Monday, June 04, 2007

Upcoming changes to the LOM Repository / Online Learning Portal Project

The learning resource portal is being revamped! There's lots of meat and potato changes needed to support the reporting of eLearning credits and the authoring of learning object metadata and loads of other cool stuff (Including an ajax based alternative to the fat swing based tagging tool, and a whole new revision of the tagging tool itself). However..... we've also got our eye in on a load of not so mainline developments to try and re-engage the community around the sharing of learning resources generally.... Here's some of the things on the list for the upcoming iterations...

* the portal itself will become a branded application of a generic learning object repository system. This will allow the core system for sharing learning resources to be branded in different ways for different communities. The current portal will continue to support it's target audience of teachers and learners, but because the underlying learning object metadata is generally applicable it will be possible to upload things like sound recordings of lecture notes, e-reserve materials, lecture notes, useful images and animations, lesson plans.. basically anything that a particular learning community wants to share. We can arrange repositories vertically, for example by domain/subject/keystage or horizontally, for example by media/medium or other useful aggregations.

* User tagging: One of the most exciting aspects of the new generic Repository - end user tagging and similarity detection. If you tag a resource, we'll be able to detect similarities with other profiles using the SVD algorithms we've been playing with, sorta like for learning resources. This kinda goes hand in hand with the user reviews that are coming as a part of the next release. Learners, Teachers and pretty much anyone who wants to can tag and share info in this way. We may toy with automatically exporting resources based on national curriculum specifiers (More generically controlled vocabs) to delicious tags using those tags, to try and capture more users into the portal itself. One of the best things about this is that we hope to be able to take trivial tagging, ID3 for example, and compliance test it to be able to create minimal lom documents. This means you could take a whole bunch of ID3 tagged mp3 lecture recordings, and expose them as, for example, JISC IE Conformant learning objects (More on content packages later).

* Simple tagging interface.. Yeah lom is cool, but not everyone wants to create huge lom documents, so the new online tagging interfaces will mean that people can catalog and upload learning objects without needing a doctorate in metadata and semantic ontologies. For now we've left out auto extraction of id3 tags from mp3's but it's on the cards in the near future.
* More web services - The new col portal already exposes all it's search functions as SRW/SRU based web services, we'll be exposing the tagging and other metadata functions for people to intergate their own applications with... we'll be swallowing our own medicine, with version four of the stand-alone tagging tool being able to consume XML LOM objects downloaded from portal, and then re-upload them in a round trip.

* Cross searching... well.. actually the app already does this, but we'll be creating a federated portal that can cross aggregate specific learning object Repositories, so we have our schools repository, but it would be nice to cross search some FE and HE repos too. We've also had interest from some projects creating video footage who might be interested in creating LOM records for learning video resources they have created and uploaded to utube. Cool :) So there will be some content in the FE portal at least.

* Object storage.. maybe in for the release, ability to upload resources, docs, video, sound recordings, etc as well as metadata.

Well.. just a taster for whats to come over the next 6 months of learning portal redevelopment. Hopefully iteration 0 will kick off around the 18th of june with iterations following evey three weeks.

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