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

The Whiteboard Report
March 2004, Issue #48



NSDL Partners with YAHOO! Search in New Content Program Boosting Access to NSDL Resources
March 2004 -- SUNNYVALE, Calif. - Mar. 2, 2004 - Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), a leading global Internet company, today announced that Yahoo!' Search (http:// will be rolling out its new Content Acquisition Program (CAP) this week as part of Yahoo! Search's ongoing efforts to enhance search quality and comprehensiveness. CAP enables non-commercial and commercial content providers to better interact with Yahoo! Search Technology by providing their Web pages directly, which are then added to Yahoo!'s search index and displayed in search results based on their relevance to a search term.

"Our primary goal is to discover all the content on the Web for free. In addition, the Content Acquisition Program serves to make a richer set of content accessible to users in a way that most search engines today are unable to achieve," said Tim Cadogan, vice president of Search at Yahoo! Inc.. "This program enables us to develop direct, structured relationships with content providers to increase comprehensiveness, maintain the most up-to-date data, improve relevance and thereby deliver a higher quality search experience for users."

As part of the non-commercial channel of CAP, Yahoo! Search is working with several content providers from government, academia and other sectors to help improve search quality and expand the breadth and depth of content users can access through search, including:
-National Public Radio (NPR), an internationally acclaimed producer and distributor of non-commercial news, talk and entertainment programming, will provide over 17,000 hours of archived and continuously added audio
-Northwestern University's online OYEZ project contains more than 2,000 hours of Supreme Court audio, including all audio recorded since 1995.
-Library of Congress, the research arm of Congress, is the largest library in the world with more than 128 million items, including 29 million books and other print materials, 12 million photographs and 57 million manuscripts

Additional CAP partners include The New York Public Library, one of the most renowned libraries in the country; Project Gutenberg, the Web's oldest producer of free electronic books; University of Michigan's OAIster project, which provides hard to find academic collections; UCLA's Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI) with content documenting Babylonian history back to 3500 B.C; Wikipedia, a free, multilingual online encyclopedia with articles in more than 50 languages; and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL), the National Science Foundation's online library, with more than 250 collections, improves the way Americans learn about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The OYEZ, CDLI and NSDL projects are all federally funded in part or in whole by the National Science Foundation This story is appearing in national media today: Yahoo News:
Washington Post:
Related Link: Updated March 1
March 2004 -- AND the back button works! The team has been working to migrate web site operations and services from uPortal to PHP and MySQL, along with hosting it on a higher performing server. With most NSDL community developers using their own tools to create web sites, CI decided it was no longer a requirement to provide portal building tools for the community, which was an original motivation for implementing uPortal. The March 1 release is running in the PHP framework, and continues to use The Internet Scout Project's Scout Portal Toolkit and RSS feeds to deliver dynamic content. Future updates to are planned in 2-3 month increments following an iterative process shaped by usability testing. Upcoming plans include additional improvements to search, implementing Fedora to manage content, reorganizing the community site, and providing single signon for both and the Communications Portal. Questions or comments can be sent to Users should re-bookmark the current release of in their browsers.
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NSDL Launches New Electronic Newsletter for Educators
March 2004 -- On February 27, 2004, NSDL launched a new electronic newsletter specifically for educators. Focus on Education has been established to support the effective use of NSDL in educational settings and to enhance dialogue with the diverse audiences that use NSDL including teachers, media specialists, faculty, museum staff, and others. The monthly e-publication features NSDL news and announcements, use cases and tips from actual educators, Resources of Interest and an AskNSDL question of the month, and a list of education-related conference at which NSDL and its partner projects will be represented. Members of the NSDL community and other readers are encouraged to provide suggestions and feedback, as well as to submit articles and announcements of interest to those using digital libraries in education. To NSDL Focus on Education subscribe at Please redistribute freely as we are trying to build a subscription list from scratch. Send your project news, announcements, instructional tips, and outreach information to Susan Van Gundy ( or Carol Terrizzi (
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MERLOT International Conference (DUPLICATE)
March 2004 -- Hosted by the California Virtual Campus (, and the California State University (, the MERLOT International Conference will be held at the Hilton Costa Mesa in southern California, August 4 - 6, 2004. The Conference provides forums for learning about shared content, peer reviews, learning objects, standards, and online communities. We welcome participation by the entire international higher education community. MERLOT is endorsed by NLII/EDUCAUSE, and partially sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Individuals are not required to be affiliated with a MERLOT institution to attend or present at the conference. Nor do presentations need to address MERLOT specifically. Presentations from those engaged in the faculty development issues surrounding the MERLOT collection, use and evaluation of digital learning materials in the context of other projects are encouraged and welcomed.
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SAVE THE DATE: NSDL Annual Meeting 2004
March 2004 -- Mark your calendars! The 2004 NSDL Annual Meeting will be held November 14-17, 2004 at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. The change of venue is intended to serve as a more centralized location that will hopefully facilitate broader participation from projects' staff. Program details and registration information will be available soon.
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Upcoming Conference Paper and Registration Deadlines
March 2004 -- MERLOT International Conference 2004
August 3-6 2004, Costa Mesa, CA
Abstracts: March 15, 2004

European Conference on Digital Libraries (ECDL) 2004
September 12-17 2004, University of Bath, UK
Full papers, panels, tutorials, and workshop proposals: April 5, 2004
Posters and demonstrations: May 19, 2004
Final submission date: June 11, 2004

Sixth National Russian Research Conference on Digital Libraries (RCDL) 2004
September 29-October 1, 2004, Pushchino, Russia
Extended abstracts submissions: March 25, 2004

2004 International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications
October 11-14,2004, Shanghai, China
Paper submission: May 1, 2004
Acceptance notification: June 1 2004

MLEARN 2004, "Learning Anytime Everywhere"
July 5-6, 2004, Rome, Italy
Paper submission: April 16, 2004

Thirty-eight Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences
January 3-6, 2005, ilton Waikoloa Village Resort, Hawaii
Contact Minitrack Chairs: March 31, 2004
Paper submission: June 15, 2004
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Flash Learning Objects From GROW
March 2004 -- The GROW Project at the University of Arizona released Flash learning object templates to participants in the NSDL Reusability and Interoperability workshop in Orlando, Florida on Saturday, February 21. Future releases of the templates will include the use of XML and SCORM and are scheduled for upcoming Reusability and Interoperability workshops in May and August. For more details on the templates and to collaborate with the GROW Project, please contact: Janice Lodato, Project Manager, 520-626-8777 or
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Alsos Team to Conduct Workshop on Planning Digital Collections
March 2004 -- A team from Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues will conduct a two-day workshop on planning digital collections at Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) Technology Center at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, June 25-26. The workshop is open to faculty, librarians, staff, and students. Support and priority are given to participants from ACS and NITLE ( institutions; Alsos will support up to three participants from non-ACS or non-NITLE institutions if space is available. Contact Elizabeth Blackmer ( for additional information. Related Link:
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OpenCourse.Org Now Available for Beta Testers: "Freeze-dried Online Collaboratory"
March 2004 -- Do you have a community of developers working on content for your project or collection? ( is designed to support teams of educators, professionals and students working to develop reusable learning assets. Since it is a hosted site, there is no software to download or install. It is a freeze-dried online collaboratory: just add developers and stir!

Each collaboratory gets its own Website and suite of tools. These include tools for learning object development and general-purpose "groupware" to support collaboration. Development tools include a visual scaffolding to guide development of learning resources and an issue tracker to help manage them. The groupware includes a threaded discussion group and a wiki, as well as membership, calendar, events and news. And more tools are on the way.

Take a look at the collaboratories already set up at and see if you would like to create one for your project. The process takes about 15-30 minutes. For more info, contact Rob Stephenson ( 341-3784) or email
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Help CI Help You
March 2004 -- Please send copies of promotional materials that describe your project's collections or services for distribution at the ESTME Week Expo and the National Science Teachers Convention. Brochures, fliers, CD-ROMs, and/or other giveaways are welcome. Please send to: Susan Van Gundy, NSDL/UCAR FL4, 3300 Mitchell Lane, Room #2128, Boulder, CO 80301 (PH# 303-497-2946).
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Working in Collaboration with the NSDL Core Infrastructure
March 2004 --
For the next round of NSDL grants, the NSF has introduced a new Pathways track and a sub-track, Selection Services. Both anticipate close collaboration with the Core Integration team. To help groups who are preparing propsals to these two new area, the Core Integration team has prepared the following notes.

Partnering with the Core Integration TeamDRAFT 1
by Dave Fulker 19-Feb-04

Though intended to help recipients of NSDL "Pathways" grants to plan their partnering with the Core Integration (CI) team, this paper in no way augments, clarifies, or otherwise affects the NSF award process. As stated in the Program Solicitation (NSF 04-542, Section VI.A.), the evaluation of NSDL proposals will include consideration of the following questions:

Does the project demonstrate an understanding of the current state of technical development of NSDL relevant to the proposed work, e.g. metadata harvesting protocols, standards for interoperability, or authentication protocols? Does the plan describe adequately how collaboration and integration with the ongoing activities of relevant grantees or other projects will be accomplished?

Hence we describe, from the Core Integration (CI) team perspective, a pattern for partnering that capitalizes on CI capabilities and plans. Our assumption is that each Pathway partner will emphasize some well-delineated and promising area of NSDL-supported educational impact and will provide stewardship over the content and services needed in that area. This stewardship will entail (following grant award) a degree of partnering with the CI team, reflected in a "partnering arrangement." Note: Such arrangements are not prerequisite to gaining NSF grants. By policy, the CI team will not develop a priori arrangements or otherwise endorse proposed efforts.

Anticipated Goals
As anticipated by the CI team, each partnering arrangement (between the CI and a Pathways project) will delineate outcomes that:
1. Refine the educational character and value of the NSDL.
2. Demonstrate and validate underlying CI infrastructure components.
3. Develop a targe

Delineation of CI and Pathway-Partner RolesThe main distinctions between the roles of the partners and those of the CI are:
? The partner will have a well-established, sustainable relationship with a target audience; will be positioned to understand and meet end-user needs for audience-specific library services and learning environments (including the attendant access constraints); and will have capacity for large-scale outreach to these audiences.
? The CI will hold responsibility for those aspects of the NSDL that are common across most or all audiences; that integrate distributed components (such as collections of NSDL content); and that enable the roles played by the partners.

General Attributes of Partnering Arrangements
A sequence of (varied) partnering arrangement will be employed as the NSDL evolves, with new partners engaged yearly. To maximize the partnering benefits (for the entire NSDL program) each arrangement is expected, within pragmatic constraints, to embody the attributes listed below. In some cases these will precede the partnering; in other cases they will represent partnering outcomes.
? The arrangement will include plans and budgets to achieving the three objectives listed above under "Anticipated Goals," and these typically will reflect:
- Competencies to develop and operate innovative, audience-specific learning environments and library services?including accessible portals?on schedule.- Where needed, capacity and expertise to perform user training on large scales.
- Capacity for marketing and publicity, ample to yield?within a year?significant numbers of new NSDL users, engaged in meeting the three objectives. The CI team expects to assist with requisite communications resources.
? Most or many members of the target audience will know and trust the partner, based on previously established relationships and usage patterns. The partnering arrangement will capitalize on:
- Perceptions of the partner?s openness, professionalism and neutrality.
- The partner?s content and review expertise, matched to the disciplinary and pedagogical needs of the target audience.
- The partner's experience?with the target audience?in formative evaluation, summative evaluation, and assessment. The CI team expects to help coordinate evaluation activities across all NSDL projects.
? The arrangement will exhibit a commitment to NSDL-wide integration, including:
- Systems that interoperate with or use CI infrastructure and tools; exceptions may be justified on grounds of educational utility or, more rarely, timeliness.
- Sharing of metadata (and some content) on an open-access basis.
- Willingness and ability to work with other NSDL providers (beyond CI) to integrate their content and services into the partner's portal and other systems.
? The arrangement will reflect a plausible joint strategy for long-term sustainability.Resource Requirements and Other DetailsThe strengths of partners generally will complement those of the CI team. Arrangements for partnering are likely to include statements of work, timetables, and staffing plans sufficient for scrutiny by all parties. Specifically, the CI team will assess its internal needs for equipment and staff (presently estimated as 1-2 FTEs) to support the partnering, specifically including any interoperability requirements that entail refining or adapting CI infrastructure ork tools. Final partnering arrangements will identify:
? Scope (educational, technical, social and business) of the partnering effort.
? High-level deliverables and outcomes (from the partner and the CI).
? Concrete plans and timetables for interfacing and integration.
? Additional subcontracts or partnerships that pertain.
Partnering arrangements will reflect mutual commitments to overcoming obstacles and managing risks, such as:
? Organizational impediments.
? Community or social impediments.
? Limitations inherent in the architecture.
? Other technical weaknesses.
? Personnel needs.

Subsequent to the award of Pathways grants, partnering arrangements as described above will be established through discussion, and probably formal agreements, with the CI leadership. In many cases, the short- and long-term outcomes will be distinct. Typical activities, as anticipated by the CI team, are detailed in the appendices.

Appendix I: Refining the NSDL's Educational Character and Value

This appendix elaborates goal 1: to ?refine the educational character and value of the NSDL.? Potential aspects of such development are listed with descriptions of how?capitalizing on Core Integration (CI) efforts?partners may achieve them.Role-Based Activity CategorizationEach educational refinement activity will fall into one or more of the categories listed below, which differ in the attendant relationships between the partner and the CI team.

A. Infrastructure Refinement ? The partner will engage members of the target audience in evaluating capabilities operated or made accessible by the CI team, to inform future development of those capabilities.
B. Franchise Refinement ? The partner will engage members of the target audience in evaluating and designing partner-operated capabilities.
C. Alignment ? The partner will form and lead multidisciplinary teams?comprising audience members, CI staff, and partner staff?to foster synergistic alignments between educational enhancement efforts (on local or global scales) and the NSDL, as manifest in its partner-operated capabilities (including collections), its infrastructure, and/or its customized, end-user realizations.

Potential Activities
Below is a list of potential partnering activities and (in brackets) suggested categorizations for each one.
a. Analyze the NSDL collection for (audience-specific) gaps and fill these by recommending or developing additional collections or content items for NSDL inclusion. [A, C]
b. Enrich NSDL content by enhancing metadata, providing annotations or otherwise increasing the educational power of the library. [A, B, C]
c. Conduct formative evaluations (i.e., user-centered design, applied to discovery systems, content presentation, collection development, portal functions, or other NSDL services) via focus groups or similar mechanisms. [A, B]
d. Conduct summative evaluations via surveys, interviews or case studies. [A, B]
e. Organize institution-based workshops to achieve alignments among NSDL content and services, NSDL usage, and articulated institutional values. [A, B, C]
f. Organize similar workshops for (virtual) communities of practice. [A, B, C]
g. Perform ethnographic or longitudinal studies of NSDL user communities to discern patterns of change in teaching, learning, or usage. [C]
h. Use NSDL organizational and technical infrastructure as a laboratory in which to develop new research methodologies on technology-enabled learning and to inform future NSDL design and implementation. [A, B, C]

Appendix II: Validating Core Integration Infrastructure

This appendix elaborates goal 2: to "demonstrate and validate underlying CI infrastructure components." Potential validations are listed with descriptions of how?capitalizing on Core Integration (CI) efforts?partners may achieve them. Particular emphasis is placed on the technical structures that underpin special-purpose NSDL portals.

Role-Based Activity Categorization
For each infrastructure component, the validation effort will fall into one or more of the six categories listed below, which differ in the attendant relationships between the partner and the CI team.
A. Direct Component Adoption ? The partner will use an operational CI component.
B. Advised Component Development ? The CI has a component under development. The partner will advise on its development, and both will use the result.
C. Component Substitution ? The partner has a component judged superior to the CI component, and both parties will adopt the former.
D. Component Experimentation ? The component is an area of experimentation for the CI or the partner. Commitment to use awaits the results of the experimentation.
E. Multiple Components ? It is desirable to support more than one component for the long-term.
F. Interim Multiple Components ? It is desirable to support one component, but for pragmatic reasons separate components are chosen for the short-term.

Categories E and F need thorough justification to avoid long-term maintenance difficulties, given that there soon will be a number of emphasis-area partners.

Potential ActivitiesBelow is a list of potential component-validation efforts with (in brackets) suggested categorizations for each one.

a. Represent all resources collected by the partner in the metadata repository or its successor. Partners are not expected to expose full NSDL content if it is not emphasis-area appropriate, but everything must be available for other NSDL service providers, via the metadata repository. [A, B]
b. Use the (forthcoming) CI relationship-representation system and associated infrastructure, including annotations and metadata augmentation. [B, possibly D]c. Support an agreed set of metadata formats. [A, B, C]
d. Use OAI-PMH for exchange of metadata. [A]
e. Share community developed content (e.g. discussion lists, forums, the Wikis and other content that we store in GForge). [B, C, possibly F (separate components with an exchange mechanism)]
f. Employ recommender system infrastructure (not including user interface). [B]
g. Employ common identity management, including authentication infrastructure. [A, possibly C, possibly F]
h. Employ (non-exclusively) the CI standard search, with tuning, filtering, etc. appropriate for the emphasis area (with different user interfaces as appropriate). [A, B, C, possibly E, possibly F]
i. Employ (non-exclusively) the CI browse and visualization tools, with tuning, filtering, etc. appropriate for the emphasis area (with different user interfaces as appropriate). [A, B, C, possibly E, possibly F]
j. Employ CI patterns and mechanisms for exposing selected resources and links in formats suitable for robots and web crawlers. [B, C]
k. Utilize SDSC archive (contributing to it and exposing it to their end users). [A, B]l. Participate in the CI web crawling strategy, which may include a single crawl, shared by all CI emphasis areas and services. [B, possibly C]
m. Include, in partners? portals, of NSDL About, News, Exhibits, etc. Selection of materials, e.g., for exhibits, will depend on the emphasis area. [A, B, C]
n. Use iVia/Infomine for web gathering and automated indexing. [B]
o. Use Internet Scout toolkit. [A, or C, possibly E]
p. Offer interfaces for search [E], resource submission, and annotation. [F, possibly E]
q. Employ specific portal-implementation technologies (e.g. PHP, uPortal, Tomcat/Java). [B, C, possibly E, possibly F]

Appendix III: Developing a Targeted Audience of User/Contributors

This appendix elaborates goal 3: to "develop a targeted audience of committed NSDL users and contributors." Potential objectives are listed with descriptions of how?capitalizing on Core Integration (CI) efforts?partners may achieve them.

Role-Based Activity Categorization
Each development activity will fall into one or more of the categories listed below, which differ in the attendant relationships between the partner and the CI team.

A. Core Marketing ? The partner will engage large numbers of targeted audience members in the direct use of (unmodified) NSDL capabilities provided by the CI team and other NSDL-funded projects.
B. Franchising ? The partner will engage large numbers of targeted audience members in the use of partner-operated capabilities that serve audience specific goals while reflecting overall NSDL values and complying with NSDL policies, such as those for NSDL-wide usage logging.
C. Networking ? The partner will form and lead multidisciplinary teams?comprising audience members, CI staff, and partner staff?whose purpose will be to establish networks of well-trained ambassadors for educationally effective use of the NSDL throughout the target audience.

Potential Activities
Below is a list of potential partnering activities and (in brackets) suggested categorizations for each one.

a. Raise general awareness of the NSDL, via publicity designed and disseminated to reach the target audience on large scales. [A, B]
b. Foster, support and track NSDL usage and contribution?e.g. recommending or annotating content?by the partner?s existing clientele. [B, C]
c. Foster, support and track similar usage by new clients. [A, B, C]
d. Characterize NSDL users qualitatively and quantitatively, and support the formation of trust networks among these users, especially among peers. [A, C]
e. Foster, support and track NSDL customization by institutions at state, regional, or local levels. [B, C]
f. Foster, support and track NSDL customization by individual users. [B]
g. Build and support NSDL-based communities of practice. [A, B, C]


1. Be familiar with previously or currently funded NSDL Collections. (

2. Have a written selection (collection development) policy document. For example see the NSDL Collection Development Policy document at

3. Be familiar with the IMLS/NSDL document. "A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections."

4. Be familiar with the NSDL Metadata Primer (http://metamanagement, in particular the section on ?Contributing Metadata to the NSDL.

5. Consider using a turnkey software package such as the NSDL funded Collection Workflow Integration System (CWIS) software ( which has been created to coordinate closely with the NSDL Core Integration requirements. The CWIS software allows collections to become an integral part of NSDL very quickly and includes built in OAI harvesting Support.

6. The NSF requires that projects expose item-level metadata for harvesting by NSDL Core Integration for inclusion in the NSDL metadata repository and, as appropriate, shared with other repositories. Therefore, proposals should include specific details as to how they will provide adequate technical support to meet this obligation.

7. Please plan for reliable 24x7 systems for your content (assuming users go to your site for actual content).
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SIGN UP NOW: Contribute Your Knowledge as an AskNSDL Expert
March 2004 --
AskNSDL will be featured as the "Ask a Scientist or Engineer" service for the NSF's Excellence in Science, Technology, and Mathematics Education (ESTME) Week website (URL to be announced), as well as at Equations '04, the March 16 ESTME Week exposition in Washington, D.C. In preparation for this event NSDL is enhancing the AskNSDL service by growing the base of experts who answer user questions. ESTME Week is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Education as a celebration of science and technology during the week of March 15-20.
To register, go to and click on the "experts" tab. Contact Susan Van Gundy (303/ 497-2946 or for more information.
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"Library of Life" Education-Free Zone Established On the Israel Jordan Border
March 2004 --
Stanford and Cornell have agreed to collaborate on an exciting joint venture to create a "Library of Life" on the Jordanian and Israeli border. An environmental studies center on their shared desert border, a rare instance of cooperation on a major project between the Middle East neighbors, The academic center will be constructed over three to five years and will initially accommodate about 150 people, with long-term plans to expand to 1,000. Cornell and Stanford will send scientists to work with Israelis and Jordanians who have been accepted as graduate students at either of the universities. Students from other Middle East countries are expected to join later.
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March 2004 --
"Singingfish offers audio/video search services that help people easily find mp3s, movie trailers, sports highlights, newscasts, and other streaming files."
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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