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Collaborative working with Exhibit

One of the use cases for our semantic web tools, something the ensemble@ljmu team has been asked for on quite a few occasions, is to somehow have students crowd-source the Exhibit data.  We developed FELIX as a structured tool for inputting data, but the team never developed a way of storing the resulting data, such that it it could be built up collaboratively.

Prompted by a small project we are doing here at I.M Marsh, over the last few days I’ve attempted to address that problem.  I’ve built a database structure capable of holding generic Exhibit item records, but around the Exhibit data I added support information to permit multiple copies of each item to be stored simultaneously within the database.

For each item there is a single approved version, and any number of pending versions.  The approved version is the ‘official’ one okayed by the teacher; the pending versions are edits submitted by students.  Exhibit can be loaded using either only the approved items, or a mixture of approved and pending items (where the latest pending version supersedes the approved version for each item, showing the latest student edits).

I’ve built a simple administration page for the teacher, listing all the versions of each item, approved and pending.  By clicking, the teacher can select one of the pending versions to become the new approved version, or form a new approved version by mix-n-matching different fields from various pending versions.  Once submitted, the selected data becomes the new approved item, and all pending versions are deleted from the database.  In this way students can submit their own edits, and teachers can moderate which updates are rolled into the ‘official’ (approved) version.

The software is very basic at the moment, but should do all we need to try the idea out.

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