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

The Whiteboard Report
November 2003, Issue #40



NSDL Content Reuseability and Interoperability Workshops
November 2003-- To promote and enhance content reusability and interoperability, a series of workshops will be held in 2004 with support from the NSF NSDL program. These workshops are part of a project whose overall goal is to increase the impact and value of content referenced in the NSDL by making it easier to use in multiple settings (reuse) and more capable of being used by common authoring tools and delivery environments (interoperability). Workshop topics will include: Rating the reusability of digital learning content; guidelines for authoring Web content so that all or parts can be reused; interoperability standards (such as SCORM) and tools that support them; reusing applets, images, and other forms of learning content; creating reusable content with commonly used desktop authoring tools; developing and managing content for use by learning management systems; defining what "learning object" means in a specific discipline or community; and preparing repositories to support reuse and repurposing.Workshop materials will be drawn from an international body of theory and practice as well as from the experiences of the presenters and partner projects. The lead presenter will be Robby Robson, project PI and chair of the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee. Partner projects include MERLOT, the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse, and MathDL.

Workshops will be held February 21-22 in Orlando, FL; May 15-16 in Washington, DC; Aug 6-7 following the MERLOT International Conference in Costa Mesa, CA; and in conjunction with the 2004 NSDL Annual Meeting (dates to be announced). NSDL projects are invited to send representatives to one or more of these workshops. Workshop meeting costs will be covered for all attendees from NSDL projects. It is anticipated that most or all travel costs can be covered as well.

Workshops will run 1.5 days and will be highly interactive in nature. Participants must bring laptops with built-in Ethernet or WiFi capability to participate in workshop exercises.

Application materials and guidelines are available at The application deadline is December 1, 2003.
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"Making Creative Use of Emerging Technologies to Enhance Student Learning"
November 2003-- The 2003 PKAL Assemblies will be held at the University of Colorado at Boulder November 21 - 23, 2003

With a specific focus on introductory courses, participants will explore how to set goals for the use of technology in lower level STEM courses and how to measure the impact of the use of technologies on student learning. Sessions will also present new educational materials and resources, and suggest approaches to building faculty expertise in the use of information technologies.
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New Accounts on Communications Portal
November 2003-- Users may register themselves, receive an email to respond to that activates their account and verifies their email. They will not have shell access unless they get added to a group.

New Workspaces: Email is sent to Comm Portal ("admin" workspace) project administrators when a new workspace is created. The workspace must be activated by an administrator before it is available. Once it is activated by an administrator the workspace creator gets an automated email from the system.
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Got Copies of the NSDL Progress Report, Fall 2000 - Summer 2003?
November 2003-- To have additional copies of the NSDL Progress Report sent to you for distribution please email Donna Cummings .
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Help Develop the "Resource of Interest" Exhibit at
November 2003-- The NSDL Content Standing Committee, John Saylor, NSDL Director of Collection Development, and Carol Terrizzi, editor would like to invite you to engage in an editorial process directed towards making the "Resource of Interest" exhibit at into a useful feature for visitors.

As a starting point for selecting criteria for use in highlighting resources that might be of particular interest to middle school teachers, Kim Lightle, ENC, and Karon Kelley, DLESE have suggested that we review ENC and DLESE's highlighted resources and criteria.

If you are interested in working on the Resource of Interest exhibit please send email to John Saylor , or Carol Terrizzi . We will coordinate the effort by establishing a list, documenting activities at, and scheduling periodic teleconferences.
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uPortal and the Back Button Blues
November 2003-- Savvy users expect to hit the back button in a web interface and, well, go back. The current web site implemented using uPortal technology does not allow users to do that. In creating portal software to support a dynamic content environment uPortal developers imagined that blocking "Back" would keep users from revisiting pages that might have changed and resubmitting information in a form that did not make sense in the most current context. Beyond back button blues, many NSDL community requirements used in analyzing the decision to select uPortal have changed in two years.

In 2001 the industry was headed in the direction of portal technologies that could allow for sharing of reusable components (channels), dynamic content generation, interface personalization, and integrated web applications or systems, not simple HTML pages. With first year NSDL projects nearing a point of integration, CI chose uPortal and moved ahead, knowing that there would be a need to revisit that decision along the way.

"The reality of the schedule suggested that there was not as much time to do things as CI would have liked. There was pressure to get basic infrastructure in place and hit the ground running," says NSDL Project Manager Susan Jesuroga.

Last month CI released a new version of incorporating user feedback collected during the past year in the redesign. CI is now looking to replace uPortal with a flexible technical infrastructure that will support evolving community requirements.

At the end of 2003 the NSDL landscape looks much different. NSDL outreach and communication activities have become strategically important in supporting the work of the NSDL community through NSDL Projects have developed their own technical infrastructures to support specialized audiences making reusable portal components less important to the community than they once were. Many projects see opportunities for users to become library contributors. These and other emerging requirements are paving the way for redeveloping, and making that browser back button behave in a manner consistent with its label.
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Could Stephen Hawking Access Your NSDL Site?
November 2003-- Access NSDL says "Thank you!" to everyone who filled out a survey on the accessibility of their service or collection during the Annual Meeting. If you didn't get a chance, you can find the survey at . While you are there, browse our collection of resources on building digital libraries that are accessible to people with disabilities. Please use the survey to let us know what challenges you are facing and what additional resources you need to join us in making NSDL a library that is open to everyone. If you have questions or would like a copy of the survey in an alternate format, please send email to . Access NSDL is a partnership between the National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH in Boston and the Internet Scout Project at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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All About the Collection Workflow Integration System (CIWS) from Internet Scout
November 2003-- The Internet Scout Project announces the release of CWIS version 0.9.4. This turnkey, open source software package helps groups or organizations put an NSDL collection portal online and integrate it with the NSDL central repository via OAI with minimal investment in technical resources or expertise.

The CWIS software is now available and may be downloaded at:

Changes and additions for CWIS 0.9.4 include:
-new guide and utility to assist in customizing
-the look and feel of your CWIS site,
-new low vision user interface,
-expanded support for managing user accounts,
- new permission flags to control whether a user is allowed to post resource comments or post to forums, and
-various minor bug fixes.

If you are already using SPT (the Scout Portal Toolkit), or an earlier version of CWIS, upgrading to CWIS 0.9.4 should be seamless.

Feedback is greatly encouraged and will help to improve the software's functionality and effectiveness. Bug reports and comments regarding CWIS should be sent to:
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A Guide to Institutional Repository Software
November 2003-- This brief guide identifies open source software for building repositories. The criteria for inclusion include that they are distributed under an open source license, they comply with the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting, and they are "currently released and publicly available". Although the descriptions are very brief, this document provides a quick overview of the choices for institutions seeking to launch a repository. Of particular benefit is the summary table at the end, where it is easy to compare features between competing choices. Well, easy if you have a magnifying glass or read it online with Acrobat's zoom feature, given the size of the print. --Current Cites, volume 14, no.10, October 2003
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"Search Inside the Book"
November 2003-- On October 23, 2003 Amazon launched "search inside the book."
It allows you to search the full-text of 120,000 titles (as of today) from over 190 publishers.--Gary D. Price, MLIS, Librarian, Gary Price Library Research and Internet Consulting
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AAUP, ARL Issue Joint Statement on Scholarly Communication
November 2003-- The Association of American University Presses (AAUP) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) this week issued a joint statement acknowledging their mutual goals and mutual fate in the rapidly evolving future of scholarly communication. University presses and university libraries have always been closely related, but this week's statement offers a concrete acknowledgment that systemic change is underway--and that libraries and presses are in it together. The statement dubs scholarly communication "a complex system with a simple purpose: to provide the means by which the human knowledge and insight of the past may be preserved and shared in order to nourish the development of new ideas in the future."--Library Journal Academic News Wire, October 23, 2003
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Digital Library the Commons-based Peer Production Way
November 2003-- "This article defines the digital library setting as it relates to commons-based peer production (CBPP) [1]. Motivations for selecting the CBPP method in this setting will be discussed, and the challenges of CBPP will be described. The Noosphere system will be presented as a case study to demonstrate CBPP digital library system design. Specific aspects addressed include: how an "economy of ideas" is the basis for productive activity in Noosphere, how logical integration of content is performed, how opportunistic updating is attained, what services Noosphere provides to foster community and provide for social integration, and what could be done to improve the system. Also discussed are different ways to benefit from commons-based peer production in digital libraries."--Aaron Krowne (CITIDEL), D-Lib Magazine, October 2003
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November 2003-- From a review by Vanessa Bush of Not Much, Just Chillin': The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers, by Linda Perlstein, from the American Library Association Booklist: "Perlstein, education reporter for the Washington Post, chronicles a school year at a suburban Maryland middle school, exploring the changes in personalities and school performance of students caught between childhood and high school. Focusing on five students and their friends, Perlstein observes the erratic changes in their bodies and their relationships with parents, teachers, and friends as they navigate the confusion that is middle school.
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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