to users browsing result sets, or it might be a more extended summary/overview. In both cases, the characteristic that distinguishes this case from my "clip" in the earlier example is that it is not a simple "part" of the whole video: rather, the content may be drawn from various parts of the whole, and it may include additional content not available in the tutorial itself. To keep things simple, let's assume I make my summary video available in only a single format from a single source.

As in the case of the clip, my summary video contains significantly different content from the original video, so from the FRBR viewpoint, we are dealing with a new Work (W21), realized in a single Expression (E21), embodied in a single Manifestation (M21), exemplified in a single Item. The relationships between these entities and the corresponding FRBR Group 1 Entities for the whole video reflect those for the case of the clip/segment (see Figure 2 in the clip/segment case), with the distinction that in this case the Work-Work and Expression-Expression relationships are of type hasSummary/isSummaryOf (rather than hasPart/isPartOf). Again for simplicity, I'm omitting the Items in the diagrams here:

Figure 1

Second, consider the case of an audio only version of my tutorial. This isn't simply a copy of the video soundtrack, but rather a version created specifically for audio, so perhaps contains additional commentary not present in the video soundtrack, and omits some other content which relies heavily on the visual representation. Again, let's assume this is available in a single format from a single source, And as in the first example, we have a new Work (W22), realized in a single Expression (E22), embodies in a single Manifestation (M22), exemplified in a single Item. So the relationships with the "original" entities form a similar "pattern" to the first case, but here the Work-Work and Expression-Expresson relationships are of type hasAdaptation/isAdaptationOf:

Figure 2

Third, I may provide text transcripts, for both of these cases, i.e a transcript for each of the video and audio tutorials. For the transcript of the video, again, following FRBR and particularly Martha Yee's point that its visual nature is a key characteristic of the moving image work, the change from moving image to text represents the creation of a new Work (and Expression, Manifestation and Item):

Figure 3

For the transcript of the audio tutorial, my initial inclination was to mirror the video case and treat the transcript as a new Work:

Figure 4

But, OTOH, FRBR does provide some examples where musical scores and musical performances are treated as multiple Expressions of a single Work. Also I notice that in the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire example analysed by William Denton and also by Ian Davis, the text editions and the audiobook editions are modelled as Expressions of a single Work. I think the different treatment comes down to the fact that in the case of the moving image, the presence of the visual aspect means that there is a significant difference in the "intellectual content" of the moving image as compared to the text transcript, and so they are considered as two distinct Works, but in the audio case, the difference in content is much less significant: the audio tutorial is simply a "reading of" the text of the transcript. I'm not sure what (if any) relationship should exist between the two Expressions (because hasAdaptation/isAdaptationOf applies to Expressions of different Works):

Figure 5

Hmmm. I think thst is consistent with the examples I see elsewhere. Even so, the lack of "symmetry" between the moving image/transcript and audio/transcript cases does leave me a little uneasy.

UK identity management future directions

In the run up to a meeting organised by the JISC, Federated Access: Future Directions Day, (at which my Eduserv Foundation colleague, David Orrell, will be speaking), Nicole Harris is seeking input from the community about what areas of activity the JISC should be considering funding in the near future.

If you have any ideas on this don't be shy...

ORE Implementer Community Wiki

A very quick addendum to my post yesterday about the Beta ORE specs: the ORE Technical Committee has set up a "community wiki" for the use of implementers examining and using these specs, to build up a collection of notes of experiences, reflections, "best practice", etc, and generally for sharing any other useful supplementary materials. The structure and content is fairly skeletal at the moment, but will be expanded over the coming days.

Thanks to Rob Sanderson of the University of Liverpool for setting this up.

June 03, 2008

Beta Release of ORE Specifications and User Guides

You've probably seen this announcement on various mailing lists by now, but yesterday Carl Lagoze and Herbert Van de Sompel announced the publication of "beta" versions of the specifications being developed by the OAI ORE project:

Over the past eighteen months the Open Archives Initiative <http://www.openarchives.org/> (OAI), in a project called Object Reuse and Exchange <http://www.openarchives.org/ore/> (OAI-ORE), has gathered international experts from the publishing, web, library, and eScience community to develop standards for the identification and description of aggregations of online information resources.  These aggregations, sometimes called compound digital objects, may combine distributed resources with multiple media types including text, images, data, and video.  The goal of these standards is to expose the rich content in these aggregations to applications that support authoring, deposit, exchange, visualization, reuse, and preservation.  Although a motivating use case for the work is the changing nature of scholarship and scholarly communication, and the need for cyberinfrastructure to support that scholarship, the intent of the effort is to develop standards that generalize across all web-based information including the increasing popular social networks of "web 2.0".

I'm a member of the "editorial group" of the Technical Committee which worked on the documents. To be honest, I've struggled to find the time to make as much input as I'd have liked in the couple of weeks, so I'm grateful to the other members of that group for getting content into shape for this release.

Is DCMI hiding its light under a bushel?

Good grief... Dublin Core gets some bad press at times - some of it justified, some of it not - and I have a tendency to blow hot and cold on the subject myself every so often but my blood near boils when I see people mis-representing Dublin Core as being just "a set of 15 basic fields" and then comparing it to other metadata standards that have, oh, let's say, 80 fields as though that makes them necessarily better and more expressive.

The recent Metadata for digital libraries: state of the art and future directions report published by JISC TechWatch is a case in point.  "State of the art and future directions"?  I'm sorry... I think I might have missed something?  The report doesn't even mention the Semantic Web or RDF - not even once.  So, if you want a report looking at the state of the art of METS and MODS in digital libraries this is the report for you - otherwise look elsewhere.  My suggestion for the TechWatch people is, "give your reports more appropriate titles - after all, it is probably the single most important metadata field!".  And for the rest of you... here's my Bluffer's Guide to the Dublin Core tip - if anyone starts using constructs like "creator.author" when they are talking about Dublin Core you can confidently tell them that they are about 5 years behind the curve.

Just for the record, Dublin Core hasn't been just "a set of 15 basic fields" since about 1995.  The current list of DCMI metadata terms stands at 50 or 60 I guess (not all of which are properties by the way) but the numbers are largely irrelevant.  What the Dublin Core provides is a set of flexible and extensible frameworks (primarily the DCMI Abstract Model but also the more recent and ongoing work looking at application profiles in the form of the Singapore Framework for Dublin Core Application Profiles) that are tightly bound to the core standards that make up the Semantic Web and that provide a toolkit for building metadata applications rich enough to meet any (yes I really do mean any) set of functional requirements whilst still remaining semantically interoperable with each other.

OK, rant over, and I apologise in part to the TechWatch report author.  As I say, if you want to know more about METS and MODS and how they fit with digital libraries then I'm pretty sure that the report is an excellent place to start.  More importantly, there are mitigating circumstances which make it understandable why people make the assumption that Dublin Core is just "a set of 15 basic fields".  DCMI has an identity crisis - it is torn between, on the one hand, promoting the highly extensible, flexible, semantically rich but conceptually challenging frameworks outlined above and, on the other, the simple, easy to understand but ultimately rather useless original 15 elements.  The only formal standards documents produced by the DCMI (ISO 15836 / NISO Z39.85 and RFC 2413) both focus solely on the original 15 elements, presumably leaving some people with the view that this is all that matters.

What I think has happened is that over the years the DCMI have tried, with some success, to associate the "Dublin Core" brand with only the 15 elements, using other terminology (usually with the prefix "DCMI") for everything else.  The result is something of a confusing mess, leaving the real value proposition offered by DCMI hidden under a bushel.  This is a shame IMHO.

To sum up... Dublin Core (at least in its widest interpretation) is definitely, 100%, absolutely, categorically not just 15 metadata elements but if you want to know what it is you'll have to look beyond the old standards documents and spend some time understanding the thinking that underpins the DCMI Abstract Model, the Singapore Framework for Dublin Core Application Profiles and various associated documents.  Only at that point will it be possible to have a sensible discussion about whether MODS and/or METS (or anything else for that matter) are "richer" than the Dublin Core or not.

To refer back to a comment by Irvin Flack on Pete's "Dublin Core layered model" post, Donkey may be right to suggest that Dublin Core stinks like an onion but if he is it isn't because it only has 15 metadata fields!

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