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

The Whiteboard Report
February 2006, Issue #89



2006 NSF NSDL Solicitation Focuses on Pathways Goals
Stating that, "The success of NSDL will depend, to a large extent, on the development of a collective sense of identity and common cause by all the projects," the NSF released the 2006 NSDL request for proposals on January 31, 2006. Approximately $4 million will be available in FY2006 for awards made through the NSDL Program. Approximately 16-22 awards will be made depending on availability of funds and the quality of proposals received. Funding will be distributed to 1 to 2 new Pathways projects up to $2,250,000 each, and 15 to 20 supplemental new awards up to $75,000 each.

NSF suggests that projects supported in the Pathways track, "Will coordinate work with the Core Integration activity so as to assume a stewardship role on behalf of NSDL for the educational content and/or the services needed by a broad community of learners . . . . Pathway projects represent a strategy for building the NSDL in a manner that best supports efficient resource discovery for broad categories of users."

NSDL Pathways partnerships are important not only to enhance the educational character of NSDL, but also to demonstrate the value of NSDL in a variety of educational settings.

Thought-provoking use scenarios and service descriptions suggesting how visitors might use the Library were included in the solicitation: contributing expertise to producing new teaching modules from resources such as real-time experimental data or visualization software available through the network; evaluation and reporting on improvements to student learning due to specific digital learning objects (such as images, Java applet simulations, Flash animations, or interactive electronic notebook modules); access to virtual collaborative work areas; tools for analysis and visualization; remote instrumentation and observation platforms; large databases of real-time or archived data, and; simulated or virtual environments.

Optional letters of intent are due on March 15, 2006. The full proposal deadline is May 01, 2006.
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Towards NSDL Project Sustainability
NSF's 2006 NSDL new solicitation was released as the NSDL Sustainability Committee met to discuss how the Committee might assist NSDL projects in determining a process for developing business solutions. Discussion focused on elements of a "decision tree" that could lead NSDL projects to entreprenurial structures and activities to ensure long-term viability.

In the Pathways funding track the new request for proposals explains, "Proposals for Pathways projects should describe prospects for continuing to make project capabilities available beyond the period of NSF funding. This description should include a long-term management plan, and proposed projects should have a tangible, long-term commitment from a stable organization. Sustainability is also often fostered through partnerships involving academic, business, government, and other organizations. Cost recovery and for profit models are welcome, although the evaluation of a project's long-term management plan will be strongly informed by the goal of making the full library's resources available to potential users at a cost that will not limit their use."

The Committee is planning a Corporate Frameworks Workshop for 2006 that will focus on strategies for projects to:
--Easily and cost-effectively develop the appropriate corporate frameworks (either for-profit or not-for-profit);
--Leverage NSF funding in practical business directions that will facilitate the sustainability of those projects;
--Generate and administrate revenues from sales of project collections or services; and
--Implement project sustainability strategies within the context of university settings.

For more information, to read stories of other projects's sustainability solutions, background documents and minutes of meetings please visit the Committee web site at:
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Syracuse University's Center for Natural Language Processing and CAT Tool at NSF
NSF NSDL Program Officer Lee Zia is known for his Haiku commemorating each year's annual meeting. Liz Liddy and Anne Diekema, Syracuse University's School of Information Studies Center for Natural Language Processing (CNLP), borrowed the technique in summarizing their presentation to the NSF on Jan. 25 about how natural language processing (NLP) impacts NSDL users:

Nation's science library
How do you search it?

NLP techniques
For that online library
Help find information

The Center for Natural Language Processing (CNLP) has been working with NSDL since 2000 to improve metadata and accessibility. Early work concluded that automatic metadata generation provided much better coverage of the metadata elements, equal or near-comparable quality values, as good or better retrieval results, and more timely and cost-effective provision of metadata.

As metadata evaluation and generation work continued CNLP began to explore automatic standards metadata generation for educational materials. CNLP understood that current teaching practices required teachers to be able to search for learning materials by educational standards, and that NSDL sought to make this service available to teachers.

The Computer Assisted Content Standard Assignment and Alignment Project (2004-2006) helped to speed up the standards assignment process, and provided a cross-walk between different state and national standards. Developing the Content Assignment Tool (CAT) was a natural step forward in CNLP's work towards improving teachers' ability to locate resources in NSDL to support their standards-based instruction, no matter what state they were in or where a resource was developed.

Catalogers, curriculum and resource developers, teachers, and school district administrators can use CAT to paste resource URLs into a text box, choose a subject (math or science), choose the source for standards (e.g. NY, NSES), choose a grade level band, and click on "Suggest Standards." The semi-automatic CAT approach suggests relevant standards to the user while giving the user the final say in what gets assigned. The CAT system has the ability to learn from vetted assignments.

Currently CNLP is working with Cornell CI to integrate CAT for NSDL users. The Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) is integrating CAT into the DLESE Collection System (DCS) and is testing the system with users. Shodor is looking into using CAT with their resource review system.
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Business Expert Joins Core Integration Team
Please welcome David W. Sundvall to the NSDL Core Integration Central Office staff. David joined CI in January replacing Maureen Donovan as a financial administrator. He looks forward to using his business planning and analysis skills as well as his extensive experience as a Peace Corps administrator to help move the NSDL enterprise forward.

Sundvall has over 25 years of extensive and progressively responsible experience in business development and operations and holds an MBA in International Business. He spent 4 years living and working in Asia, and 9 years working in Latin America and is proficient in consulting, project management, sales, marketing and sales management, customer service, distribution channel management, training, team building, international business operations (USA, Latin America, Africa, Europe, and Asia-Pacific), business start-up, administration, contract negotiations, vender and customer relations, business development, financial analysis, budget preparation, procurement, pricing, and forecasting.

Among his more challenging assignments was his work with the Peace Corps as an Administrative Officer (AO) in East Timor and later in Micronesia-Palau where he was responsible for overseas post administrative operations including budget formulation and execution, human resource management, procurement, contracts, property management, computer systems maintenance and general services support. Part of his job was to work collaboratively on administrative issues with other members of the US mission working closely with the embassies in Bangkok, Manila, Jakarta, Canberra, Koror, and Kolonia on significant issues and regular projects throughout the years.

David looks forward to working with the NSDL community. You can reach him at [].
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Log in To Try AMSER Special Features
AMSER (the Applied Math and Science Education Repository) is an NSDL Pathway portal of educational resources and services built specifically for use by those in Community and Technical Colleges - but free for anyone to use. AMSER is is being created by a team of Project Partners lead by the Internet Scout Project. AMSERcan be found at where you may log in, browse new resources in the AMSER collection, and learn more about managing your resources and receiving recommendations about new resources.
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"Protecting America's Competitive Edge" (PACE) Act Introduced in the Senate
PACE-Energy Act (S.2197)
PACE-Education Act (S.2198)
PACE-Finance Act (S.2199)

Science organizations from the American Institute for Physics and IEEE are joining members of the House and Senate who are calling on President Bush to make science and technology a major initiative in the remaining years of his presidency by supporting the PACE bills introduced in the Senate on January 25,2006. The bipartisan legislation was submitted by Senators Domenici, Bingaman, Alexander and Mikulski and authorizes the federal government to enhance America's competitive position in the global economy.

The release last fall of the National Academies report, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future," (see, combined with an earlier report by the Council on Competitiveness, and reinforced by last December's Innovation Summit on Competitiveness (see have focused attention on the future of America's science and technology enterprise.
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Beta Release of a Fedora-based "Case" for Faculty Research
Digital Case, Case Western Reserve University's electronic repository and archive, stores, disseminates, and preserves faculty research in digital formats (both "born digital" and materials of historic interest that have been digitized). Organizing and maintaining published materials has long been the domain of research libraries. With the Digital Case project, the Kelvin Smith Library assumes a more active role in the scholarly communication process, providing expertise in the form of a set of services (metadata tagging, authority control, secure environment, preservation over time) for access and distribution of Case's collective intellectual product.
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Darwin Day is February 12
Darwin's 200th birthday is Feb. 12, 2006. The annual celebration, in existence since 2000, of Charles Darwin's contributions to our understanding of evolution with his revolutionary book "On the Origin of the Species" has become a global phenomena. With a focus on science and humanism cities, universities, and museums around the world will join together to mark this occasion during the week of Feb. 9-13.
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Getting Small
Images from the Cornell Center for Materials Research's tri-annual competition for the best image produced using an electron microscope give viewers a glimpse into exquisite worlds beyond human vision.
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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