Intrallect wins JORUM UK national repository contract
With the awarding of the 250.000 GBP contract, the JISC sponsored JORUM project will start the transition to a national repository of learning materials, to be made available to the UK Further and Higher Education by August 2005.
The award of the contract follows a competitive tendering process conducted by the two JISC MIMAS (University of Manchester) and EDINA (University of Edinburgh) national data centres that manage the JORUM. The process was informed by a large user requirement survey conducted during the pilot implementation phase of the JORUM project.
Though details of the tendering process are not yet available, it appears that the main criteria that where used to whitle down the shortlist of seven included standards support, flexibility and support, scalability, value for money and a user friendly interface. In terms of the first criterion, the current version 2 of Intrallect's winning Intralibrary product has fairly deep support for IMS Content Packaging, as well as multiple metadata profiles, including the UK LOM Core; the national profile of the IEEE Learning Object Metadata standard. The Open Archive Initiative's Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) is also supported.
IntraLibrary is not unique in the set of standards and specifications it implements, but flexibility and support may have been a key strength. MIMAS' director Julia Chruszcz' cites "Intrallect's willingness to meet emerging requirements" and EDINA director Peter Burnhill stresses the importance of good support services.
Version 2 of intraLibrary has already been tailored to meet JORUM requirements, amongts other projects, but the ramping up of the project to a national service includes a few further rounds of development. Though not confirmed, that would almost certainly involve the development of a webservice interface to JORUM's search facilities.
In that sense, JORUM is an important part of the JISC's Information Environment- a coordinated set of national services that provide access to all the digital collections, data sets and other information that the JISC manages or negotiates access to. A webservice interface would also facilitate search integration with various other regional and local repositories of content.
The JORUM repository itself is to be a cross-disciplinary, cross-sector collection of any kind of material that can be used in teaching and learning. Assets can vary from a single wordprocessing document that's used in a laboratory experiment to much more complex interactive animations. The collection is also to include 'resource stubs' or 'virtual objects'; essentially downloadable, annotatable and described links to material hosted elsewhere.
The JORUM website has a wealth of information about the functionality of the repository, as well as a press release about the intraLibrary contract.
Intrallect have also made a press release (8 Kb, pdf) available.