Jorum Blog

FAQ: Why Would I Use Jorum?

Posted by on 7th February 2012

Back in 2009/2010, Jorum’s offering was reviewed externally, and the question that is the basis of this blog post was posed within that unpublished document. It is an important one to ponder, given now that Jorum is hoping to move into service and "become a real boy", as it were. As our Jorum Final Report pointed out, when we first came on the scene, we were something new: no one had heard of a national repository before, and no one really had any idea of what we were supposed to look like or indeed work like. Since then, the examples of repositories, and particularly Open Repositories, have multiplied, with exemplars such as Humbox, OpenMichigan, UNOW and Swapbox, as just a few who offer interesting and innovative ways of storing and distributing content. With so many examples proliferating now, what do we do, at Jorum, that is distinct? What's our selling point now and in the future?

For starters, we think as a national service, we offer something very unique: other open repositories are often rooted in a particular institution, whereas we are integrated with a vast number of HE and FE institutions and are rolling out pilots to become even more involved. This will take the form of specific "neighbourhoods" within Jorum, which allow institutions and subject areas to group, as they see fit. Feedback we've received specifically said that such means of allowing for distinct collections would give users an added benefit of reassurance that their resources are being used by others whom they trust. This will also allow for the creation of profiles, which in turn will allow users to promote their activities in a professional and interesting way.

That's on the horizon, but in the meantime, we have also pointed out how effective our current offering is, in particular our Featured Resources section on the homepage. Anytime we feature a collection, we've noted that there is an increase in the number of views of those resources. We also recently started putting these into specific groupings: collections all from the same individual, all from the same subject area, and all from the same project, such as this month's which features resources from the DELILA project. This grouping showed another increase in those resources, with potential increases in downloads for those resources from those who are involved in that area of study. In addition, the Jorum Learning and Teaching Competition, which has run since 2009, also showed statistical increases in the number of views, according to Google Analytics.

We really think we have a lot to offer users with these mechanisms of dissemination, and we want the communities of practice out there to be aware of not only what we are doing, but that we are taking on board what many of them have constructively asked for. We can be your "world's local repository".

In addition, we've been working on our API and are about to start updating DSpace soon; plus, we have ironed out the issues with RSS, and can offer OAI PMH, as well as SWORD, as means for upload. We have been working with the team at Hedtek (and their recent blog post updates the information on their work), and we recently hired two Technical Coordinators, well known in their own rights: Sarah Currier and Ben Ryan. It is safe to say that the technical strategy of Jorum is now firmly based on a very strong foundation.

Our Development Officer, Steven Cook, has also created the Jorum Dashboard; it is just out of the testing stage, but it does mean we can already access quite a lot of the information collected by DSpace much more easily than we could only using Google Analytics, including very quick daily, weekly and monthly statistics for views, uploads and downloads. The dashboard is only available to the Jorum Team for now, but we are working to roll it out to our users so they can prepare their own reports on resource usage. A lot of such requests come to us through the Jorum Helpdesk, so this Dashboard is set to become a key component of the Jorum offering and will shorten the time between request and answer, which is vital to us as a service.

So all in all, there's a great deal going on that we think there's much that the community could benefit from and want to use. At a recent showcasing event, I was asked if there was anything in the repository for law, and I pointed out the "Citing the Law" tutorial. I didn't even have to explain how it worked before the academic responded "that's exactly what I need!". A tutor was quoted in TALL's "OER Impact Study" that Jorum had become a "first port of call now. I'm on there all the time looking for stuff ... I can find really good stuff in there." We'd like to think everyone can. The underlying message is that there's already good stuff in Jorum, and if you decide to share your resources us, people will find them!

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