Trigger presentation at eLearning in Health 2011 Conference

June 7, 2011 Leave a comment

I will be presenting a trigger presentation at the eLearning in Health Conference to be held on 27th and 28th June at the Aston Conference Centre in Birmingham. Conference web-site is here, abstract below.

Intended Learning Outcomes:

– Learn more about the developing institutional and national OER infrastructures supported by JISC
– Discuss how these can be streamlined across the sector and improved/adapted  to more fully support subject specific requirements (e.g. health)


The ALPS CETL repository project (ACErep) is examining the requirements of a repository infrastructure in local, regional and national contexts to more effectively facilitate sharing and reuse of appropriately licensed medical teaching, learning and assessment material.

Three institutions in the ALPS consortium – the University of Leeds, Leeds Metropolitan University and York St John University – all use different commercial platforms for their teaching and learning repositories. In addition there is the national HE/FE repository Jorum, and the NHS National eLearning Repository (NeLR).

Informed by a user-group of institutional stakeholders, the goal of ACErep is to develop a clearly branded web-site from where staff at the respective institutions can:

  • deposit resources into their own institutional repository
  • cross-search the repositories from a single interface

In addition, we have developed ties with the JISC funded PORSCHE project at Newcastle University which aims to provide seamless access to academic and clinical learning resources for healthcare students primarily from the respective collections in Jorum and the NeLR.

The project utilises well-established repository technologies and has adapted an Open Source client to differentially deposit into a user’s institutional repository and liaised with Jorum to harvest metadata from multiple repositories. ACErep and PORSCHE are also working with Jorum on their development of an Open API (Application Programming Interface) upon which we can build a bespoke search portal. This work, in turn, builds on a prototype developed in collaboration with the Xpert repository at Nottingham University.

This approach will have the benefit of digital assets being preserved in one location (an institutional repository) while providing multiple points of access as well as allowing the ALPS branded web-site and the institutional repositories to “piggyback” on Jorum’s Google pagerank thereby improving discoverability.

The presentation will comprise a summary of the ACErep project to date; the emphasis will not be technical though technical implications and requirements will be discussed.

Attendees: eLearning professionals in health related fields


Project update

March 4, 2011 1 comment

One of the most challenging aspects of ACErep continues to be working across multiple institutions and organisations and recently progress has stalled somewhat as we liaise with our partners and wait for development work essential to the overall infrastructure.

In November last year we were able to build a prototype using Xpert which harvests OAI-PMH from our repository at Leeds Met and which we are then able to selectively search by keyword. We had initially hoped to work with Jorum but at that time there was no Open API, nor were there any plans to harvest by OAI-PMH, so we liaised instead with Pat Lockley of Xpert who was able to help with both requirements.

A lot has happened since November however, both at Xpert and Jorum. Pat is moving on to another (OER related) post which raises questions for us around the sustainability of that service now it has lost its key developer and I have been working with the PORSCHE project at Newcastle University which aims to provide seamless access to academic and clinical learning resources for healthcare students primarily from the respective collections in Jorum and the NHS National eLearning Repository (NeLR). As such, PORSCHE has also requested that Jorum harvest by OAI-PMH and provide an open API; the project team includes the Jorum service manager Hiten Vaghmaria as well as Kate Lomax of the NeLR (which, like Leeds Met’s repository, is also based on intraLibrary.) Jorum have now released a first iteration of an open API and hopefully both projects, and the UKOER community at large, can now work with the national OER service to develop that API to meet our requirements – PORSCHE’s Suzanne Hardy has set up a the Jorum API discussion space (wiki) at I am, in fact, yet to contribute to the discussion myself partly due to a lack of knowledge around API development – I’m far from clear, for example, how we may most effectively use an API to return just a subset of the resources in Jorum (i.e. ALPS/medical resources). In the Xpert prototype we just filtered on keyword but this feels a little unsatisfactory and Pat suggested a custom URL search would be better…

The other pieces of the jigsaw are repository-shaped and variously lacking the dove-tailing standards required to make the model workable. At Leeds University the learning and teaching repository is ExLibris’ DigiTool while York St John have a system called ArchivalWare, both systems are OAI-PMH compliant but do not support SWORD – development work is underway to rectify this at York St John while Jodie has set up an out of the box test install of e-prints to investigate OER object management.

Mike has also made some progress with EasyDeposit which is now working on a Leeds Met server and, after a few teething problems, will now successfully deposit a METS package to Jorum (DSpace), we will still need to test with EPrints (METS should be OK I think) and ArchivalWare when SWORD is integrated with that platform…probably METS again. There is an issue with intraLibrary, however, in that it only accepts IMSCP by SWORD, not METS, so we will also need to write an IMS content packager for EasyDeposit.

We are very grateful to Tamsin Treasure-Jones of ALPs for her continued support with this challenging project and I’m hopeful that all of these pieces can be put together over the Spring and Summer as we move towards a local, regional and national infrastructure for sharing medical teaching, learning and assessment material with an approach that will have the benefit of digital assets being preserved in one location (an institutional repository) while providing several points of access as well as allowing the ALPS branded web-site and the institutional repositories to “piggyback” on Jorum’s Google pagerank and improving discoverability.

Branding, repositories, OER and awareness raising: some thoughts on embedding OERs

February 3, 2011 Leave a comment
Categories: ACErep, MeDev OOER, PORSCHE Tags: , ,

Plug for ACErep on John’s CETIS blog

January 26, 2011 Leave a comment

John Robertson of CETIS discusses ACErep in his recent post “workflow and deposit tools for learning materials” –

I’ll comment on John’s post soon!

Categories: ACErep, SWORD Tags: , ,

Working search prototype and a SWORD fight

November 23, 2010 3 comments

Since the last meeting, Mike has done a great job in putting together a working (search) prototype that uses the Xpert API to search for just those resources tagged “alpsportal” i.e. ALPS resources that I have added to our repository and that have been harvested by Xpert.  Currently Xpert is only harvesting Leeds Met but it should now be fairly straightforward to also harvest YSJ and Leeds such that any resources appropriately tagged will be returned from the portal.  It’s on a restricted test server at the moment so this what it looks like (with a few explanatory slides):

And the SWORD fight? There are 3 repositories (possibly 4 if we count JORUM) that we need to be able to deposit into – this is a problem as currently only one of them – intraLibrary at Leeds Met – has fully functioning SWORD.  This did lead us to consider a hybrid deposit process allowing for manual package forwarding but given limited technical resources (this approach would have its own, not inconsiderable, overheads) and the clear advantages of utilising SWORD, it probably makes sense to focus on a prototype that can utilise the protocol and that can, hopefully, plug into the other repositories in the future.

One of the issues we face is that intraLibrary is based on IEEE LOM and only accepts IMS Content Packages by SWORD whereas the majority of (open source) repositories are based on Dublin Core metadata and only accept METS by SWORD; I have been working with Jorum to test their SWORD deposit – as a customised DSpace repository it accepts METS (not IMS) so we have had to map IMSCP for one of our resources -> METS in order for it to be accepted.  Currently I have only been able to achieve this with a very simple package comprising just title, description and author (I’ve also tried to add keyword and rights but these don’t seem to be picked up by Jorum – I’m not sure if this is a problem with Jorum or with my XML – probably the latter!)

It is still a moot point whether we will need METS or IMSCP for YSJ/Leeds until various questions around their specific repository implementations have been answered but we probably need to progress on the basis that we should support both. We will need to get Mike involved on the technical side and I’m hoping that he can start developing a web-based SWORD deposit client that, eventually, will be able to post to any SWORD service URL whether at Leeds Met, Leeds, YSJ or Jorum; as the only viable target repository at this stage is Leeds Met we will want to package as IMSCP in the first instance, ultimately with a view to also packaging as METS depending on the requirements of the destination repository.

MT – I may be asking for the moon on a stick here but I know you’ll put me straight and tell me what we can actually achieve and in what time-scale…just to summarise, below, what (I think) I understand about SWORD so far and what I anticipate might be required of this type of implementation:

SWORD works by means of a service URL that a package is posted to via the ATOM publishing protocol – this service URL allows a “service document” to be retrieved from the target repository which itemises available collections for SWORD deposit. The desktop client I have been using with our repository and with Jorum is available from Sourceforge –  It enables me to post a .zip containing a resource + its metadata in an imsmanifest.xml to intraLibrary (or resource + mets.xml to Jorum)

Screenshots below:

Authenticate to repository / retrieve service doc (note SWORD service URL)

Authenticate to repository / retrieve service document (note SWORD service URL)

Service doc successfully retrieved – choose collection to deposit into:

Service doc successfully retrieved - choose collection to deposit into:

Confirm collection details for post operation:

Confirm colection details for post operation

Browse to zip on hard drive (already containing imsmanifest.xml) and click button to post to repository:

Browse to zip on hard drive (already containing imsmanifest.xml) and click button to post to repository

Resource and full metadata record successfully posted to repository:

Resource and full metadata record successfully posted to repository:

I imagine we would need a web-form that allows similar metadata to be captured and transformed into an imsmanifest.xml, then allows file upload and zips resource and manifest into an IMSCP that is then posted to a specified collection in the service doc at

Erm, sounds a bit tricky to me, Mike?

It might also be worth looking again at Stuart Lewis’ EasyDeposit (blogged about at which packages as METS for DSpace/EPrints etc.

ALPS resources

November 5, 2010 3 comments

The ACErep project, of course, is focussed on selective deposit into multiple repositories and cross-search of those repositories.  However, not having been involved in ALPS from the outset I feel a little ignorant of the precise nature of those resources.

As I understand it, one type of resource is an instructional video that can be accessed from a mobile device in a Practice Setting and there are a series of such videos in LUDOS and DigiRep.  Our repository at Leeds Met, however, has been conspicuously lacking any ALPS resources so I thought I’d do some experimentation with one of these resources to see how they behave in the respective repositories when accessed from both a mobile device and a desktop browser. (presumably these issues were considered as part of the main ALPS project?)

The video I chose is called “Measuring Seat Height” and can be found in LUDOS and DigiRep but I couldn’t figure out how to link to it in either system and just get a “Session expired” pop-up in DigiRep and “You have not performed a search” in LUDOS – find it by browsing from and

In LUDOS, the resource includes a URI that – in a desktop browser – opens a separate window that plays the .flv and also includes two links to download the .flv OR a .3GP (for a mobile device)

I downloaded both the .flv and the .3GP and uploaded them both to the Leeds Met repository:

In addition I uploaded them to JorumOpen:

Incidentally, good old Xpert harvested us overnight so the .flv is available from there too (not yet the .3GP as I only uploaded it this morning – 05/11/10):

A desktop browser cannot play a .flv so would need some sort of player to display from – presumably both LUDOS (DigiTool) and DigiRep (ArchivalWare) include such a player as the video does play in both those systems; intraLibrary, however, does not appear to include such a facility and FireFox and IE gave me the option to save or open with QuickTime (Chrome just downloaded it); the .3GP did play in browser (FF and IE – again Chrome just downloaded it) but when I tried the .3GP on my iPod it tried to play but then I just got an error message saying “Server not Configured Correctly” – I tried it this morning on @DebbieMN‘s iPhone with a similar result except Safari seems to have got stuck in a loop that we can’t now stop! (I did post the link to Twitter so I hope I haven’t broken anyone else’s phone!)

@Unicycle_OER suggested that iPhone/iPod will need the new vlc player from the app store to play a .3GP so I’ll try that later on my own device.

ALPS used an alternative mobile device to Apple i-stuff i think so I’ll have to get hold of one to test further…

Categories: ACErep, ALPS resources Tags: , , ,