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Archive for the ‘Web habits’ Category

My second interview

Posted by Nick on December 2, 2008

Some of the stuff that came out in this conversation is quite interesting – though my interview technique still needs some work and I do at one point refer to my ideas for a “Nirvana for the repository”.  Cringe!

My second interview…

Though I intended to focus on PERSoNA, this interview necessarily takes in Open Access and the repository in general, the second half is more PERSoNA.

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Leeds Met Repository Blog

Posted by Nick on November 11, 2008

We have now implemented an early version of a Blog supporting access to various repository tools for Leeds Met:

http://leedsmetrep.wordpress.com/

The intent is to include key information and tools including:

  • a link to the Leeds Met Repository
  • web based search for the repository
  • web based one click deposit to the repository (via SWORD)
  • SHERPA/RoMEO widget
  • making visible RSS feeds for internal collections
  • access to social bookmarking and citation related sites such as Deli.ci.ous, Connotea and CiteULike
  • access to social networking sites such as facebook
  • other tools as they become usable (eg. Streamline’s auto-metadata generator tool)

We hope that a blog will provide a suitable environment for users to interact with the tools and add blog comments to reflect their experiences and thoughts and that this will contribute to some of the major aims of PERSoNA:

  • Stakeholders commenting on the various processes around the use of the repository, and encouraging each other in the deposit of materials.
  • Onward signposting and bookmarking of resources elsewhere to promote use of both in-house and other materials.
  • Members of the project team engaging with users both in guiding them in use of the system, and in observing user behaviour and comment on the use of the materials in the repository to feed this into improvements in the system.

Posted in Leeds Met Repository Blog, PERSoNA, Web habits | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

My very first interview

Posted by Nick on September 25, 2008

I can safely say that my interview technique needs some work.  Jeremy Paxman can relax.  For now.

In actual fact the SDF did not prove to be the easiest environment to interview academic staff as they were scurrying from workshop to workshop and not terribly amenable to interrogation during tea break.  I did manage to get some recorded material that should still serve as a useful starting point but I do need to think a little more about the questions.

Anyway, here is

My very first interview…

NB.  The lady in this interview HATES Wikis!

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Staff Development Festival

Posted by Nick on August 29, 2008

Well, I’ve set my stall.  Almost.  A couple of Innovation North tablecloths, posters, leaflets and my brand new recoil stand.  Adjacent to the University Research Office for synergy.  It’s missing something though, je ne sais qua…it needs someone with a bit more artistic flair than I…

One activity that I intend to carry out during the Festival is ad hoc interviews with a cross section of colleagues about their understanding and use of web 2.0.  I plan to be relatively informal – grab a digital recorder and wander around with my mic like John Sargeant – then I can edit the results and post on here as a podcast; though I will also try to apply the principles of IPA and extract some meaningful data that we can then use as a springboard for more detailed exploration.

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Interpretive Phenomonological Analysis as a methodology for PERSoNA?

Posted by Nick on August 1, 2008

Or IPA to its friends…

I’ve just been listening to Linda Creanor’s Keynote from the recent Emerge online conference (23-25 June 2008). Linda was talking about the JISC funded LEX project and I think that the methodology (IPA) that she describes might be just what I am looking for to generate that elusive user input for PERSoNA.

As its fundamental starting point IPA adopts an experiential (phenomenological) focus (the participant as expert) upon which the researcher imposes their own interpretive process.

The principles of IPA are that it is an inductive approach (bottom up rather than top down); that it does not test hypotheses and a priori assumptions are avoided; it provides opportunities for participants to tell their own stories, in their own words, and in as much detail as possible; it aims to capture and explore the meanings that participants assign to their experiences.

A successful analysis is:

  • Interpretive (and thus subjective) so the results are not given the status of facts
  • Transparent (grounded in example from the data)
  • Plausible (to participants, co-analysts and general readers)

Here is the full LEX Methodology Report

Posted in Web habits | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Moving forward…

Posted by Nick on July 10, 2008

On the back of the Emerge presentation, and as an earlier adjunct to the Streamline meeting, a group of us sat down on Tuesday to review PERSoNA and think about precisely what tools the project needs to deliver.

A question:

Should we be looking at a web tool that facilitates appropriate social networking and resource sharing that sits outside the repository rather than embed tools within intraLibrary itself?

John began by sketching a very rough outline of the repository projects; I have taken this diagram and tried to flesh it out to more fully represent my own conception of what we are aiming at with our interlinked projects:

This approach to PERSoNA would allow intraLibrary to be configured simply as a repository that we can annexe to our web tool – whatever that may be.

Note: Might a potential problem with this approach be integration with the Web 2.0 technologies and personalisation tools already present in intraLibrary 3.0 (RSS, rating system, user comments, add to favourites)?

Anyway, if this should be the approach that we follow, the crucial questions are perhaps:

  • What sort of tool or tools would be useful enough so that people would naturally engage with them?
  • How could the use of such a tool or tools promote use of the repository?

One idea is to somehow embed the repository and its peripheral infrastructure (i.e. the PERSoNA tool) into the scholarly workflow such that deposit/discovery/sharing of resources is fully integrated into the process of writing and publishing a research paper or producing/repurposing a learning object.

Note: Other projects are exploring similar themes: The EMBED project at Cranfield University aims “to increase understanding of how repositories can be used to support research and learning, integrating them fully into academic processes.”

Dawn suggested a WIKI as a possible solution: it allows collaboration – often essential in research – and could in theory be used to write a research paper which could then automatically be deposited to the repository at the appropriate point in the workflow. Janet, however, was quick to point out that a while a WIKI may be useful to collaborate on research, it is not, in fact, an appropriate technology for writing a research paper citing lack of adequate version control as a major drawback.

Creative suggestions notwithstanding, I’m acutely aware that we really need more user input – what do academics actually want? I still think there is mileage in assessing individual web habits and other factors that contribute to workflow inertia – by interview perhaps?

Janet referred to a post-graduate project that might provide us with a useful opportunity; as I understand, a group of postgraduates hope to produce their own research journal and utilise a sort of informal peer review process to assess quality. Perhaps we can collaborate with the project; a potential user-group to help us develop a useful and usable virtual, social environment that facilitates easy deposit of appropriate material into the repository which is then made available as an e-journal.

Posted in PERSoNA, Web habits | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Presentation to the EMERGE community – after the fact (2)

Posted by Nick on July 1, 2008

I’ve just been listening to the recording from the presentation given last week, in my absence, by John Gray. I’m really sorry I missed it as there was some really interesting perspectives arising in the discussion and I must congratulate John on his presentation and making sense of my slides!

I shall try to summarise some of the discussion here but just to recap, John gave an overview of our three related projects and how they link together via a single repository platform (intraLibrary) that we will be using as both an Open Access research archive AND a repository of learning objects (AND, in time, we hope, other digital materials). Traditionally these two main types of material have been stored in seperate systems and, thus far, the uptake of both types of repository has been limited. We hope that the PERSoNA project, through investigating the use of social networking/Web 2.0 technology within and around the repository, will help to promote its use amongst our academic community. I also wanted to look at an example of a successful Web 2.0 “repository” – Slideshare – to see what we could learn and maybe apply to our institutional repository.

For the purposes of this summary I will insert (anonymous) verbatim comments from the text chat – if anyone has any concerns about their IPR please let me know – I’m just working on a take down policy for the repository!

A pertinent place to start might be with a question raised by Isobel who suggested that while the need for a repository was institutionally defined, there was not a great sense that potential users felt any clear need themselves, hence our emphasis on fitting in with folks’ existing workflow.

Janet agreed with this (as do I) with the proviso that, in her view, people really need to see and understand the benefits of such systems before they will commit – chicken and egg paradox. This is certainly the case with repositories dedicated to Open Access and much of my advocacy work to academics will be extolling the benefits of OA. This is THE crucial point, of course, that it is all very well developing new technologies but persuading people of the benefits and then to engage is much more difficult; we will only succeed in engaging users if we map onto what people actually need as individuals.

“we need to address how people work not how we want them to work!”

The statement “Build them and they will come” that I used in the slides has become almost a cliche in the development of Open Access Repositories (of research) and very much typified the first wave of development at the beginning of the noughties with the attitude that OA and self-archiving into an IR is such a good idea and so easy with so many benefits that if we make the technology available, people will use it and while this optimism, in fact, has been found wanting people have “come” to a whole array of Web 2.0 “repositories” with the likes of Slideshare, Flickr and del.icio.us attracting millions of users – including academics. My reluctance to refer to these tools as pure repositories (without the quotation marks) is telling – the point was aptly illustrated when Janet asked whether or not those present actually used a repository. Very few it seemed, and some uncertainty.

“depends whether delicious counts?”

“what about social repositories?”

“Depends what counts as defined as a repository”

When the definition was explicitely expanded to iclude del.icio.us et al, however, many more participants had a smile on their little yellow face and the conclusion seems to be that people are using the “informal” repositories but not the “formal” institutional repositories.

Dawn asked why.

“Formal repositories are tied to publishers’ business models”

“the community” (i.e. There is a community around “informal” repositories but not around “formal” IRs)

“Ease of use”

low threshold – technically”

“easy, organised and available – to manage digital stuff…”

“simple user interface”

no formal channels to follow”

“openness”

NB. Sharing resources did not seem to be a major factor which is interesting – though it was conceded by a few when prompted!

There was a very interesting verbal contribution from Jim Hensman right at the very end of the session that I can’t really do justice here – if Jim should pass by these parts perhaps he could comment – but his thrust was the complexity of the multiple themes we (as a repository community) are examining and how they are not, perhaps, easily compatible – individual workflow/personalisation; social dimensions/sharing/collective tagging; institutional requirements. This observation was reassuring on a personal level and puts my desperate attempts at constructing complicated fllowcharts into some perspective!

As Jim observed, the Leeds Met repository, Streamline and PERSoNA projects, collectively, give us a rare opportunity to explore some of these cross-cutting themes in a more integrated way than is generally the case.

Posted in EMERGE, Presentation slides, Web habits | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Presentation to the EMERGE community – after the fact

Posted by Nick on June 30, 2008

First of all, sincere apologies that I was unable to present along with John last Monday. I am reliably informed that, technical problems notwithstanding, a lively discussion ensued and I intend to listen to the recording as soon as I can find it! I shall post again after that but in the meantime here is a short summary from John:

“Just finished presenting the Persona project stuff at this on-line conference in the absence of Nick who unfortunately was unable to be there. I’ve only just joined this project and my knowledge of many of the open access issues surrounding repositories is developing. I think the basis of the project struck a chord with most of the participants so we were talking to the converted as it were. My thanks to those who stuck with us in spite of my bumbling.

There was some slight confusion at the end of the presentation when Janet Finlay stepped in to answer a question and her mike stopped working – I could hear her perfectly well because I was in the same physical room as her however there must have been a thunderous silence in the Elluminate room. We fixed this by getting Janet to use my machine and mike and hence Janet and John swapped identities as took over her machine. How many people learned to read with the Janet and John books – wouldn’t it have been a surprise if Janet and John and switched identities in the books!

What we would like to do is to encourage everyone to tell us their stories regarding how they interact with research and/or learning object repositories, and also how they interact with those social networking facilities that they have adopted. In particular can you identify specific things that promote the use of research repositories for you, is there a work flow for you that encourage you to use a repository?”

Posted in Get involved, PERSoNA, Web habits | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

What are YOUR Web habits?

Posted by Nick on June 20, 2008

As part of the session on Monday (16:00-16:45) I would like to ask participants to feed back their own stories of their personal Web habits/work flow.

Some unstructured questions:

  • What is your home page and why?
  • Which particular social networking tools do you use?
  • What sort of information are you most interested in?
  • How do you manage your path through that information?
  • Do you differentiate between user generated content and “authorative” material on the web?
  • Do you use a Web 2.0 “repository” – SlideShare; Flickr; YouTube?
  • Do you use a more “formal” repository – institutional; subject based?
  • What factors encourage you to use a “repository” (or not)?

These are just off the top of my head so my final question is “What other questions could I ask?”

Thanks!

Posted in Get involved, PERSoNA, Web habits | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Presentation to the EMERGE community – before the fact

Posted by Nick on June 17, 2008

I have a slot to present, via Elluminate, to the EMERGE community at 16:00 on Monday 23rd June and thought I would blog (a) before and (b) after the fact to help me (a) plan the session and (b) reflect on the insights that are sure to emerge (pun intended).

John and I had a very useful discussion this morning that was 2 parts session-planning to 8 parts brain-storming around the still embryonic PERSoNA project.

We agreed that the first part of the session will need to set the scene and give an overview of the context of our 3 seperate but related projects; the Leeds Met Repository; Streamline and PERSoNA.

To reiterate the respective soundbites:

The Leeds Met Repository: “the project will deliver a repository which will serve a prioritised set of needs”…”increase the profile of the research outputs and/or pioneering assessment learning and teaching work carried out at Leeds Met”

Streamline: “We are looking at the work flow associated with the use of learning object repositories and are developing a suite of tools and practices that will reduce the administrative impact of this on teaching and research staff.”

PERSoNA: “will link two other JISC funded projects, Streamline and An Institutional Repository for Leeds Metropolitan University, and provide scope to enhance the outcomes of both”…”will be embedding social networking tools which allow chat, tagging and bookmarking (amongst other things) within the repository, and encouraging users to comment on their use of our repository and make recommendations amongst each other leading to the onward discovery of further resources.”

One of the most interesting aspects, then, of the Leeds Met Repository project is that, on start-up, it will focus equally on two distinct types of content that have historically been stored in seperate environments – research publications/outputs and Learning Objects/e-learning resources. It is this dual requirement that has led us to opt for intraLibrary over a specialised Open Access research archive like EPrints and people may be interested what factors have brought us to this software (as I blogged at the time on Repository News the relevant issues were informed by Streamline and, in a nut-shell, came down to a consensus that intraLibrary would more readily be repurposed as an Open Access archive than EPrints as an LO repository – for now, still a moot point).

As well as the considerable challenges associated with delivering a dual repository like this (I’ll come to PERSoNA in a moment!) I believe we have the opportunity with these three projects to develop a tool that becomes an integral part of the university’s online environment; living and breathing and used – not just in the sense of a dusty old store-room but interactively.

A recurrent theme from the sector has been the problem of embedding these things (repositories) into the workflow and it’s very important that the Leeds Met repository does not become (like so many) a cul-de-sac but, rather, a ring-road offering access in and around the disparate, digital furniture of the university . All of which brings us, eventually, to Web 2.0 and PERSoNA which has the potential to provide the signposts, traffic lights and roundabouts (excuse the laboured traffic metaphor!) that will guide visitors to potential resources whether these be learning objects, research outputs or colleagues within and without the university.

The difficulty, of course, is developing a tool or suite of tools within the repository that people will actually use and find useful; and then there is the problem of inertia – I discussed in a recent post how my own “workflow” is centered around iGoogle; this isn’t because iGoogle is such a fantastic tool and I couldn’t possibly find something that would serve my needs better – I probably could – but I started using it, found it useful and now, in a sense, because of habit – inertia – I’m stuck with it unless I make a concerted effort or collide with other tools often enough and usefully enough to naturally incorporate them into my online habits. I think this principle may be worth exploring further and I would like to elicit “stories” about how people naturally use the Web (1.0 and 2.0) in the course of their working day with the goal of establishing, perhaps, patterns of behaviour that can then be used to inform a Web 2.0 repository environment; this is one of the ideas I would like to take to the EMERGE community.

Posted in EMERGE, Web habits | 4 Comments »