Project Overview

The OneShare project will consolidate the work of the EdShare and Faroes projects, using the EdShare Southampton and Language Box as exemplars to develop a deposit once methodology, in the form of an architectural model for loose coupling between community and institutional repositories, and between institutional repositories and Virtual Learning Environments. The project will also engage with the existing community and institutional users in order to understand their behaviour and attitudes, so that the architecture and software can be shaped appropriately and institutional policies can be formed.

The objective is to improve the integration of systems at an institutional level and provide software and guidance for others that will have a UK and global impact.

Community and User Perspective

HEFCE, through JISC and the HEA have made clear that they wish to drive forward an open content initiative, but doubts and worries amongst academics ‘on the ground’ remain. While our experience gained from several projects connected to sharing materials (L20, Claret, MURLLO, Faroes, EdShare) suggests enthusiasm for the concept of shared repositories and a general willingness amongst teachers to share resources, some reticence and concern have become evident as the challenge of populating repositories gains momentum. Academics appear to be hesitating to embrace the concept in practice. We believe that there are underlying issues of trust and confidence that need further exploration. In the OneShare project we will investigate how we can build confidence within community groups to share their content, and explore how people are prepared to work collaboratively towards the creation of online learning materials.

Some of the issues that OneShare aims to understand are:

  1. How can we build confidence in the sharing of material?
  2. What types of content participants are willing to share and with whom, and what are their reasons?
  3. What does usage of repositories in practice indicate about practitioner understanding of the storage and presentation of online material?
  4. Whether user practice can lead to ‘organic learning objects’ through the remixing of online resources?
  5. Investigate how effective repository-usage impacts on the use of VLEs.
  6. What difference the presence of public/private spaces make to user confidence in the repository?
  7. Does contact between participants (face-to-face or online) fosters confidence in sharing?

Institutional Perspective

Southampton has successfully established EdShare as its institutional repository, and since its launch in late Autumn 2008 there have been over 1600 deposits made from across the University. This is an excellent start, we now wish to improve integration into the Universities processes, and there is some replication with how other systems, such as Blackboard, are used.

The OneShare project will continue to promote the full range of EdShare benefits across the institution as well as supporting groups in adding content and understanding how deposits can best be integrated in their work flows and processes. There are opportunities for embedding the repository in strategic planning with the new financial planning round and integrating further with institutional IT infrastructure services. The project will also work to place the repository within the context of the emergent, institutional Educational Strategy 2010-2015.

In particular the project aims to:

  1. Investigate issues related to quality assurance of the resources deposited. Are quality processes necessary for some resources, and how do we balance these needs with requirements for openness and simplicity?
  2. Develop University copyright and open content policy based on the community and user findings, and discussions at institutional level about the appropriate commitment of the University to open content.
  3. Explore the different use cases for student access to the repository – in particular, what students are interested in finding there, what resources they can upload themselves, and how they can contribute in terms of commentary or review.
  4. Explore whether an institutional policy is possible for reward and recognition linked to repository contributions and the authoring of open content resources. For example, as part of personal performance and development review.

Technology Perspective

Part of this work will be to embed institutional repository functionality within the VLE so that depositing becomes part of normal course management. This will also make open content (an optional part) of the normal workflow, so that it is easy for staff to share their resources under a number of clear creative commons licenses

Integration of community and institutional repositories is equally important, as it is critical for the sustainability of both. Institutional repositories need to be part of an inter-institutional effort in order to reach critical mass – particularly for Web 2.0 style sharing and remixing. On the other hand community repositories need institutions behind them to support their running costs and to promote their use with staff.

We propose a solution based on a cloud-computing architecture, where community-repositories are application views on the institutional repositories that have been integrated with a VLE. The aim is that these technical and policy connections will support a deposit once methodology, where resources managed in a VLE become shared in an institutional repository, and aggregated up to relevant community repositories. We will learn from existing approaches such as MR-CUTE, and reuse standards such as SWORD as appropriate.

Items deposited through the community repository or the VLE would be stored in the institutional repository layer, which remains visible in the VLE and community repository. In this way visitors to the community site will seamlessly search across multiple institutions, users of the VLE can contribute to the community without having to change their working practices, and students can find related materials in the repository from within the VLE.

The OneShare project will produce two major technological deliverables:

  1. An Architectural Model for Loosely Coupled Repository Integration – based on our real experiences with Language Box, EdShare and the Southampton VLE (Blackboard)
  2. An EdShare EPrints Package – consolidating the substantial technical work of both the EdShare and Faroes teams. The package will be a collection of complimentary EPrints plugins, allowing other institutions maximum flexibility when creating their own repositories based on the key features identified as useful by the community and institution (such as support for arbitrary meta-data schemas, preview, collections, and more advanced remix features). These will be packaged and documented in a consistent and methodical way, and will be designed to behave coherently when installed together, but also to degrade gracefully if installed independently.

University of Southampton, School of Electronics and Computer Science
Start date: Apr 2009
End date: Mar 2011
Funded by: