Research news and notes from the National Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Education
Digital Library (NSDL) Program [Back Issues]

The Whiteboard Report
July 2003, Issue #32



NSDL Annual Meeting 2003 Advance Program and Call for Co-Presenters
July 2003 -- The NSDL Annual Meeting 2003 will be held October 12-15 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D. C. An advance program including a conference overview and draft agenda is now available at and will be updated as more details are available. A brief description of the Planning Committee's process has also been included on the website to inform the community.

Please review the proposed schedule and session descriptions. To assure that we are addressing the needs of the NSDL community, we have provided a form on the Meeting website for your feedback. This form has a general comments text box to capture your overall thoughts regarding the meeting. In addition, the form will prompt you to indicate your level of interest about specific sessions. Our intention is to assess the relative interest of the community on each topic in order to assist in planning for room size, repeated sessions, the need to add or delete topics, etc. We are not asking people to sign-up or commit their attendance to particular sessions.

Call for Co-Presenters
Sharing Your Stories: Sustaining Collaborations is the primary theme for the 2003 NSDL Annual Meeting. In this spirit, the Meeting's planning committee is seeking co-presenters to share their work and experiences during panel discussions, workshops, and other conference sessions. The quality and relevancy of these sessions will be greatly enhanced for all participants by having session leaders from a broad range of NSDL projects. So, in addition to the informational poster that we hope all projects will bring to the meeting, we urge you to consider adding your voice to a session presentation. Please go to the website ( to review the draft session descriptions. A form is provided to indicate your interest in co-presenting( that will prompt you to briefly describe the aspect of your project you wish to share. Please submit your interest form by July 15. Someone from the planning committee will be in contact with you.
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Participate in a Discussion on Using Data to Teach Earth Processes
July 2003 -- The National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) 'On the Cutting Edge' project will be hosting a an "illustrated community discussion" on Using Data to Teach Earth Processes during the upcoming Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting in Seattle November 2-5, 2003. The one-paper rule has been waived for this poster session to allow the maximum number of participants. There is room for a large number of posters. The idea is to convene a broad conversation among faculty and researchers about creative ways to use research data of all kinds (field, on-line, analytical, etc.) in teaching about Earth Processes, particularly to undergraduates but also to K-12 students and in informal settings such as national parks or museums. The poster hall is envisioned as a setting for this discussion and the posters as props to helping share ideas.

Every scientist knows the power of engaging students in working with real data. Working with data derived from observations in the field, experiments, analyses, remote sensing or modeling lies at the core of being a geoscientist and is one of the most exciting things they do. The ability to learn effectively from our own data and those of others, is the mark of an accomplished scientist and is a common goal for our students. This session is designed to allow the entire GSA community to come together to share and discuss how we use data to help students learn concepts, think scientifically, and develop their skills in making interpretations and communicating conclusions. We invite contributions from throughout the geosciences involving all kinds of data in the full spectrum of approaches to helping students of all ages learn geoscience.

The contributions to this session will be preserved in an on-line searchable collection designed to foster continued sharing and interaction. To optimize the impacts of the session and the resulting collection, we ask that each contributor

1. submit an abstract through the normal GSA process that introduces or summarizes the example they wish to present (Deadline July 15)
2. complete the submission form which includes uploading a pdf file of their poster (Deadline Oct 31)

You can find full instructions, the submission form and examples of contributions at We hope you will join us for this unique opportunity. Please don't hesitate to contact us with questions (try both of us as we are both in and out of the office for the summer).--Cathy Manduca (, and David Mogk (, Conveners
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Early Bird Registration for the Merlot International Conference Ends Today!
July 2003 -- Earlybird registration for the 2003 MERLOT International Conference ends TODAY, July 1, 2003. Hosted by eduSource Canada, the MERLOT International Conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency, Vancouver, British Columbia, August 5 - 8, 2003. The Conference provides forums for learning about shared content, peer reviews, learning objects, standards, and online communities, and is open to the international higher education community. MERLOT is endorsed by NLII/EDUCAUSE, and partially sponsored by the National Science Foundation. For more information about the MERLOT International Conference go to or email:
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Open Source Java OAI Provider and Harvester Available from DLESE
July 2003 -- The Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) is offering its OAI data provider and harvester software as a service to the NSDL, OAI and open source communities. The software is designed to be simple to install, configure and use. The data provider serves metadata from XML files, automatically updating what is provided whenever the XML files change. The harvester likewise saves harvested metadata to files. After installing the software, collection builders can quickly and easily share metadata with their OAI-enabled partners.

The software supports the OAI-PHM v2.0. In addition, the data provider exposes its metadata to outside clients as a web service through an Open Digital Libraries (ODL) search interface. Remote clients can perform keyword search queries over the metadata using the ODL search interface and receive an ordered list of matching records within the standard OAI-PMH XML response container.

The software is packaged as a Java WAR file for use in a servlet environment such as Tomcat and will run on UNIX, Windows and Mac OS X.

A full list of features is available at: The software can be downloaded from: Send questions or comments to
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NEW First Bi-weekly Issue of NSDL Whiteboard Report (DUPLICATE)
July 2003 -- Beginning in July 2003 NSDL Whiteboard Report will begin bi-monthly publishing giving NSDL projects additional opportunities to share timely news. Project leaders and participants from the NSDL Community are encouraged to send research news and notes of 100 words or less with web links to additional information to NSDL Whiteboard Report. Advance deadline information about submissions to meetings and conferences in various disciplines is particularly welcome.

Look for Whiteboard Report email reminders in the first and third weeks of each month. Next issue will be published on July 15. Please email editors Carol Terrizzi (, Communication Director, NSDL Cornell Core Integration, or Susan Van Gundy (, Education and Outreach Specialist, NSDL Core Integration with questions or ideas.
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JCDL Accessibility Panel Report
July 2003 -- The agenda, slides, handouts, and a photograph of most of the Accessibility Panel members are now available on the Accessibility Task Force wiki from last month's Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCLD) Conference in Houston. Materials about digital library design and metadata for all users are available at:

Questions should be directed to Marcia Mardis ( or any of the panelists.
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Communities of Practice Presentation: Atmospheric Visualization Collection
July 2003 -- Please join us on July 9 at 11:00AM EDT to hear Chris Klaus (PI, Atmospheric Visualization Collection - AVC) talk about his experience building community in his NSDL project.

AVC aims to enhance physical science education and research by producing near-real-time atmospheric visualizations for use by researchers, students, and teachers and educational material developed by the AVC educational community. The Lesson Plan Sandbox allows teachers to submit lesson plans for sharing with others, to review other submitted lesson plans, and to improve existing lesson plans.

So, listen in to find out how this community works, and participate in a discussion about lessons learned along the way. Call 800-659-1088 and give Susan Jesuroga's name as the host for the call. Slides will be available at and an audio transcript will be posted after the call.
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Revised Metadata Primer Premiere
July 2003 -- A new version of the NSDL Metadata Primer is now available at (the content has been completely revised, but your bookmarks are operational).

The Primer has been completely reorganized and revised based on experience and planning for the next stages in development of the NSDL. An general discussion of issues involved in planning for creation, contribution, and maintenance of metadata is included as well as step-by-step instructions for preparing to contribute metadata to the NSDL.

Please feel free to comment on what's there, point out areas of concern (or confusion), and make suggestions for what else might be helpful. You will notice a few areas still under construction. Send comments to Diane Hillmann (
Related Link: Makeover
July 2003 -- Summer is always a good time to spruce up our surroundings, and is no exception. Core Integration is undertaking a major reorganization of to better meet the needs of three primary audiences: the generally curious (interested in science and research information), the NSDL developer community and partners, and funding agencies and supporters.

Tasks include working with a design firm to freshen up the design layout. The site is being reorganized, and will pull in the Communications Portal under a new "Community" tab. As part of the community work, a content management system will be established, and workspaces will be reorganized according to feedback from the community focus group. The search interface will be improved to take advantage of some new search functions. News, exhibits, and other information will appear under an "Of Interest" tab. Another new exhibit under "Of Interest" will be the "NSDL Lab View", which will highlight new services and tools from the NSDL that might not be fully implemented, but of interest to the community.

We'll be providing sneak peaks of the design through the summer as work progresses. The site will be live in the early October timeframe.

New Search Engine at
July 2003 -- The search engine was switched from a commercial system to an open source solution last month. After reviewing several options, Lucene, a Java-based, open source search engine ( was selected. Notable advantages are:

1. Flexibility: Since Lucene is open source, improvements, modifications, and extensions can be made to meet specific needs.
2. Low Cost: No royalties or fees are required to use Lucene.
3. Stability: Lucene has been tested for several years, with frequent releases and bug fixes.

The first major change users will notice immediately is the ability to enter double quoted phrases. Other improvements will be integrated into during our site reorganization (completion expected this fall). These include returning the total number of hits for a given query and providing the numeric score of each hit.
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Supreme Court Says Library Filters Stay
July 2003 -- In a 6-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld provisions of the Children's Internet Protection Act that require public libraries to install Web filters or lose federal funds. The decision overturns a lower court ruling that the restrictions violated constitutional free-speech rights. The high court's decision said that concerns about filters' blocking too much or not enough material were exaggerated and that library patrons could easily have the filters disabled upon request. The justices also noted that protecting minors from objectionable material was in the government's interest and that an acceptable alternative to filters had not been presented. --CNET, 23 June 2003
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About the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse (ENC)
July 2003 -- An Interview with Kimberly S. (Roempler) Lightle, Associate Director of Instructional Resources

Created in 1992 and funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse (ENC) supports the largest collection of K-12 mathematics and science curriculum resources for classroom teachers in the nation. "We have a collection now of about 25,000 K-12 math and science resources, including videos, CD-ROMs, DVDs, books and digital materials," explained Kimberly Lightle (the former Kimberly Roempler), ENC's Associate Director of Instructional Resources. "ENC has put together an online catalog of all those materials so teachers can search for curriculum resources at," she added.

Sophisticated Metadata Hone Searches and Speed Navigation
With ENC's systematic cataloging and advanced search engines, users can quickly find what they need. Among other attributes, resources are described using grade level and resource type. A table of contents and detailed abstracts are also provided. "We've learned to describe resources in a way that is very useful and understandable to our audience. They don't care what's going on behind the technology, just that navigation is successful and that they can pinpoint appropriate materials," added Lightle.

Broadening Audience Key to Remaining a Central Resource
ENC continues to expand its core audience to include parents, those in higher education, and others concerned with educational reform. In the future, Lightle predicts the organization will spend even more time developing and identifying content for different groups. Recent developments within ENC support this trend, including the four initiatives described below. ENC's first NSDL grant focuses on building a collection of exemplary resources for undergraduate faculty teaching introductory math and science classes.

Termed The Learning Matrix (, the digital library consists of resources faculty can use with their students as well as in their own professional development. Like all ENC collections, The Learning Matrix includes functionality that helps people access the collection through an advanced search engine. Authors can submit their own work to the collections as well as register for the Headline News feature, a weekly news clipping service that links to news and information from around the country. ENC's experience with The Learning Matrix has enabled it to quickly bring the NSDL Gender and Science Digital Library ( online through a partnership with the Gender and Diversities Institute at The Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC).

A third NSDL project involves constructing a sustainable collection for K-12 federally produced mathematics and science resources called FEDRL or Federal Education Digital Resources Library. Working with federal agencies at NSF and the Department of Education, ENC helps grantees understand NSDL and how they can be part of this community. After identifying and cataloging K-12 resources developed through federal agencies, ENC makes them available online at ENC also has a subcontract with the International Technology Education Association (ITEA) to catalog resources, design the web site (, and build the search engine to develop a K-12 technology literacy collection. Content Procurement Only Half the Story Lightle confirms that simply having content isn't enough; users must be able to easily find what they need within a collection on demand. "You really do have to keep standards in mind, because you want to be interoperable," concluded Lightle. "You need to know what other collections are doing with both their metadata development and resource archiving."--Lisa McMath


Putting Online Ads in Context
July 2003 -- "Has the Web media world finally stumbled onto a paid advertising model that actually works? According to John Battelle, Overture is on the verge of rolling out a new service -- "contextual advertising" -- that strategically places advertising links adjacent to relevant content on websites. No flashing banners, no "skyscrapers," no obnoxious animations that take over your screen." -- John Battelle, Business 2.0, June 2003, Current Cites, June 2003
Related Link:,1640,49475,00.html

A Social Network Caught in the Web
July 2003 -- Research into how online communities function--who talks to who for how long, how often, and about what--often misses the mark on "gleaning from it insights about the underlying real world social networks." What are the connections between people? Does community online interaction affect those connections? This study makes use of additional types of data to take a step beyond the first level of online community interaction analysis. --Lada A. Adamic, Orkut Buyukkokten, and Eytan Adar, First Monday, June 2003
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E-Mail Escalation: Dispute Exacerbating Elements of Electronic Communication
July 2003 -- "Although this is a scholarly paper studded with footnotes and accompanied by an extensive bibliography, its message is fairly blunt: E-mail pretty much sucks as a communications medium when trying to resolve a dispute. Those of us who have been using electronic mail since dinosaurs roamed the earth will not be surprised at this finding." --Raymond A. Friedman, and Steven C. Currall, Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University, Current Cites, June 2003
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Touch Technology
July 2003 -- Engineers in the Virtual Reality Laboratory at the University of Buffalo have developed a new technology that transmits the sensation of touch over the Internet.--John Della Contrada, University of Buffalo News Service, June 24, 2003
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What does Earth look like when viewed from Mars?
July 2003 -- What does Earth look like when viewed from Mars? At 13:00 GMT on 8 May 2003, the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) had an opportunity to find out.
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Published from 2000 to September 2009, NSDL Whiteboard Report Archives provide access to prior issues of the bi-weekly newsletter published by NSDL. To subscribe to current news and information about NSDL, go to the NSDL Community Network site, register as a user, subscribe to and participate in selected features found there. For more information contact Eileen McIlvain