Monday, 10 May 2010

Project Plan Post 2 of 7: Wider Benefits to Sector & Achievements for Host Institution

The integration of library resources and services with the University's VLE and social networking sites, particularly iGoogle and Facebook, is an institutional priority for Cambridge University Library. The Arcadia Fellowship Programme, based at the library, has already explored student information needs and identified the potential value of delivering library materials and resources to students in their workspaces in addition to conventional library-managed interfaces.

Through a partnership between the library and the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies (CARET), which develops and manages the VLE Cambridge has made significant progress in this area, having developed the Cambridge Libraries iGoogle Widget. This already provides most of the example functionality outlined in the call, enabling students to view their library profile, view and renew loans, and view and cancel requests (it lacks only the ability to pay library charges). It is fully integrated with the University's authentication system, and is currently live in Facebook, iGoogle and CamTools, the University's Sakai-based VLE. One strand in this proposal would be to document and share the code for the widget in its current state.

The Library and CARET will build on this foundation, to provide a joined-up and relevant combination of library services and resource delivery outside the traditional library environment. We will extend the use of widget functionality to the delivery of other library materials - such as exam papers, reading lists, handouts, content from the institutional repository, and generic subject lists. It will make use of university identifiers to retrieve student course details from CAMSiS, the student registry system and this course information will be used to provide relevance in the delivery of library materials. The result will be a potentially powerful model of evaluating student profiles to provide relevant library services alongside appropriate teaching materials.

A further stage of development will focus on mining these course materials for links to library resources. This will enable us to start delivering relevant library content to students beyond the immediate library web environment. We envisage that one deliverable of the project will be a clear outline of the next steps in this area, and possible implications.

This project is a partnership between the University Library and CARET, a strong combination in terms of both skills and institutional roles. The University Library is the main provider of content for the support of teaching and learning in the University, and is repositioning itself to support the processes of teaching and learning more directly. CARET are leaders in the development of innovative educational technology, and are also the developers and operators of CamTools, the institutional VLE.

This project will produce a number of widgets delivering access to library content within social networking sites and VLEs in partnership with the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies. It will explore opportunities for making content delivered through widgets relevant to the user by linking to course-codes held by the student registry. The project will assist the wider take-up of widgets for library-related content by making the code for the existing widget and those developed through the project openly available along with documentation and guidance.

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