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Archive → February, 2010

TELSTAR – the next phase

The TELSTAR project was originally scheduled to finish at the end of February 2010. However, I’m really pleased to say that with the support of the Open University and JISC, we’ve got agreement to extend the project through to July 2010.

At this point, the project has essentially completed it’s initial objectives, and the deliverables listed in the original project plan (http://www.open.ac.uk/telstar/Deliverables) are more or less complete (with a few exceptions). I’ll post some more structured links to the various deliverables over the next couple of weeks, but many are contained within the ReMIT (Reference Management Integration Toolkit) that I’ve been posting on this site over the last couple of weeks.

At this point, the focus of the project will change somewhat, and project team will be changing as well, so at this point I want to say a huge thank you to Jason, Jes (the developers) and Sarah (our project support officer up to the end of this week) for their hard work over the last 6-12 months. They’ve all been key in getting us to this point, and I can’t quite believe what we’ve been able to achieve – I’m so impressed with what we’ve done. There are too many other people to mention who’ve made it possible for us to get to this point, but I should mention Richard (the Digital Libraries Programme Manager at the Open University library, and my boss) who has provided support and advice throughout.

The next phase of the project will focus on three areas:

  • more piloting at the Open University
  • working with other Moodle/RefWorks sites to get them up and running with the TELSTAR developments
  • running one or more community events around reference management and related topics

I hope to be announcing some dates for one or two events in the near future. If you are interested in making use of the TELSTAR developments, especially if your institution is already using Moodle and RefWorks, get in touch. Also, if you have comments on the work we’ve done so far, such as ReMIT, then let us know, as these pieces of work can continue to develop and be refined between now and July.

Once again, a big thank you to the project team, and everyone else who has contributed to the project over the last 18 months (and longer).

ReMIT: Reference Management Integration Toolkit

I’m currently re-formatting (and partially re-writing) my approach to the project deliverables. Rather than focussing on the individual documents listed in our deliverables, I’m focussing on the idea of a ‘toolkit’ which is intended to help others considering issues around integrating ‘Reference Management’ into their learning environment(s).

I’m aiming for something pretty practical, but want to ensure that I don’t simply list “how we did it for TELSTAR”, as I’m aware the decisions we made in many areas will be related to insitutional specific policies and practices.

I’m going to start posting sections as I write them, but I’m posting the table of contents here for comment. If you were approaching this, what would you like to see here – have I missed anything?

ReMIT (Reference Management Integration Toolkit)

  • Introduction
  • What is Reference Management?
    • Introduction to Referencing
    • Reference Management software
  • Why Integrate Reference Management?
    • Information Literacy and Referencing
  • Integrating Reference Management into a Technology Enhanced Learning environment
    • Stakeholders
    • User Requirements
    • Linking to online resources
    • Workflows
  • Supporting good practice in Reference Management
    • Information literacy skills
    • Referencing styles
    • Copyright and Reference Management

The Open University approach

  • Background
  • Business Case
  • RefWorks and course production
  • MyReferences
  • Linking
  • Authentication

Sharing References

A lot of the TELSTAR project has focussed on how authors or tutors put references into course materials, and how students can then take copies of those references and manage them. However something we’ve always wanted to look at is how references might be shared by students between themselves.

We originally had thought of this functionality as perhaps allowing a student to ‘publish’ a reference (or set of references) to a public area – this is similar to how many Reference Management packages enable sharing – for example RefShare functionality in RefWorks, and concepts of publishing your library, and using Groups in Zotero.

However, the more we talked about the possible ways of sharing, and particularly talked to students about what they would find useful, we realised that this idea of ‘publishing’ a set of references probably wasn’t what was needed. It was also clear that students didn’t particularly want to share ‘references’ – they wanted to share ‘resources’ (i.e. the thing that the reference is pointing at). We came to the conclusion that within the Open University’s learning environment, the most likely place students might want to share a resource/reference was on a forum.

So, we have developed a way of enabling references to be inserted in Moodle forum posts, as well as Moodle wiki pages and Moodle blog posts. To see how this works watch the video below:

The problem we have with this mechanism is that the ‘cut and paste’ of a horrid chunk of ‘escaped’ xml is as ugly as it gets in terms of a user interface 🙁 However, we are really pleased with the result in terms of how the references appear in the forums/wikis/blogs – we automatically add links to online version where possible and students (or staff) can take copies to MyReferences or other Reference Management software.

So, we are left with a quandry – is this functionality worth releasing to students? Could we release it to tutors only? Does the end result justify the clunky cut and paste mechanism?

Any comments welcome!