Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Online Learning Revolution - Open Online Course can be valuable additions to workplace learning



Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have revolutionised the world of education and most learning and development professionals have started taking note of it.While there is in-principle acceptance of MOOCs as an important tool for professional development and executive education, there is a lack of clarity on how it can be integrated into workplace learning in India.

The Indian education system traditionally has been content-rich but interaction-poor; so, careful orchestration is required for an employee to adapt to this new way of learning needs. Here are some recommendations to integrate MOOCs within your organisation:


Any new platform or way of working needs evangelism. L&D personnel should champion this at the workplace. It becomes critical that they are up-to-speed on the latest in the world of MOOCs, emerging methodologies and challenges. It makes sense for the L&D folks to complete a couple of MOOCs before they start propagating it within their organisations. There are a few websites that are great for curated resources on MOOCs, reviews, case studies, etc.


This is a big next step and would probably consume most of your time. It’s important that employees are educated on MOOCs and their benefits.You can start by creating a short 30-minute starter module. During this session, get your employees to experience learning sites to gain first-hand knowledge. While there are several MOOC websites, limit your campaign to about two or three sites as too many resources at the start could overwhelm employees. It’s best to allow them to get started and let employees figure out more platforms as they progress.


Treat the MOOC integration campaign as any other serious learning solution. Every L&D professional knows that leadership endorsement can be a make or break factor. Get your leaders to talk about MOOCs and encourage employees to participate and adopt it. Ask your CEO to share their views on MOOCs in R&R forums and monthly events. It makes a big difference when your CEO says,“Go try this and it will blow your mind.”If you have an enterprise social network, you can ask employees to share what courses they are taking.


It’s important to be a bit directional at the start of the campaign as employees are still figuring out the MOOC mechanics. Research courses and make recommendations to all employee groups. As adoption levels increase, this can and should get totally crowdsourced with time. Think of an ideal state as one where your enterprise social network becomes an indispensable part of learning. One employee asks recommendations for learning a particular skill/knowledge module and another employee recommends.This takes time and continuous effort; so the L&D team must be prepared to play this in the long haul.


This is something you can consider if tracking and reporting are key expectations. Employees can be scheduled for MOOCs via the Learning Management System (LMS) and then self-report post completion.You could also consider a MOOC with some offline interaction to increase adoption and arrest dropout rates.


Most signature tracks on sites cost anywhere between $39 - $49.This may not be a huge investment but telling employees that even this will get reimbursed is ‘putting your money where your mouth is’.This is also a great way of demonstrating an organisation’s commitment to continuing education beyond the stipulated AICTE-approved courses that most Indian organisations limit employees to.


All L&D professionals know that ‘what gets rewarded gets repeated’. It’s a good investment to start rewarding employees who have successfully completed signature tracks on MOOCs. Get your top leaders to hand them certificates and a ‘thank you’card at the reward forums.What you are rewarding is learning agility and a commitment to lifelong learning. These are skills that all organisations will pay a premium for.

It’s important to remember that integrating any new learning solution is less of a technology but more of a culture/behaviour issue.You can always buy the technology but behaviours and cultures need to be built.

- The author is senior manager – training,Jardine Lloyd Thompson India

Source | Times of India – Ascent | 20 November 2013

The Evolution of e-publishing: Why India has lagged behind in adapting eBooks

Despite its success the world over, India is yet to adapt to eBooks. Gargi Gupta dives into the narrow pool of e-publishing in the country to find out why it comes up short.

Rasana Atreya was an IT professional...and then she wrote a novel. It was good, too, for the manuscript made it to the shortlist of the 2012 Tibor Jones South Asia prize for best unpublished novel by a writer unrepresented by a literary agent. Soon, a publisher offered a contract, but Atreya decided to do something adventurous — self-publish her book, using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) service. Nearly a year after its publication, her eBook Tell A Thousand Lies gets around 1,000 downloads a month.

Of these, only a few are from India. “Mostly it is from the UK, US and, amazingly, Mexico, from where I get a lot of fan mail telling me that my book about two sisters in a small south-Indian village could have been set in their country,” says Atreya. With 70% royalties coming her way (print publishers pay their authors a fraction of this), Atreya today makes more money each month from the sales of her book than the entire advance that the print publisher had offered her. No wonder then that Atreya has resigned from her job to become a full-time writer and says her decision to self-publish was one of the best things she’s done.

Atreya’s is undoubtedly a success story, but it is the only significant success in the e-publishing/ebooks space in India. For unlike in the West, where as a recent PwC report reveals, ebooks have garnered 9% of the publishing market, and will grow to 22% by 2017, eBooks in India account for a paltry 1% or less. The main barrier, says Random House India spokesperson Caroline Newbury, is the lack of awareness in India about ebooks, how to download them and the ereader devices available. “But this is changing rapidly,” she says. If eBook sales are higher in the US or UK, Newbury feels it is because these places have had dedicated e-reading devices and eBooks for much longer.

So how close is India to this inflection point from where the local market for eBooks can be expected to really take off? Around 18-24 months, feels Santanu Chowdhury, CEO of Swiftboox, a store that specialises in ebooks in Indian regional languages. VK Karthika, publisher and chief editor, HarperCollins India, agrees: “When eBooks first started to come in, I had thought they would take 10 years to reach India; then last year, when we started working on our ebooks programme, I thought it would be five years. Now I think it will take about two years.”

That India has a lot of potential is something everyone in publishing  agrees upon. “India is the third largest market for English books,” says Amazon India’s spokesperson. “A high propensity for reading, coupled with growth in literacy, increasing Internet penetration, Internet-enabled devices and a rapid growth of middle class population with increasing disposable income make it a very promising market.” No wonder then that everyone — publishers, stores (both online and brick-and-mortar) and manufacturers of eBook reader devices and apps — is hurrying to grab an early-mover advantage in the eBooks space.

The last 12 months or so, especially, have seen a lot of new launches and activity. Swiftboox, for example, is tying up with small and medium publishers in Bengali, Marathi, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, etc and offering to digitise their backlists using a technology that works with Indian vernacular languages. In October this year, HarperCollins launched an e-imprint, Harper21, with a series of 21 e-singles by 21 authors at a “token cost” of Rs21 each. “We decided to introduce readers with a format that was not too long or complicated to read by known authors, and could be finished while travelling on the Metro, for instance. We are not really looking at it as a revenue earner now,” says Karthika. In the last year or so, leading English-language publishers such as HarperCollins, Random House and Aleph have started to release new titles in both print and eformats.

Regional language publishers, however, still remain largely out of the ebook revolution, says Chowdhury, of Swiftboox. The market is also being flooded with ereaders and ebook apps of late — GooglePlay Books launched in India in February this year; in June, Amazon launched its Kindle range of e-readers and the Kindle Store; Flipkart, the leading books retailer, came out with its eBooks app in August; and last month, Kobo, a popular brand of ebook readers globally, unveiled its range in India. Even brick-and-mortar stores like Landmark have jumped onto the bandwagon with online ebook stores.

Why, these days, even highend smartphones come preloaded with Blio, a free-to-download ereader software! Clearly, there’re all waiting for the eBook revolution to happen.

The top shelf describes electronic publishing as “the issuing of books and other material in machine-readable form rather than on paper”.

E-publishing, short for electronic publishing, refers to work published online, on a compact disk, emailed, or provided in a format compatible with handheld electronic readers. Amazon Kindle and Kobo are two eBook readers popular amongst bibliophiles.

Source | Daily News Analysis | 25 November 2013

Tablet buying guide 2013 | How to pick the right tablet

You might be looking to snag a tablet for yourself or for your loved one. But before you venture out to a brick and mortar store or get lost scouring for websites and looking for deals, take a step back. Like everything else in life, tablet shopping is easier if you have a plan.

There are so many tablet options available, it's easy to be overwhelmed by all the possible criteria. You'll have to consider size and weight, how long the battery lasts, and which platform offers the apps and services you use the most. Let us help you with our guide on what to look for when you're in the market for a tablet, and what to avoid so that you don't needlessly spend money on something that turns out to be a dud.

Choose a platform

Most tablets will let you do common tasks like read books, browse the Web, play music and games, or watch movies and videos. But not all of the platform ecosystems are built the same.

One of the easiest ways to consider which platform best suits you is by looking at the devices you already have. For instance, do you have an iPhone that hooks up to a MacBook or a massive iTunes media library? Then you might want consider the iPad to help seal the circle and keep things easily synced across devices. Or, maybe you're platform agnostic and wouldn't mind a tablet with a bit more malleability? Google's Android-powered Nexus 7 is a worthy choice. Alternatively, if you're a member of Amazon Prime and find yourself pooling money into the site on a constant basis, then consider hooking yourself into its vast array of movies and e-books by bringing home a 7- or 8-inch Kindle Fire HDX.

Bear in mind that not all Android tablets are created equal: many of them either run older versions of Android or the manufacturer will offer up their own version with a customized interface that requires its own learning curve. Companies like Samsung and LG are notorious for this, and they package up the devices with their own bundle of applications--many of which you can't remove.

What will you use it for?

Those of you aching to be productive with a tablet that's easier on your back than a laptop might want to pay mind to Microsoft's Surface 2, which uses a touch-friendly version of Windows 8.1. However, you'll have less of an "entertainment tablet" experience with the absence of the some apps and games that are popular on other platforms. The iPad Air is also good for this reason as Apple offers its iWork productivity suite for tablet users, in addition to iCloud, which works with both your Mac and iPhone as well as your browser.

If you're e-book and movie crazy, any modern device will do, especially since Hulu, Netflix, and the official Amazon Kindle app are available on almost every device.

Go big? Stay small?

After you've determined which ecosystem to stick with, you'll have to pick a size. Tablets come in several sizes, beginning with 7-inch screens and getting as big as 10.1 inches. It's useful to think of it as two size categories: "big" tablets over 9 inches, and "small" tablets in the 7 to 8-inch range.

Smaller tablets travel better because they're lighter and more compact, but you'll also have to consider how the device fits in with the rest of your stuff. For example, the full-size iPad Air will take up almost as much space in your bag as an 11-inch MacBook Air.

The tablet size will also affect how it feels to hold the device. Devices like the second-generation Nexus 7 are comfortable to hold with one hand, but if you like to read, you'll have a better grip on a rocky transit ride with the shorter 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX. Of course, tablet size also determines the display size, which brings us to our next criteria...

Resolution matters

Remember that the bigger the tablet, the bigger the screen size, and the heavier the weight. If multitasking is your main concern and you want a tablet for both productivity and entertainment, a larger screen-size will make everything look better and give you more space to work with, but you'll be carrying more weight around.

A really high-res display like the Retina display in the latest iPad mini from Apple, makes text look crisp and reduces fatigue when reading for long periods. For watching videos and movies or for a tablet that will entertain the kids, it's more important that the screen be large than especially hi-res.

Processor performance

You may not be concerned with having the latest processor--you may not even be familiar with which tablet processors are new and fast and which are old and slow. But going with an older tablet because of its low price point may end up costing you in the long run. As apps and games are updated, they'll require more hardware resources, thus making them incompatible with the hardware you have inside your tablet.

The current processor landscape looks like this: quad-core processors from companies like Qualcomm are all the rage these days and help make for some very speedy devices. They're usually coupled with about 2GB of RAM and can be found in most Android devices, including Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition. Nvidia hasn't been too successful in the system-on-a-chip (SoC) wars in the last year, but the initial reviews of the Tegra Note 7 and Microsoft Surface 2 seem to suggest that a revival is on the horizon. Apple makes its own chips, and its latest, the iPad Air, features a very fast 64-bit A7 processor.


If you're looking for external connectivity, the Surface Pro 2 has the most to offer with both a USB 3.0 port and microHDMI to hook up to your TV. The iPad has one sole proprietary port with a selection of attachable dongles for things like SD cards and USB cameras--all sold separately--while some Android tablets come with either an HDMI or USB port, in addition to a MicroUSB port that sometimes supports Miracast, which tethers the tablet to your TV.

Penning with a stylus

If you like drawing, sketching, or just scratching out ideas, the Android-powered Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition comes with its own dockable stylus called the S-Pen. It features a button you can press with your index finger to bring up additional apps to help you get all of it out on virtual paper. Many Windows 8-based tablets also come with styluses to enable you to take advantage of the built-in digitizer, like the Surface Pro 2, which features Wacom tablet technology.

If you're really keen on the iPad though, you could always look at the vast array of third-party styluses, but the iPad's capacitive screen is not really optimized for stylus input.

Buying a tablet for everyone

It's likely that the tablet you're considering isn't just going to be used by you, but by other members of your family, too. Apple's iPad only offers password-protected restrictions, while both the Kindle Fire HDX and Nook HD+ offer special kid-friendly modes. Amazon calls its feature FreeTime, which lets you control your child's access to content on the device; the Nook offers up to six password-protected profiles with parental controls. Windows 8.1 allows you to set up multiple accounts and set restrictions on them, too.

Android features a better implementation for multi-user accounts by offering restricted profiles in tablets running Android 4.2.2 and later. You can allow each member of your family to have their own profile complete with their own customized Home screen and apps. The restricted profile just ensures that only the main user of the device will have complete access to things like apps and system settings. You can also set it up to keep your kids from going trigger happy in the Google Play store or downloading apps with mature content.

You're ready to buy

Now that you've got your list of things to look for and money burning a hole in your pocket, it's time to finally pick up that tablet.

First and foremost, look for any deals on tablets from your favorite stores. Some previous-generation models may be offered for less, but consider whether their aging processors will outlast the constant barrage of software and app updates. You might find clearance deals on older models of once-popular tablets, and while they'll work fine for sending emails, reading books, and surfing the Web, the buck stops there. If that's really your only interest, grab a device like the last-generation Nexus 7, which is currently going for $99. It won't receive any other Android updates after the current version of KitKat, however. Also, Apple is usually better about keeping older versions of its hardware updated for as long as feasibly possible, and its refurbished iPads and iPad minis aren't a bad idea either.

Don't immediately run to your carrier looking for a deal on a 4G-connected tablet. Many mobile carriers will offer a tablet at a subsidized price, but tablet technology advances so fast that you'll likely either still be paying off that tablet when the new one comes out, or get stuck on contract with something that's in danger of becoming outdated.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Folger Shakespeare Library's printed collection to go online

You will soon be able to view Shakespearean manuscripts on your mobile devices. The world’s largest collection of original Shakespearean books and manuscripts is all set to go online. According to BBC, Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC will release a series of apps next month that will allow access to these manuscripts and books.

The Folger Shakespeare Library – an independent research library in Washington, D.C. – is a primary repository for rare materials from the early modern period (1500–1750). It has the largest collection of Shakespearean works in the world. The library was established by Henry Clay Folger  along with his wife Emily Jordan Folger. However, it opened two years after his death.

The library is now listed on National Register of Historic Places, and privately administered by the Trustees of Amherst College. It offers several scholarly programs including national outreach to K–12 classroom teachers on Shakespeare education.

It’s a great way to preserve and introduce Shakespeare’s work and rare manuscripts to larger audiences across the globe, and it is thanks to projects like these that we feel like we’ve truly entered the digital age. Last month, Lloyd's List, which claims to be the world’s longest-published newspaper announced to go completely digital starting December 20 2013.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Reconsidering the value and role of libraries in the digital age

The arrival of the digital age is greatly transforming libraries. Going forward, what is the exact role a library should play? What is needed to be able to make efficient use of these vast book repositories? In search of answers, The Asahi Shimbun Globe sat down and spoke with two experts in the field.


More than 500 years have passed since Johannes Gutenberg started the printing revolution. Today, with the advent of digital technology, the dissemination of information is exploding around the globe.

In the world of the Internet, where anyone can be an originator of information, we are already saturated with an abundance of news, facts and figures. The key then is “how to combine and reuse all this accumulated information.” What is required is a method for unearthing and extracting important bits from a large quantity of accumulated information and combining them into new creations. Since ancient times, the basic system of the library, which makes a vast amount of written material easily accessible by searching an index, has served that purpose. Much more than we give it credit for, the library is still a futuristic entity.

However, problems stand in the way of the library being able to fully exhibit its potential. First, a public processing system related to copyrights and intellectual property rights is needed so material for which the owner or copyright holder is unknown can be publicly used. Second, it is necessary to train a new type of librarian who will be responsible for the digital knowledge base. As a profession, we must create an “advanced digital librarian” fully versed in information technology and intellectual property law.

When paper-based books are turned into digital media, they often blend text, video and sound. Books in the next century will probably look nothing like they do today, and the differences between museums, libraries, art museums and archives will become obscure. Information pertaining to the collected works, documents, records and books at each institution will be shared. When that happens, new value will be created via accumulating, storing, retrieving and reusing such information, and a social, institutional structure will be required.

An example of what I mean is the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake Archives that the National Diet Library is endeavoring to create. In the hope of contributing to disaster management and prevention, the archives are focused on gathering all records associated with the earthquake and creating a database that anyone will be able to search. The materials being collected range from official documents to personal websites and include sound and video along with traditional text and still images. If it is realized, the archives will probably serve as a kind of predecessor for the “library of the future.”
The European Union is already building a huge digital library, Europeana, in an attempt to unify European knowledge possessed by libraries, museums and archives across the continent.

In kanji-using cultures such as Japan, China and South Korea, there is also an accumulation of shared historical culture. It would probably be possible to build an East Asian multilingual digital library. First, however, Japan should build a “library of the future” that can serve as a model.

Lessons at your fingertips

Through videos, pictures and more, the online National Repository of Open Educational Resources promises to simplify both learning and teaching

Imagine an online library that’s as vast as the sky. It has videos, audios, books and pictures open to all for free. Anyone can contribute, critique, share, and adapt the content to suit their requirement. Teachers can use it to make lessons livelier; students can easily understand concepts they find complicated — all at the click of a mouse. That’s the National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER) for you.

Going digital

An initiative of the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India and the Central Institute of Educational Technology, National Council of Educational Research and Training, the repository “will endeavour to bring together all digital and digitisable resources for the school system — for all classes, for all subjects and in all languages”. It was launched at the recently held National Conference on ICT (Information and Communications Technology) for School Education in New Delhi.

So, what is the NROER all about? A quick look at the website will tell you that it’s the best place to be if you’re a teacher and are looking at ways to take learning beyond textbooks. According to Prof. Rajaram S. Sharma who is part of the core NROER team, the repository hopes to take quality electronic content to schools across the country. It aims to put technology to good use, since the Internet is catching up in government schools.

Its homepage features links to the various resources in the repository, namely videos, audios, interactive objects, images and documents. By clicking on ‘videos’ you can browse the video files in the library, under themes such as ‘Dance forms of India’, ‘Land & people’, ‘Sports’, ‘Himalayas’ and ‘Freedom Movement’, among others. There are also videos on origami, multiplication and algebra.

NROER features over 300 videos of science toys made of everyday objects by innovator Arvind Gupta — these include ‘Magic paper fan’, ‘Lighthouse generator’ and ‘Inertia pump’; audio clips about Gandhiji, Charles Darwin, Galileo, Baba Amte; photographs from across the country, documents on science concepts…

The repository is a collaborative platform, and anyone who has an interesting concept can upload it. They will also be given credit for the same, adds Rajaram. Of course, content uploaded may “require a little editing” to ensure it is suitable to be presented to students.

Content in Indian languages

The best thing about NROER is that it will feature content in Indian languages. Since their material has a Creative Commons licence, anyone can adopt it. For instance, “put a Tamil script and subtitles and share it with each other”, says Rajaram. Teachers can use it to “transform the classroom” by incorporating the concepts in the teaching process. “A volcano can be understood better if students watch a video of it and a slide show containing 10 to 20 photos,” he says. Wouldn’t it be easier to talk about the magnificence of sea waves to school children in a remote village in the Nilgiris using a video, he asks. A teacher can start a lesson with it to take children into the subject. This way, they can “give something more”.

Teachers can also comment on the resource they accessed, giving an evaluation of it to others in the field, adds Rajaram. His team hopes to take the repository to every nook and cranny of the country — through events and training programmes. If things go as planned, NROER could be among the best things that happened to our education system.

In a nutshell

NROER is a collection of videos, audios, interactive objects, images and documents to help teachers and students. The resources are organised into a semantic map of concepts. Anybody can access, edit, contribute and share the content

Source | The Hindu |

Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations


A collaborative effort of the NDLTD, OCLC, VTLS, and Scirus, the NDLTD Union Catalog contains more than one million records of electronic theses and dissertations. For students and researchers, the Union Catalog makes individual collections of NDLTD member institutions and consortia appear as one seamless digital library of ETDs.  The NDLTD provides free resources to contribute your institution's metadata - click to learn more about the Union Catalog project.


Two tools have been developed specifically to search and browse the NDLTD Union Catalog.  Other valuable tools have been developed for searches focused on specific countries or regions. Select the tool below that meets your needs. 

Search tools developed for the NDLTD Union Catalog

Scirus ETD Search
A comprehensive scientific research tool from Elsevier, Scirus ETD Search provides an advanced search that can narrow results to theses and dissertations as well as provide access to related scholarly resources.

VTLS Visualizer
This is a dynamic search and discovery platform with sophisticated functionality.  You can sort by relevance, title, and date.  In the current implementation, faceted searches are available by language, continent, country, date, format and source institution.  Additional facets, such as subjects or departments, can be added if desired.

Other useful ETD search tools

ADT (Australiasian Digital Theses Program)
This search portal provides searching, browsing, and access to ETDs produced in Australia.
Biblioteca Digital de Teses e Dissertacoes
A search tool for accessing ETDs produced in Brazilian universities.
A portal developed jointly by the University of Chile, the Universites de Lyon, Montreal, and Alexandrie, and the University of Geneva for accessing full text ETDs from many countries, including Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Hong Kong, Mexico, Peru, Spain, and the United States.
DART-Europe E-theses Portal
A discovery service for open access research theses awarded by European universities.
Deusche National Bibliothek
Dissertations since 1998 are available via search in the German National Library.
This portal provides access to ETDs and research publications written at 26 institutions in Scandinavia.
Electronic Theses Online Service (EThOS) offers free access, in a secure format, to the full text of electronically stored UK theses--a rich and vast body of knowledge.

This search portal provides access to ETDs produced in the Netherlands, as well as access to a variety of other research and data sets.
National ETD Portal (South Africa)
This search portal provides access to ETDs produced in South Africa.
ProQuest Dissertations and Theses
Many university libraries provide password access to this commercial database, but the link above also provides access for individuals without a connection to a research library. The collection includes most recent North American ETDs and selective coverage for other regions of the world.
RCAAP - Repositório Científico de Acesso Aberto de Portugal
The RCAAP's mission is to promote, support and facilitate the adoption of the open access movement in Portugal. RCAAP The project aims to: increase the visibility, accessibility and dissemination of academic activity and Portuguese scientific research, facilitating the management and access to information about scientific production and integrate Portugal into a set of international initiatives.  This portal offers a union catalog with digital contents from more than 30 institutions.
A union catalog of Canadian theses and dissertations, in both electronic and analog formats, is available through the search interface on this portal.
NDLTD Union Catalog hosted by OCLC.

UNESCO launched Global Open Access Portal

The Global Open Access Portal (GOAP) [], aiming at presenting a top level view of Open Access to scientific information, was launched at a special side event organized during the36th session of the UNESCO General Conference, on Tuesday 1 November 2011, at Paris Headquarters.
The Global Open Access Portal (GOAP) presents a snapshot of the status of Open Access (OA) to scientific information around the world.
For countries that have been more successful in implementing Open Access, the portal highlights critical success factors and aspects of the enabling environment. For countries and regions that are still in the early stages of Open Access development, the portal identifies key players, potential barriers and opportunities.
The portal has country reports from over 148 countries with weblinks to over 2000 initiatives/projects in Member States. The portal is supported by an existing Community of Practice (CoP) on Open Access on the WSIS Knowledge Communities Platform that has over 1400 members.
The GOAP is a knowledge portal that has the following features:
Country-wise distilled knowledge on the status of Open Access
Key organizations engaged in OA in Member States
Thematic focus areas of OA
Important publications on OA coming from different regions of the world
Critical assessment of major barriers to OA in each country
Potential of OA in UNESCO Member States
Funding and deposit mandates
Links to OA initiatives in the world
The Global Open Access Portal (GOAP), launched together with the revamped Open Training Platform (OTP) and the first UNESCO Open Educational Resources (OER) Platform, provides the information for policy-makers to learn about the global OA environment and to view their country’s status, and understand where and why Open Access has been most successful.
Development of the Global Open Access Portal has been made possible with support received from the Governments of Columbia, Denmark, Norway, and the United States. This GOAP will be a work in progress, and shall be further improved with the support received from the community of OA practitioners.
Open Access is at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate to provide universal access to information and knowledge, and the UNESCO Open Access programme shall continue to facilitate policy dialogue in Member States, share knowledge and best practices in the field of Open Access, and build and share local capacities through North-South and South-South co-operation to build knowledge societies for sustainable development.

JSTOR Launches JPASS Access Accounts for Individual Researchers

n an effort to enhance access options for people who aren’t affiliated with universities, colleges, or high schools, not-for-profit digital library JSTOR has launched JPASS, a new program offering individual users access to 1,500 journals from JSTOR’s archive collection. The move follows the March 2012 launch of JSTOR’s Register & Read program, which allowed independent researchers to register for a free MyJSTOR account, and receive free, online-only access to three full-text articles every 14 days. That service has since attracted almost one million users including independent scholars, writers, business people, adjunct faculty, and others, and JSTOR plans to continue offering the service in its current form. However, in a recent survey, many of Register & Read users expressed interest in an individual subscription model that would offer enhanced access, encouraging JSTOR to move ahead with JPASS.
“With Register and Read, you can read three articles online every two weeks for free, and for a lot of people, that’s great…. Other people really need to be able to download [articles], they need to be able to read more extensively,” said Heidi McGregor, VP of Marketing and Communications for Ithaka, the parent organization of JSTOR.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

MANTRA: Free, Online Course on How to Manage Digital Data

Research Data MANTRA is a free, online course with guidelines on how to manage the data you collect throughout your research. The course is particularly appropriate for those who work or are planning to work with digital data.
Once you have finalized the course, you will:
Be aware of the risk of data loss and data protection requirements.  Know how to store and transport your data safely and securely (backup and encryption).
Have experience in using data in software packages such as R, SPSS, NVivo, or ArcGIS.
Recognise the importance of good research data management practice in your own context.
Be able to devise a research data management plan and apply it throughout the projects life.
Be able to organise and document your data efficiently during the course of your project.
Understand the benefits of sharing data and how to do it legally and ethically.
MANTRA set-up
The course contains the following eight units of aproximately an hour:
Research data explained
Data Management plans
Organising data
File formats and transformations
Documentation & metadata
Storage & security
Data protection, rights & access
Sharing, preservation & licensing
And four software practicals: R, SPSS, NVivo, and ArcGIS.
The units contain explanations, descriptions, examples, exercises, and video clips in which academics, PhD students and others talk about the challenges of managing research data.
MANTRA is maintained by Data Library staff in Information Services, University of Edinburgh.
(source:post created by sarah dister)
click on the link for more information:

The first bookless library: BiblioTech offers only e-books

Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 11:30 am | Updated: 4:45 pm, Thu Oct 10, 2013.
By Julianne Pepitone |
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - BiblioTech is a new library in Texas, but you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise. The library houses no physical books.
Staffers at San Antonio's BiblioTech say it's the first "bookless library." And in addition to its catalog of 10,000 e-books, this techy library also provides a digital lifeline to a low-income neighborhood that sorely needs it.
BiblioTech opened its doors Sept. 14 on the south side of San Antonio, a mostly Hispanic neighborhood where 40% of households don't have a computer and half lack broadband Internet service.
Although the library houses no printed books -- and members can even skip the visit by checking out its e-books online -- BiblioTech's staff says the library's physical presence is still key to its success.
"We're finding that you really have to get your head around a paradigm shift," said Laura Cole, BiblioTech's special projects coordinator. "Our digital library is stored in the cloud, so you don't have to come in to get a book. But we're a traditional library in that the building itself is an important community space."
That 4,800-square-foot space looks more like an Apple Store or a Google breakroom than a library. It's decked out with funky orange walls, a colorful play area for children complete with plush seats and glowing screens, plus loads of devices available for in-library use: 45 Apple iPads, 40 laptops and 48 desktop computers.
Members checking out one of the 10,000 e-books -- provided through 3M's Cloud Library service -- can borrow one of 600 stripped-down e-readers or 200 "enhanced" readers for children. Audiobooks and educational software are also available.
BiblioTech's efforts have attracted 7,000 members so far, and staffers relish sharing anecdotes about the people who walk through their doors.
Cole relayed a story about a young family's recent visit, during which the twentysomething father revealed that the regular e-readers were of no use to him; he couldn't read.
"One of our staff offered him a children's reader, which is enhanced with activities that help learn to read," Cole said. "He started shaking, and his wife couldn't stop crying. It was a really profound experience for him. And this is why we worked to start something like BiblioTech."
The genesis of the idea came from Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, a self-described book fiend who felt libraries aren't evolving with technology. Wolff gathered about a half-dozen county employees, including Cole, to brainstorm ideas for a library that helped an underserved neighborhood in a truly modern way. Last October, the group began researching to find other libraries that had gone completely digital -- but they couldn't find any.
"Not all libraries are going to be like us, and we understand that," Wolff said. "But we sure do hope it's going to drive them to do more to evolve. The world is changing, and libraries can't stay the same. Not if they want to stay relevant."

Widening Access to Educational Resources

By launching the National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER) portal‒a free online repository of National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) courseware‒the government has taken a significant step towards widening and improving access to learning resources and has provided a fillip to the movement for free and open knowledge in the country.

Rohini Lakshane ( is a freelance technology journalist and Wikimedian based in Mumbai.

Imagine a student learning a science experiment at school and supplementing her knowledge by watching a programme on the subject aired on Doordarshan many years ago. Or learning a difficult concept in geometry by using interactive software free of cost. Or a teacher adapting a useful lesson from a curriculum taught in a different language elsewhere in the country. All this and more is now possible, after the National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER), a free online repository of National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) courseware, was launched in August 2013, by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The launch of the portal, which houses open-licensed school textbooks and other educational content developed and published by the government-funded NCERT, comes as a big breakthrough for the movement for free and open knowledge in the country; knowledge that can be accessed, applied, and shared freely.

What Does the Open License Mean?

All the NCERT course books for students from class 1 to 12 for all subjects have been available for free downloading, though under copyright restrictions, for many years. However, copyright meant that students, self learners, or teachers could not legally modify, reuse, or redistribute the books without written permission from the NCERT. About 30 textbooks of class 9 and 10 put together are now accessible on the NROER under a Creative Commons-Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License (CC-BY-SA).

The Creative Commons license is a legal tool which enables copyright owners to manage their rights over their works. The CC-BY-SA license enables the creators of educational content to reuse, modify, build upon, or redistribute with attribution the vast collection of text files, audio files, videos, images, interactive applications and documents uploaded to the NROER. In case the content is tweaked, the same license will apply to the new work, setting up endless possibilities for NCERT courses to be modified and re-modified till they become an inextricable part of the expansive digital commons. The content could be used in classroom presentations, blogs, or books, be harvested for use on other open education resource (OER) projects such as WikiEducator and repositories such as Wikipedia or its sister projects. Licensing knowledge resources is a way of bringing knowledge to those who find accessing it either difficult or impossible.

Those who wish to collaboratively create new courses, start their own courses, or donate the open educational resources they create can upload them to the repository. Those who remix or adapt the NCERT content can give back to the community by posting the new work on the NROER.

Students and self learners can now freely access the courseware, including some finely scripted and directed audio and video programmes and appealing interactive content, which would aid their learning. Some of the videos are distance learning programmes created by the NCERT and previously aired on Doordarshan.

Initially, the CC-BY-SA-NC ‒a license with a clause to disallow commercial use of the content‒ was going to be appended to the NROER. This would have ruled out the use of the content, in say, a paid app, a paid online tutorial or a paid course. After much lobbying by the Wikimedia Chapter (India), a non-profit organisation that promotes Wikimedia projects, and other proponents of open knowledge, the CC-BY-SA license was adopted instead. The move was in keeping with the 2012 Paris Open Educational Resources (OER) Declaration of the UNESCO, which recommends that governments freely license educational resources developed with public funds “to maximise the impact of the investment”. As the NCERT is an autonomous government body, much of the lobbying was driven by the belief that knowledge, research and information funded with public money should be freely accessible to the public.

The Platform

The Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education built the NROER website over a period of six months on the open source Gnowsys-Studio kernel. Simply put, the website is powered by a customised semantic network. All the content has been broken down into small web pages. The user interface allows the content to be searched, edited, rated, modified, described and commented on. The website has the potential to build a community around the content and to rope in more people to contribute to it.
The Road Ahead

The portal needs to iron out a few creases to fully achieve its purpose of enabling access to education for all. Open access to knowledge and information is linked to the use of open source software, the implementation of open standards and the licensing of open content. Usually the content on open education portals such as the NROER and Institute of Distance and Open Learning (IDOL), University of Mumbai is present in proprietary file formats (for example, docx). To ensure flexibility across platforms, it is crucial that all content is posted using open standards.

Only 30 out of the 334 NCERT textbooks have been uploaded to the NROER, since work on the website started six months ago. The rest are expected to be uploaded over the next four and half years along with graphs, maps, photos, graphics, diagrams and audio-visual material.

As of now, the textbooks are available in Hindi, English, and Urdu. Hopefully over time . textbooks and course materials in different regional languages would be uploaded. The NROER website should display a consent form for contributors so that they do not unknowingly upload copyrighted content. Also, they would be made aware that they are licensing away the content they put up. Overall, the user interface needs some improvement for better usability.

Numerous universities and institutions in India are working towards the creation and diffusion of open education resources ‒from crafting and digitising content to building quality assurance frameworks. The NROER is the first open educational resources portal to be launched by the government under the CC-BY-SA license. The rest are under either the CC-BY-SA-NC license (Project Oscar, National Program for Technology Enhanced Learning) or copyright (eGyankosh, IDOL). The NROER may set the ball rolling for other entities in India to throw open their repositories of precious knowledge and impart momentum to the country’s open knowledge movement.