DIALOG-PLUS: Digital Libraries in Support of Innovative Approaches to Learning and Teaching in Geography
DIALOG-PLUS is a collaborative project between Pennsylvania State University (PSU), the University of Leeds, the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Southampton and has been running since February 2003. It is one of four projects initiated under the Digital Libraries in the Classroom Programme, funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Full details of the project can be found at the DIALOG-PLUS website <http://www.dialogplus.org>. The website includes a SWIKI facility (accessible only to project members) where learning material design and development, meeting reports, forthcoming dissemination events and evaluation reports are shared between the partners.
The aim of the project is to design, develop and deploy shared UK/US geography resources using innovative approaches to learning and teaching. At the core of the project has been the concept of a 'nugget', reusable digital learning material which can be either stand-alone or a component of a course (module) delivered to students at any of the collaborating universities. Module-specific nuggets in Census Analysis, Geomorphology, Earth Observation and Geographical Information Science have been developed and shared, as has the generic nugget on Academic Integrity which originated at PSU and has been adapted and redeployed across undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at both Southampton and Leeds Universities. A series of nuggets on Global Positioning Systems (GPS) were collaboratively designed by PSU and Leeds, and close consultation in the developmental stage has resulted in four nuggets being exchanged for use by staff and students in all partner institutions. Collaboration with the University of Southampton has also taken place in the use of their e-learning toolkit. This toolkit is designed to guide and support teachers in development of their learning material either by articulating and documenting learning styles as new material is developed or by reflectively evaluating previously developed nuggets.
An example of a nugget developed under the theme of Census Analysis, by project members at the University of Leeds, has been the Online Census Atlas which is an interactive web-based visualisation tool of Census data from the last four surveys (1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001). It can be accessed by staff and students of UK academic institutions at <http://www.chcc.ac.uk/atlas> or by the general public around the world at <http://www.ccg.leeds.ac.uk/teaching/chcc/>. The Atlas uses generalised map boundaries and population-based cartograms to allow users to explore spatial patterns of 88 Census variables over the last three decades at various geographical scales. Text-based learning activity material guides the user through the digital resource to achieve the learning outcomes, accompanied by tasks and assessment exercises to consolidate learning.
The DIALOG-PLUS project completes it funded phase on 31 January 2006 but will continue for a further two years, embedding the nuggets in curricula across all partner universities and undertaking a dissemination programme to share the experiences and outcomes of the project with a wider audience.
Investigation into How Digital Repositories Can Encourage the Reuse of Geospatial Data
In June 2005, JISC announced a new £4m programme continuing its work to encourage the growth of repositories in universities and colleges across the UK. JISC's Digital Repositories Programme consists of some 25 projects that are exploring the role and operation of repositories. Many of these are concerned with how repositories can help academic researchers both do and share their work more effectively. Open access is a key driver and demands are growing for the outputs of publicly-funded research to be freely available on the web.
GRADE scoping a Geospatial Repository for Academic Deposit and Extraction is considering how digital repositories can assist in encouraging the reuse and sharing of geospatial data. Geospatial data are typically expensive to create (born digitally or not) and are thus valuable assets which can be best exploited if the infrastructure for their discovery, sharing and reuse are put in place. However, the way geospatial data are delivered to and used by end users is contingent upon a number of factors. These include how and why it was created or acquired; the agreements in place to co-operate, share or exchange data between different institutions; conditions and procedures required to meet legal and economic requirements; how and where it is stored; and upon software and hardware requirements.
GRADE will investigate and report on the technical and cultural issues around the reuse of geospatial data. The aim of GRADE is to lay the foundations for a sustainable infrastructure (both cultural and technical) that underwrites the communities' substantial and ongoing investment in the utilisation of geospatial resources within UK academia. The broad areas for investigation include:
The GRADE project consortium is lead by EDINA with partners AHRC Research Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law and the National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton.
An ontology typically provides a vocabulary that describes a domain of interest and a specification of the meaning of terms used in the vocabulary. Depending on the precision of this specification, the notion of ontology encompasses several data/conceptual models, for example, classifications, thesauri, database schemas, fully axiomatized theories. Ontologies tend to be put everywhere. They are viewed as the silver bullet for many applications, such as information integration, peer-to-peer systems, electronic commerce, semantic web services, social networks, and so on. They, indeed, are a practical means to conceptualize what is expressed in a computer format. However, in open or evolving systems, such as the web, different parties would, in general, adopt different ontologies. Thus, just using ontologies, like just using XML, does not reduce heterogeneity: it raises heterogeneity problems at a higher level.
Ontology matching is a plausible approach to the semantic heterogeneity problem. The matching operation takes two ontologies, such as Iconclass  and ARIA , consisting of a set of discrete entities (e.g., classes, properties) as input and determines as output the relationships (e.g., equivalence, subsumption) holding between these entities. These correspondences can be used for various tasks. For example, in a cultural heritage scenario , these tasks might be the query answering and browsing of objects (e.g., illuminated manuscripts) stored in the ontologies, such that users have a unified access to the collections of the involved museums.
Many different matching solutions have been proposed so far. They take advantage of the various properties of ontologies (e.g., structures, data instances, semantics, labels) and use techniques from different fields (e.g., statistics and data analysis, machine learning, automated reasoning, linguistics). These solutions share some techniques and attack similar problems, but differ in the way they combine and exploit their results.
At present, the number and variety of matching solutions keep growing at a fast pace. Therefore, in order to facilitate the entrance of anyone willing to start research or to update his/her views on the topic, we have set up an information resource devoted to different aspects of ontology matching (e.g., publications, tutorials, ongoing projects, evaluation initiatives and test cases). The ontology matching resource is available at <http://www.ontologymatching.org>.
In the News
C21st Curation: access and service delivery
December 12, 2005 announcement from Neil Beagrie, (British Library/JISC)
"Public Lecture Series 26 April - 11 May 2006 University College London School of Library, Archive and Information Studies Chadwick Lecture Theatre, Gower Street, London WC1"
"Following the highly successful inaugural series of C21st Curation public lectures earlier this year, The University College London School of Library, Archives, and Information Studies is pleased to announce details of a second series of public lectures for 2006."
"The lectures by eight leading speakers, will be open to students, professionals and general public and will be held in the Chadwick lecture theatre in University College London, from 6.00 - 7.15pm. Each event will be followed by a reception sponsored by Tessella, to which speakers and the audience are invited."
"The dates, sessions, and speakers, in the series will be:
For more information, please see <http://www.slais.ucl.ac.uk/>.
NISO-Sponsored INFO URI Scheme Gets Thumbs Up from IETF Group
From the December 7, 2005, NISO Newsline newsletter: "After meticulous reviews lasting more than two years, the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) has approved the proposed INFO Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) scheme. As a consequence, the Internet Draft specifying the INFO URI scheme now awaits formal publication as an RFC (Request for Comments). INFO URI solves problems with identifying information assets, including documents and terms from classification schemes. The scheme is a consistent and reliable way to represent and reference such standard identifiers as Library of Congress Control Numbers on the Web so that these identifiers can be "read" and understood by Web applications. INFO URI was developed by a coalition under the auspices of the National Information Standards Organization (NISO). NISO members Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) worked in partnership with the Nature Publishing Group and British consulting firm Manifest Solutions to address an identification problem that was revealed during the NISO standardization of the OpenURL Framework for Context-Sensitive Services, released early 2005 as ANSI/NISO Z39.88-2004. A draft for the INFO URI scheme was first published Sept. 25th, 2003. "
For more information, please see <http://www.niso.org/news/newsline/NISONewsline-Dec2005.htm>.
Major boost to career opportunities for knowledge workers
December 7, 2005 - "The Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK) today announce a strategic partnership agreement to develop a more skilled and responsive libraries and archives workforce. Both parties have signed up to a three year programme of joint working which will open up greater opportunities for staff in terms of career progression and development."
"At the heart of the strategic partnership is the development of a variety of routes into working in libraries and archives, offering greater access to training and more flexibility in planning career pathways. Other key strands of development include the collection of more robust workforce data, enhancing leadership skills and increasing diversity in the sector's workforce."
"Welcoming the new partnership, David Hunter, Chief Executive of LLUK said that in a knowledge-driven economy, libraries and archives staff had a vital role to play. 'This ambitious work plan is an opportunity both to foster the career development of existing staff but also to create opportunities that will attract growing numbers of high calibre new entrants. We will work with our employers across the four countries of the UK in developing a top quality workforce, meeting both their needs and those of the wider economy.'"
"MLA Chief Executive Chris Batt announced his enthusiasm for the partnership, commenting: 'Both of our organisations share a vision to empower learning and change in the libraries and archives sector. MLA has supported LLUK since its creation and cementing our partnership through signing up to the three year work plan is the next natural step for both of us. We're very much looking forward to working together to achieve the ultimate goals of improving public access to collections and resources in our libraries and archives, and developing a diverse and knowledgeable workforce.'"
For more information, please see <http://www.mla.gov.uk/news/press_article.asp?articleid=881>.
Geneva Henry Named Distinguished Fellow
November 30, 2005 - "The Digital Library Federation (DLF) has named Geneva Henry, executive director of Rice University's Digital Library Initiative, a DLF distinguished fellow. She will work full-time for a year, starting in January 2006."
"Working with a team of DLF colleagues, Ms. Henry will develop the DLF Services Framework, an initiative that seeks to understand and communicate the business processes of libraries in the new world of digital information, and to relate them to emerging services. It is intended to provide the community with a roadmap and a common reference vocabulary around which to organize collective attention to library services in a changing networked environment. For more information about this initiative and the results of the Services Framework Working Group to date, see <http://www.diglib.org/architectures/serviceframe/>."
The full press release is at <http://www.clir.org/news/pressrelease/05henry_pr.html>.
Three Museums and Three Libraries to Receive Nation's Highest Honor for Extraordinary Community Service
November 30, 2005 - "Mary L. Chute, acting director of the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, today announced the 2005 recipients of the National Awards for Museum and Library Service. This is the nation's highest honor for the extraordinary public service provided by these institutions. Each organization will receive $10,000 and will be honored at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C., date to be determined."
"Recognizing the vital role of museums and libraries in American society, the Institute annually awards museums and libraries that exhibit outstanding service to their communities. The National Awards for Museum and Library Service honors institutions for extraordinary civic, educational, economic, environmental, and social contributions to their communities."
"The winners of the 2005 National Awards for Museum and Library Service are:
For more information, please see the full press release at <http://www.imls.gov/whatsnew/current/113005.htm>.
MLA welcomes the launch of online poetry archive
November 30, 2005 - "The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) welcomes today's launch of an online initiative to create a digital archive of poetry readings, at <http://www.poetryarchive.org>. The brainchild of Poet Laureate Andrew Motion and recording producer Richard Carrington, the Poetry Archive is recording significant poets reading their own works and preserving them for posterity on an online database freely available to everyone."
"As a unique archive and an educational resource that will encourage the enjoyment of poetry and reading, MLA is supporting the initiative by making it available through the new online People's Network service <http://www.peoplesnetwork.gov.uk> where public libraries promote valuable resources for the diverse audiences they serve."
Society urges caution over open-access publishing
Novemer 24, 2005 - (Excerpt from Guardian article by Polly Curtis) "One of the most prestigious scientific academies today warned against a rush to "open-access" publishing, saying a change to the current system of releasing research could have "disastrous" consequences for science."
"The Royal Society today published a position statement urging caution against radical reform, in a move which will anger academics and universities who have been pushing for a replacement to the current costly system."
For more information, please see the full article online at <http://education.guardian.co.uk/elearning/story/0,10577,1649800,00.html>.
Library of Congress Launches Effort to Create World Digital Library
Google Is First Private-Sector Partner with Funding of $3 Million
November 22, 2005 - "Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin announced today that Google is the first private-sector company to contribute to the Library's initiative to develop a plan to begin building a World Digital Library (WDL) for use by other libraries around the globe. The effort would be supported by funds from nonexclusive, public and private partnerships, of which Google is the first."
"The concept for the WDL came from a speech that Billington delivered to the newly established U.S. National Commission for UNESCO on June 6, 2005, at Georgetown University. The full text is available at <http://www.loc.gov/about/welcome/speeches>."
"In his speech, Billington proposed that public research institutions and libraries work with private funders to begin digitizing significant primary materials of different cultures from institutions across the globe. Billington said that the World Digital Library would bring together online 'rare and unique cultural materials held in U.S. and Western repositories with those of other great cultures such as those that lie beyond Europe and involve more than 1 billion people: Chinese East Asia, Indian South Asia and the worlds of Islam stretching from Indonesia through Central and West Asia to Africa.'"
"Google Inc. has agreed to donate $3 million as the first partner in this public-private initiative."
For more information, please see <http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2005/05-250.html>.
International team wins the 2005 Digital Preservation Award
November 22, 2005 - "The PREMIS Working Group a team of 30 experts from five countries was awarded the prestigious Digital Preservation Award for 2005 tonight by Loyd Grossman OBE FSA at the Conservation Awards ceremony held at the British Museum."
"This is the tenth anniversary of the Conservation Awards, which this year has a new sponsor Sir Paul McCartney. This is the second year to include the DPC-sponsored £5,000 Digital Preservation Award, which was awarded to the PREMIS Working Group for 'leadership and advancement in digital preservation which will benefit the UK'"
"The winning team's work is to do with 'preservation meta-data', which is essential to ensure that digital objects remain accessible over time. The work of the PREMIS Working Group goes a long way towards establishing an international open-source standard for handling meta-data, which will help libraries and institutions around the world to archive digital content the volume of which is doubling every year."
For more information, please see <http://www.dpconline.org/graphics/advocacy/press/award2005.html>.
R. Paul Ryan Appointed DTIC Administrator
November 18, 2005 - "Ft. Belvoir, VA: Mr. R. Paul Ryan is the new Administrator of the Defense Technical Information Cetner (DTIC). He had been Acting Administrator since November 2004."
"Previously at DTIC, Ryan was the Deputy Administrator responsible for the daily operations, budget, and personnel for the Center. He transformed DTIC from a paper-based workflow to an electronic environment. His leadership skills were exemplified when, in 2004, DTIC was established as a Department of Defense (DOD) Field Activity aligned with the Director Defense Research and Engineering, in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Acquisition, Technology and Logistics."
For more information, please see the full press release at <http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/announcements/Ryan.pdf>.
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