All entries for Thursday 20 October 2005

October 20, 2005

The Learning Grid

A big thank-you to Rachel, Dean & Team who've just finished giving the first of this year's informal lunch talks. A very entertaining (and informative) over view of the Grid and its first year of operation – not to mention their hopes for the year to come.

It was particularly nice to have some of their student advisors there to give us the experience (as it were) from the horse's mouth. As they both work for the Library and are current students – they have a rather unique perspective on the highs and lows of Grid activities.

A shame we only had 11 people there to hear them – but then it is a busy time of year. I do hope some of those who missed out will be able to make one of the forthcoming series.

We'll have another LunchTalk! towards the end of this term, title and speaker to be announced in the near future.

Portals, portlets and what the users want

Writing about web page

The CREE project at Hull has released its final report. I find it interesting as it relates to the work I once did at Loughborough, and to the work I did on the portal at Coventry University. The concepts of a VLE, a portal and a portlet seem to be very similar. I wonder at the results of their user survey on page 18, which attempts to show whether users want to search library catalogues, search engines and various other resources through a VLE a portal or a Web page. I am surprised that their users know the difference between them all!

I can appreciate that a Web page, a VLE and a portal all attempt to do something slightly different for the user, but I think that the difference from a user's point of view is hardly perceptible. I also think that many people do not use VLEs or portals to the full depth of their capacity, and use them more like a Web page, which further blurs the distinction for the user.

No doubt you are wondering what a "portlet" is, and how it comes in to all this. Well the portlet is a package that offers the option to search the library catalogue (or similar service) through a portal or VLE rather than through its own interface or Web page. I guess that an example would be the Resource Discovery Network search box that I built into a tutorial page here:

At least that's my understanding. But then you never can be sure if you've got to grips with the differences between all these concepts – I sometimes wonder if people don't make them up as they go along!

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