Sakai Conference: Citation Helper Tool

Susan Hollar, U Michigan

New features in Sakai release 2.5.

The tool enables users to search & retrieve citations and make stable URLs to content within Sakai. Uses library metasearch, Google Scholar, and/or manual adding and importing of citations. Embedded within Resources tool.

Demo: (Michigan Ctools instance)

To use:  Within resources, go to Add –> Citation List. Search Library Resources, Google Scholar, etc.  Create new citation, import citation from Refworks or Endnote.

Metasearch categories: by discipline, with databases within them listed below. Database has drop-down (JS toggle?) description of database. User can select or deselect included databases as preferred.  MetaLib limits to 8 databases in a category.

Add citations by clicking “Add” button beside them. Can also see additional metadata below the citation using JS toggle. When you have your citation list, go to “Edit Citation List.” Can add more, for instance from Google Scholar or personal collection.

Opening Google Scholar through Sakai:  can work with link resolver and can display “Import into bSpace” button below the citation.

Clicking a title in the citation list takes you to link resolver (I.e. SFX, UC e-links @ UCB) to try to get the article from a library source. In release 2.5, can also add redundant link to UC e-links below, and make the title link go elsewhere.

Can edit individual citations to add notes, make changes, add more information. Can add a new URL as title link at the bottom of this form. Can export citation list to Refworks or Endnote. In 2.5, can sort by author/title/published year. Give title to citation list, publish it.

Students get read-only view. Don’t support collaborative creation of reading lists with students, but considering this.

New in 2.5: integration of the Editor into other tools. In WYSIWIG editor (i.e., for announcements, etc.) book icon appears, leading to the Citation Helper metasearch. Adds citations to published item in bSpace.

Q: Can a single list be shared across multiple sections of a group, and kept live & updated easily? Or would you have to publish & import it into each section? A:  The latter. Although SRG project will approach this.

Q: Can pass through to asset without authentication stop? A:  Depends on vendors–they allow to drill to different levels of the data. Lots of work for libraries to hook up to complicated landscape of multiple vendors with different standards compliance.

Q: Is main purpose to create storage for citations, or one-stop shopping, or…? How does this compare to RefWorks? Why would I want to implement this rather than existing library resouces? A:  Some folks don’t have RW. Also trying to get content as close to the course as possible. Want to draw resources into LMS, not drive users out to third-party resource, then pull them back in.

Q: Can we control what format the citation comes back in? I.e., not the full citation but just the URL or the linked title, for pasting into text we’re currently typing. A:  Haven’t supported this–debated what should be pasted in. Went with most complete citation, and users can delete all the rest of the citation if they just want the hyperlinked title.

Q: How long can the citations persist? A:  They’re resources that can be moved, arranged, republished, etc. like any other resource in Sakai.

Q: What about grey literature/unpublished/ad hoc readings? A:  Touches on e-reserves topic. Can create citation with URL for local web-accessible documents, or for resources already within Sakai.


Sakai Conference: Wednesday Keynote

Bob Sutor, VP of Open Source & Standards for IBM

Predicted shortfall of science, technology, and engineering professionals in U.S. Shift in Internet environment and public behaviors since 1995 (adoption rates, online activities.) Coming years will show just as much innovation & change.

World of Warcraft, Club Penguin etc. are predictors for user behavior in 10-15 years (multi-user social networking, high-level graphics, problem-solving, narratives, rewards etc.) Educational software can’t compare to these experiences (i.e., typing class in school vs. WoW at home.)

Overview of Web 0.0, 1.0, 2.0. Potential of virtual 3D worlds to be the next big thing? Hard to know, but must be informed about the possibilities. Issues around privacy, professionalism, currency exchange, other implications of virtual world technologies.

“Everything is getting connected.” Legal, legislative, financial implications. Monopolies around applications will become rare. May see monopolies around information. No single software provider will provide all the pieces. Beware of organizations that set up “interoperability” on their own, without collaboration.

Interfaces to common services will become more standardized, as best practices are developed and experience grows. Quality of service will be the key differentiator. Importance of open standards: level playing field, drive interoperability and interchangeability, inpinge on trade secrets & proprietary methods, etc. Open is inevitable–best idea wins. Meritocracy and talent will be valued over hierarchy.

Younger people born on the web won’t accept older paradigms. Change will be driven by their behaviors and expectations. Facebook tracking & advertising project a cautionary tale. (Beacon partner program, Computer Associates article.)

Sakai Conference: Integrating Library Resources into Sakai

Jezmynne Wezcott, The Claremont Colleges

Meebo widget in home page for her “Welcome to the Science Library” site.

Web Content Tool: Tip:  Set new windows such as Refworks, etc. to open in a new window so that users won’t lose their work in that window as they navigate between Sakai and the other. Limit # of links in Web Content, because too many creates scrolling–just put the most important ones in here, and use Resources for the rest of the stuff. JW has created a dynamic list of all journals in a subject collection using the Web Content (note to self: ask to see this?)

Resources Tool: Tip:  It’s useful to duplicate relevant items across multiple folders, i.e. guide/handout for Google Scholar, because these are used by many different disciplines. Use text or HTML for users who may not have Adobe or MS Office. Make items or entire folders publicly viewable in the item’s details so that they can be linked to from other pages/sites.

Assignments Tool: Good for a “How To” step-by-step research guide. Suggested library assignments beyond research papers. Work with faculty to share ideas, encourage faculty to point students to the library site.

Wiki Tool: Use text, links, images, video/audio files. Store items in a folder in resources. Place items marked publicly viewable in other sites (i.e. My Workspace) and link to them. Easy to use.

JW’s setup:  students and faculty can voluntarily join the site via the public directory (publicized via in-class sessions.) Surprisingly popular.  Sakai administrator on campus can say which are most highly-visited sites in the system, for assessment purposes.  Faculty subsequently add librarians to course sites. Site stats indicate logins, events, and resources accessed.

Next steps: more librarian involvement, course-integrated instruction (work with faculty to integrate the library site and content into their research assignments), electronic reserves migration to Sakai. Create admin login to enable library staff to upload content to course sites. (?)

Sakai Conference: User-Centered Design

A note of apology: I took notes in several of the sessions I attended at the Sakai Conference this week, but some of these notes will be of more use to me than anyone else. Still, I hope they give a sense of the session content. It was a really good conference

User-Centered Design in IT: The Low-Hanging Fruit
Allison Bloodworth & colleague, University of California, Berkeley

User-centered design = making the user’s experience simple and intuitive.

User experience = meet user goals and taks while satisfying business and functional requirements (overall experience and satisfaction of user while using system.)

User-centered design increases buy-in and momentum, user satisfaction, productivity for users, less tech support investment, reduced development & maintenance time & cost (because only develop what users need)

Cf. Jakob Nielsen: Usability maturity model

UCD activities: user research (surveys, interviews, interactions with users), information architecture (organization of information for intuitive access and ease of use), interaction design (defines behavior of interactive products), usability analysis (usability tests and research), visual design (concerned with visual product, styling, look & feel of product), graphic design (arrangement of images and text to convey a message).

Case study: Fluid Lightbox (Fluid is an open, collaborateive project to improve the user experience of community source software, including Moodle, Sakai, etc.) Fluid Lightbox is JS-based tool for manipulating images on screen. Drag & drop tool for images.

UCD & usability evaluation techniques:

1. User needs assessment (surveys, interviews, focus groups, field studies, contextual inquiries, ethnography.)

2. Interviews: structured or open/ended, talk to actual end users, encourage the user to speak freely and to give honest answers and feedback, determine the user’s needs, goals, and tasks. (Goals are at a higher level than tasks, which lead to goals.) Don’t ask questions that can be answered with yes or no, leading questions, don’t draw attention to specific issues that you care about, don’t use jargon, don’t react (be neutral), distance yourself from the product.

3. Competitive/comparative analysis: what have other people done? try using other similar services/products to discover what to do & what not to do, interface conventions, “must have” standard features. Might be a list of important features, or a table showing how each product handles each task it should be able to do. Solving other products’ problems can give a great competitive advantage.

4. Heuristic evaluation: Cf. Jakob Nielsen’s ten heuristics (principles for user-centered design.)

5. Personas: After the data-gathering process (using techniques above), use personas to concretize the categories of important users. One persona per category. Avoids “elastic user.” Use images and background about user behavior & habits to flesh out the persona. Should be based on observed patterns in user behavior.

6. Task analysis: Determine tasks needed to achieve user goals. Rate tasks on frequency, importance, difficulty. Tells you what functionality is important. Create table for personas, with features ranked in order of importance & frequency. Can arrange personas in bull’s eye to place most important in center, then use task analysis to determine most important tasks.

7. Usability testing: Test early in the process. Test with 3-5 users (or less!) Ask the user to think out loud. Same facilitation rules as with interviews, plus: don’t help, make clear that you’re testing the product, not the user. No need to write down exactly what each user does–trends are enough. Main focus of testing is to improve the design, not come up with metrics (i.e. # of tasks completed successfully.)

7a: Card sorting: Helps figure out how to categorize items. Each card has an item name and brief explanation. Provide pre-defined and blank (make-your-own) category cards. Same facilitation rules as a usability test. Ask user to sort the cards into piles that make some kind of sense.

7b: Prototype testing: Scenario-based. Can be paper-based, low-fi or hi-fi.

Overall advice:

Designing a new service? Try user needs assessment and comparative analysis.

Improving an existing site? Try a heuristic evaluation.

Lots of information to organize? Try card sorting.

Sakai Conference Keynote: Connexions

I came into this a little late (flew down this morning), and missed the opening of this talk.  The speaker was Joel Thierstien, ED of the Connexions project at Rice.  Connexions is a MERLOT-like respository for digital learning materials across disciplines.  From what I gathered, it had its origins at Rice, but now includes materials from authors all over the world.  Archiving is permanent, licensing is Creative Commons, there’s a print-on-demand publisher partner so users can compile their own texts out of the materials in the system.  Quality control and vetting are done through “endorsements” by organizations or individuals with name recognition.  Interesting model.


I’m heading down to the 8th annual Sakai conference, in Newport Beach, CA.  I’ll be there December 4-6, and wireless allowing, I hope to blog a few of the sessions.  My particular emphasis is going to be on the Sakaibrary tool (aka Citation Linker), the resource co-operatively developed by the University of Michigan and Indiana University to draw licensed database content into the CMS.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  And all this in the land of Arrested Development!