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Another perspective on the conversation

So, Steve suggested that for the diary, there might be different perspectives on a Project event.  Steve and I had a meeting as a preparation for participation in the KeepIt Project.  Steve has blogged from his perspective on our conversation and this is my take on some aspects of our discussion:

I am manager of the EdShare learning and teaching repository in the University of Southampton:

We have developed Edshare over the last 18 months as a JISC-funded institutional exemplar project. The focus of the project has been split between 50% technical and 50% cultural change. Working with my colleague, Jessie Hey, as academic advocates to engage colleagues involved in learning and teaching across the University, to engage with the idea of a learning and teaching repository, to commit to adding content to EdShare and then to develop our understanding of how it is meaningful for teachers to work with their resources in this way, to share their materials with other teachers and to respond to other folk who happen to find their materials as a consequence of undertaking searches on the open web.

When I was in discussion with Steve, I reflected on the extent to which preservation issues have or haven’t figured in the work of our Project. Certainly, we have always been concerned to build good rapport with teachers and academics and have engaged people with issues such as: a safe place to deposit material you really care about; developing the confidence of depositors that we will respect and present their materials appropriately; extending our professional role as librarians to build on the trust that we rely on in our academic communities. I wouldn’t, though, consider using the “preservation” word. Indeed, Steve mentioned rather “long term management” of the resources and materials that we are interested in, and this felt much more comfortable as a term to me.

Another aspect that we touched on in our discussion was that of “significant properties” in resources within the scope of EdShare. We are experiencing (and anticipate a likely increase) a significant diversity of formats in materials deposited in EdShare. Given this situation, we also anticipate that there are likely to be a wider range of challenges from the long term management perspective. From the author’s point of view, however, the concept of “significant properties” may override consideration of more “secure” or more easily managed formats. Thus, a Camtasia file has come to the notice of one of our technical team. This format type has been “red flagged” in terms of preservation risk. What Camtasia does essentially is screen recorder software which bundles audio, video and other files together and presents a very neat, easy to use index menu presented as well. Indeed this last aspect has been higlighted to me personally by a University colleague as the “significant property” of this software over other competitor products. So, explaining to an academic or learning technologist that their preferred choice of an attractive, easy-to-use and very well-designed software product is a problem from the perspective of “preservation” may not necessarily win them over to our concerns in this field. How should we approach these challenges?

Debra Morris

EdShare, University of Southampton

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. KeepIt repositories initial survey: EdShare - Diary of a Repository Preservation Project linked to this post on May 19, 2009

    […] pre-empted the results of this survey for EdShare appearing here, since she saw the draft and not unreasonably […]

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