Portfolio Commons

OER with Mahara ePortfolio platform and SWORD

September 25, 2013
by Mike Kelly
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Publishing

Summer’s ending and the new term looms. Before things get too crazy I will try to find the time to clean up a few minor bits and pieces in the project and publish the Portfolio Commons code to GitHub. Watch this space.

March 13, 2013
by Mike Kelly
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Admin options and Edshare deposits

I’ve had a chance to do some work to tidy up the administrative section of the Portfolio Commons plugin. Repository and licence options are now editable directly from the plugin config. page, and it’s possible to set a default collection for each repository, and a default licence among those created.

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 12.36.03

Editing a repository’s details, and setting the default collection.

If an end user selects a repository which has a default collection defined, the collection selection part of the process is hidden from them, making the process somewhat simpler for those without experience of repository structures.

The user is now also prevented from trying to make a deposit to a repository if communication can’t be established with it in the first place.

The feedback after a deposit is now clearer and more detailed, and a link is presented to the user which takes them directly to the repository page featuring the resource they’ve just deposited (the ‘splashpage’).

Feedback after making a deposit

Feedback after making a deposit

After some collaborative work with the E-prints/Edshare team, previews of deposited Mahara packages are now working well in Edshare, and the licence information is also picked up at the repository end and applied to the deposited package.

With these new features in place, we are very close to having a first fully working version of Portfolio Commons, so this is a major milestone.

We will do some more testing and tidying and take a look at Jorum compatibility next. After we have had some tea and cake.

 

January 3, 2013
by Mike Kelly
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Licences

The Portfolio Commons project continues into the new year.

I have added the possibility to select a licence when exporting a package. The Creative Commons licences are provided by default, though these can be edited or removed by an administrator. Completely new custom licences can also be added by an administrator. For the end user, these license options appear as a drop-down list when exporting a package to a repository.

Licence options

 

Licence options drop-down list

We are also working with our partners at Jorum and E-Prints to make sure that the licence designation is recognised and handled appropriately at the repository end.

October 10, 2012
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Summary – GrandFinale

Summary In Plain-English (GrandFinale)

Students and staff at the UAL who use the e-Portfolio system (based on Mahara) will be able to select content from their personal portfolio collection attach Creative Commons licences to that content and then publish to the open web using 2 different repository systems as publishing platforms:

• Jorum (http://www.jorum.ac.uk/)

• Filestore (http://alto.arts.ac.uk/filestore/)

They will be able to do this without leaving their e-Portfolio. This means the content they publish in this manner will be retained in the long-term after they leave the UAL and their e-Portfolio system is closed. Such content will be available all over the world under the terms of the chosen Creative Commons licences and become part of their long-term online profile. Because the content has been deposited in institutional and national repository services users will be able to reference the content in the future in their CVs for professional purposes.

In the future other institutions who are using Mahara as their e-Portfolio system will also be able to implement similar services for their staff and students using our open source code.

This 4 minute video screen-cast demonstrates the near-final version of the system in action from a users point of view.

Portfolio Commons – Overview

October 10, 2012
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Final Project Report (working)

Portfolio Commons Project Final Report

University of the Arts London

Project Start Date: 26th March 2012

Project End Date: 28th September 2012

Length of Project: 6 Months

Name of Lead Institution: University of the Arts London

Name(s) of Project Partners(s)

• Jorum Service, MIMAS, University of Manchester

• Richard Jones (Cottage Labs)

Full Contact Details for Primary Contact:

Name: John Casey
Position: Project Manager
Email: j.casey@arts.ac.uk
Tel: 020 7514 8056
Address: 272 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7EY

 

 

Contents
About (In a nutshell)
In Plain-English (GrandFinale)
Project Plan
Outputs
Lessons Learnt
Impact

 About (In a nutshell)

In this project we aim to enable the users of the UAL e-portfolio system (based on Mahara) 
to be able to select content from their portfolio and deposit it directly into the UAL learning resource repository (based on EdShare) and Jorum. We will do this by using the SWORD protocol.

The key technical challenges the project presents will be integrating the use of SWORD into Mahara, and getting the target repositories to accept the content we deposit via SWORD. Ideally the content will also be discoverable in the repositories and viewable in a useful way to users.

We shall be working with

Jorum Service, MIMAS, University of Manchester

• Richard Jones (Cottage Labs) – one of the original SWORD team

• EdShare/Eprints (ECS Partners Ltd)

Below is our use case diagram that provides a clear overview about the kind of interactions we are looking at:

 

Use Case Diagram

Use Case Diagram

Benefits of this include:

• Making deposit in the repositories a lot less of a hassle for users

• Giving the users a list of ‘published’ items with URLs that they can reference in the future (to be implemented in a future version)

• Helping us learn more about SWORD and identifying other applications for its use (with WordPress and Drupal for instance) as well as thinking about other ways to link our various systems together

Typical User Journey/Walkthrough/Benefits/Issues

• The user wants to select and share some of their work with the world via a repository – they have to choose what to share and decide how much (can already do this in Mahara) – they could archive their whole portfolio but that is not the intention – we will need to have advice about the need to be selective and the benefits/reasons for sharing their work (to be OERs for others and to have web ref on their CV?)

• They have to select a repository and a licence (probably need a pop-up link or some such about each repos and the CC licence system – a recent addition to this would be the need to express a simple copyright statement.

• They hit a ‘deposit button’ and should see a progress bar and get an email confirmation with a link to the resource (email confirmation will be implemented in a future version)

• They should have access to a list of resources they have deposited with Titles, Descriptions etc. and web links to the item in a repo – would be really nice if the number of view/downloads was displayed next to each item (to be implemented in a future version)

• Need to think about versioning and overwriting options and whether that can be done in the scope of this project

In Plain-English (GrandFinale)

Students and staff at the UAL who use the e-Portfolio system (based on Mahara) will be able to select content from their personal portfolio collection attach Creative Commons licences to that content and then publish to the open web using 2 different repository systems as publishing platforms:

• Jorum (http://www.jorum.ac.uk/)

• Filestore (http://alto.arts.ac.uk/filestore/)

They will be able to do this without leaving their e-Portfolio. This means the content they publish in this manner will be retained in the long-term after they leave the UAL and their e-Portfolio system is closed. Such content will be available all over the world under the terms of the chosen Creative Commons licences and become part of their long-term online profile. Because the content has been deposited in institutional and national repository services users will be able to reference the content in the future in their CVs for professional purposes.

In the future other institutions who are using Mahara as their e-Portfolio system will also be able to implement similar services for their staff and students using our open source code.

Please see the 2 minute video screen-cast demonstrating the near-final version of the system in action from a users point of view. Video here

Project Plan

WP1 Startup Prepare detailed plan within 2 weeks / Arrange and brief staff / Project web site, Blog and Twitter. Finalise & sign consortium agreement / Initial team and user workshops / Establish code repository that is open to the community / Month 1

WP 2 Wider Community Engagement Contact OER programme and Rapid Innovation community organisations and projects (SWORD project, DEVCSI, Mahara Dev Community, ePortfolio communities) / attend meetings / respond to enquiries / Month 1- 6

WP 3 User Consultations and Prototyping Understanding current practice (UAL ‘Workflow’ Portfolio system, Jorum, EdShare)/ Explain Concepts / Discuss paper and wireframe prototypes and examples / Identify User needs / identify user requirements/ Identify technical problems for early attention Month 1 – 2

WP 4 Decision making and code prototypes Validate requirements and scenarios /

Develop functional specifications / develop needs hierarchy and evaluate / Target critical technical problems for early attention (small test code prototypes) / plan development activities Month 1 – 2

WP 4 Development Analysis and Design / Code Development / Iteration with test users / Testing / Release to users for testing / Final version Month 1 – 6

WP 5 General User Release and Support User Communications Plan / Training Materials and Help system / Acceptance testing and evaluation / final review of code Month 4 – 6

WP 6 Winding Up Final release of code under OSI licence with full user and developer documentation/ Project reports on website Month 6

Outputs

The main outputs from this project are as follows:

• SWORD deposit successfully implemented in a test instance of the UAL Filestore repository (based on the EdShare variant of Filestore)

• SWORD deposit successfully implemented in a test instance the Jorum repository (based on Dspace

• Mahara core code modified to enable sections of content for export using SWORD in package formats customized to meet the needs of the 2 target repositories

• Mahara code and developer notes are available under open licences at this code repository – in the new future

• Presentation about our work at the ALT-C 2012 conference which gathered a lot of interest – please see http://altc2012.alt.ac.uk/talks/28035

Important outcomes from this project are an improved understanding of the SWORD protocol and its possible applications and how to go about implementing such a service on different systems in the future. Especially important is the understanding that transactions via SWORD have to be implemented in a way that fits the target repository configuration and the server configuration.

Lessons Learnt

We now have a much better view of how the SWORD protocol works and how we may put it to use in the UAL. We understand that exports from a system like Mahara need to be customized (‘tuned’), in order to be correctly received and processed by the target repository.

We also now understand that the main variables affecting this process at the repository end of things are a) the way the host server is configured in terms of packages accepted, how package metadata is ingested, and how content is previewed, b) how SWORD has been implemented in the repository software.

Impact

This service is going to be implanted at the UAL and will enable staff and students to publish their work directly into Jorum and the UAL Filestore, lowering the threshold to repository deposit considerably. It will also enable the creation of OER content from student portfolios something that is particularly import for Art & Design subjects.

Our work is also of interest to researchers at the UAL who are interested in depositing their research outputs and data into the UAL research repository (UAL RO). As the JISC Kaptur project, which includes the UAL, is also investigating using SWORD with Eprints we are starting to coordinate our work with them.

Based on this experience we are going to investigate implementing a similar facility to enable users of WordPress at the UAL to select content for deposit in the same two target repositories.

Our work has gained interest from the repository community as a way of lowering the threshold to deposit, we presented about this at the ALT-C 2012 conference (please see http://altc2012.alt.ac.uk/talks/28035)

Our work is also of interest to the Mahara open-source community and there is the possibility that it may be incorporated into the code in the future.

September 4, 2012
by Mike Kelly
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Local vs Remote Export

Back from leave, and I have updated the UI in Mahara,  using tabs to separate local export from remote export options, the latter designated for deposits to repositories.

 

 

This cleans up the interface, and makes it simpler to show users that they can only export their public pages to remote targets. (Due to licensing issues.)

We also ironed out an issue with the Service Document in EPrints, with help from the team at Southampton.

At this point exports from Mahara are working, but the exported content consists of fairly obscure zip packages. Now I’m going to start looking into packaging content in the METS format for more discoverable content in the repository.

August 3, 2012
by Mike Kelly
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Deposits to repository collections

In another quick flurry of activity on the project, before I go on holiday, I’ve implemented the selection of the repository collection to deposit to when exporting Mahara Pages via SWORD.

The list of available collections is retrieved and displayed dynamically when a repository is selected.
I expect repository collections in real-world applications to be named in a more user-friendly way than those shown in the SWORD test server in the screenshot above ; ) Ideally the names of the available collections will make the point of categorizing by collection apparent.
I extended the Mahara PluginExport class to support a ‘target’ value, which holds details of a remote repository and the targeted collection there.

I also implemented the actual depositing of simple zipped HTML packages from Mahara to a repository via SWORD.

With these pieces in place we now have the depositing process working, all the way through from selection of repository, repository collection and Pages to be exported, through to the display of feedback to the user after a successful deposit.

The next steps will involve looking at writing metadata for the packages, investigating accepted package types in different repositories, and making our deposited content browseable in the target repository. I’m pleased to say that we have functioning E-Prints and Edshare test repositories to test against.

But first – holidays!

July 12, 2012
by Mike Kelly
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OERPub at OR2012

Apologies in advance for the acronyms.

I dropped into the OR2012 conference in Edinburgh on Monday for Kathi Fletcher’s workshop on OERPub, an initiative to transform popular document types into a common format for deposit into a repository.
Kathi’s team have developed a standalone tool for submitting Word docs, Google docs and web pages to the Connexions repository. When these content types are submitted, they are converted into html and xml and deposited in the repository via the SWORD protocol.

Interestingly, the team has extended SWORD v2 to:

  • include information to distinguish between a versioned item and a copy derived from it;
  • add default metadata where it hasn’t been fully set by the client;
  • support minor merges, such as changing the titles of submitted items.

These give some hints as to the possible deficiencies of SWORD as it exists at the moment.

The ultimate goal is to have a repository with remixable content, which is modular, uses a shareable license, and has a useful API. This is an ambitious project, and they have done some really useful work, which is available for others to use – e.g. the transform code.

From an art and design perspective I’m interested in the preservation of formatting as well as content. (Though I believe this is also an issue with text, for example, where the formatting of a book or article is an important part of the reading experience – something you will be aware of if you have tried to view a poorly formatted book on a Kindle or tablet device.) This may become more feasible in future if there is standardisation on HTML5 as a format for repository content, which is the direction that Connexions is headed in.

July 12, 2012
by Mike Kelly
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Adding and editing repositories

I’ve developed some interface pages for adding and editing or deleting repository settings.
I started out trying to stay within the limits of the plugin architecture of Mahara, but in the end I was forced to make some changes to core files, to show the repository options when exporting. As this seems unavoidable I will revisit these pages later on to lay them out more logically – probably with a separate tab for repository deposits when exporting.

In the meantime however, I will move on to the all-important step of sending content from Mahara into a repository.

Adding a repository

Editing repository settings

Selecting a repository for export

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