Evaluation of EdShare and Language Box in comparison with Kultur

12Nov09

I have written a very short report comparing UAL’s Kultur with EdShare and Language Box:

1.0 Introduction:

1.1 EdShare is a “resource for collaboration and sharing of materials used in teaching and learning” that has been created by the University of Southampton. There is no ‘About Us’ information either on the homepage or as a separate section. However, there is a PDF file on how to contribute resources, and there is also information about the latest Web 2.0 features added to the website (c.f. section 5 below).

1.2 Language Box was developed by the JISC-funded Faroes project, as part of the activities of the Higher Education Academy’s Language and Linguistics Subject Centre, which is based at the University of Southampton. The Language Box is a “place where students and teachers of languages can publish and share their learning materials, resources and links on the web. You can use the resources directly, or create new activities to put your own twist on things”. There is a comprehensive ‘About’ section.

1.3 Kultur is “a JISC-funded project which is creating a model of an institutional repository tailored to the needs of the creative and applied arts research community. This demo showcases examples of research from all of the arts institutions involved in Kultur – the University of the Arts London, University College for the Creative Arts, and Winchester School of Art at the University of Southampton.” The University of the Arts London (UAL) Kultur site presents the work of UAL staff. There is an ‘About’ section with useful links and logos.

Therefore, EdShare and Language Box are about sharing and re-purposing teaching and learning resources, while Kultur is more to do with archiving and storing research materials.

2.0 Retrieval (Searching / browsing)

2.1 EdShare resources (‘shares’) can be retrieved via a tag cloud, browsing by JACS subjects, university school or unit, course modules or keyword, or by a simple or advanced search option. Representational images are shown for the different resource types, which are very useful (picture of a camera for image, ‘W doc’ for a Word document etc.)

2.2 Language Box may be browsed by item type, language or tag. It is also possible to perform a simple search. Representational images are shown for the different resource types, which are very useful (a picture for image, ‘W doc’ for a Word document etc.) Not all resource types are apparent though.

2.3 Kultur may be browsed by year, college/collection, subject (based on JACS headings), creator or projects. It is also possible to perform a simple or advanced search. Representational images are shown for the different resource types, which are very useful (e.g. ppt for PowerPoint). Many are thumbnail images of the project though, which presents an attractive way to browse resources.

3.0 Access to the resources

3.1 Created by the University of Southampton, EdShare can be searched or browsed by anyone, but access to some of the resources themselves is limited to those with a University of Southampton username and password. For example, ‘Using PowerPoint to create posters’ allows the user to access a read-only Word document, but the Illiers Combray artists’ book resource is only available to those with a University of Southampton username and password. The “Shared with …” field is shown in the metadata, but it is a little buried and so it is not immediately clear as to who can access the resource. [It would be useful to be able to browse / search only those resources that have been shared with the world, as it is frustrating to find a record for a resource and then not be able to access the resource itself.]

3.2 Anyone can register to use and then view resources in Language Box.

3.3 Anyone can access the resources in Kultur, although there is the added option to login using UAL login and password.

4.0 Metadata

4.1 EdShare provides the metadata fields down the right hand side of the screen. At the top it has tags – keywords, university structure, JACS subjects – and then the following information is listed:

  • EdShare link
  • Embedding tag
  • Creator(s) with email address (links to a separate page of creations by the same person or people)
  • Shared with (World / University / Department)
  • Advice for (re-)use (optional)
  • Level (optional)
  • Added by (links to a profile with a list of other ‘shares’)
  • Date added
  • Date last modified

4.2 Language Box provides the metadata fields down the right hand side of the screen. There is a description (often very short or written in note form) and then the following information is listed:

  • Creator
  • Date added
  • Tags
  • Languages
  • Attribution
  • Number of times the resource has been downloaded
  • Copyright

4.3 Kultur uses a large number of metadata fields. It uses a tab approach to present its metadata: the left-hand tab presents the resource, and the right-hand tab provides the following detailed metadata fields (not all of which are present for all resources):

  • Creator(s)
  • Description (often quite detailed and written in full sentences)
  • Official URL
  • Item type
  • Uncontrolled keywords
  • Divisions
  • Date
  • Funders
  • Related URLs
  • Event location
  • Related exhibitions
  • Project or series
  • ID code

5.0 Web 2.0 features

5.1 EdShare provides a number of Web 2.0 features. However, these are limited to those with a University of Southampton username and password. For example, EdShare allows the user to group several resources together in a collection – for example, to create a collection for a course that is being taught – whether the user is the owner / creator / depositor of those resources or not. It also allows the user to create a folder and add resources to the folder. When the session is finished the user may download all of the selected resources in one go or even create a collection. The content of the folder is always private, so its contents cannot be shared with other people. To share content a collection would need to be created. The folder will be emptied when the user logs out of EdShare. It also provides the opportunity to bookmark resources. Other features include embedding, comments and notes, tag clouds, RSS feeds, and profile pages of the creator and the person who added the resources, which can act as a personal home page for those people.

5.2 Once logged in to Language Box, it is possible to create another resource based on the one that is being viewed, thus re-purposing it. It is also possible to download the resource as a zip file, bookmark it, or comment on the resource.

5.3 Once logged in to Kultur, using the UAL login and password, it is possible to save searches, so that the user is alerted when new resources matching the search are added.

6.0 Look / feel of the website, and ease of use

6.1 EdShare has a very functional look and feel to the website, with no images. However, it is very easy to use, although it can be frustrating to find that not all resources are available to everyone.

6.2 Language Box has an attractive look to the site. The homepage provides some breathtaking images of the Faroes that are refreshed every few seconds. The logo includes an image of a puffin. The website is very easy to use, but has fewer features.

6.3 Kultur provides thumbnail images of the resources, when browsing or searching. The homepage presents some interesting images of the projects in Kultur that are refreshed every few seconds. The website is very easy to use.

7.0 Conclusions

To conclude, registration is open to all with Language Box and Kultur. Kultur probably provides the most detailed metadata fields, but does not include profile pages of those who created or deposited the resource, which might be a useful addition. EdShare provides the most number of Web 2.0 features (which could be explored if Kultur were to be expanded to include teaching and learning resources). Language Box’s facility for re-using and re-purposing the materials was also an invaluable tool. All three resources are relatively easy to use, but Kultur’s use of thumbnail images of resources, when searching and browsing, provides a particularly useful way into the database for visual arts resources.

Mary Burslem
29th October 2009
Revised 12th November 2009

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2 Responses to “Evaluation of EdShare and Language Box in comparison with Kultur”

  1. 1 R. Everitt

    I note that Lanuguage Box and EdShare use tags, but Kultur does not. Are there retrieval implications for Kultur’s non-sue of tags?

  2. Kultur and UAL Research Online have the option for the depositor to put in ‘uncontrolled keywords’ in effect tags but not for ‘visitors’ to tag the material. Looking at Language Box their ‘tags’ also seem to be depositor created but with the opportunity to leave comments. I think for UAL Research Online this is definitely a feature that we may want to have. The SNEEP project http://dablog.ulcc.ac.uk/category/projects/sneep/ created an eprints plugin for allowing comments upon records. They worked on the repository for the Linnean Society http://www.linnean-online.org/ however when I just had a quick look I could not see any comments. Saying all this it should in theory be fairly easy to have such comments, it is mainly an issue of policy.


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