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Repositories and the Learning Experience: Using a Repository for Learning & Support Prof Mark Stiles - Staffordshire University. Sestri Sept 2009. To store and manage the University and SURF collection of learning resources and other associated scholarly outputs.

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Repositories and the Learning Experience:Using a Repository for Learning & SupportProf Mark Stiles - Staffordshire University

Sestri Sept 2009

our initial drivers
To store and manage the University and SURF collection of learning resources and other associated scholarly outputs.

provide flexible delivery of e-learning content and resources

facilitate re-use and re-purposing of learning content

improve archiving, auditing and version control processes

facilitate avoidance of lock-in by freeing content from vendor systems

provide workflow for quality assurance processes, metadata, rights management, etc

Our initial drivers?
the vle as straightjacket
VLE use “can” be innovative but:

Are they creating a new orthodoxy?

Do they encourage the “mundane”

Are they tying us down for the future?

Are they now a barrier?

The VLE as straightjacket?
what are we doing with vles
From 2005 JISC MLE “Landscape Study” of UK HE and FE consultation document:

…the results also show two thirds of modules of study being web supplemented which would seem to indicate that the ‘stuff your notes into your VLE’ model is prevalent and increasing

What are we doing with VLEs?
other drivers
The “new” Web



Learner initiated

Informal learning

Diverse communities

Outside institutional control


Other drivers…

The future?

  • Tutors and learners will build their own toolsets from:
    • what is provided by the institution
    • what they have on their own (personal) computer
    • what is available on the Web
  • Learners will:
    • “opt out” of systems institutions and tutors might prefer them to use for formal learning activities
    • initiate “sharing” and “community” activities outside of formal learning using tools they have chosen
    • engage with wider and more diverse communities

What we decided in 05/06…

  • “Loosening the bonds”:
  • Diversifying delivery
  • Repository based
  • Extraction of QAed resources
  • Promote reuse and repurposing
  • Include “novel” resources
  • Delivery to VLEs, Portals, Portfolios and Web 2.0 tools
  • Tested by JISC Projects (SURF WBL-Way)
consultant recommendations
Choose a commercial ‘off the shelf’ solution

Use internal resources to integrate repository with existing systems

Ensure solution can support QA etc procedures and not impact negatively on them

API functionality as selection criteria only for extending functionality or external integration

Standards and specifications conformance for content and interoperability

Integration with VLEs so resources may be delivered in a controlled environment

Flexible and customisable set of features allowing different metadata schemes etc to be used

Consultant Recommendations…
our choice
Prime focus on being a learning repository

Excellent integration with VLEs

Built in for Blackboard and Moodle

Can extract existing content and serve back to any system

IMS conformance

Technical compatibility with existing expertise

Good workflow and metadata features

Java-based APIs

Our Choice…
  • Successful demonstration of required features
  • Flexibility in negotiation
  • Willing to provide additional R&D licence
  • Made University a research partner
  • Good deployment support included
so we
Training for “Propeller Heads” and “Repository Management”

Updated to Hive 3.0 and contributed to revised BB integration

Preparing for the “big suck” from Blackboard

Working on Configuration with project sub-groups

Developing ongoing roles, processes and policies

Harvest Road partner in JISC project with SURF partners

So we…
some ways forward
“Agility and Flexibility”

A repository to:

promote use of new technologies

promote reuse & repurposing

deliver to diverse systems

provide access at point of need

remove “one size fits”

escape lock-in

resources for more than the learner

Portals to support the facilitator and learner…

work-based mentors, employers, admin

access to learner information for learners

contextual access

Some ways forward…

Work-Based Learning

Links to:

Resources in Hive



Twitter feeds

RSS Feeds



Managing Learning Resources

Hive – feeding the WBL Support Point:


An “opportunity” arose!

  • University Executive Business Plan 2007-2012 includes:
  • • To take a new approach to course and product development:
  • Increase engagement with employers on work-based learning and other workforce development initiatives
  • Establish a robust new product development process that is market-facing and customer-focused
  • To grow and sustain alliances, networks and partnerships
  • Further develop SURF college network and other appropriate FE partnerships
  • To enhance customer experience
  • Increase the number of students who stay and successfully complete their courses
  • Integrate systematic customer feedback mechanisms into a robust framework for the measurement and improvement of customer satisfaction
  • To exploit technological advances
  • Develop a technical infrastructure (networks, mobile technology) that supports integrated business systems, administration, formal, informal and flexible learning
  • Implement new and existing learning and teaching media to support effective e-learning and delivery

I was empowered…

  • University Technology Supported Learning (TSL) Plan includes:
  • Implement effective management of learning resources and course related information – XCRi built into Hive
  • Expand TSL for Flexible Learning, WBL and BCE and the strengthening of SURF and other partnerships – Hive linked to WBL Portals and facilities for partner colleges
  • Put in place a system of learner-focused Quality Enhancement for TSL and diversify the delivery of TSL – Validation outputs in Hive linked to CoP, all VLE content moved to Hive
  • • Disseminate good practice and build effective staff development in TSL – Hive linked to POOT, ELearning Models and other CoPs
  • • Improve the administration of TSL
  • • Implement a technical infrastructure to allow TSL applications to be introduced/removed in a flexible and responsive way

From the TSL Plan:

  • need to respect the need for appropriately distinct andindividual approaches by Faculties and course teams
  • policy should be sufficient to guide practice but apply the minimum level of control necessary and avoid needless bureaucracy
  • It is all about sustaining innovation…

Managing Learning Resources

  • Our repository – Hive from Giunti Labs
  • Used for WBL, WBL-Way, DIVAS and ENABLE
  • Media trials with Faculties
  • Migration of Blackboard content tested
  • Blackboard integration ready but waiting for BB and Hive upgrades
  • Roll-out as full service by IS being organised

Our “Hive” Experiences

  • Single store of learning content - enables true management of content
  • Scalability/distributed cache
    • Allows quick scaling with demand
    • Essential for a ‘centre-piece’ system
    • High availability/enterprise pack
  • Excellent technical support
  • Comprehensive Web services - Essential for diverse delivery
  • Hive 4 Java/application server platform
    • Ability to run on Glassfish
    • Fits nicely with our skill set and preferred technologies

The University as organisation

excessive hierarchy and over-heavy bureaucracy, the comfort of ingrained routines, strong vertical command structures and weak lateral and bottom-up communication, unbalanced and non-integrated authority across professional domains, conservatism and risk aversion, territoriality, defensiveness and insecurity as well as wilfulness (Middlehurst, 1998)

The individual experts may be highly innovative within a specialist domain, but the difficulties of coordination across functions and disciplines impose severe limits on the innovative capability of the organization as a whole. (Lam, 2005)


A major university change initiative supported by JISC funding

  • Focused on the complete curriculum design/development process
  • Designed to connect our many initiatives and join them up without holes
  • Designed to find a way to sustain and manage innovation and change for the organisation
  • Led by LDI, it involves Faculties, Services, Partners, Employers and Learners
  • Senior Management Group chaired by Gill Howland
  • Funded until April 2012
  • “Our last best hope” (Apologies to Babylon 5)
uk oer pilots
HEFCE funded one year programme – run by JISC/HEAUK OER Pilots




support function – covering technical, legal, strategic advice, workshops, support for deposit and aggregation of materials, communities of practice. Based around existing JISC services and the OU “SCORE” project.

Programme Management

OER infokit – a “how to” guide for future work

evaluation & synthesis function



  • University is committed to making a wide range of learning and teaching resources freely available and easily discovered, with the facility and rights for the content to be re-used by both educators and learners.
  • Mandate
  • Giunti and Blackboard project partners
WBL-WAY Project:

Facebook Group on Control and Innovation:

ENABLE Project:

OpenStaffs OER Pilot: