The JLeRN Experiment

JISC's Learning Registry Node Experiment at Mimas

Understanding and using the Learning Registry: Pgogy tools for searching and submitting

I started with the Learning Registry as part of Plugfest 1, which was just over a year ago in Washington D.C. (see my CETIS blog post reporting on it here).

Pgogy logo

Stuff about Pat Lockley’s tools noted here, plus other thoughts and projects of his, are available on his Pgogy website

Part of the thing I think people don’t get with the Learning Registry, is that as the Internet became the Web, then the Web became a series of distinction destinations – Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. So although the Learning Registry exists – it doesn’t have a front page, or a “Tweet this” button, but it exists like HTTP exists – you can build using the Learning Registry, but you might never see it.

So that is poorly explained, but that is an innate part of the problem – and it’s a problem I sought to rectify at the first Plugfest. If I can’t take people to the Learning Registry, then I should take the Learning Registry to people. How? …

A Chrome tool: the Learning Registry enhancing Google searching

Google is the biggest store of links in the world (I shy away from the ‘R’ word), and so it is where people go to search. Some of the links returned via a Google search will also be links stored in a Learning Registry node – so you can, via one of my Learning Registry tools, check to see if it knows anything about a website.

So you can do a Google search, click on a button, and really quickly (the Learning Registry technology is state of the art) you can see which pages the Learning Registry knows about. Sometimes this knowledge will be just keywords, authors and descriptions, but could also be educational levels and the type of interactivity supported by the page.

You can download the Chrome plugin here – and watch a short demo video below showing you how it works.

Note on trying this from Sarah Currier: Once you’ve installed this in Chrome, you can try it out by running any search in Jorum – nearly all of Jorum’s OERs have metadata in the JLeRN node. So you should see lots of small crosses (+) to click on next to your search results. If you want to try it in Google search, try a search for something you know is in Jorum – here’s an idea in case you want a quick win: “SEA and good governance” governmentality - look for the little cross in your Google search results against a Jorum DSpace result, and note that the same resource appears in the search results in other repositories but without the cross as they don’t publish to the JLeRN node. If they all published to the nide, along with usage data (paradata) ab out that resource, you’d be able to use one of the other tools to look at *all* the paradata for this resource, even when accessed in different places.

Paradata: information about how learning resources are used

As well as this information to describe webpages (in this case, metadata about learning resources), increasingly Learning Registry nodes are storing what is called paradata, which is information on how a resource is used. Imagine the same Google search as above, but this time you can see how popular resources are. So what would normally just be a page, now becomes a page used by 500 teachers in your subject area. Once a resource becomes used (and as long as someone tells the Learning Registry about it) other people can find this data and pick out the resources most suited to their needs.

So paradata, another great mystery to explain? Not really, it’s like seeing how often a book is cited, a link linked or a tweet retweeted. All that is different is the data on reuse is in a slightly different format, and is shared outside of the silos where it lives right now.

How can you share paradata for your resources? Well a lot of people use Google Analytics data, and a page visit (one that Google Analytics tracks) is paradata, it just needs some tweaks before it can become data in a Learning Registry node. How can you do this? …

Pliny: submit your Google Analytics data to the Learning Registry

You can use Pliny, another tool developed by me, to share your Google Analytics paradata. Pliny uses Oauth to sign you into Google Analytics. It then accesses your analytics data, and submits it to the Learning Registry for you (currently the tool at the above link submits to the JLeRN Alpha Node). It does all the hard work for you, all you need to do is click your mouse a few times.

You can watch the short demo video below to see how Pliny works:

Ramanathan: submit metadata from your RSS feed to the Learning Registry

So we’ve looked at the benefits of the Learning Registry for teachers in terms of finding appropriate resources; how can people contribute? Well, Pliny allows paradata to be submitted, and you could use another tool I developed – Ramanathan – to take an RSS feed and use it to submit the metadata in a feed into a Learning Registry node.

You can watch a short demo video below to see how Ramanathan works:

In the same way that there isn’t a place to go to search for teachers, how do cataloguers work with such a decentralised model? Both Pliny and Ramanathan help data to be submitted, but there isn’t as of yet an easy tool to remotely manage metadata on your resources in a Learning Registry node. If you use either of these tools, you will be given permanent links to your documents on the Learning Registry node – but this is only to see – not to delete or revise.

Learning Registry Browser: find Learning Registry paradata for a web page

I’ve developed a second browser plugin for Chrome – the Learning Registry Browser – which will tell you if the page you are on has data in the Learning Registry, show you the documents that have been submitted, and when they where submitted. Remember that as people might be using your resources, there may be documents not submitted by you; this is one of the benefits of the Learning Registry – to track others’ use of your resources outside of your own silo.

You can watch this brief demo video to see how it works (and see the note above in red, which will give you a sample search to try):

I appreciate this is lots of new things, but I hope that you think you’ll find these tools helpful and are encouraged and hopefully curious enough to consider submitting data to the Learning Registry.

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10 thoughts on “Understanding and using the Learning Registry: Pgogy tools for searching and submitting

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  4. Great to see these tools and the variety of ways you’re connecting to LR data. I was able to get the Chrome extensions installed, but it’s difficult to see them in action. My first suggestion would be to post some example URLs and/or search terms that you know the JLeRN node has data on. Even better would be to have Options for each extension that allow you to set the node address to use so we can use them against our own test nodes that we know have certain data. I could probably dig into the code and re-compile it myself, but for most people having the easy config options would be better.

    Great work. I’d definitely like to see where it goes from here. … .joe

    • Hi Joe, thanks for commenting. The tip I would give me people (and I will add this into the blog post later) is that all of Jorum’s resources (well, deposited before about April 2012) have documents in the JLeRN node so I would suggest some sample searches for Jorum, e.g. try ‘”SEA and good governance” governmentality’. Pat has also used a couple of things in the video as he says but not sure if they are clear enough to pick up on. Will look into this to give non-Jorum examples. Also, the last-mentioned browser tool works just in a search of Jorum as Pat showed in his video (a bit redundant but it shows how the functionality works anyway).

  5. Pat Lockley on said:

    Both the plugins are on github – so you can change them. Making the node changeable is possible, would need to look into it.

    I think the videos have URL examples in?

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