Remaining at the leading edge of learning technology, Staffordshire University, one of the first users of virtual learning environments (VLEs), is now discovering the benefits of using a Federated Digital Repository System (FDRS).
The system, HarvestRoad Hive, from Giunti Labs – manages any form of content used in online learning, corporate training and knowledge management initiatives.
Angus Turpin, managing director of Giunti Labs UK Ltd, explained:
“HarvestRoad Hive establishes a bridge between islands of content within and across multiple institutions or organisations, regardless of the type of content or purpose for its existence. It is used to store and manage ‘learning’ or ‘knowledge objects’ and their metadata, assembles these into standards-compliant packages, and delivers that content on demand to learning and course management systems, corporate training systems or web portals.”
“HarvestRoad Hive can interface with almost any ERP, learning or course management system and is already integrated with several commonly used course management systems, authoring and content assembly tools.”
Professor Mark Stiles, Staffordshire University’s head of Learning Development and Innovation, commented:
“Initially, we developed a VLE for ourselves and also bought Lotus Learning Space about 1997/98. However, we settled on the Blackboard VLE and began to migrate the content of hundreds of modules from our existing VLE to Blackboard.”
“In doing so, we learnt the hard way about the challenges of this process – and we vowed never to be put in that position again! Now we’re diversifying how we deliver e-learning materials and looking at different systems for doing this – not just VLEs – we were led to consider learning repositories.”
Installing HarvestRoad Hive on the university’s servers took ‘a few weeks’ and, according to Mark, configuring the system is ‘key’.
He added: “We’ve found that it takes a lot of planning to get the repository sorted exactly as you need it – but, for us, the HarvestRoad Hive repository forms the key underpinning link in supporting e-learning as part of the university’s business goals.”
Using HarvestRoad Hive, university staff can now share, re-use and repurpose their content.
This will avoid anyone having to ‘reinvent the wheel’, enabling the university’s investment in e-learning content – probably over a million pound’s worth of effort – to be used more effectively.
Mark, who was an IT manager before taking up his current position, added:
“We have been extremely pleased with the responsible attitude and attention to detail that Giunti Labs’ consultants have demonstrated. They are excellent – as, indeed, has been the standard of technical support that Giunti Labs’ staff have given us.