Agricultural Learning Repository (AgLR)
The Agricultural Learning Repository tool (AgLR tool) is a repository tool that has been developed based on the open-source [Omeka http://omeka.org] Web Content Management, Collections Management, and Archival Digital Collections System.
The agINFRA e-Infrastructure provides users with the ability to use the agLR component even if they don’t have the ability and the infrastructure of supporting such a tool. With agINFRA, users can simply request a virtual machine with the agLR tool preinstalled and start using a complete repository tool for creating and editing educational collections without having to pass through the installation process or maintaining the tool.
The tool supports the Organic.Edunet IEEE LOM AP, as well as the AGROVOC thesaurus for the classification of the resources. Using the agINFRA-powered AgLR installation users can perform automatic translations of the metadata to additional languages that they are familiar with, therefore extending the coverage of these resources, making them available to a much wider audience. The agINFRA powered version is also equipped with a text mining service to suggest metadata for new records based on the resource URL.
Usage and deployment (if publicly accessible)
Request for a new cloud based instance of the tool at agINFRA Cloud Scientific Gateway
Example Usage Scenario
Vassilis is an agronomist working as a curator of Green topic collection. Among his tasks, he is responsible for finding new educational collections and creating small metadata collections describing these resources. For this purpose he has been using an open source repository/data management tool for a long time but he realized that the bottleneck in his workflow is the tool itself. For example, the technical administrator of this tool is located in Finland and is only rarely available for responding to requests related to the tool, since this is only one of his numerous tasks.
When Vassilis would like to have a new collection or a new user account created in the tool, he has to write an email with all the necessary information and wait for the administrator’s response and actions. This communication may take from a couple of days to some weeks, depending on the schedule of the admin. The tool itself is installed in a remote server, to which Vassilis and his team have no access, therefore downtimes may occur and it may take quite a long time before the server is up and the tool is available again. Another issue faced is the development required in order to solve issues in the tool, which in turn requires time and effort from the technical administrator of the tool. These issues include the following:
- availability a revised version of the metadata AP and/or the ontology currently integrated in the tool
- introduction of new translations of the user interface
- creation of new sets for exposing/harvesting specific collections stored in the tool
- ingestion of XML files in new or existing collections
- collaborative work with colleagues from other institutions/countries etc.
Stavros is Vassilis’s colleague and the technical administrator / main responsible for the setup and support of a new tool for the management of digital collections and repositories. He is supporting Vassilis and his colleagues with the setup and support of all their systems and tools. In addition, he is responsible for creating new instances of the new tool, managing user accounts and collections, ingesting harvested XML files to specific collections etc. Due to his involvement in various tasks apart from the development of the tool, Stavros has only limited time to support Vassilis regarding the use of the external tool; therefore Vassilis can only count on the limited support provided by the developer of the other tool.
Dominique, a lecturer / content developer from an African Agricultural University and would like to create an online collection for the material that he and his colleagues in the same faculty develop, as well as the courses that they prepare for their students. He would like to share this collection with other stakeholders from African universities and not only. In fact, he would like to see this collection being collaborative extended with related material from stakeholders coming from other related institutions. Mongue is a friend and colleague of Dominique from a different university that already are working with open educational resources. Mongue feels limited by the tool the university is using and requires a lot of technical efforts from her side (e.g. updating, bug fixing etc.). John is an agronomist and works as self-employed. John is interested to have access in a permanent way to educational content regarding his work. John as an individual agronomist has come across many situations he would like to share with his colleagues but is limited only to people he is familiar with.
Replacing existing metadata/repository management tools with AgLR Vassilis has asked Stavros if they can install a copy of the external tool in the local server, in order to have direct access to it and solve some of the issues on the fly. However, Stavros was reluctant to do so, for several reasons:
- He would have to study the specific requirements for the installation of the tool, such as operating system, hardware requirements etc.
- Ensure that the company’s server could support the additional storage and bandwidth traffic according to the hosting plan available.
- Download the latest version of the tool - in our case the download link was broken and he would have to contact the administrator directly for a working link and further instructions.
- He would have to go through the installation notes for this new software and ensure that the installation would be smooth.
- He would have to be trained to this new tool in order to be able to technically support Vassilis with it.
Due to his busy schedule but mostly due to the fact that he has just developed a new tool for the same purpose, Stavros is reluctant to follow this approach. In addition, this would mean that he would have to keep an eye on updates, bug fixes and patches related to a tool that he is not aware of, as well as requesting software modifications and additions to the tool from the administrator of this tool, which would cause an overhead to his already busy schedule. Instead, he suggests that Vassilis uses the AgLR tool, which features a wealth of new options and for which he will have instant technical support. V
assilis and Stavros have a discussion about the migration of the existing collections to the new tool (AgLR), in a new instance that will feature the collections that Vassilis is currently working on. After analyzing the potential risks and constraints, they decide to start the process of harvesting the existing collections and ingesting the XML files produced in the AgLR tool. Vassilis and Stavros configure the new instance of the AgLR tool, defining the languages available, the user roles involved and the access that other users will have to these collections. Stavros takes care of the sets and OAI-PMH targets required for the exposure of the metadata records and everything is set up properly within less than a couple of hours.
In a similar situation Dominique who has not a lot of technical expertise to set up such a tool contacts the technical administrator of the university. He is informed that his University does not currently have any kind of institutional repository and for the technical difficulties development of such tools has. He realizes that without proper funding he cannot ask for the hosting of an online repository. For Monge the repository tool they are using in the university is out-of-date and no longer supported. Monge always wanted to upgrade to a new system that would not require technical efforts from her side (e.g. updating, bug fixing etc.), but could never find the time to do so, as she would have to make a research for all available options and select based on the available budget of her university. John is usually searching the web to find educational resources regarding his work. He is very disappointed by the current content since each institution uses different tools, with different prototypes to store data. Even more, he has to search for all the institution and all the tools that are currently used.
agINFRA powered version
Cloud-based deployment Dominique is informed by some colleagues about the agINFRA scientific gateway and the AgLR tool. He is surprised that the tool can be used without him having to worry about technical aspects (such as installation and hosting), so he decides to give it a try. He visits the homepage of the agINFRA scientific gateway, where he is presented with a list of the tools that can be used in the Cloud. He is presented with a simple form where he can select that he wishes to setup a new virtual machine, operating on Cloud resources, which will host the dedicated installation of the AgLR tool for Dominique’s faculty. He provides some options, including the approximate size of the repository and number of users, a short name and basic personal details and he presses the “Install” button.
After a very short time he is informed that the new virtual machine is ready and is provided with a link to access it. Dominique presses on the link and his browser presents the front-page of the newly installed AgLR tool, with some basic instructions for logging in as administrator in order to carry on with basic configuration and usage of the tool. Dominique is really happy to see that the tool he has only recently been informed about is already set up and operating. On top of that, he can customise its look to match their lab's preferable colors and logo. What's best is that the tool comes with the Organic.Edunet IEEE LOM AP preinstalled, as well as the AGROVOC thesaurus for the classification of his resources. Dominique realized that with only minimum effort from his side, he managed to setup the repository tool, which was something that even for the technical administrator of his university seemed difficult and time-consuming. In addition, the tool is operating on the Cloud without need for attending another server component at his lab computers, so he can feel confident for the reliability of the infrastructure, as well as the ability to expand the resources of the underlying virtual machine (memory, size of hard disk) as soon as the usage of the tool and the size of his collection grows.
Collaborative work for creating digital collections Dominique introduces the Cloud-based AgLR tool to Monge. Now, Monge realizes that one of the options that she has is to create an account in the newly installed AgLR tool already set up by her colleague Dominique and browse through the user interface and available options. She is convinced that the AgLR tool can meet her expectations from such a tool. As a next step, she creates a new collection in the same installation of the tool and sends out an e-mail to her colleagues with the link of the AgLR Cloud-based installation in order to let them know about their new repository. Her team can now start annotating their educational resources using the same metadata AP as the one used in various related repositories. In addition, she finds it really easy to share her resources and publish them through related thematic portals.
This collaborative work between Monge, her team and affiliated teams leads to a rapid growth of the repository with high quality content, which can be stored, retrieved and shared really easily. Last, but not least, all colleagues, both internal and external can collaborate using the agINFRA-powered AgLR installation to perform automatic translations of the metadata to additional languages that they are familiar with, therefore extending the coverage of these resources, making them available to a much wider audience.
Contributions from individuals John is informed from a colleague about the agINFRA-powered AgLR tool and he decides to start using it. The new tool provides him with almost unlimited access to learning resources. Even more he can now create his own educational content and share it with other people.
AgLR is providing an API for the publishing of the metadata records. This API is following the OAI-PMH protocol. Any instance of the AgLR tool is exposing the metadata through this API that supports all the methods defined by OAI-PMH. Examples of such methods are listed bellow for a any agLR installation. The API that is currently provided by the AgLR is based on the OAI-PMH protocol (http://www.openarchives.org/pmh/). A php based module for the REST API was developed by AK. The OAI-PMH target of AgLR is supports the publishing of metadata records in Dublin Core and IEEE LOM metadata standard.
Listing all the collections (sets) available in a AgLR instance
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List of metadata records for a specific metadata set and collection