An article, a pop-up cart…Friday updates.

Things have been busy here lately–it’s the second week of our quarter, and we’ve spent it in the usual fall rough-and-tumble.  But in the midst of it all, two projects have come to fruition, or near-fruition.

First, the newest issue of Communications in Information Literacy has an article I co-authored with the fantastic Merinda McLure, at Colorado State University.  Thanks to Chris Hollister and Stewart Brower for all their help in shepherding this piece through–and to our anonymous peer reviewers for their comments.  It’s a study of student and faculty attitudes toward library integration in CMS systems, started back in 2008 when I was still at Berkeley.  It was fascinating to research and write, and the finished product was bigger than either of us had predicted, I think.  So, double thanks to Chris and Stewart for taking it on.

On an entirely different front, our pop-up library project has been chugging along, and we now have some pictures of the cart.

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It’s essentially an IKEA-hacked book truck, designed to be reconfigured in different ways to display large and small books, new issues of journals, posters, inspiration images (these ranked high with the students we interviewed), DVDs, even a laptop ready to show Zotero or a DVD.  The last two weeks have been too nutty to get it into the students’ space yet, but I’m hoping next week we’ll get the chance to try it out.

All props to awesome MLIS student Jennifer Keyser for all her work on the in-depth user interviews we did to zero in on the best functions for the cart, as well as other library services.


Google Sites vs. course management systems

Well, it’s probably too soon to say “vs.,” but if I were a faculty member who wanted to make a quick, easy, low-risk, low-maintenance site for my class, I’d definitely be interested in Google Sites. Here’s what I’d find most intriguing:

  • I don’t have to know HTML.
  • I can limit membership to just the people I choose–the whole world doesn’t get to see my Google Site. (Unless I want them to.)
  • I can collaborate with other instructors at my institution (Google Sites lets me invite others with the same email domain.)
  • I get some very groovy Google Site themes, without having to wrangle a single graphic.
  • I can create and insert spreadsheets, documents, slideshows, images, presentations, and YouTube or Google Video videos into my page with a click.
  • I can insert Google Gadgets (like Google calendar, a mini web search, a stock ticker, RSS feeds, or Pac Man) into my page with a click.
  • Users can comment on my pages automatically, the way they can on a wiki or a blog.
  • I can change the look and feel or layout of the site (where the navigation sidebar appears, for example) with a click, or a drag-and-drop.

What can’t I do? Well, I can’t associate my students’ IDs and grades with the site, so the online gradebook would have to be a separate tool. That might be a killer. But for a lightweight, free, easy-to-administer course site, Google Sites gets a lot right.

Want to see what a Google Site might look like? Here’s an example of a K-12 classroom site (mentally modify for higher ed), and here’s a sample team project site.

Sakai Conference: Google Analytics & Help Documentation

Note:  I had to leave this one early to catch my plane…

Steve Lonn, Margaret Wagner, UM

UM has large Sakai implementation: 18,000 users per day; 3,700 course sites so far

Help documentation is heavily customized at UM; combination of original and modified Sakai documentation, with lots of custom pages for the Ctools implementation. Why collect data on help documentation? It helps to identify tools that have problems, to improve training & support, as well as direct development & improvement efforts, and finally to improve Help docs themselves.

Using Google Analytics to get data on help docs. Started with simple hit counter, but moved to GA to get more information & accuracy.

Screenshots on interpreting GA reports, demonstrating the kinds of information available from the tool

Sakai Conference: Sakai Webcast System

Mara Hancock & Judy Stern, UC Berkeley

Q:  How many institutions have systems in place that automatically capture webcasts/podcasts of lectures? A:  Of those present, only UCB, Michigan, U of Amsterdam.

@UCB, webcasting started in 1995, at the Berkeley Multimedia Research Center (faculty genesis)

2001 ETS formed, and merged with BMRC and media services

2002-2004 ETS updates, adds events and admin application

2004-2006 Experiments with captioning and search. Adds podcasting. Delivery partnership wtih Apple and Google. Webcast is next-generation vision.

2007 Strategy, design 7 specs for Webcast next-generation. Development & outreach.

2008+ Open source requirements. Complete Phase 1 development. Planning for Phase 3 and WC learning tools.

Current state of affairs: 6 webcast- and 14 podcast-enabled General Assignment Classrooms. Recharge for special events & courses. Departments share cost of webcasting with campus. All output freely available online to anyone in world. 83 full courses in 2007. 10,000 hours of content since 2001.

Local & world audience: 2 million visits to (RealPlayer.) 2.3 million downloads from iTunes U. Youtube 1.6 million views, 8,700 current subscribers. Wanted to put the content up in locations where users could find it (iTunes, YouTube.)

Current questions:  How to make access easier, content more discoverable, share with other schools, make content and context more meaningful (i.e. surrounded by more learning activities in Sakai etc.), leverage innovation from other universities and community source projects?

Needs and barriers: students want more (incoming freshmen consider podcasting essential service), students & public want more portability, quality, quantity. Growing to 70 tech-enabled rooms in 5 years. Approx 1000 courses eligible, 1/3 of undergrad catalog. Problems: patchwork quilt programming, scalable vendor solutions expensive, proprietary code & limited integration, need solid foundation with flexible toolset, other systems not built to play.

UCB is interested in finding partners to join efforts and contribute to or implement OpenCast on their campus. OC Community: a community centered around open, scalable, and sustainable podcast/webcast solutions and best practices for higher education. List: Wiki: Would like to leverage the Sakai community (governance, licensing, etc.) as much as possible.

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. (?)