Technology and formats employed
The Co-operative Learning Centre (CLC) website will act as communication hub for co-operative researchers as well as a research dissemination tool for projects. The CLC is built on the Drupal Content Management System (CMS). Drupal is an Open Source framework with a vibrant development community. Currently, the CLC is designed as an annotated resource library built for long-term storage of reference data (using Dublin Core Metadata standard). The extensible framework of Drupal allows our web developers to customize the system to our researchers and other audiences. For more information on Drupal, please visit:
• Introduction: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drupal
• Why Drupal? http://drupaltutorials.com/books/why-drupal
• More Drupal Sites: http://buytaert.net/tag/drupal-sites
• Drupal Main Site: http://drupal.org
• Drupal Development Community Site: http://groups.drupal.org
Future projects will extend the existing CLC website. For researchers, this custom web application will be extended to facilitate activities, communication and collaboration amongst researchers. A research "action centre" will be developed to provide researchers with custom-developed research tools as well as discussion groups, project tracking and the ability to freely share their results through the public pages of the CLC. Research participants will add their bibliographic references to the CLC (with links to data repository resources) for each of the resources they use in their research. For the public, these bibliographic entries (and their corresponding resources) will be put into context by the openly available research papers (and other outcomes) produced.
Our web team, coordinated by Robin Puga, will utilize the collaborative Agile Development model to develop the software. This organizational model gives us flexibility to develop projects of considerable scope in short time frames while producing solid code. Once the initial researcher “action centre” specifications are collected, organized and a draft is vetted by our stakeholders, then the web development team will work on adding the new features in two-week development sprints. After each sprint the completed and tested features are promoted to the active CLC for the researchers to begin using. This provides a constant cycle of tool deployment and feedback which allows the web team to develop the research tools that meet the specific needs of our project researchers.
The database within the CLC uses the Dublin Core metadata standard to store research and bibliographic information. Using the Dublin Core standard provides meaningful context for the information that describes the resources saved in the database. This allows the database content to be repurposed for a variety of audiences and contexts. Content, and its associated metadata, can easily be extracted from the database to another Dublin Core compatible database in the future. This ensures that even if the underlying technical framework of our project (ie. Drupal in our case) changes the resource data will be maintained intact.
Additionally, for this project we will be implementing an additional layer of access to our Drupal using new modules that manage the Resource Definition Framework for the CLC website content. Adding RDF capabilities to the Drupal website will allow other websites and web applications to be able to query the public information on the CLC website and utilize it for other purposes. This would essentially make the CLC site another Semantic Web resource node.