Managing resources in SCoPE

Managing resources in SCoPE

by Sylvia Currie -
Number of replies: 15
How to best manage the resources generated through SCoPE discussions has been a BIG question since the beginning. Actually, even before we launched it was flagged as an area needing attention. We started out with a "community library" but that quickly got dusty and full of cop webs! We have resources contributed in so many different ways (forum posts, attachments to forum posts, uploaded files, web links, wikis, etc)

It feels like the content issue is getting huge, but at the same time we continue to see new and innovative ways of sharing and organizing resources. We certainly can't cope with a manual process. A place metaphor, like a library, might not be the best solution.

How can we address this?
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Managing resources in SCoPE

by Jeffrey Keefer -

Sylvia, if we could answer what you are asking, we would make a bundle of money either with knowledge management or search (aka Google)!

However, is there any capacity to have and use tags that could then be voted on as most or least useful? That would help us be able to keyword search and then rate the results.

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Managing resources in SCoPE

by Ron Lubensky -
Although I have been in Australia for over 20 yrs, I am actually a Simon Fraser University alumnus (BSc Comp Sci 1980). I'm very proud to be part of a popular forum that is sponsored by my alma mater. In terms of resources, I just want to acknowledge (without prompting) that the perception is that SCoPE is very well managed and successful. Therefore I hope that any further infrastructure requirements can be accommodated without reservation by SFU. 
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Managing resources in SCoPE

by Juanita Foster-Jones -
Hmm, this is something I know I have found frustrating. I've mainly lurked in the Scope forums, but have enjoyed the wealth of ideas and resources that have been shared. Yet when I have gone back to find that message on X can I? (usually not)

In some of the events there has been a mind map created, but wouldn't it be nice if this could then map to the messages so click on a node and see all the messages in that topic?

Also.. am a great fan of social bookmarks, and tagging and think the notion of assigning tags to our own messages, and being able to tag others messages so we can link them to our thoughts/concepts would be great.

And while I'm at it... the moon on a stick perhaps?

Anyway, I enjoy lurking, occasionaly I'm inspired to comment myself, and look forward to the future discussions/events
In reply to Juanita Foster-Jones

Re: Managing resources in SCoPE

by Lisa Valentine -
Hi - great idea by Juanita.  I'm an occasional lurker also and often miss discussions for days/weeks and come to them late, so any form of tagging would be great.  Ditto the comment on mind maps.  I realise this sounds like a Christmas list but you did ask!
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Managing resources in SCoPE

by Inge Ignatia de Waard -
Maybe we can send an informative mail to the moodle community and see whether anybody out there is developing (or even better has developed) a tagging system? That would not include all the extra's (wiki's...) but it would surely be a start.
In reply to Inge Ignatia de Waard

Tagging and Moodle and Marginalia

by Derek Chirnside -
This is from the Moodle forums:
We will be able to tag ourselves in the future.

1. Tagging people

Moodle1.9: From Moodle 1.9 onwards, users are able to tag themselves and create interest pages around those tags.

Enabling tag functionality

To enable site-wide tag functionality, check the "Enable tags functionality" box in Administration > Security > Site policies.

Describing your interests

Tags allows you to describe your interests in a way that is easy for people with similar interests to find you. To tell everyone what your interests are, go to your profile editing page and enter your interests/tags separated by commas. If a tag you entered already exists, you get associated to that tag. If it does not, a new tag will be created (if you have the capability to create new tags).

Tag pages

Each tag in moodle has a page associated with it. The tag page brings together users, information and resources related to that tag. A tag has a description, links to related tags, a list of users associated with that tag and moodle blocks with resources related to it.

2. Tagging pages

This is not tagging pages however. Tagging is quite a complex issue.  Do you allow users to define their own tags?
This person says NO:

I hope not, as there is nothing I hate more than allowing users to come up with new tags haphazardly. Once, I needed a photo of a hippopotamus. So I go to Flickr-what do I search by-hippopotamus, hippo, hippos, some other term I am not aware of, or even a misspelling? Metadata ceases to be useful when you allow it to grow like a weed. It needs to be centrally managed and defined, and standards need to be applied to what each metatag applies to.

I speak from experience converting a 15 year archive of paper records into a database where each person had been using a different term to refer to exactly the same thing in the paper records. It would have been absolutely useless if I hadn't applied some standardization to it. Before that I had a job doing the same thing with an already existing database.

This doesn't mean users can't submit suggestions for new metadata or that new tags couldn't be created, but it really needs to have some sort of oversight to keep it useful.

Oversighting 1127 users and their tags is NOT a job I'd want.  :-) Another questions: How do you manage scalability?

3. Will Moodle get page tags?

I cannot find anything definitive on the official Moodle site about tagging in general.  It does not appear on the roadmap.

But the founder of moodle said this:
Friday, 11 August 2006, 02:32 PM
Yes, the tagging functionality is meant to be extended to all other modules as you surmised.
And the reason there are "official" tags and "personal" tags is precisely to allow more (or less!) flexibility.

4. Marginalia

Why do we not use marginalia more?  This enables us to annotate posts . .

So we will be able to tag ourselves, but not our pages and resources.  Why not just use delicious?
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Tagging and Moodle and Marginalia

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Derek said:
Why do we not use marginalia more?  This enables us to annotate posts . .

So we will be able to tag ourselves, but not our pages and resources.  Why not just use delicious?

I've just used the annotation tool to comment on your post, but I don't find it very easy to use. In part, that's because I don't, so I had to go and find the instructions *again*! But, I also find it quite fiddly to drag to the right & get the correct spot to start writing. I'd have thought that it's not a very accessible method for many. Am I right in thinking that it's not enabled by default, but that I had to do something to enable it?
That said, I suspect that were I to use it more & to find it easy to switch between private & public, then I'd find it useful. I just have to start!

With Moodle in general, I've found that it can be difficult to bookmark etc., a particular post in a thread, without opening it in the "reply" mode. I'm not a great fan myself, preferring Zotero, but some way of quickly locating messages that I've personally found useful would be good.
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Tagging and Moodle and Marginalia and bookmarking and searching

by Sylvia Currie -
Derek's idea to use Marginalia more to annotate posts in SCoPE would be welcomed by a research team that is just getting started on a project this fall :-) Emma, your comment that it isn't easy to use is shared by others. The main issue is that it's just a little too subtle. Marginalia has been upgraded and we'll be integrating it into our SCoPE Moodle site in the next few weeks.

Re bookmarking individual posts, it is a little tricky because you have to look at the message in a different view, like switch to threaded view. It's too bad the subject isn't hyperlinked in each message in other views.

Anyway, having said all that, I can usually locate messages again using the advanced search feature:
Have you used that? To navigate to advanced search, you need to go first to the main SCoPE: seminar discussions page, (I find using the breadcrumbs at the top is the easiest way to get there) then click "advanced search" on the left sidebar.

Now I'm checking into the issue Emma raised about the tracking unread messages tool not functioning. It should continue to show unread messages even if you do choose to receive forum posts by email. It seems to be related to our version of Moodle. Need to do that upgrade to 1.8! It was a summer project that kept getting bumped because a few pieces need to fall into place. mixed
In reply to Derek Chirnside

Re: Tagging and Moodle and Marginalia

by Inge Ignatia de Waard -
Waw, that is really useful, thanks for all this information. I will adopt this in our soon to be launched moodle server as well. Really great.
In reply to Inge Ignatia de Waard

Tagging people

by Derek Chirnside -
This is a little after thought.

This new people tagging in Moodle could be quite cool for the community side of things.
I have seen a system (I don't know where) which had a section on the profile "Invite me to talk about" followed by interest tags.

Or it could be a monster.  :-)

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Managing resources in SCoPE

by Heather Ross -
I don't have any specific suggestions, but I wonder if we might be able to make use of the RSS feeds that come out of each discussion.

I subscribe to the feed of all of the seminars that I'm actively involved in.
In reply to Heather Ross

RSS and TAGS and ??

by Derek Chirnside -
This is some thinking aloud here, and my thoughts went on a little longer than I expected.
We are traversing a whole range of tools: RSS feeds, delicious, zotero, marginalia, e-mail notifications  . . .   (Twitter?  is this a tool?)
This is partly PLE territory that Ron and Michelle (among others) have so eloquently described.

RSS.  I have found RSS better for blogs or news feeds than for forums.
I can get posts like this:
"I agree Joe.  I find the same thing happens to me"
Here there is no context, and it is better to be in the threaded view in a forum.
BUT: I can just ignore these posts in a feed.
AND: if I want to keep tabs on a discussion (and sort of half be there) (just in case) then RSS is fine.  But I return to the discussion to engage.
MAYBE: there is a better RSS reader than bloglines for this purpose.  Or run a second reader just for forums? (Not a good idea)
By the way: (getting onto my soapbox here) if you are not using an aggregator, then I suggest this is a key thing to work on.  And if you have no blogs or newsfeeds to follow,  start with RSS feeds for the ScOPE discussions and just see what it is like for you . . .  )

TAGS. I use delicious to manage my history (pages I  have found useful) and my destiny (pages I may one day want to recall).  At the page level.  But up until now I've NOT tagged posts in forums or forum threads.
I've not found tagging has relevance for me in managing the ongoing flow of interaction.

The exception is my delicious network.  People do send me the odd tag in delicious - like a personal human operated feed - especially if we are working on a shared project.  Odly enough - most of these people I actually SEE regularly.  :-)

I think these concepts (TAG and RSS) are sort of distinct, and probably both need to be taken into account in our interaction with ScOPE...  There is one more function, that of *managing connections*, the ideas that flow through the forums and threads.

ZOTERO. Emma mentioned this:
From Re: Which social bookmarking tool by emmadw on Tuesday, 20 February 2007 4:40:00 a.m.:
I've also been experimenting with Zotero - that's not a social tool at all, (nor, at the moment, does it work with Flock); however, it's a very useful bibliographic tool for students (it's a firefox plugin). It saves (and can save screenshots etc) information locally - which could be a good or a bad thing, depending on the way you work - and you can add information about books, films etc., (i.e. not just web-based materials).
This is more personal in that it manages things on our HDD.  I think they are working towards sharing . . .
This, at a personal level, can manage connections.  To a certain rudimentary level.

MARGINALIA.  [I too forget the hot keys  :-)]
Mentally, now that I stop to think about it, I think I see my use of annotations *only* at the engagement in ONE seminar level - ie things to come back to in the next week or so - and I have NOT used it regularly or often.
A couple of times an annotation post when in a hurry I have finished into a post - in this sense I am using it as a draft function for a post.
I don't go back to my annotations for site wide activity.  1) Like Sylvia, I use serach for this. 2) It's not quite up there with delicious - yet. 

In some respects, it mixes two radically different functions: the 'cut and paste' referencing (which is really cool) and annotations - but it is not really a tagging function.
In my opinion, it helps with linking (quicker to reference a post inside Moodle) - a function no-one has yet got going for the web in a simple, intuitive sense.  It's the tracking of the meme - how do we do it?

I see the need for at least five functions:
1. Tagging - shared
2. A tool set to manage flow of interactions and information while a seminar is in progress.
3. Something to help with links, connections across threads and forums . . .  (What, I have no idea!!)  When a meme or new idea emerges, it may be scattered over a lot of places.
4. The instant connections: something to allow for the the twitter/IM area.  This is the fun/wild west part of things.  :-)
5. And a buzzer to remind you when it is time for coffee.

How do these fit with SCoPE?
Of course No tools work without practices, habits and routines.

Off into the day.  We had an eclipse last night but unfortunately it was cloudy. - Derek
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Managing resources in SCoPE

by Colby Stuart -
Sylvia, we are facing this same looming task of content management. We have to face it personally on our computers, and also in our businesses and working groups.

We've started to look for people in our working groups who like content management - and actually have some pretty useful skills doing that. Perhaps there are people in the Scope exchange that would be interested in setting up some frameworks and others who might like to fill them in - much like Wikipedia works.

Once that begins to happen - and it becomes visible, it's easier for any of us to come in and dabble, re-work, shape, etc.

Once in awhile I take the time to read through all the threads - or the seminar that Tia moderated on virtual worlds. There is a wealth of reference material in there. Too bad that it is not easily accessible, categorized and tagged for findability.
In reply to Colby Stuart

Re: Managing resources in SCoPE

by Andrew Feenberg -
The annotation feature in Marginalia is supposed to help with content management. In the original textweaver software we had a keyword function that enabled users to drop keywords from a list they established onto passages they thought were important to review later. The review function brought up all similarly keyworded passages. With annotation there is still the possibility of doing this but the user must remember to annotate with identical keywords each time. Then the review will bring up the passages. Cindy, can you elaborate a bit more on this?
In reply to Andrew Feenberg

Re: Managing resources in SCoPE

by Cindy Xin -
Andrew Feenberg and I work on Marginalia, which is a reincarnation of an earlier open source online discussion software called TextWeaver ( we developed. 

Derek mentioned Marginalia and the use of tags. It is true that annotation is not really a tagging function. We have always wanted to implement the tagging function, which we call it keywording, and it is still in the plan for Marginalia. I can see why Derek sees the smart copy feature and annotation are two drastically different functions, but in fact, they are connected. Both are meant to facilitate the writing of weaving messages in a discussion forum. Both features are derived from TextWeaver.

We are in the process of upgrading Marginalia. Some major bugs were fixed. It should be faster. There will be an online help linked right next to the annotation button. With these improvements, we are hoping more people will use the tool and find it useful.

As always, it's wonderful to hear from people giving us feedback on the tool. It is much appreciated.