JISC Guidance on eBooks

JISC Observatory have launched the draft version of a new report on eBooks in Education.

This report updates previous work researching the usage and adoption of ebooks within academic institutions and examines recent developments that are shaping how academic institutions can respond to growing interest in ebooks:

As ebooks become mainstream and the percentage of academic publications delivered as ebooks rises steadily, this report explains the importance of preparing for the increasing adoption and usage of ebooks in academic institutions. Specifically, this report: 1) introduces the historical and present context of ebooks; 2) reviews the basics of ebooks; 3) considers scenarios for ebook adoption and usage; 4) addresses current challenges; and 5) considers the future. This report also provides a glossary to help clarify key terms and a ‘References’ section listing works cited.

The preview version of this report is open for public comments from 27 September to 8 October 2012. A final version, taking into account feedback received, is scheduled for publication around the end of October.

See news item for more information and an opportunity to comment.

Alongside this report, JISC is developing further practical guidance.  Building on  JISC Collections ebook expertise,  the Digital Monographs Study and JISC Digital Media expertise, later this year we will be releasing Digital Infrastructure Directions guidance on the Challenge of eBooks in Academic Institutions.

The guidance is being co-designed with experts in the sector using a project development wiki.  The project covers the creation, curation and consumption of eBooks. There are many issues to unpick: the Bring Your Own Device (BOYD) trend, the role of libraries, changes in publishing and purchasing models, accessibility and access considerations and so on. We will make this a helpful tool for institutional managers to navigate the choices signposted in the JISC Observatory report.

Some prototype guidance will be available soon and we will be seeking input on how to ensure that it meets the needs of decision-makers in institutions. The guidance authors will be watching the comments on the JISC Observatory report preview to ensure that they address the challenges surfaced.

In summary please comment on the JISC Observatory Draft Report: Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of eBooks in Education and watch this space for more!

 

Amber Thomas, JISC

Institutional Web Managers Workshop 2012: JISC support for web professionals

I attended the institutional web managers workshop 2012 this week. It is a conference that has been run by UKOLN since the mid 1990s and is a great opportunity for people to share their challenges and good practice.

 

I contributed to a session where Brian Kelly described changes to the context of web management in UK FE/HE over the years and Mike Nolan did a lighthearted but very informative description of life as a web manager. I had the task of describing the work of JISC and its relevance to web managers, in 5 minutes. Luckily, although half the audience were new to the conference, most were already aware of JISC, so I tried to cram in as much as I could. I promised I’d share the many links I referred to in my whistlestop tour, so here we go …

 

Are you a web professional working in UK further or higher education? Here’s what you should know about JISC!

As this timeline shows, JISC was born in 1993 and is now nearly 20 years old. JISC offers leadership and support to UK educational organisations at a local, national and international level. We provide resources, knowledge and expertise that colleges and universities would struggle to source individually due to cost and resource. By staying abreast of developments across information and digital technology we help the UK education community make investment decisions that ensure they deliver the learner experience their students demand. We are the driving force behind major shared services which are responsive, agile and fit for purpose in a rapidly changing environment. We provide access to the world-class Janet(UK) network, quality and cost-effective digital resources and a range of specialist advisory services. What’s more, our innovation programmes and projects are seeding the core services of the future, as I’ll signpost below.

JISC has developed the network, janet, that underpins institutional digital infrastructure, the federation, UKAMF, that supports seamless single-sign within and between institutions, and supports eduroam that allows you to access other universities wifi networks around the world.

It is by working together as a sector that we achieve so much in the UK. JISC Collections brokers deals to high quality content, jiscmail enables a massive network of academics to communicate, and we run a wide range of services, from content provision to geomapping.

We don’t just provide you with the infrastructure and content, we also support web professionals in education with high quality advice, including on digital media, accessibility and inclusion, legal issues, and more, through JISC Advance.

JISC is always moving things forward, and our innovation work engages experts from across the sector in meeting emerging challenges. With its focus on libraries, web and research infrastructure, UKOLN runs Institutional Web Managers Workshop and also developer-focussed support, as well as an ongoing programme of R&D of importance to web professionals. Their fellow Innovation Support Centre, JISC CETIS has a focus on teaching and learning infrastructures and interoperability. The Digital Curation Centre has is expert in data management, and OSSWatch supports open source software development, deployment and licensing.

We also work closely with the community on particular areas of importance, where we co-invent innovation programmes, funding institutions and other experts to work through key challenges together. The sorts of areas of interest to web managers where JISC has made strategic investments include open access, open educational resources, e-content, digital literacies, resource discovery, research management, relationship management, activity data, course data, emerging opportunities for libraries, cloud computing  and more!

 

Thus endeth my tour of current key JISC resources for web managers. Hope that was useful (and tell me what I’ve missed!)

 

The JISC ebooks universe

My colleague Ben Showers has recently been looking across the work taking place around digital books in all their forms: open textbooks, digital monographs, epub, web-based books. For educational institutions the need to keep up with the content needs of learners and researchers is paramount but so much is happening at the moment, with hardware, content formats, the emergence of new authoring tools and rising user expectations, so where do you start?

We have pulled together some key information for decision-makers, with a distinct JISC flavour. Particular thanks to Caren Milloy from JISC Collections and Zak Mensah from JISC Digital Media for their help.

 

Legal (Licensing, IPR, DRM)

Business Models

 

Technology and Standards

 

User behaviour/Requirements

What have we missed?

Please let us know what resources you find most useful, from JISC and elsewhere, in meeting the challenge of ebooks in your institution.

 

Ben Showers and Amber Thomas, JISC Digital Infrastructure Team

May 2012

(last updated 28th May 2012)

Beyond Grid vs Cloud – EGI Community Forum 2012

‘The grid? Shouldn’t they all be doing cloud computing now?’ As a JISC programme manager working with the National Grid Service (NGS) project people ask me this question more and more often. ‘Absolutely’ and ‘not at all’ is the seemingly contradictory answer I usually give, for instance the other week when I mentioned I would attend the European Grid Infrastructure Community Forum 2012 in Munich.

the delights of cloud and grid computing: cake

conference coffee break revelations: EGI delivers -- cloud, grid and cake!

I give this answer because the question originates from a double misunderstanding. The first is about the nature of cloud computing that, despite some marketing claims, is not the answer to everything and in some ways more a new business model than a new technology as such. The cloud is neither the solution for all computing needs, nor is it always the cheapest option – as a recent study commissioned by EPSRC and JISC (PDF) shows. The second misunderstanding relates to branding and the history of research computing. When projects like the National Grid Service were envisaged, grid computing was the dominant paradigm and their names reflect that. These days however, they are looking at a broad range of technologies and business models for providing compute resources, and mostly refer to themselves by their acronyms: NGS and EGI in this case. So at least for the initiated it was no surprise that the EGI conference was as much about the cloud as it was about the grid.

The conference, hosted by the LRZ supercomputing centre and the Technical University of Munich, was a five day event to bring together members of the research computing community from across and beyond Europe. With several parallel strands and many session to attend I won’t summarise the whole conference but instead pick out a few themes and projects I personally found interesting.

First of all I noticed there was a lot of interest in better understanding the use of e-infrastructures by researchers and, related to that, the impact generated by this. In some ways this is a straightforward task insofar as easy to capture and understand numbers can be collected. The EGI for instance now has over 20,000 registered users. You can count the number of cores that can be accessed, monitor the number of compute jobs users run and measure the utilisation of the infrastructure. However, this becomes more difficult when you think of a truly distributed, international infrastructure such as the EGI. Will national funders accept that – while the resources they fund may used by many researchers – much of that usage originates from abroad? If we want to support excellent research with the best tools available we have to make it as easy as possible for researchers to get access to resources no matter which country they are physically based in. Thinking in terms of large, distributed groups of researchers using resources from all over the world, often concurrently, the task of understanding what impact the research infrastructure has and where that impact occurs (leading to who may lay ‘claim’ it in terms of justifying the funding) can make your mind boggle. We need business models for funding these infrastructures that don’t erect new national barriers and address these problems from the angle of how to best support researchers.

Business models, not surprisingly, was another theme I was very interested in. Complex enough already, it is made even more difficult by commercial vendors now offering cloud nodes that for certain, smaller scale scenarios can compete with high performance computing – how do you fairly compare different infrastructures with different strengths and very different payment models? Will we see a broadly accepted funding model where researchers become customers who buy compute from their own institution or whoever offers the best value? Will we see truly regional or national research clouds compete against the likes of Amazon? What the conference has shown is that there are emerging partnerships between large academic institutions and vendors that explore new ways for joint infrastructure development. One example is a new project called ‘Helix Nebula – the Science Cloud’, a partnership that involves CERN, the European Space Agency and companies like T-Systems and Orange. Such partnerships may have a lot of potential, but finding legal structures that allow projects based in academia to work in a more commercial environment is not always easy. A presentation from the German National Grid Initiative explored some of these problems and also the question of developing sustainable funding models.

In order to develop good models for funding e-infrastructure we also need to understand the costs better. As far as institutional costs are concerned these are mostly hidden from the researchers, whereas the costs of commercial providers are very visible – but not always easy to understand in terms of what exactly it is you get for a certain price per hour. As our cloud cost study shows this is an area where more work needs to be done, and so I was happy to find a European project that aims to address this. e-FISCAL works on an analysis of the costs and cost structures of HTC and HPC infrastructures and a comparison with similar commercially offerings. It already lists a useful range of relevant studies and I hope we will see more solid data emerge over time.

In the commercial/public context I found it interesting to see that some academic cloud projects aim to take on commercial players. BeeHub, for instance, was presented as an academic DropBox. Now, to be fair to the project it aims to be an academic service for file sharing in groups and to address some of the concerns one might have regarding DropBox, but I wonder how successful they will be against such a popular offering.

I was also very interested to learn more about initiatives that address the critical question of training. Usually these are researcher training or more technically focussed programmes, but the EU-funded RAMIRI project offers training and knowledge exchange for people (hoping to be) involved in planning and managing research infrastructures.  Because of the increasing complexity of this task in terms of legal, cultural, technical and other issues better support for those running what often are multi-million projects is highly desirable.

As I cannot end this post without referencing the more technical aspects of research infrastructure let me point you to a project that shows that grid and cloud can indeed live together in harmony. StratusLab is developing cloud technologies with the aim of simplifying and optimizing the use and operation of distributed computing infrastructures and it offers a production level cloud distribution that promises to marry ease of use of the cloud with grid technologies for distributed computing.

To sum up, it is not a question of grid versus cloud. It is about selecting the technologies that are best suited to facilitate great research – and then do deal with the non-technical issues from training to sustainability and cultural change that will decide how well we will be able to make use of the potential the technology offers.

Digital Infrastructure to Support Open Content for Education

Background to this blog post

The OER Rapid Innovation Call for Proposals was announced in November 2011. It is open to HEFCE-funded institutions to bid.

I am very aware that the issues in scope for this Call are broader then the UK. It includes a snapshot of the digital infrastructure space at November 2011, it builds on the understanding and experiences of projects within the UKOER Programme and beyond, and is particularly informed by the expertise at JISC CETIS . It therefore seems useful to make the snapshot available as a blog post so that it is more accessible to people working in open content for education around the world.

The following is taken from Paragraphs 25-75 of the Call, but with added headings to enable easier reading online. Please read the full Call for further understanding of what the requirements are for projects.

The Global Picture

The OLnet initiative has recently identified Key Challenges for the OER Movement. These challenges include:

It is these global challenges that underpin this Call for projects to enhance the digital infrastructure to support open content.

The Story so Far

Through the JISC Digital Infrastructure Team, JISC  supports the creation and use of a layer of scholarly resources for education and research across the network. This includes the development of infrastructure, technology, practice and policy to support processes from creation and access to re-use of resources. Major activities include sharing and storing content, providing access to content (via licences and technologies), developing solutions for curation and delivering data and content resources via data centres and distributed solutions.

Through the OER Technology Support Project, the OER IPR Project, the evaluation and synthesis, and the experiences of funded projects, and aided particularly by JISC CETIS’s technology synthesis work,  JISC is developing a clearer understanding of the role of technologies and infrastructure in supporting open practice and open content.

In particular JISC has funded a number of elements that support the sharing of learning materials including Jorum, the Repositories Infokit,  previous rapid innovation funding for the Xpert search, the SWORD protocol, the CaPRet project and an OER Programme-funded prototype showcase of UKOER content that is currently under development.

Opportunities and Challenges

There are some key areas that JISC has identified where developments under this call are encouraged. What follows is a description of some of the opportunities and challenges that have been identified in this space. However this list is not exhaustive and bidders are welcome to submit proposals that address different areas if they fulfil the main aims of the call.


Open licensing is key to open content, and fertile ground for developing digital infrastructure. Tools built around Creative Commons licences may provide a useful backbone, so the Open Attribute tool and projects using those conventions, such as OERGlue and CaPRet are useful in that they provide benefits to users (easy attribution) rewarded by benefits to content providers (analytics). Tools such as Xpert Attribution Tool help the flow of rights. Implementation of Open Attribute into tools and services, and a set of services around embedded licenses are potential areas that proposals could tackle.

Improved resource description, both machine-readable and human-readable are important to enable content to be effectively found, shared and selected. CETIS have provided a summary of the key initiatives to track, namely Learning Resources Metadata Initiative which is a profile of the schema.org initiative for improving html markup. HTML5 may offer promise in this area. Including provenance and licensing information in the sharing of resources is important to digital literacies as well as meeting the requirements of attribution such as in the Creative Commons BY clause.

Aggregation and discovery is another area of interest for open content (see OER aggregation blog post). The OER Thematic Collections projects have explored a range of approaches. The Content Clustering and Sustaining Resources publication provides a good description of the approaches in this area generally. The Shuttleworth-funded OER Roadmap Project proposes an ecosystem of repositories and services, characterised by the use of APIs and shared protocols such as JISC-funded SWORD. The Discovery Initiative promotes an open metadata ecology to enable better use and aggregation of content. The Learning Registry approach explores the use of activity data to enhance the metadata and discovery of resources and the OER Programme is funding a UK experimental node. Solutions might be developed that build on these initiatives, specifically to enhance the digital infrastructure for open content in education.

Many sites hosting collections of educational materials keep logs of the search terms used by visitors to the site when searching for resources. There might be solutions that could be developed to aid the understanding of search activity. For example, a project could deliver a tool that facilitates the analysis of search logs to classify the search terms used with reference to the characteristics of a resource that may be described in the metadata. Such information should assist a collection manager in building their collection (e.g. by showing what resources were in demand) and in describing their resources in such a way that helps users find them. The analysis tool should be shown to work with search logs from a number of and should produce reports in a format that are readily understood, for example a breakdown of how many searches were for “subjects” and which were the most popular subjects searched for. A a degree of manual classification will be required, but if the system is capable of learning how to handle certain terms and that this learning would be shared between users: a user should not have to tell the system that “Biology” is a subject once they or any other user has done so. Further information on the sort of data that is available and what it might mean is outlined in CETIS’s blog post on Metadata Requirements from the Analysis of Search Logs. Solutions should be developed as open source software then made free to use or install without restriction, with full documentation. The tool proposed above is one way that we could improve the understanding of search, other suggested solutions are welcome.

Effective Search Engine Optimisation is key to open educational resources providing benefits of discoverability, reach reputation and marketing. Guidance on “improving your online presence” needs applying to the wide range of platforms and content types used for OER, as described in JISC CETIS’ UKOER technical synthesis. Projects have explored SEO in several ways, for example, the SCOOTER project has produced guidance on its chosen approach to search engine optimisation and the MMTV project experimented with Google AdWords to improve SEO. The variations in format types and platforms mean that it is exposed to web search in a variety of ways. A particular key issue is how “repositories” compare to “web 2.0 services” in terms of search engine optimisation. To answer that, we may need to go beyond theory into running a structured experiment. For example, a technical investigation/tool for the SEO of commons platforms and formats for OER would be very useful. This project would be a repeatable approach, using technical tools to run the SEO work and capture and present the findings in a useful way. The outputs of such an investigation would include the methodology, a findings report to JISC, and an accessible set of outputs aimed at OER projects. Other solutions to improving SEO for open content would also be very welcome.

Understanding use has been a major theme of the OER Programme Phase Two. The Value of Reuse report and the Literature Review of Learners Use of Open Educational Resources captured what is known about use of open educational resources. The Learning Registry is relevant here. The Listening for Impact study analysed the feedback and usage of some open content collections. Further useful resources are available from the Activity Data Programme. Analytics may be an important way to provide evidence of the benefits of open educational resources, so enhancing content and platforms to enable enhanced usage tracking, exploiting APIs of third party systems, exploring ways of capturing and visualising use, and providing dashboards to manage analytics data may be very useful.

Online profiles are becoming a part of academic identity and open content provides a significant opportunity for academics to enhance their profile, alongside managing and reflecting on their professional work. To this point many efforts at creating academic profiles building on institutional information and open content have focused exclusively on profiles of publications and the provision of open access to scholarly communications. However, other forms of open content can play a significant role in academic identity and professional development. A key opportunity is therefore linking a broader range of open content to academic profiles.This might involve fully/semi-automated integration of publication/release/record of multiple types of open content into academic staff profiles. This is not about creating new platforms but of using feeds and APIs to enhance existing systems that handle continuing professional development / CVs / ePortfolios etc. Examples of this sort of functionality can be found in Humbox’s profile on contributing authors which also allows users to embed that author’s content list elsewhere, and Rice Connexions offers author profiles. Services such Slideshare and Youtube host user-generated content are well used as platforms for open content.Proposals could demonstrate fully/semi-automated approaches that can flexible draw on multiple distributed sources of open access articles, OER, blog posts and so on. Proposals to address this opportunity are very welcome.

One mechanism that connects people to content is social recommendation. This includes favouriting, liking, bookmarking, reviewing, and social curation tools such as Scoopit, paper.li, zite, storify, pearltrees and so on.  Often this involves browser-based tools such as bookmarklets making it very easy for people to capture, share and store useful resources. There are two OER-specific bookmarking tools available that handle the licensing characteristics of open content: FavOERites developed at Newcastle University (as a UKOER funded project) and the OER Commons tool both of which have APIs and have open sourced their code. The implementation and enhancement of these tools to handle open content may be a useful area for projects to explore. For example, projects might develop solutions for making content “share-friendly” to these tools, how the tools can use automatically generated metadata about licences, the user and their context, and how shared tags and vocabularies might enable more effective sharing for educational purposes.

The growth in e-books and e-readers, both open and proprietary, is of interest to education. Books are a familiar format to use in teaching, but also digital technologies affording new ways of creating, sharing and using books. For example, the College Open Textbooks initiative states that “We have found that open textbooks should be:

In the UK, JISC Collections have been running the ebooks observatory and examining business models for etextbooks. Developments from the research world are emerging around Enhanced Publications which combine research text, date and rich media. There is a recently announced pressbooks platform. International initiatives such as the The Saylor Open Textbook Challenge the WA State open course library etextbook initiative and have raised the profile of open textbooks. JISC CETIS have described the use case for open e-textbooks. There is guidance on ebooks available from JISC digital media, and JISC has funded the #jiscpub R&D projects. Several campus-based publishing projects have piloted reusable approaches, including Epicure, CampusROAR, Larkin Press and another useful example to look at is “living books about life”.

Phases 1 and 2 of OER programme made use of a wide range of platforms, blogs, wikis, repositories and often made modifications to the software to fully support OER use cases. It is likely to mean improving ingest and expose mechanisms, handling licence information, addressing syndicated feeds, APIs, widgets and apps. An example of platform enhancement would be the work Oxford University and others have done with WordPress or the CUNY Academic Commons in a Box work. Proposals are welcome to enhance platforms for open content. Bidders may wish to create enhancements to existing release, aggregation and remix platforms to improve the transfer of open content for educational purposes. Projects may wish to combine existing tools to provide enhanced functionality. The outcomes of these projects should be a richer exchange of metadata between publishing platforms, aggregators and other services used in the sharing of openly licensed content.


The opportunities and challenges above are only indicative and not exhaustive.

Please read the full Call for further understanding of what the requirements are for projects.

Bidders are welcome to use the oer-discuss mailing list to refine ideas and identify potential collaborators. JISC will not provide a matchmaking service, but commercial and overseas experts are welcome to use the mailing list to express an interest in collaborating.


I hope you find this useful. Comments very welcome.


Amber Thomas

JISC Programme Manager: digital infrastructure for learning and teaching materials

Addendum

Enhancing platforms for open content: the project cited is from City University New York not State University New York (now corrected, thanks to Matthew Gold, CUNY for spotting the error)

OER Rapid Innovation Call

***THIS CALL FOR PROPOSALS CLOSED ON 27TH JANUARY 2012 and this blog post will no longer be updated***

The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA) invites institutions to submit funding proposals for projects to enhance digital infrastructure to support open content for education.

Read the Call for Proposals.

Supplementary Information

IMPORTANT!: AMENDMENT TO THE CALL DOCUMENT: BIDS SHOULD BE SUBMITTED TO OER@JISC.AC.UK (NOT OER@JISCMAIL.AC.UK AS IT SAID IN THE ORIGINAL CALL)

CLARIFICATION: Proposals can be up to 6 pages long, the coversheet does not count as part of the 6 pages and the Use Case does not count as part of the 6 pages either.

REMINDER: Bidders are strongly advised to ask a peer with “fresh eyes” to read through the Call and Proposal before submission.

An online briefing session was held on Friday 9th December 2011, 10:00-11:00.  A recording of the briefing and the Slides are available. I also ran a skype surgery on Wednesday 11th January 2012. Further queries are very welcome.

An extract of the Call is available: Digital Infrastructure to Support Open Content for Education

Further information on Use Case Requirement is available.

Summary of the Call

Eligible institutions (HEFCE capital) may request between £10,000 and £25,000 per project.  A total of £200,000 is available for this strand. Between 10 and 18 projects are likely to be funded.

I previewed the Call earlier in November 2011.

wordcloud of scope of the Call

www.wordle.net of OER RI Call

The OLnet initiative has recently identified Key Challenges for the OER Movement. These challenges include:

It is these global challenges that underpin this Call for projects to enhance the digital infrastructure to support open content. The Call outlines some of the opportunities and challenges that have been identified in this space, proposals are welcome that meets these, or more generally the main aims of the Call.

Intended benefits of these projects are:

These are Rapid Innovation projects.  In keeping with the size of the grants and short duration of the projects, the bidding process is lightweight and the reporting process will be blog-based.

Bidders are welcome to use the oer-discuss mailing list to refine ideas and identify potential collaborators. JISC will not provide a matchmaking service, but commercial and overseas experts are welcome to use the mailing list to express an interest in collaborating.

The outputs of these projects will be made available open access and open source.

Key Dates

Please do post questions as comments to this blog post, join oer-discuss, or contact me direct.

Amber Thomas

JISC Programme Manager: digital infrastructure for learning and teaching materials (CONTACT INFO)

OER Rapid Innovation Call: Preview

Released later this month, with a deadline of mid January, this Call will be for short (max 6 month) projects to develop solutions to enhance the digital infrastructure to support the use of open content in education.

Eligible institutions (HEFCE capital) can bid for between £10,000 and £25,000. Technical staff should already be in place. Existing partnerships with commercial and overseas organisations is welcome. Proposals should be focussed on a clear use case and have user involvement build it. In keeping with the relatively small grants and tight timeframe, there will be a lightweight reporting process based on blog posts.

Open Education, open academic practice, open scholarship and open content all need digital infrastructure to thrive. The emphasis in this Call is on making use of existing tools, services and standards, to meet clearly articulated use cases.

Areas to bid to will include:

A: Open content and academic profiles

B: Enhancing platforms for open content

C: Enhancing tools and services for open e-books

D: Search log analysis

E: SEO of common platforms and format types for OER

F: Open Call, including:

As you can see, the scope is broad. It includes discovery, analytics, social web and platform work, so don’t be put off if you haven’t been involved in the OER Programme so far. Read my latest programme update, join oer-discuss mailing list, follow #ukoer on twitter, check out the work of the programme and start making connections. Bidders are welcome to use the oer-discuss mailing list to refine ideas and identify potential collaborators. JISC will not provide a matchmaking service, but commercial and overseas experts are welcome to use the mailing list to express an interest in collaborating.

We have high hopes for the technical outputs of his strand. The CETIS OER mini projects call, which this supersedes, funded the CaPRet project for £10k, which may now become a core part of Creative Commons licensing technology. The SWORD protocol was originally funded in this way, and is now used all over the world. Great solutions can come from humble beginnings.

Get your thinking caps on and watch this space!

Amber Thomas

Programme Manager, JISC

@ambrouk

Mobile Infrastructure for Libraries – New Projects

As part of the Mobile Infrastructure for Libraries programme I am pleased to announce that 6 new projects have recently received funding, with projects starting in November and finishing in August 2012.

The majority of the projects are innovating around library content and services to develop prototypes for the innovative delivery of scholarly content and library services.  The projects will also be producing rich case studies documenting their work and the lessons learnt.

There is also a community support project that will aim to build a body of evidence and practice around the notion of m-libraries and the provision of services and content to mobile devices.

The support project will also help support, build and engage this community of practitioners both within the programme and beyond.

I will be updating the Emerging Library Opportunities webpage shortly with details of the programme.  Until then, here are some brief details of the projects:

Supporting the Mobile Library Community
Evidence Base (Birmingham City University)
Partners: Owen Stephens

This project will provide a mobile library community support project to help support and engage the emerging m-library community by reviewing and synthesising existing research and  evidence-based guidance.

PhoneBooth
London School of Economics
Partners: Edina

PhoneBooth will repurpose the Charles Booth Maps, Descriptive of London Poverty and selected police notebooks, which record eye-witness descriptions of London street-by-street, for delivery to mobile devices. The project will enhance the current online delivery by enabling content to be delivered directly to the location to which it refers.

MACON: Mobilising Academic Content Online
The Open University
Partners: EBSCO

MACON will address challenges involved in delivering quality academic content to mobile devices in a seamless and user-friendly manner. The project will work with EBSCO, a major content and systems provider in order to prototype a mobile friendly resource discovery interface which will discover and expose quality academic content from both third party & local collections.

M-Biblio
University of Bristol

The project will enhance the learning and research activities of the University of Bristol’s academic community by developing a mobile application that can record and organise references to books, journals and other resources. These references can be added actively by scanning barcodes and QR codes, or passively by automatically recording RFID tags in items being used for study and research.

Mobiles and Public Electronic Displays (MoPED)
City University, London

The project will develop the MoPED system, which will combine mobile phone interaction with a public display in City University’s Main Library. The aim of the
project is to investigate how to encourage the adoption of mobile services through a two-fold strategy: first, a strong, user-centred design process, commencing with an
investigation of which mobile services are most likely to be beneficial; second, using an in-situ public display to promote (and assist getting access to) the library’s mobile services and to connect online services to the space of the library itself.

Learnmore Mobile App
City University, London

The project will develop the Learnmore Mobile Application using a user-centred design process. Building on the current ‘desktop’ Learnmore content, the interface
and content will be tailored to the actual needs of students using mobile devices, with considerations including the preferred media, topic and content size for mobile
consumption.

Choosing Open Licences

I thought it might be useful to round up some recent JISC-funded resources to support licensing decisions. The emphasis in these tools is on open licences because that’s what I’ve been most involved with, but I’d love to hear of other key resources to help people choose licenses.

To get started, there is an overview of the openness of open licences which explores how open the various licenses are. This is part of the Strategic Content Alliance IPR Toolkit.

Licensing open data: a practical guide is a thorough piece of advice about licences for open data of various kinds. This comes out of the UK Discovery work.

The open bibliographic data guide is a really well structured resource to help libraries and content owners decide whether to make metadata available freely on the web under an open licence. It is from the UK Discovery work that JISC has been funding.

And more broadly:

The IPR and Licensing Learning Module from the Strategic Content Alliance allows you to work through the key concepts at your own pace.

The Creative Commons compatibility wizards are interactive tools to help us understand what open licences can be remixed with each other. This is from the OER IPR support project suite of tools.

I fully recommend spending a few minutes working with this. It really brings home the importance of thinking through how you licence your work and what you want people to be able to do with it. My “take-home points” were:

On a related note, the same tea, have also developed a Risk Management Calculator that helps you assess the risks of reusing existing works of different types in your work, depending on what you know about their licensing and how you want to license your work.

Now moving a couple of highlights from the HEA/JISC OER projects
The IPR for Educational Environments course is aimed at educators, covering all the basics you need to know about IPR.

The MEDEV good practice and risk assessment toolkit steps you through decisions around copyright, consent and data protection.

This seems like a good place to share some clarification following questions I’ve had in the past. Over three years ago JISC Collections developed an open educational licence to accompany their suite of licences . It was designed as a very open licence, to handle some of the complexities and lack of explicit permissions in relation to educational use of Creative Commons licences. For example, it was more specific about institutional liabilities which was important in the educational context. Since CC licences are now much better understood by publishers, such a licence is less necessary so we are not actively promoting it.

Reflecting this growth in awareness of open licensing options, Jorum is now going to focus on openly licensed resources.

Finally a plea: don’t forget that as well as deciding which licence to use, you also have to express it. The best way to do that is to embed it. Check out the guidance on embedding licences from the Strategic Content Alliance, and for images have a look at the Xpert  Attribution tool. The growth in smart browser-based tools like Open Attribute is going to help end-users understand better what you are allowing them to do with your content, so think now about ensuring your carefully-chosen licence statement reaches your users.

If you can’t quite see what you want in the list above, there are more resources and tools available through web2rights , The Strategic Content Alliance IPR Toolkit and of course, guidance is available from JISC Legal .

The past few years has seen a step change in the adoption of such licenses, helped greatly by popular web services like Flickr, but we still have much to do in helping to raise awareness of the opportunities offered by open licenses, and to explore the business models around them.

So there we have it: a round up of recent guidance, tools and courses funded via JISC to help you make sound licensing decisions. All developed with FE/HE in mind, but also useful to libraries, galleries, archives and museums, the creative sector and government.

Comments very welcome

Amber Thomas

JISC Grant Funding Call

The JISC Information Environment and eResearch team have been working on a grant funding call which should be released on or around 4th October. There will be a briefing day in London on 11th October; more information to follow about that. Those who keep a close eye on the JISC website and in particular the funding roadmap will be aware of the general direction of the call, but in this post I’ll spell out a little more about it. The call broadly represents a tranche of investment in the technologies, policies and practices that make up the infrastructure to support research and learning. The structure of the call document is still being finalised, but for the purpose of this post we can say that it calls for projects under ten main strands:

Research Information Management refers to administrative data about research (projects, outputs, etc). This is the second round of funding for projects in this area and will focus on interoperability around the CERIF model, simplifying the exchange of research information between and within HE organisations. One aim is to support the community of practice that is emerging in the UK around the use of this standard, and so help universities benefit from shared lessons, skills and experiences. A total of £300,000 may be available for this area of work.

Identity management is an increasing important role for any organisation providing digital identities, for example to its staff and students. JISC has funded the creation of an online Identity Management Toolkit to enable universities and colleges to access and review their identity management processes and policies. Projects funded under this call will be early adopter pilots whereby universities and colleges deploy the Toolkit, work with the its creators and submit case studies to the Toolkit website as part of providing a richer set of resources to support the Toolkit. The projects will also need to share lessons learned with the sector. A total of £200,000 may be available for this area of work.

Identifiers: Universities and colleges create new pages on their public ac.uk websites every day. The management of these websites continues to grow in complexity and size, especially as editorial control is devolved to more departments and institutional staff. The URIs of these websites are a key institutional asset, as a representation of the organisation on the web. This, and the persistence of these identifiers over time, contributes to the trust that can be placed in an organisation’s web presence. The aim of this strand of the call is to start to improve the extent to which identifiers are planned and managed within institutions, and contribute to the technologies and skills required to do that. Projects will be relatively small development activities, resulting in a valid data model for a URI set, plus a corresponding proposed re-organisation of a set of web pages. A total of £70,000 may be available for this area of work.

Infrastructure to Support Resource Discovery: JISC, RLUK and partners have released a vision for infrastructure to support resource discovery and related services in libraries, museums and archives. See http://rdtf.jiscinvolve.org/wp/ for background and context. This vision focuses on the provision of open metadata to support innovative and flexible services for researchers, teachers and students. JISC and partners will be funding work to realise this vision in line with the implementation plan. This area of the call is designed to enable libraries archives and museums to make open metadata about their collections available in a sustainable way, and to investigate the issues involved in its production. A recent workshop run by UKOLN recommended a series of steps that content providers could take in making their data available, in a model influenced by Tim Berners-Lee’s Linked Data Note:
1. make data available in an open form
2. assign and expose HTTP URIs for everything, and expose useful content at those URIs
3. publish data produced in step 2 as XML
4. expose the semantics of data produced in step 2
The JISC funding call will focus on the later steps in this series. A total of £200,000 may be available for work in this area.

Activity Data: Activity data is data pertaining to actions that a user has performed against an online resource or service, including simply reading it. Commercial companies such as Amazon and Tesco have made a great success of exploiting their data about customer activities to improve services to customers, manage stock and support decision making. Recent research and projects have suggested that similar opportunities may exist for Higher education institutions in managing their research, learning, information and administrative services. JISC intends to fund projects that explore these opportunities by positing a way in which their institution could benefit by exploiting this data, developing tools or approaches to exploit the data in that way, and reporting back on their success. There will be scope for larger projects working across several institutions, and a synthesis project to draw out and communicate lessons for the sector. A total of £600,000 may be available for work in this area.

Digital Preservation: Two specific areas of work in digital preservation will be included in the call. The first aims to enable practitioners within UK universities and colleges to test, validate, critique and demonstrate the use of existing preservation tools in live environments. While the most obvious use case is for information specialists within institutions to use this funding to embark on a scoped preservation exercise involving identified information or datasets, and using an appropriate preservation tool or tools, other use cases are possible. A total of £150,000 may be available for this area of work. The second area of work relates to complex visual digital materials and environments, specifically simulations, visualisations, gaming environments, virtual worlds and digital art. Preservation of these resources and environments is hugely challenging, and the work proposed will examine and record emerging good practice, and make recommendations to those facing those challenges in institutions and to JISC and other national and international bodies as appropriate. A total of £120,000 may be available for this area of work.

Geo-spatial: Location is a fundamental concept that underpins analysis within research and learning. Because of this geospatial tools and data can form a core component of research, teaching and learning in almost any discipline. The aim of the geospatial programme area is to increase the use of geospatial tools, infrastructure and information for learners, teachers and researchers; to enhance tools and services and related practice as well as identifying future requirements. Collectively the projects should help improve take-up in the longer term and where relevant they should support the transfer of geospatial skills to disciplines that are not primarily geospatial. A total of £700,000 may be available for this area of work.

Sustainability of at risk resources: Working in a dynamic sector in which organisations are set up, merged, re-organised and closed, it is easy for important digital resources to lose their curating body. Changes of ownership are difficult and valuable lessons could be learnt by applying best practice and sharing experiences. JISC has funded the development of advice in this area. One-off small grants may be made available to support projects in relocating valuable “at risk” resources, in such a way that experience is captured and shared, and feeds into JISC’s future work. A total of £100,000 may be available for this area of work.

Digital Repositories: Significant investment by universities and colleges, and by national bodies such as JISC, means that there is now a solid foundation for UK repository infrastructure that consists of institutional repositories, subject repositories, software, tools, skills and shared services. As a part of this growth and development pockets of excellence and good practice have formed at institutions. This final area of the call aims to improve institutional services that rely on the repository, by enabling the lessons and benefits from the most successful of repository applications, tools and techniques to be realised across a range of universities and colleges. So, small projects will be funded that enable institutions to take repository applications, tools and techniques from elsewhere and deploy them locally, thereby developing sustainable service improvements, building skills, and sharing the practice back with the sector. A total of £180,000 may be available for this area of work.

This is a broad call for proposals, demonstrating the breadth of vision JISC has for infrastructure to support education and research. It has been developed to achieve a balance between exploring the potential of new areas, and building on existing areas of strength to benefit the whole sector.

The draft call text is currently being reviewed by domain experts, who are offering feedback to JISC. Since the text is draft at the moment, and we expect it to change as a result of this feedback, no further information about the call is available at this time. The expert reviewers are: Kevin Ashley, Steve Bailey, Neil Chue Hong, Anna Clements, Liam Earney, Michael Fraser, Marieke Guy, David Harrison, Mark Hedges, Gareth Johnson, David Kay, William Kilbride, Gareth Knight, Mike Mertens, Paul Miller, William Nixon, John Paschoud, Dave Pattern, Andy Powell, Cal Racey, Rosemary Russell, Colin Smith, Owen Stephens, Graham Stone, David Thomas, Paul Walk, and the members of the JISC Geospatial Working Group. We are very grateful for their help advising us on various areas of this grant funding call.

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