During our work on teaching and learning repositories we identified cases where people wanted to share teaching resources but a repository platform such as EdShare would be unsuitable. These people all shared the need for a lightweight tool which enables simple sharing of small collections with minimal financial or technical overhead. The RedFeather Resource Exhibition and Discovery platform aims to fill that niche by allowing users to quickly annotate teaching resources and make them available for distribution on the web in a simple but useful way.
We’ve consolidated these needs into three basic use cases which I’ll illustrate below using personas:
1. The small project.
SMART is a JISC funded OER project to collate and release the diaries and writings of Christopher Strachey as a rich collection of computer history teaching resources. The project is a collaboration between four different institution’s libraries. Between them they want to collect all their materials together so that they can visualise the whole collection and determine which are of most value. At the end of the project the materials will be deposited in Jorum.
There are too many resources to email and even then the individual files would still need to be annotated. SMART are initially attracted to a teaching repository but soon realise such a system is over-specified for their needs since this is a one-off project and won’t have ongoing community activity. They identify RedFeather as a low-maintenance alternative.
SMART get some web hosting from their lead institution and FTP all the files to one central point. They then use RedFeather to annotate and visualise all of the files. Once they have worked out what needs to be added to the collection and what can be removed they use the RedFeather RSS Feed to import the whole collection into Jorum.
2. The solo sharer.
James is a physics lecturer, he has teaching materials which he has made and wishes to make openly available. While the institution he works for does not prevent him from making these resources available they provide no facilities for him to do so. James thinks his teaching materials are good and would like more people than his immediate students to benefit from them. However, he doesn’t have the technical expertise required to create a website to showcase them.
James is attracted to RedFeather because it provides a comprehensive solution without any significant technical requirements. He downloads an FTP client for his laptop and with a minimum of help from his webmaster uses it to connect to his staff webspace. The FTP client he chose has a familiar drag and drop interface so he has no problem using it to upload his learning resources. He is relieved to find out that all he has to do to install RedFeather is upload a single PHP file.
Even without additional configuration, the default RedFeather annotation schema, page layout and styling is perfectly adequate for James’ needs. His students are now able to browse all his resources from a central location and use the provided keywords and description metadata to find relevant material. James also uses the RedFeather embeddable resource viewer to include his teaching materials in his personal blog.
3. The solution-oriented admin.
David is a systems administrator for the Language department at a University. He has been told by his superiors that they want to release their teaching materials as OER to increase the profile of teaching in the department. David is busy and hasn’t got the time to learn and deploy a full teaching repository at short notice but he does see the value of the task.
Since David already uses PHP for the department website he can deploy RedFeather the same day. As an advanced user, Dave is able to change the stylesheet to fit the university branding and customise the workflow and metadata to suit the needs of the academics. The head of department is impressed by how quickly he delivered the solution. David also discovers that RedFeather can automatically add the department resources to both Nottingham Xpert search and ROAR. He knows that when he has time to deploy a full solution he can easily migrate from RedFeather using the SWORD resource transfer protocol.