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An Overview of the Portal Services Embedder (PSE) Project

15 Jun, 2005
This project builds on the work of Connect, the Learning and Teaching Portal, which is jointly funded by the Higher Education Academy and JISC. Connect is building a series of discrete services which can be embedded within institutional web sites and portals (where this could be colleges, universities or organisations such as HE Academy subject centres).

Prior to this project the only way to embed the services was through a web link which enables institutions to use their own style sheets to partially customise the appearance of the services. This project has enabled Connect to create a web service version, available either through WSRP or (for those who are not in a position to use WSRP) as a set of SOAP calls. This enables portal implementers to fully customise the service.

Scenarios of Use

The Portal service is one of the very few real, live channels that can be freely embedded in any portal using WSRP or SOAP. This allows portal developers to try implementing third party channels with some support so that they can understand the issues.

Scenario 1

A portal manager has just implemented the latest version of uPortal (2.4.1) on their test site and wants to understand the issues and effort involved in implementing a WSRP channel. They look around for a service that has been implemented for WSRP. Currently there are not very many. However, one of the services that they locate is the portal embedder service which allows them to embed the Connect teaching and learning organisation finding service. Further, they realise that there is support from the developer and funding available from JISC to try this service out. The portal manager therefore decides to try it out. Having got to grips with WSRP and with support from the developer (very little was in fact required) they implement the channel. Having tried it once and found that it delivers what they need, they look for further channels to embed in their portal, and discover that now there are more becoming available. Having gained confidence in the effectiveness and ease of use of WSRP they are able to make use of more and more services as they roll the new version of uPortal out across the institution.

Scenario 2

A Learning technologist is approached by economics lecturer who wants courses to make use of simulation in their teaching, but needs some training in order to be able to do so. The institution does not currently offer any such course, so the Learning technologist uses the Connect Organisations finder to locate organisations which might offer such courses, provide resources or even have simulations. They first try searching for economics and find one organisation (the HEA Economics Network). They can then use this to navigate directly to the service.

Scenario 3

A lecturer in biology wants to develop an innovative unit using problem based learning to address some of the ethical issues in genetics. They are looking for external funding for the project. They therefore firstly go to the funding database to see what funding opportunities are currently on offer. They discover that there is currently one from the HEA Centre for Biosciences which covers what they want to do. However one of the requirements is to be able to demonstrate that the proposal does not duplicate work already being undertaken elsewhere. The lecturer therefore looks at the projects in the Projects database, and is unable to find anything which is attempting to do similar work. Having located potential funding and assured themselves that their idea is not already being implemented elsewhere they write the bid.

 

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