November 15, 2010

Microsoft Higher Education Briefing

October 22, 2010

Guest post: The 10th Anniversary E-Books Conference - Working in a digital age

Coordinated by SLIC, MMITS, SCURL, SALCTG & the JISC RSC’s (Scotland)
Playfair Library, Edinburgh
21 October 2010

Live-notes taken by guest contributor Nicola Garwood, Eduserv

Presentation One:
Books are going e!
Catherine Nicholson, Head of Learning Resources, Glasgow School of Art

  • History of e-books (Project Gutenberg started in 1971)
  • Where are we now?  “The end of the beginning”
  • Today’s challenges:
    • Different providers have different platforms and interfaces, navigation issues
    • New Sony reader launched, you can buy ebooks from anywhere (oh, except for from Amazon . . . ) – compatibility issues between readers and ebooks
    • Preservation (will digital files today work on devices of tomorrow?)
    • Expansion and innovation – Starbucks launching ebooks programme where you can pick up an ebook whilst there and the next time you come in to the cafe, it remembers  you (which ebook you were reading and remembers your place in the ebook)

Presentation Two:
The Digital Landscape: You, me and us!
Caren Milloy, Head of Projects, JISC Collections

  • In academia, things take a lot longer.  It is FEAR which stops progress.
  • How can we be ready for what’s next?
  • The “me” economy – to survive, an industry must adapt to the “me” economy and provide consumers with a hyper-personalised experience
    (example: traditional porn companies faced threat from the proliferation of free and amateur pornography available on the internet.  Playboy floundered when it made decisions by committee and asked the question “how can we get people to continue to buy our DVDs and magazines” instead of asking the question “how can we adapt to this new and changing world?”. When Playboy became strong, decisive, and forward thinking they adapted by creating a hyper-personalised experience for porn users - the specific type of porn I want, when I want, how I want, wherever I want it).
  • Ebooks are NOT providing the “me” experience currently.  They are not optimised. 
  • Users want everything they encounter to be shareable, amendable, receivable
  • Some academic publishers are just at the very beginning of starting to develop ebooks with the “me” experience in mind:
  • In the trade market, a few providers are doing this “me” experience particularly well:
    • Enhanced Editions – We tailor-make ebooks for the iphone - stacked full of brilliant, easy-to-use features, and hours of multimedia extras, and crafted with the editorial insight that only publishers can bring to a book.
    • IDEO with different products:
      • Nelson - a “bigger picture” application that helps the reader discover related perspectives, information, and discourse as he reads about a topic. The video shows Nelson providing opinion posts, fact checking, and news stories related to the text, as well as a visual display of books that reference or are referenced by the current document.
      • Coupland - Coupland takes an existing group, like the company you work for, and shows you what books are most popular within it—giving you an overview of what other people in your field are reading and thinking about.
      • Alice - demonstrates what an electronic device can bring to fiction, like non-linear narratives and stories with game elements.
  • Our online friends are now our de facto editors – these relationships are HUGELY influential. 
    • Example: instead of looking to the newspaper for the news, some people now just look to their twitter feed for the news that is relevant to them as posted by the people they’ve selected with similar interests and concerns. People trust their friends to provide only that information which is relevant to them.
  • The library role should embrace this changing world and aim to become “expert anchoring communities”
  • Similar to the question by Playboy, libraries should not be asking “how can we get students to keep reading our books” and instead should ask “how can we remain relevant to students and best support their learning needs”
  • The JISC Collections e-textbook business model study supports this view of libraries.   The study found that it would be impossible for the library to provide all the needs of its students through the purchase of e-books.  Libraries would be wise to avoid pursuing major expenditure in e-books – especially with 40% expected cuts to library HE budgets and 25% expected cuts to FE libraries.
  • UK textbook purchases by students are worth £200 million per year to publishers.  This is falling and e-purchasing is making up some of the shortfall.  University libraries, however, cannot replace this revenue stream provided by students.
  • This proposal to libraries of becoming “expert anchoring communities” represents a huge change to libraries
  • The realisation of “me” comes from “us” – Libraries should become the de facto editors for students as their academic online social network, integrating and pushing content to students.  Provide hyper-personalised content to students through social networks

Presentation Three:
The Google Generation, Professor David Nicholas, Department of Information Studies, UCL

    • Digital transition (access)
  • Disintermediation (massive choice; everybody is an “expert” – people with mobile devices using it more for content than for anything else)
  • Decoupling (professional/business meltdown – more and more activities in the digital world but more and more remotely and anonymously so that we know less and less about more and more people)
  • The virtual world has FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGED the way that we seek, use, and communicate
  • Universities risk being left behind by operating in the OLD paradigm and therefore need to move to the NEW paradigm
  • 1.6 billion scholarly materials are downloaded each year and this is increasing – widening access being the main driver
  • Quarter of scholarly use is outside of “normal” working hours of 9 to 5 and 16% occurs on weekends
  • This huge growth will continue, especially with the launch of the iPad which is a reading device instead of the web which is a viewing device
  • 40% of people do not come back to the same content
  • Everyone has VERY POOR retrieval skills – only search 2 or 3 words and only look at the top results . . . therefore only scratching the surface as to what is out there and available
  • People leave their memories in cyberspace – we do not need to remember anything anymore because the information is always available and accessible
  • “we’re always going somewhere else”
  • Abstracts are the motorways – why not give PDFs away for free and charge for the abstracts?!  Although most won’t admit it, the truth is that we prefer the abstract and hardly ever download the full article.  The abstract is short, useful, simple.  We like simple.
  • Nobody ever uses Advanced Searching – except the odd librarian.  When asking publishers why they put in advanced searching they say because librarians request it.  But no one ever uses it.
  • People want to get into a website as quickly as possible and get out again, taking the bit of information they wanted with them.
  • The horizontal has replaced the vertical – we hoover through titles, headings, content pages, and summaries at a huge rate and we find this pleasurable
  • We hardly ever spend any time on any one thing (we go to write a report, but oh we need to book that train ticket online, and let’s do a search on something for the report, oh and respond to bob’s email, and back to the report . . . )
  •  Viewing has replaced reading
  • Power browsing
  • “Brand” is a very complicated concept.  The younger the person is, the much less likely they are to recognise traditional brands.
  • We are ALL in the “Google Generation” – but what about people born now who only will ever know digital and nothing else?  Will they change us or will we influence them?  My bet is on them.
  • Opportunity of information society where everyone can get information but they do not want to get information – they want a social network to give them the information
  • Students ask me how to get a First – well, it requires actually READING the material but students don’t read now.  They skim and skitter.  They want to know out of the whole reading list, which is the one book they really should read, and which bits of the book are the bits that are the important bits.  They don’t see anything wrong with taking a bit from here and a bit from there and throwing it into a paper.  And these are UCL students – apparently UCL is the fourth best university in the world which makes you think well these must be the fourth best students in the world.  And all they do is skim and skitter.
  • Who actually CARES about what is happening with this generation?
  • Publishers and librarians should care.  But if they are to do anything about it then they need to get much closer together and work much more closely together.

Presentation Four:
The Springer / SHEDL ebooks project
Helen Ellis, Licensing Manager, Springer

  • Springer has 40,000 ebooks available through 12 subject collections with no DRM
  • Perpetual rights to content for a one-off fee with unlimited concurrent users
  • MyCopy – print on-demand in black and white of ebooks purchased through the university for 24.95 EUROS no matter what the retail price of the book and branded with the university logo.  Great for students who want the print copy and library benefits because student knows the only reason they got that printed textbook so cheaply is because the library bought the ebook version.
  • SHEDL – 2008 Springer and SHEDL worked together providing content to all 19 members of the consortium.
  • Ebook trial started in January 2010 for full 12 months providing all ebook content (all 40,000 titles) to all 19 institutions in the consortium
  • Expect 230,000 chapters will have been downloaded by the end of the year
  • As a percentage of each subject collection, the most used ebooks were in Behaviour Sciences
  • Users were happy to look at older content, published 3 or 4 years ago which is very different than in journals where currency and immediacy are key
  • The top downloaded title so far is “Encyclopaedia of Language and Education” (2008) – this is surprising since Springer is best known for STM

Presentation Five:
Mobile Learning
Jon Trinder, Glasgow University

  • www.ninelocks.com
  • www.learninginhand.com
  • www.inter-life.org
  • The “Innovation Prevention Department” at an institution is usually the IT department
  • Students are all using different devices
  • Students are accessing OUTSIDE of network but INSIDE the institution (i.e. via 3G)
  • “better to use simple tools expertly” (quote from 1947)
  • Previous research shows that simply giving a class of students PDAs doesn’t mean they will use them

Presentation Six:
LoveBytes: Digital Literacy
Debbie Boden, Director of Library Services, Glasgow Caledonia University

  • A high degree of digital literacy / information literacy is required
  • Librarians should be taking courses on Information Literacy and offering training to students – especially international students who may not have had much digital exposure previously
  • University libraries and public libraries should work much more closely together (could the combined university/public library in Worcester set an example to be followed throughout the country?)
  • The Blended Librarian will be the one with staying power:
    • “an academic librarian who combines the traditional skill set of librarianship with the information technologist’s hardware/software skills, and the instructional or educators designer’s ability . . . “
  • The future for librarians “LoveBytes”: Librarians Oversee Virtual Environments By Teaching Essential Skills

Presentation Seven:
Bloomsbury Public Library Online
Jonathan Davidson, Area Manager, Bloomsbury

  • Public Library Online is an online access subscription model of themed digital bookshelves from a range of publishers offering fiction and non-fiction
  • Streamed digital content over the library website through the internet
  • Any number of readers at any time over the internet
  • No piracy issues because files not actually downloaded
  • 16 local authorities involved so far
  • Cost is £100 per 100,000 population served for each bookshelf
  • Generates money for libraries because patrons can click link to purchase the library book if they want their own ebook copy or paper copy and the libraries will get a kickback for these sales generated

Presentation Eight:
Digital Economy Act
Janice McFarlane, Head of Partnerships, National Library of Scotland

  • Bill received royal assent on 8 April 2010 despite much lobbying that it was not ready
  • Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be responsible for following-up on copyright infringements
  • Subscribers of ISPs will have access cut off if they have 3 infringements of copyright
  • But are libraries Internet Service Providers or Subscribers – from what we can tell so far, libraries will be considered Subscribers . . . but does this mean that if any of our patrons commit copyright infringement then our whole service will be shut down?
  • Clarity on these issues is not expected until the Code is published in mid-to-late 2012

Presentation Nine:
Swets Showcase
Tamsyn Wymer, Swets

  • Academic libraries are currently purchasing more ebooks than public libraries and schools
  • But there is a significant lag behind electronic journals
  • Ebooks have benefits but also present challenges, the main barriers being:
    • Availability of title as an ebook
    • Access and purchase models
    • Awareness of ebooks by end-users
    • Internal processes at the library
  • With regards to purchasing models, these are confusing with many different models on offer (pay-per-use, patron-driven acquisitions, lease to own, subscription bundles, pick-and-mix, etc)
  • The biggest challenges thus are all around acquisition (selection, resource identification, licensing issues, platform availability and interface, cost, availability)
  • SwetsWise aims to provide a single source for eBooks purchasing
  • SwetsWise is a one-stop-shop comparing price options offered by multiple ebook providers.
  • SwetsWise tells the librarian which books are ebooks, who they are published by, where they can be purchased, and for what price

Presentation 10:
Acquisitions, but not as we know it
Elize Rowan, Acquisitions Manager, University of Edinburgh

  • Budgets are being squeezed
  • Need to look at how ebook purchasing fits into existing work-flows
  • Collection development
  • Ebooks can help with:
    • Distance learners
    • Meeting peak demands
    • Collection management

(Note: that Nicola had to leave at this point so tail end of the presentation/day was missed).

October 13, 2009

CETIS Widgetmeetup October 2009

University of London Student Union
October 2009

Brief notes on the first three talks at the CETIS Widgetmeetup this morning.  Note that this meeting was not live-blogged due to lack of a working wifi network at the start of the meeting.

The purpose of this CETIS activity is to:

  1. work towards deployable widgets for use in VLEs and other Web platforms (Wordpress/ELGG/...) in a plug-and-play form suitable for use by lecturers, and
  2. having done that, to look at patterns of use and what widgets needed/wanted

Apache Software Foundation

An overview of the ASF by Ross Gardler (OSS Watch)

  • 66 top level projects
  • plus another 60 incubating projects
  • ~2000 code contributors
  • 10 years
  • 262 members

An Apache Incubator is a place for new projects, each of which must be championed by a member and have 3 mentors.

The incubator leads to a working community (and possibly some working code though the community is seen as much more important).

Incubators can last anywhere between 3 months to 18 months.

At the end of the incubator, IP must be in a state where it is able to be managed properly. That means that when industry gets involved in an ASF project their risks are minimised.

Typical activity story for an ASF member goes something like this...

  • they start by checking out what projects/incubators are on offer ("is this stuff any good for me?"). Note that the standardised layout to any project means that it is easy to find issue trackers, code, documentation and so on
  • they begin to download and play - they effectively become a user of the project
  • they ask questions and discuss topics on the mailing list
  • they start start contributing patches (which have to be applied by a current committer)
  • they are then invited to become a member of the project - meaning that they can contribute direct to the codebase

Note that all committers can veto code changes by any other committer. Being a committer means that the contribution workflow is smoother but it doesn't really give you any additional rights/ownership.

The whole ASF operation runs for something like $180,000(US) per year.

Lots of the projects are based on standards - their aim is to provider working implementations of standards.

ASF projects are typically quite visible - which is one advantage of going down that route.

Note that new projects can join existing projects as a sub-project of an existing project (but a lightweight incubation period is still required).

Overall ethos is that the community is more important than the code - "community over code"

Wookie and Widgets

A presentation about the Wookie project by Scott Wilson of CETIS.

Scott started by saying why the Wookie project had chosen to implement thru an ASF project.

  • clear mechanisms for community support
  • clear processes and governance
  • clear licencing and legal framework

Wookie is not an acronym

Wookie is an ASF Incubator project.

Wookie is a Java Servlet running in Tomcat or Jetty and offering:

  • a REST API
  • a Javascript API
  • an Admin UI
  • Server-side storage

The REST API allows you to get a list of available widgets, to instantiate a new widget instance and to associate participants with that instance.

Typical lifecycle goes like this...

  1. GET /widgets
  2. POST /widgetinstances
  3. POST /participants
  4. Create an iframe to hold the widget

Plugins are available for LAMS, Moodle, Wordpress and ELGG 1.0 (though the latter two need more work).

A plugin is a bit of code that implements the Wookie lifecycle above.

What widget APIs are supported?

The W3C Widget Object is the default but at the point a new widget is instantiated you can also ask for optional other APIs to be supported - e.g. the Google Wave Gadget API

There has been some integartion with Shindig (which is another ASF incubator for OpenSocial).

Wookie handles getPref/setPref but doesn't handle the Shindig data interface.

Intention to work on inter-widget comms and more support for Bondi/DAP APIs.

What does a widget look like?

Four things:

  1. config.xml
  2. icon
  3. HTML start file (doesn't have to be HTML but usually is
  4. Javascript code

All of this gets zipped together and the file extension is changed to .wgt.

That's it!

Widget instances can share data but only when they have been instantiated from the same location.

Business model for hosting Wookie widgets not clear yet. Will there be a UK widget 'app' store? Or an EU one?

How do you find widgets?

Widget config.xml file gives you title, description, icon , category (tag) and author. Can browser/search based on these.

Widgets can interact with external services using HTTP (e.g. Ajax) but must do so via a proxy hosted at the Wookie server (which can maintain a white list of allowed services). This prevents widgets opening abitrary connections to remote services.

For more info [email protected]

Google Wave and widgets

Wilbert Kraan (CETIS) gave an overview of Google Wave and the way it handles widgets...

Widgets were originally designed to do one thing for one user - they were typically accessed thru the desktop of a personal computer.

Wookie has changed that - widgets now do one thing for many users - they are typically social in some way.

Google Gadget API provides an alternative platform for doing this kind of thing.

Can fairly easily port Google Wave gadgets into Wookie.

The Wave platform is significantly more complex than Wookie - however, that doesn't necessarkily make it better.

I stopped taking notes when the phrase "wiki widget for wookie and wave" was used. Sorry :-(

October 01, 2009

Future of Technology in Education (FOTE) 09

Royal Geographical Society, London
2 October 2009

See the FOTE website for the agenda.

September 21, 2009

CILIP MmIT Conference 2009 - Mobile learning: what exactly is it?

Lakeside Centre, Aston University
21 September 2009

March 17, 2009

Unlocking Audio - Day 2

November 26, 2008

CETIS Conference 2008 - day 2

Lakeside Centre, Aston University
26 November 2008

  • Programme - note: this live-blog covers the OER Programme Scoping session from the morning session and the summary and closing keynote from the afternoon

November 24, 2008

CETIS Conference 2008 - day 1

Lakeside Centre, Aston University
25 November 2008

  • Programme - note: this live-blog covers the welcome and first keynote from the morning session and the VLE vs. Repository vs. CMS session from the afternoon

October 01, 2008

Future of Technology in Education (FOTE)

Imperial College
3 October 2008

Welcome: Tim Bush 09.30 - 09.35
ULCC: David Rippon 09.35 - 09.40
Google: Sam PetersCloud Computing09.40 - 10.00
Virtual-E: Pauline RandallDo I really need a Second Life?10.00 - 10.20
Questions Session One 10.20 - 10.30
Coffee Break 10.30 - 11.00
JANET (UK): Tim MarshallVisions of the Future11.00 - 11.20
BBC Backstage: Ian ForresterWhy portability matters11.20 - 11.40
Yahoo!: James BroadWeb Technologies11.40 - 12.00
ULCC: Philip ButlerPersonalisation12.00 - 12.20
Questions Session Two 12.20 - 12.35
Lunch 12.35 - 14.00
LMN: Maria IlliaShared Services14.00 - 14.20
Ravensbourne: Miles MetcalfeCampus of the Future14.20 - 14.40
Apple: John HickeyBuilding 21st Century Learning Environments14.40 - 15.00
Questions Session Three 15.00 - 15.10
Coffee Break 15.10 – 15.50
RSC South East: Harold FrickerMobile Tech15.50 - 16.10
University of Warwick: Tom AbbottCreativity and media production - moving beyond the lecture theatre16.10 - 16.30
Huddle: Alastair MitchellCollaboration16.30 - 16.50
Questions Session Four 16.50 - 17.00
ULCC: Close 17.00 - 17.05

September 11, 2008

ALT-C 2008 keynote 3 - David Cavallo

University of Leeds
11 September 2008

About eFoundations LiveWire

  • A series of live-blogs from meetings about the Web, cloud infrastructure, linked data, big data, open access, digital libraries, metadata, learning, research, government, online identity, access management and anything else that takes our fancy by by Pete Johnston and Andy Powell.

    All views expressed here are personal.

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