Exposing educational and research resources and the corresponding connections as linked data creates a potential for broader reuse of their content, impacting on potentially large numbers of students and research communities. It also contributes in terms of gained experience, through articulated and evidenced benefits for exposing content and data to broader audiences. The project will aim to document business process changes required to achieve successful integrated institutional approaches and behaviours required to facilitate content and data reuse alongside documenting the development of policy and recommended standard-based, semantic technology interoperability solutions to support the effective delivery of educational and research data linked exposure.
Tremendous efforts are required for students for example to obtain an overview of relevant scholarly material concerning a particular topic of a course, or covering elements of some multimedia content. For example, answering a simple question such as “What courses are available that relate to this BBC programme I have just seen?” would require to manually locate the relevant resources, access them through many different systems and integrate the results. The same issues apply to researchers who rely on ad-hoc data collection, access and curation mechanisms, limiting their ability to flexibly exploit the
data, and to interpret it in connection with external information.
In addition, for researchers, the management and sharing of data is becoming a major issue. This is often realised through a database maintained by the project officer, manually entering and cleaning the
data, which is linked to a Web interface developed by an IT team. The main issues that arise from such a workflow include the inaccessibility of the data to other applications than its dedicated Web interface, the relative isolation of this data, being not connected to other information, but also that the relation between the database and its Web exposure is
non-trivial, creating a threat to its sustainability.
Through proposing clear procedures and technological support to the exposure of research and educational data as linked data, LUCERO will benefit “Users” and members of the Open University, especially:
- Course and programme teams, through more effective content collection for course and programme creation, as well as the ability to publish course content enriched with links to relevant (data) resources.
- Students, by providing multiple access points to educational and research data, as well as the availability of new tools to explore relevant resources.
- Researchers, through the availability of new data analysis tools for linked data, able to make emerge connections between previously unrelated elements on the basis of links to external datasets.
- The communication services, through new processes to realise the Web exposure of University content in an efficient and interlinked manner.
In addition, as LUCERO integrates the openness that characterize the Open University as well as, to a large extent, the linked data movement, within the exposure of educational and research data. Indeed, data published as part of the project will be made accessible freely and openly to any academics, student or research without restrictions.
Finally, besides the direct benefit of the open exposure of linked data, LUCERO intends to engage with the wider community by providing experience report, guidelines and reusable components, which can be picked up and employed directly by other organizations. As such, we intend to engage with the community of Semantic Web practitioners though interlinking and sharing of practices, as well as with the community of librarians/information managers regarding procedures to manage and expose linked educational and research data.