Landing : Athabascau University

The Landing’s Boundary Crossing new set tool.

  • Public
By Terry Anderson November 1, 2013 - 1:35pm

I’m just getting used to the Landings new ‘Related Items' feature. It may be a game changer!

The Landing serves as an online gathering space for the Athabasca University community. One of the problems is that it is feature loaded (bloated?) and our users have reported that it has been hard to find things. Thus we first implemented full text search, which is better, but not optimal.  In addition to the full text, we needed what Jon Dron and I refer to as a “set” tool. A tool that returns an easy path to other people and content in the set of all those interested in ‘whatevertopic’.  We wanted the information retrieved to be “boundary crossing” such that a student in the Masters or Arts in Integrated Studies, could find, recommend and comment on work on a related topic, but contributed by a Health Studies undergraduate degree (for example).  How could we create, identify and retrieve links to the sets? In comes tags.

Tagging is part of the curation job of the creator. It CAN’T be too hard or time consuming (no Dublin Corp metatagging required).  But the value of contribution to the community increases dramatically, if a tag or two is added. A tag is one or more identification words, separated by comma’s and entered into the Tags field when adding any contribution.  The tag creates ways (including folksonomies) to link the contribution into a set. When one searches for a term in that set of tags, a list of related files, podcases, blogs, photos – will/could appear.

One problem is that is easy for us to forget to add a tag or two.  Tagging takes a bit of work, sort of like bothering to add a from card to a birthday present.  The field is optional and it takes practice to create the best tags from any contribution. But good practice!

To demonstrate the “Related Content” plugin. In one AU's undergrad Psychology Course the students are given a bonus mark for making a contribution to the class Landing group. This is an unpaced course, so it is most challenging to create networks and groups within this context, but arguably the need and value to the students is even greater in self-paced courses. One student shared a book mark, which is a link to some resource on the Net, with a 1-3 paragraph description of what is interesting about the linked site. Unfortunately the student did not tag the bookmark (left the tag field blank).  The Related Content plugin works by using these tags and since there were no tags, the plugin return an empty space when anyone views the bookmark.

For an experiment,  I added two tags to the bookmark – First, the name of the course (which will create a link to the Course’s closed group (enrolled students only). Second, a key word describing the bookmark’s content. Now when the bookmark and the description of the value of the link to the course group are displayed two links appear underneath the bookmark. The first is to a blog post on her experience of the course written by a student 4 months earlier and tagged with the course name. The second link is to story about a person being fired from  a firm related to the tag/topic of the origional bookmark. This second blog was written by a student in the Masters of Arts in Integrated Studies (MAIS). Thus creating a potential linking across boundaries of undergraduate/graduate and across disciplines - from Psychology to Arts. Very cool.

Because I don’t misuse my admin powers on the Landing, I deleted the tags I had added.

But let me invite each of you to try it out.  Go to any contribution you have made to the Landing or create your first contribution. Click on edit, add a few tags and save it.  You may be delighted, surprised, shocked or connected!


These comments are moderated. Your comment will not be visible unless accepted by the content owner.

Only simple HTML formatting is allowed and any hyperlinks will be stripped away. If you need to include a URL then please simply type it so that users can copy and paste it if needed.