Repository of Online Language Learning Resources (ROLLR.ca)

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The CIC Ontario Region Learning Object Repository

What is ROLLR?

The Repository of Online Language Learning Resources (www.rollr.ca) was created for the LINC community in Ontario.  It was developed as an innovative sharing solution for the 330 SCORM learning objects that had been created through funding from the CIC Ontario Region. A team at New Media Language Training Inc. currently administers ROLLR, which was developed in partnership with a team at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) Robertson Library.

ROLLR Training

ROLLR is part of New Media Language Training’s (NMLT) LearnIT2teach project. This project provides courseware for Ontario LINC students by using the SCORM objects mentioned above, Moodle, which is an open-source learning management system (LMS), and Web 2.0 technologies. Training and support is provided for Ontario LINC instructors who want to integrate these online learning resources into their teaching.

This training also includes support for ROLLR. Teachers are trained how to download SCORM objects from the repository and add these downloads to their own course in an LMS. This is an important step for teachers who want to create a customized course in the LMS.  The final component of the professional development is to train teachers to create their own learning objects and upload them to ROLLR. This phase of the training is designed to empower teachers to make more effective use of technology in the classroom, as well as increase the number of potential contributors to ROLLR, thus enabling the learning object collection to grow and make the site more dynamic.

Open-source Software (OSS)

ROLLR was created using open-source technologies to help ensure sustainability in the long term. The OSS used in developing ROLLR includes Drupal, the Content Management System, and Islandora, UPEI’s adaptation of the repository software, Fedora.

  • Islandora is a leading best-practice repository system which. uses open standards to ensure integration with external systems and long-term preservation and transformation of digital assets. The Drupal front-end also leverages the largest CMS community to provide cutting edge collaborative functions. The full Islandora stack is based on the latest open source technologies, ensuring the CIC repository will be able to leverage current developments and remain accessible.
  • Islandora supports any metadata profile and any kind of digital asset, which means that the ROLLR repository will be able to reflect learning materials of all types, including future formats not yet available. Where appropriate, ROLLR will also be able to transform older formats into newer, more accessible formats, ensuring the learning assets remain viable for the long-term.
  • The Fedora repository framework is increasingly used by institutions across the globe, providing additional opportunities to discover and integrate learning materials from multiple sources. Emerging efforts (spearheaded by DiscoveryGarden) with the U.S. Department of Education are discussing ways to link disparate repositories in a federated and “intelligent” network. Ongoing efforts to develop new Fedora content models and disseminators will also ensure that the latest developments can more easily be integrated into the ROLLR system. ROLLR will also expose the submitted learning resources to appropriate interfaces, such as RSS and OAI, ensuring integration with existing repositories and social networking systems.

Searching and Browsing ROLLR

ROLLR has advanced searching capabilities that support Dublin Core metadata, so users can easily locate relevant learning objects based on the key words encoded in the SCORM objects in the collection. This metadata includes benchmark level, language skill, topic/theme, the developer, funder (initiator), media types, region, version and the date. (All of these are identified as required searchable e-classification categories specified in Appendix 1 of the CFP document).

ROLLR allows users to browse all items in the collection alphabetically. In addition, once an item is displayed, users can then click on related key words (facets) associated with that learning object and find items with similar metadata by doing a faceted search.

Embedded SCORM Player

SCORM is an ideal format to use for interactive learning objects because these types of files can be loaded into a variety of LMSs, open-source and commercial.  One of the unique features of ROLLR is that users can view and interact with the contents of a SCORM learning objects before downloading. When browsing SCORM objects in most repositories, all that is displayed is the title of the object and associated metadata; when users want view a learning object, they must download it and display it in a SCORM player. ROLLR hosts SCORM objects in a much friendlier, time-saving manner.

The Community Approach

One of the hallmarks of a successful repository is that it caters to a specific group, e.g. language training professionals, and it provides opportunities for its users to easily find resources and exchange ideas. ROLLR is very social. A significant amount of research went into the planning of ROLLR, and it was recognized that its success was contingent on it being more than a place to download and/or upload materials. Building a successful repository entails creating a community where users go to share more than just content. A variety of Web 2.0 and/or collaborative technologies have been incorporated into ROLLR to achieve this goal.

The following table summarizes some of the key features that have been used to make ROLLR suitable to enable users to collaborate.

Collaborative Feature

Function

Rationale

Discussion forum

- posting and responding to questions in an open forum

- exchanging ideas and information among registered users, as well as with ROLLR facilitators

Who is contributing to ROLLR?

- this page displays the names of the institutions and individuals contributing to ROLLR

- providing publicity to contributors recognizes their willingness to participate and it may motivate others to do the same

Featured Contributor

- as more contributors share their resources, ROLLR will display more detailed information about these contributors in a small, but prominent, space on the front page

- providing publicity to contributors recognizes their willingness to participate and it may motivate others to do the same

User Directory

- a list of registered users of ROLLR, who agree to share professional and contact information

- providing networking opportunities among interested ROLLR users

Five-star rating system

- registered users can rate the various resources in the ROLLR collection

- empowering users to quickly share their opinions; ratings are  averaged and displayed for each item

Comments

- registered users can write comments (e.g. how to use, like/dislikes, further references) about various resources in the ROLLR collection

- empowering users to share their ideas for each item in the collection

Comment attachments (to be enabled)

- allows registered users to attach a file to their comments about individual items

- sharing instructional worksheets that relate to specific learning objects (subject to approval from ROLLR moderators)

Create Content

- registered users with appropriate permissions can upload to the collection

- sharing content enables individual members to share their work and  help the repository collection grow (subject to approval from ROLLR moderators)

Popular Content

- registered users have access to this page, which lists the most popular content on the site in descending order; a tab on this same page presents a list of “Today’s popular content”

- this feature identifies the overall popularity of items on this web site based on the users’ behaviours

Keeping ROLLR Refreshed

In addition to the collaborative aspects, some of the information on ROLLR is disseminated using dynamic tools, so the website changes slightly between user visits. The following table summarizes some of these tools used:

Dynamic Information Feature

Function

Rationale

ROLLR News Feed

- this RSS aggregator gathers relevant stories (Settlement.Org) on the ROLLR front page; as more materials are added to ROLLR, this will change from an RSS aggregator to an RSS feed that is updated with news about new features and additions to ROLLR.

-in addition to keeping ROLLR’s appearance refreshed, this important tool will be used to publish ROLLR news by RSS to subscribers and by email to interested users.

Featured Learning Object (Content)

- placed prominently on the ROLLR home page, this module displays a link to a featured learning object that is selected randomly from a pool of learning objects selected for their excellence; this can eventually be used to display new content

-in addition to keeping ROLLR’s appearance refreshed, this module  can help users find exceptional learning objects (and eventually new additions)

What’s Popular?

- placed prominently on the ROLLR home page, this module displays links with a counter to the most popular areas of ROLLR

- in addition to keeping ROLLR’s appearance refreshed, this module gives visitors a snapshot of what other users are most interested in

ROLLR YouTube Channel

- this module, embedded on the ROLLR front page, displays a selected YouTube, from the LearnIT2teach YouTube channel

- in addition to keeping ROLLR’s appearance refreshed, this module is used to provide access to information on different topics related to ROLLR and materials development

RSS Feeds

ROLLR is very adept at publishing many of its pages using RSS feeds. This is evident with the RSS icon throughout the site.

External Links

In addition to using dynamic modules to disseminate information, static web pages are used to provide pages of links to:

  • CLB-referenced web sites
  • ROLLR help files
  • Sample learning object repositories

Ease of Use

It is recognized that ROLLR’s target user may not be technically savvy, so the interface has been designed so it is straightforward and easy to use.  This includes searching and browsing for content, navigation throughout the site, as well as logging on and registering. 

Help

This will be supported by a series of help files, which will include print documents and screencasts. UPEI will also be providing access to a help desk. This area of ROLLR is still under development.

User Roles

ROLLR has a range of roles with different levels of permissions within the site.  The following table summarizes these roles:

 

Anonymous Visitor

Authent-icated User

User Level 1

User Level 2

User Level 3

ROLLR Admin-istrator

View ROLLR Home page

Submit Contact form to admin.

Register as new user

-

-

-

-

-

Access information pages (e.g. About, Links, Contribute, etc.)

Search collection(s)

Browse collection(s)

View Learning Objects

Rate Learning Objects (5-star)

-

Comment on Learning Objects

-

View User Directory

-

Download Learning Objects

-

-

Upload Learning Objects

-

-

 

Moderate/Vet New Uploads

-

-

-

-

Publish New Uploads

-

-

-

-

-

Activate/modify user accounts

-

-

-

-

-

Email All Registered Users

-

-

-

-

-

Administer ROLLR

-

-

-

-

-

Vetting New Uploads

An important and challenging piece in the development phase was creating a moderating system to ensure new uploads are vetted before they are published for the ROLLR community at large to download. When a new SCORM object is uploaded (by a Level 2 users or higher), ROLLR automatically sends an email to each ROLLR moderator (level 3 user) and the ROLLR administrators. This email indicates that there has been a new item added to the collection, and that it requires vetting. The experts responsible for the vetting validate its Canadian Language Benchmark level, its appropriateness for LINC based on the Curriculum Guidelines, and its suitability for online delivery. This new upload may also have to be indexed and meta-tagged at this time. Each item in the collection has a moderation form with an area for comments by the vetting committee.  This form is reviewed by a ROLLR administrator, who can publish the item for the entire ROLLR community based on the vetting group’s recommendations. Now that the vetting process within ROLLR has been established, our team is ready to add the experts to perform this important task.LearnIT2Teach