The Spider (Spindeln) is a new search facility developed by MSU and IML for the Swedish schools. The purpose with the search facility is to give schools access to high quality digital learning resources directly from the school’s own website (see an example below). It has been very important to ensure that the Spider is easy to use and implement for the schools.
The spider search through the following repositories:
- 4000 Internet resources – all curriculum subjects, The Link Library (MSU).
- 2000 Internet resources – nature, science and mathematics, The science Hub (MSU).
- 2000 images and sounds, Image and sound archives from Multimediabyrån (MSU).
- Web, radio and video resources, Media archive from the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company (UR).
- 500 digital resources from Swedish Museums, The Swedish Museum Window a repository for schools from The Museum of National Antiquities.
Based on the ongoing work the general impression is that the repository owners are very interested in giving access to their repository.
This mock-up shows how Spindeln can be integrated in a website.
Fredrik Paulsson provided insight into the technical solution underlying the Spider. First of all, The Spider is only dealing with the metadata residing in the various repositories, not the learning object itself. There is support for several application profiles. Semantic web metadata is managed but not used actively yet.
The technical solution includes both harvesting and federation. Federated searches were used in the beginning. However, this solution gave the repositories a bigger implementation job. For that reason the harvesting model has been introduced.
Relevance ranking between the two models is a problem, which IML still has to solve. With “federation alone” it is also necessary to sort and rank the results; otherwise the results from the repository that answers first, will simply be shown as the best results.
The spider can be regarded as a service. The service can be accessed in different ways:
The future of the spider:
New archives (repositories) will be added. Some work must be done on the metadata quality (some repositories have good quality, others don’t; when they are combined it gives different problems). License management is an issue too, MSU and IML wish to support searches for resources with a specific license, etc.
The platform used for the spider is open source. Fredrik Paulsson can be contacted for further information.
It might be added that the MELT project (another brokerage service lead by EUN) actually obtain access to the Swedish metadata through the spider.
Share and reuse, example of a web 2.0 repository: klascement.net
Hans de Four, presented KlasCement.net. KlasCement is a portal for and by education (teachers). It is a project from the Flanders part of Belgium. The goals for KlasCement is to support the exchange of learning objects and good practices, to stimulate cooperation between everyone involved in education, and to help finding a solution for the digital divide.
The target users of KlasCement are primary and secondary education, teacher training and adult education. It is more successful in primary than in secondary except for some subjects.
KlasCement is an initiative of a non-profit organization. It is maintained by five teachers funded by the government (one working fulltime, the rest work part time, corresponding to 3 fulltime persons). In addition volunteers and persons funded by KlasCement assist in the development of the portal.
In June 2008 KlasCement had 38.000 unique members. 2/3 was teachers. They gain 50 new members a day and have 5000 unique visitors. More than 4500 learning objects in 5 categories: news, websites, docs, software and weblogs. Most of the objects are Word and PowerPoint files. However, the repository includes 700 software packages and 1000+ websites.
There is a simple and an advanced way of submitting documents. The simple method only requests the mandatory IEEE LOM metadata. The advanced method allows the teacher to fill in all details. Licensing is according to Creative Commons. In the future KlasCement will support packages following SCORM.
KlasCement has observed that newsletters with weekly changes generate many visits to the portal. The content of the newsletter is adjusted to the members’ profile (each member has a profile on KlasCement). RSS feeds are important as well. The concept is difficult to explain to teachers. However, when they see the benefits, they really appreciate it.
On the portal it is possible to save personal favourites, give comments and marks, and communicate by internal mail.
Point system stimulates sharing
A new member receives 500 points. When the members click on a learning resource they loose 2 points. When they have lost all their points, they receive an e-mail with a request to share objects. The teachers gain points when they share documents/websites etc. (1000 points). “Everything you do on the portal, you earn points” and it works!
KlasCement in other projects
Klascement.net is added to EduRep, which means the objects also can be searched by every school in The Netherlands.
At www.klascement.net/universal, KlasCement has collected the learning objects that travel well (as part of the MELT project). Metadata is not translated yet. It is considered to use Google’s translator. There are 250 learning objects on this subsite.
Digital Learning Resources - what are teachers looking for?
Wim de Boer presented the results from a research project SLO have conducted in The Netherlands. The results are summarised in the following. Further details can be found in Wim de Boer’s presentation at edrene.org.
First some background information. SLO is a curriculum organisation in The Netherlands. Curriculum in their definition is “a plan for learning”. The textbook is still a very important “plan for learning” in The Netherlands.
In The Netherlands an illustrative way to look at the curriculum is the spider’s web. The different parts relate. Moving one part of the web will influence the other parts.
The curriculum illustrated in a spider web model.
Learning materials are “on the move” at the moment. Although the range of schools is wide, SLO sees new educational organisation and approaches with more emphasis on independent learning, competences and authentic learning environments. New publishers (providers) address the market in new ways e.g. they go to schools and investigate the need for materials. The changes influence the existing publishers as well. The changing role of ICT (digital learning resources, VLE’s etc) is influencing the area as well.
SLO missed a broad overview of what is happening in the schools with regards to educational resources and how the situation is changing over time, in other words “what do we know about what teachers are looking for and what can we do with it?”
The monitor project was initiated. Facts about the Leermiddelenmonitor (www.slo.nl/Leermiddelenmonitor):
- Annual examination of trends in the field of educational materials
- two-dimension model:
- digital & paper-based
- coherent packages of subject-related learning resources (called “textbooks”) and learning resources that don't have the coherency and are smaller, for more flexible use (called “flexible learning materials”)
- What is used, how much, why and how was it found and selected?
800 teachers from primary and secondary education participated. The study will be repeated in a few months.
The teachers have also pointed out what they find important when searching for flexible learning materials. Are the most important issues covered by the metadata? Do we need more information than IEEE LOM for some of the materials?
- Most important: options for independent work, options for differentiation, coverage of (relation to) curriculum goals (examination requirements), instruction and didactics (pedagogy), costs, visual impression of the material, and target group.
- Important: role of ICT, tests (evaluation), user experiences of colleagues, short description of the contents, and long description of the contents (2 a4).
- Not (so) important: availability, required educational time, studies to comparisons between methods, table of contents, bibliographic information, reviews of third parties (such as journals), market share of the method
The most important issues when selecting flexible learning materials are adaptability and availability. Costs and “look and feel” are less important. In the end the content and what you can do with it is more important than how it is presented.
SLO asked the EdReNe members whether it would be interesting to have this kind of figures from other countries. If we have the same questions it would be easier to compare. SLO will be open for such an initiative.
BECTA added that a similar survey is conducted each year in the UK. It would be very useful to be able to benchmark the results. In the UK the teachers are free to choose the materials they want.