Forum: e-Framework

JISC-funded projects produce a great deal of valuable outputs, in terms of software, data formats, formal models and other more informal guides and reports. But how can those outputs be made more visible, and disseminated more widely, and how can their context be captured to ensure their sensible reuse? 

The international e-Framework is intended to be part of the answer. It is built on the principle that information on technical services should be collected and shared. But what about other supporting information, such as the applications which use those services, or the working practices and processes in which these applications are embedded, and in turn the recipients and beneficiaries of this work? 

JISC is now starting to prototype a higher level knowledge base to capture these further types of knowledge. As well as better supporting the technical e-Framework, this also has the potential to capture and make available the findings of a much wider range of JISC projects than just those dealing with technical services.  It is planned that the structure (ontology!) as well as the content, be developed in an agile, i.e. iterative and participative, way with all the stakeholders involved. 

This raises some thorny questions, if not all to be answered or even addressed in this event, then certainly over the prototype’s development – how do you feel the context, learning and outputs of your project should be made visible to others in the community so that it can be most effectively taken up and used by others?

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Session 3: Bridging the gap

Audio from the session
[audio:http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/avfiles/events/2008/07/session3c.mp3]
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Session 3 of the student experience theme was called Bridging the Gap. The intent was to stimulate discussion and thinking following up from the previous sessions about dissonances between students and institutional expectations. The panel members are project leaders on initiatives that have talked to students about their experiences of learning using technologies or initiatives that use new technologies in learning, and one is a student who talked about her experiences during her degree course. One issue that recurred in the question-and-answer sessions was the problem of institutional email and whether students actually check it, and who the onus should be on to ensure that university communication reaches them; and again, the discussion entered the territory of whether teaching staff should be led by students’ use of technologies by implementing social networking tools in courses.

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Session 3: Technical and infrastructure issues

Audio from the session
[audio:http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/avfiles/events/2008/07/session3b.mp3]
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This session took the form of a brainstorm, with some of the main discussions tackling issues arising from the sheer variety ‘data’ (from raw to processed/workflows/protocols and between disciplines, methodologies, techniques). We asked why are we keeping it? Do we share now for reuse, preserve for the long term, or make available to validate results?

Some of the main themes included:

  • within a research environment – can we facilitate data curation using the carrot of sharing systems? That is, can we build IT systems that both support lab (or fieldwork, etc) data curation and controlled sharing where appropriate?
  • additional context beyond the metadata: data provenance is essential, and perhaps wider than previously considered. It could include, for example: a ‘make’ file containing the data and its transformations from ‘raw’ to ‘processed’; and an account of relevant methodologies and hypotheses, perhaps via the original proposal and related documents. This implies join-up between research information and management systems and virtual research environments/researchers’ desktops.
  • how do we help institutions understand their infrastructural needs: what are the requirements for institutions (either HEIs or Data Centres, or even hybrid approaches) taking responsibility for curating research data?
  • what has to happen with the various archive systems (fedora etc) to help them cope with research data curation, while retaining a link with the library and institutional systems? It might be useful to see whether some common requirements can be documented for IT systems for data curation.

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Session 3: Who’s identity: starter for ten

Audio from the session
[audio:http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/avfiles/events/2008/07/session3e.mp3]
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A frenetic and energetic ‘goldfish bowl’ debate touching on key issues of access management and identity. Starting off as a discussion of the benefits of OpenID systems compared to university imposed identities, the debate moved around the challenges presented by Facebook, identity theft, permanent online records (and the way these can affect personal and institutional reputations) and moved towards a conclusion in which it was suggested JISC could perhaps help set up a framework and comprehensive cross-discipline debating space in which guidelines on personal conduct and control of identity systems might be laid down.

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Session 2: JISC and sustainability

Audio from the session
[audio:http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/avfiles/events/2008/07/session2d.mp3]
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Richard McKenna’s reflections post-discussion:

“What is clear from the discussion which involved JISC projects, services and other national agencies is that sustainability is not just about the economic business model.

“Successful sustainability of innovation itself needs to address: the problem of accessing the knowledge base of lessons learnt; the need for consistent planning across programmes that compensates for the 2/3 year funding cycle; and guidance for projects on addressing the sustainability and accessing expertise.

“The feedback on the sustainability process, discussion in the session and this blog are really helpful for in developing the Sustainability Handbook which is scheduled for release towards the end of 2008.” Continue reading

Session 2: Opposing approaches attract

Audio from the session
[audio:http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/avfiles/events/2008/07/session2a.mp3]
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Opposing approaches attract

Dave de Roure (MyExperiment) University of Southampton, Mercedes Arguello Casteleiro (eius), University of Salford

The ‘opposing approaches attract’ session looked at two different, but not completely opposing, ways to find out how people use e-infrastructures and how this information can be used to encourage more researchers to use e-infrastructure.

In this session the world of web 2.0 was shown parallel to the work in the JISC user engagement programme.

The web2.0 approach is to directly respond to the actual needs in the community by building and trying possible solutions instantly. Sharing, showing and building go hand in hand with the needs as they pop up.

Parallel the eius Project looks into the holistic scholar’s lifecycle, finding the exact part of the cycle where e-Infrastructure can make a difference. They gather stories to spread and circulate in the community.

These two approaches are more complementary than opposing. Testing and storytelling are like siblings in the effort to take the uptake of e-Infrastructure further.

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Session 2: Disruptive technologies disrupt progress?

Audio from the session
[audio:http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/avfiles/events/2008/07/session2e.mp3]
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A fast and furious debate about whether, how and when to adapt disruptive technologies and if they are indeed useful.

The motion under discussion is:

This house believes that the use of disruptive technologies serves to hinder institutional progression.

The chair is Craig Wentworth and taking the stand are Lawrie Phipps and Tom Franklin.

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