Linking repositories to VLEs

I’ve made an exploratory start to what I hope will be a new area of work, looking at how repositories containing learning materials and VLEs interact. For some time I’ve been hearing about various projects (some JISC funded, some based at JISC services, some institutional, some commercial) that have the aim of “linking” a repository to a VLE. However I don’t have a clear picture of what is going on overall, and I have a suspicion that maybe other people are in a similar position. I’ld like to discover more detail about what people mean when they say they are “linking” a repository to a VLE.

The sort of things I would like to know are:

  • what is the nature of the link? e.g. embedding a search of the repository/catalogue into the VLE (and then what?–transferring the resource to the VLE?); using the repository to serve material when requested by the VLE; slurping information out of a VLE to store it in the repository (then what?); passing information on resource usage from the VLE to the repository; searching the VLE from within the repository.
  • what is the aim, what use cases are being met?
  • which repository and VLE systems are being linked? To what extent is the link system-specific (e.g. a blackboard building block or repository plugin) or generic (e.g. uses SRU, RSS)
  • what specifications / standards are being used?
  • any reflections on what has worked well. Or not.

An initial message to the JISC-REPOSITORIES email list has clarified what I had heard about some projects and pointed me to some I didn’t know about. I’ll summarize what I learn on the CETIS wiki so others can see it. It’s very early days yet, but I think it might be useful to try to draw together the benefits people are envisaging (use cases, or usage scenarios maybe), the functionality they are providing to achieve these benefits, and the technicalities of how they aim to implement the functionality.

Any information on relevant work, ongoing or completed, would be greatly received: just send me or the jisc-repositories list an email.

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