Initial development of the proposed digital infrastructure was based on a number of key factors.
- The User Interface (UI) needed to be consistent across all parts of the application (internal consistency) and build upon the users’ previous experiences (familiarity). It also needed to be multi-lingual to meet the needs of Chinese and New Zealand researchers.
- Research spaces needed to be individually configured and owned by the group(s) conducting the research.
- Administration and management processes associated with research activities (roles, responsibilities and access) needed to be controlled within the research space.
- Media rich synchronous (web-conferencing) and asynchronous (video and audio recording) communication tools would need to be be available on demand.
- Secure spaces for the storage, presentation and retrieval of data collected using digital video and audio devices were required.
- Academic publishing activities, peer review and publication of text and multi-media files, needed to be available.
- With the focus on the TVET sector, the close relationship between the research and teaching environments needed to be acknowledged.
In previous studies it had been suggested that existing Virtual Learning Environment software applications (such as Boddington and Sakai) could provide a direct link between research and teaching and learning (Fraser, 2005). It was argued in some contexts, such as the social sciences, it may be possible to re-purpose the existing learning management system (LMS) applications as a framework for the development of user generated research spaces.
Moodle, a globally deployed LMS with multiple language packs, provided the team with the fundamental functionality to create a modular infrastructure for users to create their own research spaces. For example, research spaces could be individually customised by using an extensive range of themes and formats. System and application plugins such as PoodLLe, (asynchronous video and audio recording functionality), Big Blue Button (web-conferencing software), Kaltura (multimedia storage and steaming) provide users with a comprehensive suite of applications that they could configure to meet their needs.
This presentation will illustrate, through the use of a functional pilot site, how users can create customised research spaces.
Michael Fraser. “Virtual Research Environments: Overview and Activity”. July 2005, Ariadne Issue 44 http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue44/fraser/