Sunday, November 16, 2008

ncsu course views session at dlf

My somewhat unstructured notes from a presentation by Tito Sierra and Jason Casden from NCSU on the Course Views tools, at at the DLF Fall 2008 Forum.

  • Their goal is to create a web page for every single course at NCSU.
  • Blackboard Vista (hard to work with), Moodle (easy to work with), WolfWare (internal tool, easy to integrate), Library web site.
  • Implemented using object-oriented PHP, and the front-end design makes use of YUI, jQuery and CSS. RESTful requests to the Widget System, and Restful URIs.
  • They screen scrape the course directory to build the database of course titles.
  • There is an issue with the course reserves system so they are not currently embedding reserves, just linking.
  • Built their own mini-metasearch which searches one vendor database set for each general discipline (created by subject librarians, who identify one vendor and a set of their databases to be searched).
  • The subject librarians create a “recommended” resource list for each course.
  • Real issues with customization, especially for sections of large courses.
  • Balance of fully custom, hand-made versus fully automated. Librarians given a number of widgets to select from, some of which are canned and some of which can be customized.
  • Reserves used the most by far, then search, then the “recommended” widget.
  • Customized widgets used most (the 3 listed above).


Jason Casden said...

Hi Leslie,

Thanks so much for attending and blogging our talk! I really appreciate your comprehensive notes, and I have a few quick clarifications.

The reason for displaying linked section/instructor reserves counts instead of actual reserves listings has more to do with the issue of crowding the display with a list of all reserves for all course sections (I don't run the reserves system, and it's working very well for us). Also, subject librarians only have to create recommended content for courses that need specialized content--in many cases, the curriculum-level content they created is used. This is a big part of how we are able to cover so many courses. Additionally, right now all of the widgets are displayed for all courses, although the idea of swapping out some widgets for others depending on a variety of factors (graduate vs. undergraduate level, distance courses, different disciplines, labs, etc.) is being tossed around for a future version.

I hope I see you at another conference soon!


Leslie Johnston said...

Thanks for the clarifications! That provides much more detail than I could quickly type while listening.