We have taken part in the Content programme Evaluation and Impact workshop in London earlier this week. The key aims were to provide projects with a shared understanding of approaches to evaluation and impact and
with an opportunity for reflection, sharing of ideas and collaborative working in order to refine their evaluation and impact plans.
The morning seeesion started with an introduction from the managers of JISC Content Programme 2011-2013, Paola Marchionni and Peter Findlay. The participants were then asked to get into six clusters and discuss/compare their evaluation plans and methods and approaches they employ to capture baseline data. ENGrich was in a cluster 5 together with three other projects: ArchitectUS, Stepping into Time and New Connections: BT Archive.
The afternoon session consisted of three presenattions, as follows:
Impact of D-TRACES, by Sarah Whatley, University of Coventry;
Impact of British History Online, by Bruce Tate, Institute of Historical Research;
Use and re-use of digital resources/OER, by Liz Masterman, Oxford University Computing Services.
Interesting issues were discussed in the presentation of Sarah Whatley from D-TRACES project, including ways to increase students engagement with resources released and to increase the students’ digital literacy. She also talked about supporting the students’ development as professionals and enhancing their employability. All these approaches seem very applicable to the ENGrich project.
Over the past week we have been updating the module list, which has included the addition of diverse topics such as Biomedical Materials and Spaceflight. The team has been reduced down to only a few members,but we are still plodding on with linking. One aspect of the project that has really taken our notice is the global scale of our resource database. So far we have gathered links from India, Australia, China and the Americas, just to name a few! And whilst a majority of these links are from academic sources, many have also been made available by engineering organisations and individuals. We are now approaching 18,000 links, so well on our way to our target.
One of our team graduated with a Masters in Civil Engineering last week,
so in light of this we have provided a sky scraper game.
Will your building last?
One of the key features of the ENGrich search engine is the visual presentation of results, i.e. as a gallery of images to help users make quicker judgements about the potential value of each resource. This therefore requires the dynamic creation of thumbnail representations of each resource on demand. Given that we are dealing with static images, videos, presentations and Flash movies, no one-size-fits-all solution exists. Here’s how we propose going about each:
Images can be resized and displayed directly from their source location
Flickr thumbnail URLs are accessed through a simple API call
Today the 5th week comes to an end with over 15,500 links recorded in the ENGrich database. It`s been a cheerful week since the boys went on holiday and we were working in all girls company. A lot of interesting subjects were covered which didn`t affect our efficiency at work. A lovely red helium balloon from the Active Learning Lab joined our party too and lightened those sad rainy days that were hunting England recently.
The ENGrich site now shows thumbnails of our links and we are getting closer to obtaining our goal in creating a visual search engine. We hope that as a new academic year commence in September the interface will be perfected and the total number of links will surpass 30,000.
In our quest to display thumbnails of SlideShare presentations through their API, we (belatedly!) stumbled upon oEmbed. oEmbed is a format for allowing an embedded representation of a URL on third party sites. The simple API allows a website to display embedded content (such as photos or videos) when a user posts a link to that resource, without having to parse the resource directly.
This has been a busy week for us, not only have we surpassed the 12,000 link mark we also welcomed a new member to our team. We are currently on track to our final goal with an average of 1000 links a day.
In yesterday’s weekly progress meeting we discussed possible long term developments of the ENGrich programme; in particular discussing how to incentivise new users to submit links into the system. One idea was to offer printing credit for university students who submitted links that were up-voted as useful by their peers. This would ensure that the quality of the links remained high. We also discussed how to advertise the scheme through the use of social media and academic staff.
Finally, we are currently in discussion about the possibility of including a general engineering glossary encompassing the most common engineering search terms. We hope this would provide a foundation of resources relevant to all disciplines of engineering regardless of location or institution.