Clips & Pointers


D-Lib Magazine
September/October 2008

Volume 14 Number 9/10

ISSN 1082-9873

In Brief


Design of Learning Spaces in 3-D Virtual Environments

Contributed by:
Dr. Shailey Minocha
Senior Lecturer in Human-Computer Interaction
Faculty of Mathematics, Computing & Technology
The Open University
Milton Keynes, United Kingdom

The DELVE project (DEsign of Learning spaces in 3-D Virtual Environments) has been funded by JISC (the UK education sector's Joint Information Systems Committee, <>). The project runs from July 2008 to June 2009 and is being led by the Open University in the UK, with University of Nottingham, UK as the collaborating partner.

There are several models of learning spaces in 3-D virtual environments, ranging from 3-D Virtual Reality (VR) applications to 3-D virtual worlds. The question that an educator may face is: "How should 3-D learning spaces be designed for learner engagement?" The degrees of immersion and realism vary across these 3-D environments. For example, in terms of immersion, 3-D virtual environments can be:
  • fully immersive VR applications (where one doesn't experience the surrounding physical and real environment);
  • semi-immersive VR applications (where a certain degree of immersion is gained, for example via stereo projection);
  • 2-D screen renderings of a conceptually 3-D space (as in Second Life).

Similarly, in terms of the degree of realism, a 3-D virtual environment could be, for example:

  • a photo-realistic representation of a real physical location;
  • a representation of a conceptual university campus;
  • a metaphorical or fantasy environment such as a virtual zoo.

However, there is little published research on the design of 3-D learning spaces and the benefits and limitations of different degrees of realism and immersion. Therefore, when an educational institution aspires to set up a 3-D learning environment, whether in a virtual world such as Second Life or by using a 3-D VR application, there are no studies or guidelines available to inform them. As a first step towards answering the research question "How should 3-D learning spaces be designed for learner engagement?", we will, in DELVE, compare learners' experiences in learning environments that have different degrees of 'immersion' and different degrees of 'realism'. This project will evaluate a range of 3-D learning spaces, immersive and non-immersive, realistic and non-realistic, with students, in order to propose models for a variety of pedagogical requirements.

The research in DELVE will be based on theoretical underpinnings from geography, education and human-computer interaction. It will make use of the two Universities' Second Life islands and ongoing research initiatives in 3-D virtual environments. It will use the expertise and facilities of the Virtual Reality Laboratory at the University of Nottingham, one of the facilities created for the Nottingham arm of the HEFCE-funded Spatial Literacy in Teaching (SPLINT) Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) (

For more details of the project, please visit the project web sites: and or contact contact Dr. Shailey Minocha at <> and Dr. Nick Mount at <>.

Multimedia Annotation and Community Folksonomy Building (MACFoB)

Contributed by:
Dr. Mike Wald
School of Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton
Southampton, United Kingdom

Multimedia has become technically easier to create (e.g., recording lectures), but while users can easily bookmark, search, link to, or tag (i.e., classify) the WHOLE of a podcast or video recording available on the web, they cannot easily find, or associate their notes or resources with, PART of that recording. As an analogy, users would clearly find a text book difficult to use if it had no contents page, index or page numbers. Therefore, the growing amount of knowledge available in multimedia format has yet to achieve the level of interconnection and manipulation achieved for text documents via the World Wide Web and so realize the exciting opportunities for learning that can occur in 'Web 2.0' and 'social software' environments.

The provision of synchronized text captions (subtitles) and images with audio and video enables all their communication qualities and strengths to be available as appropriate for different contexts, content, tasks, learning styles, learning preferences and learning differences. Text can reduce the memory demands of spoken language; speech can better express subtle emotions; while images can communicate moods, relationships and complex information holistically. Deaf learners and non-native speakers may also be particularly disadvantaged if multimedia involving speech is not captioned.

The new generation of Web applications emphasise social interaction and user participation through social networks, collaborative content creation, and freeform metadata creation in the form of tagging, which is currently used to aid search and to support recommendations. The usefulness of tags is limited by their meaning not being understood by the technology so that, for example, the relationship between synonyms is not recognised. The creation of structured tagging through schemas or ontologies involves much human time and effort but allows for more powerful manipulation of resources than unstructured tagging. It is possible to examine the use of unstructured tags and extrapolate a schema, called a Folksonomy, that reflects the evolving view of the community and supports advanced search and personalisation. The Folksonomy approach allows a community to reflect on their activities and develop tag richness to increase the utility and reusability of resources. Folksonomy construction joins the advantage of the Web 2.0 model with the utility of more traditional approaches. It is an important consideration to be able to strike a balance between freeform tagging and structured annotation, and support the agile and evolutionary development of information models.

Funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), we are developing a multi user web-based application called Synote that supports the creation of synchronised notes, bookmarks, tags, links, images and text captions to meet the important and pervasive user need of making multimedia web resources (e.g., podcasts) easier to access, search, manage, and exploit. These Synchronised Annotations are referred to by the new term 'Synnotations', as there would appear to be no existing appropriate single word.

The project website is <>.

The MeAggregator Project

Contributed by:
Patrick Parslow
University of Reading
Reading, United Kingdom

MeAggregator™ is a JISC-funded project that aims to solve some of the problems associated with the digital footprint we create when it is spread over many services. Making all of your content available to you in one place gives you the option of displaying it as a single cohesive 'self' on the Internet or of continuing to maintain a presence in a multitude of places.

The MeAggregator can work either as a desktop application (if you primarily work on one machine) or as a client/server application (if you use different machines in various places). It is also highly modular, with different components communicating through a service-oriented architecture. The MeAggregator supports XMLRPC, and will also have a REST interface for accessing and controlling your resources.

You can bring in content from anywhere – if there isn't a translator for the data source you want to use, the open source community ( is likely to produce one soon, especially if you get involved and tell people what you need.

Applying 'tags' to the content gives you control over who sees what and when. If you want a group of friends to be able to see your plans for your partner's birthday, for example, simply tag the members of the group and the document detailing the plans with something like "birthdayPlans". Your MeAggregator "knows" that you associate your friends' names with their MeAggregators, and if they ask to see your content, the MeAggregator filters it by the tags you have applied.

Technically, the MeAggregator is based upon an ontology, and because the distributed system allows access to parts of other people's ontology built up through their own use of personal tags, this is known as a folksonomy. We have dubbed this a Folksonomical File System, or FFS. Plans are underway to build in a serendipity server to find examples of resources you are likely to be interested in based on the resources you use and those other people use – finding the gaps and helping you fill them.

For more information about the MeAggregator, see the project website at <>.

ONIX for Publication Licenses (ONIX-PL): Simplifying License Expression

Contributed by:
Karen A. Wetzel
Standards Program Manager
National Information Standards Organization (NISO)

The National Information Standards Organization's (NISO) September 10 webinar, ONIX for Publication Licenses (ONIX-PL): Simplifying License Expression, began with an introduction to ONIX-PL by Alicia Wise, Chief Executive of the Publishers Licensing Society (PLS) and chair of the NISO/EDItEUR ONIX-PL Working Group. ONIX-PL is a standard way of communicating the terms of a license in a machine-readable format in order to make licensing terms and conditions linkable to digital resources and more accessible in ERM systems and to users. It was developed by EDItEUR in consultation with libraries, consortia, publishers, and vendors and builds on the work of the Digital Libraries Federation Electronic Resource Management Initiative (ERMI) and NISO's former License Expression Working Group (LEWG). ONIX-PL has been piloted by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the U.K. and by the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC) in the U.S. The audience of more than 80 sites and approximately 200 viewers then heard Wise detail the benefits ONIX-PL provides for various stakeholders, how it works and can be implemented, and next steps with this standard, including the editing tool OPLE, to be released at the end of the year.

Rick Burke, Executive Director, SCELC, then provided a library perspective on ONIX-PL based on his experience with the U.S. pilot project. SCELC and Serials Solutions are partnering with a number of publishers to test the transmission of licensing data using the ONIX-PL messages. As part of his presentation, Burke showed screen captures of the HTML displays of the ONIX license versions and spoke to how it helps in consortia, particularly with how it improves operational efficiencies. He noted, "ONIX-PL is the best possibility for simplifying a cumbersome process and improving ERMS functionality." The importance of ONIX-PL to libraries and consortia comes down to significant time savings because it eliminates interpretation and manual entry by libraries, as well as duplicate entry by consortium member libraries; provides the potential to keep an audit copy; and allows for customization in use of the native XML message to display terms to patrons. In addition, advantages include that licenses are controlled by the consortium manager and pushed efficiently to appropriate member libraries, and license changes are updated automatically.

Finally, Jeff Aipperspach, Senior Product Manager, Serials Solutions, examined the landscape of license management, and then looked at key elements and concerns related to ONIX-PL. Serials Solutions plans to have ONIX-PL implementation in early 2009. In his presentation, Aipperspach focused on plusses such as machine readability and the ease of updating licensing information, but noted that "librarians fear they may 'lose control' of the interpretation of the license" – a fear that vendors can help alleviate by providing tools and functionalities to allow librarians to manage this process. He then took an in-depth look at how ONIX-PL works – making the process of managing licenses "efficient, effective, and simple."

NISO's License Expression Interest Group (LEWG), begun in 2005, initially focused on understanding the differences and mapping the data elements between the ERMI and the ONIX approaches to licensing information. Since then, these two areas have become more clearly and distinctly defined. The ONIX-PL standard was then developed to meet the needs of librarians and publishers on both sides of the Atlantic.

In mid-2008 NISO restructured the LEWG, replacing it with a new working group to focus specifically on development of the ONIX license messaging specification, and a second, short-term subcommittee of the Business Information Topic Committee that is tasked with conducting a survey of the current and emerging place of ERMI in the broader ERM landscape. The survey will look at how vendors are implementing the ERMI data dictionary and related documents and how libraries are making use of these systems and services. Slides from the webinar and links to additional resources can be found online at <>.

In the News

Excerpts from Recent Press Releases and Announcements

National Leadership Grants Awarded to 44 Institutions

18.2 Million Dollars Distributed

September 10, 2008 - "Dr. Anne-Imelda Radice, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), announced today the 44 recipients of National Leadership Grants (NLG), totaling $18.2 million. The largest museum and library joint grant program administered by IMLS, National Leadership Grants support projects that will advance the ability of museums and libraries to preserve culture, heritage, and knowledge while enhancing learning. Click here to learn more about the 2008 NLG awardees."

"This year's National Leadership Grant recipients will generate new tools, research, models, services, practices, and alliances that will positively impact both the awarded institution and the nation."

"The next deadline for the National Leadership Grants program is February 1, 2009. Click here for more information."

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

IMLS Convenes Task Force to Define 21st Century Skills for Museums and Libraries

September 4, 2008 - "Library and museum leaders met September 4 to brainstorm on the skills that contemporary and future learners need to thrive in the 21st century and how museums and libraries can support development of those skills. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which hosted the meeting, is conducting the year-long initiative with help from the e-Luminate Group, an education consulting firm...."

"...Through a series of meetings and outreach, IMLS is developing a report that will provide leaders in museums and libraries, schools, and government information on the role of cultural institutions in promoting 21st century skills to various audiences. The report will provide suggestions, guidelines, case studies, and resources to help libraries and museums identify and integrate 21st century skills into their programs. The report will be accompanied by an online assessment tool that will help institutions determine where they are today and the steps they must take to promote 21st century skills for lifelong learners, including K-12. The report and assessment tool will be available in late spring 2009."

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

Real-World Lessons in Virtual World

Designing and playing computer games can engage students in science and mathematics

August 27, 2008 - "Adopting the identity of a wolf is the key to learning about wolf behavior and ecology in WolfQuest, a computer game developed and hosted by the Minnesota Zoo with funding from the National Science Foundation. WolfQuest is one example of how, through computer gaming technology, learning can reach across time and space and link learners to a set of challenges--along with a set of tools to address them, and the motivation to succeed. Other such projects developed with NSF funding include "Project IT Girl," a project that involves high-school girls in designing and developing educational games, and LunarQuest, a multiple-player game that aims to support the learning of physics."

"Through computer games, a single player can immerse himself or herself in a problem that demands the tools of science or math to solve it. The technology can also link a team of players who must work together and pool their resources to address issues. Just as the technology provides a network for learning, it also provides a trail of results detailing the players' success in rising to the challenges presented."

For more information, please see NSF Press Release 08-147 at <>.

OCLC pilots WorldCat Copyright Evidence Registry

August 25, 2008 - "OCLC is piloting a new service for libraries that encourages librarians and other interested parties to discover and share information about the copyright status of books."

"The WorldCat Copyright Evidence Registry is a community working together to build a union catalog of copyright evidence based on WorldCat, which contains more than 100 million bibliographic records describing items held in thousands of libraries worldwide. In addition to the WorldCat metadata, the Copyright Evidence Registry uses other data contributed by libraries and other organizations...."

"...The Copyright Evidence Registry six-month pilot was launched July 1 to test the concept and functionality. Users can search the Copyright Evidence Registry to find information about a book, learn what others have said about its copyright status, and share what they know."

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

An ever-evolving Review

August 18, 2008 - "An article highlighting new ways of using the interactive web to generate community-driven reviews of scientific knowledge will be subject to some of its own recommendations this week. Published online this week in Nature Reviews Genetics, the article takes reviews publishing to a new level."

"Leading bioinformatician Lincoln Stein discusses the biology cyberinfrastructure – the interconnected network of databases and computational tools that drive modern biological research. He points to new paradigms for publishing reviews in which the interactive web enables multiple users to contribute and edit material. Demonstrating that he practices what he preaches, a WIKI and commenting pages will go online at the same time as the article to allow readers to update material from the review as the field evolves, and to add their own opinions on the article."

"This combination of commissioned, professionally edited material with dynamic pages that can be modified by the reader breaks the mould of traditional review publishing."

For more information, please see <>.

Library Partnership Preserves End-of-Term Government Web Sites

August 14, 2008 - "The Library of Congress, the California Digital Library, the University of North Texas Libraries, the Internet Archive and the U.S. Government Printing Office today announced a collaborative project to preserve public United States Government web sites at the end of the current presidential administration ending January 19, 2009. This harvest is intended to document federal agencies' online archive during the transition of government and to enhance the existing collections of the five partner institutions."

"As part of this collaboration, the Internet Archive will undertake a comprehensive crawl of the .gov domain. The Library of Congress has been preserving congressional Web sites on a monthly basis since December 2003 and will focus on development of this archive for the project. The University of North Texas and the California Digital Library will focus on in-depth crawls of specific government agencies. The project will also call upon government information specialists – including librarians, political and social science researchers, and academics – to assist in the selection and prioritization of web sites to be included in the collection, as well as identifying the frequency and depth of the act of collecting. The Government Printing Office will lend expertise to the curation process along with libraries in its Federal Depository Library Program. A tool has been designed by the project team and developed by the University of North Texas to facilitate the collaborative work of these specialists, and will be made available to participants in August 2008."

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

WebJunction launches new online social and learning experience for the library community

August 13, 2008 - "WebJunction, the online learning community for librarians and library staff, has launched a new social and learning experience in close collaboration with partners in 15 state libraries. The new site builds on the deep repository of helpful content, relevant courses, and active discussions that have been the hallmark of WebJunction since 2003."

"The new capabilities make it easier for librarians and staff to:

  • Connect with friends, peers, and colleagues from across the library community using powerful new social tools such as friends, public profiles, groups, discussions, tagging, and recommendations;
  • Create their own content, conversations, and spontaneous communities with fast, fun and easy-to-use tools;
  • Learn the skills they need to thrive in their careers with new and more flexible online courses covering general business, technical, and library skills, complimented by powerful social and learning management tools that add depth to the experience."

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

NISO Members Approve Project to Revise Digital Talking Book Standard

Call for Participation Focused on Publishers and Libraries with Digital Content

August 11, 2008 - "The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has approved a project that will revise Specifications for the Digital Talking Book (ANSI/NISO Z39.86). Integral to this process is the DAISY (Digital Accessible Information SYstem) Consortium, maintenance agency for the so-called DAISY/NISO standard."

"George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, prepared the revision proposal. In introducing the value of updated Specifications for the DTB, he stated: 'It is expected that the next revision of the DAISY Standard will help tame the chaos of digital publishing by providing an extensible, flexible system that everybody can use for information and knowledge dissemination.' The standard will approach the challenge from two directions: distribution and authoring."

"A working group roster is now being formed. Parties who want to join this working group, or those wishing to be part of the affiliated interest group, should contact Karen Wetzel, NISO's Standards Program Manager, at <>."

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

776 Museums, Libraries, and Archives Selected to Receive IMLS Connecting to Collections Bookshelf

August 5, 2008 - "Dr. Anne-Imelda Radice, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), announced today that 776 museums, libraries, and archives, representing every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam have been selected to receive the IMLS Connecting to Collections Bookshelf. The contents of the bookshelf were selected by a blue ribbon panel of conservation experts; it includes an essential set of books, online resources, and a user's guide that can profoundly affect the ability of small libraries and museums to care for their collections."

"To see the list of recipients, click here."

"The IMLS Bookshelf was made possible by a cooperative agreement with the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) with support from the Getty Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. It is part of Connecting to Collections: A Call to Action, a strategic initiative by IMLS to address the challenges described in A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America's Collections."

For more information, please see <>.

Production-Ready Fedora 3.0 Fits With the Web

July 30, 2008 - "Today Fedora Commons released version 3.0 of the popular Fedora software that completes all general release features...."

"...Fedora 3.0 features the Content Model Architecture (CMA), an integrated structure for persisting and delivering the essential characteristics of digital objects in Fedora. The software is available at <> and at <>. The Fedora CMA plays a central role in the Fedora architecture, in many ways forms the over-arching conceptual framework for future development of Fedora Repositories."

"The Fedora CMA builds on the Fedora architecture-downloaded more than 20,000 times in the last 12 months-to simplify use while unlocking potential. Dan Davis explains the CMA in the context of Fedora 3.0, 'It's a hybrid. The Fedora CMA handles content models that are used by publishers and others, and is also a computer model that describes an information representation and processing architecture.' By combining these viewpoints, Fedora CMA has the potential to provide a way to build an interoperable repository for integrated information access within organizations and to provide durable access to our intellectual works....Fedora 2.2.2 will continue to be supported for production repositories."

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

Nature Publishing Group launches Manuscript Deposition Service

July 30, 2008 - "Nature Publishing Group (NPG) today launches the first phase of its Manuscript Deposition Service. The free service will help authors fulfil funder and institutional mandates for public access."

"From today, the NPG Manuscript Deposition Service will be available to authors publishing original research articles in Nature and the Nature research journals. NPG expects to be able to announce the availability of the service for many of its society and academic journals, and for the clinical research section of Nature Clinical Practice Cardiovascular Medicine, shortly."

"NPG's Manuscript Deposition service will deposit authors' accepted manuscripts with PubMed Central (PMC) and UK PubMed Central (UKPMC). The service is open to authors whose funders have an agreement with PMC or UKPMC to deal with authors' manuscripts from publishers. PubMed Central will accept manuscripts deposited by NPG where the author is funded by or employed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). UK PubMed Central has agreed to accept deposits from NPG from authors funded by any of its Funders Group: Arthritis Research Campaign, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Chief Scientist Office (Scotland), Department of Health, Medical Research Council, and the Wellcome Trust."

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

DSpace Foundation and Fedora Commons Form Working Collaboration

July 29, 2008 - "Today two of the largest providers of open source software for managing and providing access to digital content, the DSpace Foundation and Fedora Commons, announced plans to combine strengths to work on joint initiatives that will more closely align their organizations' goals and better serve both open source repository communities in the coming months."

"This advance comes as institutions such as universities, libraries, museums and research laboratories worldwide are focused on utilizing open source software solutions for the dissemination and preservation of scholarly, scientific, and cultural heritage digital content into the future. Making books, articles, films, music, large and small data sets, scholarly works, multi-media, learning objects and mash-ups from all parts of the globe discoverable and accessible is at the core of the DSpace and Fedora collaboration."

"The collaboration is expected to benefit over 500 organizations from around the world who are currently using either DSpace (examples include MIT, Rice University, Texas Digital Library and University of Toronto) or Fedora (examples include the National Library of France, New York Public Library, Encyclopedia of Chicago and eSciDoc) open source software to create repositories for a wide variety of purposes."

"The decision to collaborate came out of meetings held this spring where members of DSpace and Fedora Commons communities discussed multiple dimensions of cooperation and collaboration between the two organizations. Ideas included leveraging the power and reach of open source knowledge communities by using the same services and standards in the future. The organizations will also explore opportunities to provide new capabilities for accessing and preserving digital content, developing common web services, and enabling interoperability across repositories."

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

New Web Site Consolidates Access to DoD Scientific and Technical Information

July 28, 2008 - "The Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) announces the launch of the new DTIC Online, a redesigned public Web site for Department of Defense (DoD) scientific and technical (S&T) information. This new site integrates three of DTIC's public Web sites: DTIC Search, DTIC Home and its Public Scientific and Technical Information Network (STINET®). "

"Two key features of the new site are (1) the ability to search more databases in one search and (2) Interest Area pages that provide links to pertinent information for specific S&T research communities."

For more information, please see the full press release <>.

154 Institutions in 39 States Awarded Museums for America Grants; 16.9 Million Dollars Distributed

July 22, 2008 - "Dr. Anne-Imelda Radice, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), announced today the 154 recipients of Museums for America (MFA) grants, totaling 16.9 million dollars. The largest museum grant program administered by IMLS, MFA grants support institutions interested in strengthening their services in the following areas: engaging communities (education, exhibitions, and interpretation); building institutional capacity (management, policy, and training); and collections stewardship. Click here to learn more about the 2008 MFA recipients."

"...This year, MFA funds will go to botanical gardens, historic homes, art museums, and other deserving institutions across the country, and will be used for a variety of projects, including planning, programming, and ongoing museum work, such as updating technology and purchasing new equipment..."

"...The next deadline for the Museums for America program is November 1, 2008. Click here for more information."

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

AAM and IMLS Announce 2008 Museum Assessment Program Participants

July 22, 2008 - "The American Association of Museums (AAM) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) would like to commend the 100 museums participating in the 2008 Museum Assessment Program (MAP). These institutions have requested an evaluation of their operational strengths and weaknesses in the interest of bettering their organizations and reaffirming their commitment to their communities."

"Museums of all types and sizes are invited to participate in the MAP program, and can apply in one of four areas: institutional, collections management, governance, or public dimension. After their evaluation, the museums use the feedback they receive to strengthen operations, build capacity, and enhance communication throughout their institutions. Museums that have undergone the assessment report an increased level of professionalism, clearer focus on the museum's goals and mission, an energized staff and governing authority, and a greater credibility with their stake holders."

"...MAP is supported through a cooperative agreement between AAM and IMLS."

For more information, please see the full press release at <>.

Copyright 2008 © Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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