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Workshop Session Abstracts

Thursday, May 13
9:30 am

The Trinity of Open Source: Open standards, Open source and Open content
Phil Long, MIT

How do open specifications, open archives, open systems, open source tools and open content apply to scholarship and educational technology. There are profound ramifications about how we, as educators, researchers and scholars, look at the meaning of knowledge creation, organization, dissemination and revision. These issues are not bounded by size of institution, magnitude of IT budgets, or the presence (or absence) of world-class research projects. These are issues about choice, flexibility, sustainability, and scholarship within the methodologies --  within the practices -- by which we pursue our work. It's about the freedom to derive new meaning from existing ideas (as code or as concepts) without being forced to pay for the privilege (through licensing fees) or being stymied altogether by intellectual property ownership. Open Source has the promise to be liberating -- or crushed by excess. I will review some projects currently underway that reflect aspects of the Open Source approach and ways to engage with them.

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Gobs of blobs: the broader definition of digital asset management
Scott Siddall, Denison University

How many digital assets were there in 1974? Hard to know, but consider the state of hard drive technology 30 years ago. Consider that the web was just emerging only ten years ago, and that today, a gigabyte of mass storage costs less than one dollar. The explosive ubiquity of things digital is challenging the human inclination to organize our world. We’re running (or being pushed) from filing cabinets and shoeboxes to the SAN and digital repository…and nearly anything qualifies as a digital asset: images, documents, video clips, transcripts, course components and even entire courses. So what is a digital asset management system in this broad context? Is digital asset management unique, or is it another database with multiple views? Perhaps we have here the opportunity to tear down, or should I say connect, disparate silos of information.

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Live from the Front: Implementing a Content Management System
Chris Weaver, Franklin & Marshall College

During the past year, F&M investigated and began implementation of a Content Management System. With the goals of brand consistency and code-free updating in mind, we embarked on this major revision to our web operation in the spring of 2003. After research into various in-house, commercial and open-source possibilities, we decided to purchase a new product, the Ingeniux CMS. As with any major IT project, there were a few "bumps" in the road. Some resulted from our inexperience working with this new product, and some from the new product working with us (i.e., this is a new Mac version from a company that until now had primarily produced only a Windows product). We are now in the thick of end-user training, ongoing page migration, and campus buy-in. The purpose of this session is to share insights about product selection, implementation strategy, and most of all, "war stories," that may be valuable to others who are considering content management systems or who are already in the throes of their own implementation.

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3:00 pm

Bringing Web Management Systems Together
Eric Behrens, Swarthmore College

Course management systems, content management systems, digital asset management systems, and portals. Apparently, we have a lot of digital materials to deliver via the web and no end in sight to the systems we need to install to manage them. Of course, there are obvious benefits to integrating the overlapping features of these systems into seamless user experiences, but are we really on a course to do so? Best-of-breed selection of these systems will likely result in isolated interfaces. Meanwhile, Blackboard seems to be positioning itself as a soup-to-nuts vertical solutions provider for higher ed. Single vendor solutions have less flexibility and large price tags. What's a small school to do?

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Friday, May 14
8:30 am

An Architecture for Web Based ad hoc reporting for Institutional Advancement
Tom Slobko, Occidental College

Delivering ad-hoc reports for a modern Institutional Advancement office, often on short notice, is a serious challenge to the resources of IS and Advancement operational staffs. Using the web to deliver these reports directly to users has great promise but there are serious obstacles to overcome. With the support of the Mellon WISP grant, Occidental has designed and built an ad-hoc reporting tool designed to meet 80% of the ad-hoc reporting needs of Institutional Advancement. The tool can be used by professional and administrative staff to generate reports and spreadsheets quickly and correctly. The design allows the IS staff to modify fields and selection logic without programming. This talk will center on the architecture of and the requirements for building such a web based reporting tool.

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Buy or Build (or Customize or Outsource)? The Answer is "Yes"
Marianne Colgrove, Reed College & Dave Smallen, Hamilton College

Our increasing dependence on web applications and services, and our quest for sustainable web strategies, often leads us to the "buy vs. build" dilemma. Some institutions avoid home-grown solutions at all costs. At the other end of the spectrum are schools that always prefer to build their own - embodying the "not invented here" syndrome. When it comes to web applications, what are the pros and cons of buying versus building? What decision-making processes or accidents of history push us in one direction or another? This session will present some case studies of different web application strategies and how they have succeeded (or not).

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WISP: Lessons Learned
Tom Warger, Vassar College

To make information sustainable, we have revisited some familiar aspects of information technology-infrastructure, tools and methods, staff, and work processes -- and discovered important new perspectives. Networked resources need to be robust, interoperable, and capacious. We have to build outward from our hard-won database expertise to connect with the web and newer technologies. We need greater flexibility in staffing: to bring in specialists temporarily from outside, but also to help the core staff acquire new skills. And, perhaps most important and most difficult, to re-open discussions of work methods with the campus community.

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