This post summarizes the progress made since v0.2 and provides an outlook to version 1.0 which will be launched by the end of the year. Feedback is greatly appreciated either in the comments or by mail.
The front page now features statistics on the distribution of subjects, languages and grade levels of services on the OER World Map. They are backed by Elasticsearch aggregations which have proven to be an excellent basis. For the visual representations of the statistics, currently only tables and pie charts are used.
More statistics and alternate visualizations are planned for the next release. Once the openness indicator is in place, statistics on the openness of services will be implemented. The vocabulary for OER activity fields will be the basis to summarize projects based on those categories. Where applicable, the visualizations will include bar charts and scattergrams.
Complementing the statistics, a filter section has been implemented in the resource listing. Currently filters for type, language, country, subject and intended audience (i.e. grade level) of entries are available. These are again based on Elasticsearch aggregations.
The exact behavior, i.e. possible combinations and operators, of the filters is yet to be defined. An advanced user interface is planned for the next release.
Authentication & authorization
The components for authentication are in place. The OER World Map is using the users’ email accounts as identity provider for authentication. Upon request, a one time password is created and sent to the user. Using his email address and this password, users can log in until a timeout occurs or they explicitly log out. This ensures that no weak passwords can be used and frees us of the burdens of password reminders and the like. We consider email accounts as safe; if a users email is hacked, the trouble is big anyways as email is usually used for password-resets of online accounts.
While authentication verifies who a user is, authorization verifies what she is allowed to do in the system. Components necessary for advanced, activity based authorization are ready to be deployed. Thus in theory, general users could be granted write access. To ensure the well functioning of the system and more importantly data quality, the decision was made to open the platform incrementally, with write access for country champions only for now. This means that for the time being, there are three roles users can take in the OER World Map: visitors, editors (country champions) and administrators.
The most important feature that makes authentication and authorization necessary is data manipulation. While this has been possible using the JSON API for quite a while now, work on the user interface to do so from within a browser has progressed. We still following the idea of a progressively enhanced hypermedia application.
This is why the first iteration of the UI is still rather cumbersome: pure HTML forms act as hypermedia controls. They are in place for all resource types. Before opening write access to the public, the current forms will be progressively enhanced to increase usability. The design for all necessary widgets is done and implementation of those designs is currently in progress.
Last but not least, new data has been imported into the OER World Map. To support the use cases of filtering services by subject and grade level, two controlled vocabularies have been integrated. The educational subjects classification extends the ISCED-2013 classification, so far mostly by adding concrete languages to the concept of language acquisition. ISCED-1997 is used to classify services by their intended audiences, i.e. targeted grade levels. The integration of these classifications allowed us to import the list of OER repositories, created by Javiera Atenas and Leo Havemann, and index it by subject and grade level.
Additionally, the OEC member list was added, resulting in many new entries and thus the need for clustering pins on the map. Finally, the list of country champions is constantly updated as our network grows.
As we move toward the release of version 1.0 of the OER World Map, we will first focus on the usability of the editing templates. In this context there will also be a general revision of UI, including context-sensitive help. After that, the map will be extended with a calendar view for event data, a feature to export search results as CSV and finally the possibility to embed custom views of the OER World Map into external platforms such as blogs.