SWINBURNE UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY USE CASE
Swinburne University of Technology started using openEQUELLA in 2013 when they were looking for a place to store and share digital media as part of their iTunesU project. openEQUELLA was implemented as a discovery layer so that media files could be easily catalogued, searched and used. From there, Swinburne Commons was born and continues to develop as a centralised digital media platform for staff and teachers. Use of openEQUELLA has expanded to service all of the institution’s internal multimedia resources, such as staff communications, webinars and online events. Additionally, numerous historical collections have been catalogued and shared with the public, a significant cultural archive for the University.
- Flexibility – Not being tied to pre-configured platform templates has allowed the Swinburne Commons team to seamlessly support the multiplicity of internal and public-facing uses and allows them granular controls not available in other platforms
- Quality assurance workflows – Swinburne Commons hold a publishing approach rather than a self-publishing approach, maximising the quality of the final product that is presented. Using a standardised approvals workflow ensures quality is maintained, even across large collections with thousands of individual contributions
- Customised permissions – Given Swinburne Commons hosts both public and private collections, the granular administrative permissions control has been critical. The team can simultaneously assign view access to a specific group, hide the item from search results and provide visibility only if accessed by a direct link – just one of many thousands of individual and interlinked permissions afforded by openEQUELLA
In their own words
“At Swinburne Commons, we often feel that we’re not doing what everyone else is, so the flexibility that openEQUELLA provides us means that we can achieve our vision precisely, rather than have to fit in with pre-configured settings or templates. Having worked with the Edalex team from the start, we’ve enjoyed a level of support and access that’s uncommon these days. Rather than getting lost in a nameless system, Edalex are responsive in support and inclusive in development discussions. We’d recommend openEQUELLA’s highly configurable design to any institution with a clear vision, looking for a customisable digital repository solution to help them achieve it.”
– Anton Proppe, Manager, Library Discovery at Swinburne University of Technology
Year of Adoption
Learning & Teaching Resources
Open Educational Resources (OER)
Digital Media Collection
Swinburne History Collection
Swinburne Art Collection
Design Special Collection
Anton Proppe, Manager, Library Discovery at Swinburne University of Technology and his team members, Nyss Parkes and Robert Rochester comprise the Swinburne Commons management team. They’ve worked together for many years and from the initial adoption of openEQUELLA in 2013. “With such a variety of digital repository needs, the full configuration options that openEQUELLA provided really made it stand out from the pack,” Parkes shared. “That, and the number of search and display options,” Rochester clarified. “The full-text searchability was a great asset for archival material and research queries,” he went on to say.
The jouney so far
“Swinburne Commons is the centralised service for managing and distributing Swinburne digital media. At a rough guess, 95% of Swinburne Commons’ resources are video and audio,” said Rochester. “Our collections include everything from public lectures, university events, graduation ceremonies, webinars, podcasts, online tutorials, educational resources and images to selected student works. We also host the Swinburne History Collection and the Swinburne Art Collection,” he continued. “openEQUELLA is the integral discovery layer that surfaces our digital resources regardless of where the file may have originated,” Rochester finished off.
Swinburne use Kaltura as their streaming platform which openEQUELLA connects seamlessly to. “Contributions come from all over the university – from teachers, media and communications staff, administrators, the marketing department and others. From the start we introduced a contribution form, where contributors can input required data, upload a file and we added an extra script that will push it through to Kaltura so they can use it straight away,” Parkes shared with us. According to the team, openEQUELLA has been most successful with resources that can be kept for a long period of time, and are usually either professionally produced or of high quality. “If content is appropriate to be shared or reused, you’ll find it on openEQUELLA,” Parkes went on to say. “It’s typically content that is open (either to the world or to the world of Swinburne), compliant (with copyright, accessibility and Swinburne standards), and enduring (rather than resources with a temporary lifespan).”
Even from the beginning, the Swinburne Commons team put thoughtful consideration towards the eventual size of the collections they would amass over time. “Due to the public focus, metadata quality control was a key consideration for us, right off the bat,” Proppe stated emphatically. “We pursued a publishing, rather than self-publishing approach,” he continued, “because at the end point, the value we could add was helping staff distribute a quality final product. Fortunately, over time, contributors have come to know our standards and strive to meet them. We’ve also built in systems so that if they’re not sure or prefer for us to look it over first, they can send to us to action, meaning that now, despite some of our collections numbering in the thousands of resources, our data management is clear and consistent,” Proppe elaborated further.
Having that level of data integrity has ultimately given the Swinburne Commons team a level of flexibility and control over their digital resources at an astounding level. “We have a single source of truth for our resources,” Rochester related to us, “which means that we can write our own schema to harvest or push-out resources to our own or other libraries. Once this is set up, openEQUELLA can apply the schema structure to all of the existing resources, and bring resources together from multiple collections so that the resources you want to show in a new series, just appear. In fact, openEQUELLA makes it really easy to do this, and means that we can display collections in precisely the way we want them to appear, without having to conform to a locked-in template,” he rounded out, thoughtfully.
The incredible flexibility of the security settings is something the entire team agrees is one of openEQUELLA’s strongest features. “You can limit things down to a really granular level – give view access to some groups, but not discover access in search to the same group. Or you can hide the ability for anyone to find an item, but if they have the link, can open it to anyone,” Rochester enthused. “And the Administration Console customisations are like nothing I’ve seen before,” Parkes chipped in, “we can really tightly control and manage who sees or can do what with the content.” Proppe shares that their future work with openEQUELLA is likely to be centered on developing an integration with Microsoft OneDrive, allowing large video files to be ingested directly via a share link.