Building digital educational repositories for agriculture: The AgLR tool

Organic.Edunet_1
Organic.Edunet original (old) logo

Organic.Edunet original (old) logo

As I have already mentioned in one of the previous blog posts, I have been working with educational metadata and digital educational repositories since 2009, when I first got involved in EU-funded projects as a member of the AUA (Agricultural University of Athens) team in the context of the Organic.Edunet eContentPlus project. Starting as a domain expert in organic agriculture, then as a metadata expert and a reviewer, I spent countless hours with the Organic.Edunet Confolio tool, the tool we used for the creation of metadata records for digital educational resources for organic agriculture and agroecology, as well as for other green topics. Confolio was a web-based repository tool, which allowed the creation of digital collections/repositories for content providers who do not have one. Despite the fact that Confolio was a little bit heavy on resources, it was rather easy to use both for the metadata annotator, as well as for the metadata reviewer. In addition, it has excellent technical support by the developers of the tool. It used the Organic.Edunet IEEE LOM AP for the creation of the metadata records and the Organic.Edunet ontology for their classification. However, all revisions in the AP and the ontology (as well as their translations and the translations of the user interface of Confolio) had to be manually inserted in the tool; taking into consideration that there were four individual Organic.Edunet Confolio instances (see the previous blog post for more details) which were not connected at administration level (i.e. no central administration interface), keeping all of them synchronized and updated was challenging and time consuming. Confolio supported the creation of multilingual metadata records manually, by providing the translation of the terms and indicating the language.

 

Organic.Edunet Confolio tool

 

While there is a wealth of open source software repositories for bibliographic records, such as DSpace, Eprints, Fedora Commons etc., this is not the case for the educational ones; my limited research showed that there are only a few solutions for this purpose and most of them are proprietary ones, commercial software etc. I am aware of a case where a Dspace installation was used as an educational repository but still this seems to be an exception to the rule.

In the context of the Organic.Lingua ICT-PSP project, we decided to build a new learning repository tool, in order to meet the requirements collected by the stakholders/agricultural learning community, focusing mostly on multilinguality aspects as well as the automatic update of the Organic.Edunet AP and the ontology. This tool should be based on open-source software, always use the latest version of the Organic.Edunet ontology, it should support automatic translation of metadata (domain-specific translation, proviing more accurate results) and other useful functionalities and adaptations for the agricultural stakeholders. Well, after three years of work for the Organic.Lingua project, this tool is here: named Agricultural Learning Repository tool (AgLR), its main features are listed below:

 

  • Built on the open-source Omeka platform;
  • Uses the latest version of the Organic.Edunet IEEE LOM AP for the creation of metadata records;
  • Uses the latest version of the Organic.Edunet ontology for the classification of the learning resources; the AgLR took is connected to the MoKi tool used for the management of the ontology through the ontology service API;
  • It features a user interface available in ten (10) languages; additional languages can be easily added using an online form;
  • Supports the automatic translation of metadata (Title, Description and Keywords) in ten (10) languages);
  • Supports the “Suggest Metadata” functionality, for automatically extracting metadata from HTML pages;
  • Supports the Template functionality for minimizing the time needed for the creation of metadata records sharing identical information in metadata fields;
  • It is fully compliant with the OAI-PMH standard for exposing metadata of each collection/set through a unique target;
  • It supports ingestion of metadata in the form of XML files.

 

The AgLR tool

 

agINFRA_logo_newI will not go into details about AgLR in this post (a new post is expected to present more details about the AgLR functionalities) but I would like to answer the obvious question: How can one access, evaluate and actually use the AgLR tool?

The answer is that the agINFRA FP7 project is building the infrastructure needed for meeting the requirements of the agricultural communities, such as the educational, research and bibliographic. This grid- and cloud-based infrastructure includes several components & tools which aim to facilitate access to agricultural knowledge and information. In this context, the agINFRA project is providing a free version of the tool, which you may access at http://212.189.145.247/oe/admin/users/login using the following credentials:

 

username: aglrdemo / password: aglrdemo

 

If you decide to use the AgLR tool, please take some time to provide us with your feedback using this online evaluation form – it will not take you more than 5 mins to complete and at the same time you will greatly help us to further improve the tool!

 

P.S. As expected, some parts of this blog post are similar to the ones of the previous related one; however, this time the Organic.Lingua project is over and we have the fully developed version of the AgLR tool, so more information to share. Next time we will go into details about the functionalities of the tool.

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