Organic.Edunet: Facilitating access to learning resources on organic agriculture and agroecology

The Organic.Edunet network was established back in 2008, when the Organic.Edunet eContentPlus project "Organic.Edunet: A Multilingual Federation of Learning Repositories with Quality Content for the Awareness and Education of European Youth about Organic Agriculture and Agroecology" started. It initially consisted of a number of content providers who provided educational resources on organic agriculture, agroecology and related topics. In this direction, the Organic.Edunet Web portal facilitates the access to more than 12,000 learning resources on organic agriculture, agroecology and other green thematics. By creating a network of educational content providers in the context of agriculture, Organic.Edunet enhances access to quality green learning resources. Now, the Organic.Edunet Network has been enhanced with additional sources of learning materials in the context of organic agriculture, agroecology and other green topics. The outcome is a multilingual online federation of learning repositories, populated with quality content from various content providers and available thriugh the Organic.Edunet Web portal.

The aggregation of metadata is based on the Organic.Edunet IEEE LOM AP, an adapted version of the IEEE LOM standard which is widely used for the description of educational resources. In addition, the resources are classified with the use of the Organic.Edunet ontology, the concepts of which have been mapped to the corresponding AGROVOC ones. Both the metadata AP and the ontology are currently in the process of being published as linked data, using the standard approaches and recommendations. This effort is according the similar ones towards their integration in the Semantic Web and will enhance the interoperability of Organic.Edunet with other related data sources.

The portal integrates a number of multilinguality features which facilitate the use of the portal and the retrieval of resources by users from various countries. These features can be listed as follows:

  1. Multilingual user interface: The user interface of the portal is currently available in 12 languages and additional languages can be added with minimum effort;
  2. Multilingual metadata: In most cases, metadata are available in two or more languages by humans/language experts;
  3. Automatic metadata translation: Using a number of automatic translation components, the portal offers automatic translations of metadata in 17 languages
  4. Multilingual retrieval of content: By integrating a Cross-Language Information Retrieval component, the portal allows the retrieval of content in multiple languages after a user performs a query in only one language.

The portal also allows users to contribute to the portal and enhance the content available through it, using a variety of options:

  1. Revision of existing translations: The users can correct an existing translation in case they consider that the existing one is not correct/precise
  2. Suggestion of new resources: The users are invited to contribute content to the portal by creating a basic metadata record for a resource which is appropriate for Organic.Edunet through an easy to use online form.
  3. Rating of metadata records, based on a 5-star scale
  4. Rating of automatic translations, based on a 5-star scale

In addition, another outcome of the Organic.Lingua project, the Agricultural Learning Repository tool (AgLR) allows the creation of metadata repositories in a simple and hassle-free way. The tool is open source, based on the Omeka platform, and can be used and reused by stakeholders wishing to create their own metadata repositories.

Using a set of open standards, a fully multilingual approach, providing ways for actual contribution to the users and making high-quality educational resources through the Organic.Edunet Web portal which is freely accessible by everyone, the Organic.Edunet manages to facilitate the access to these resources by anyone, anywhere and anytime. The next steps of Organic.Edunet include the expansion of the content languages currently covered by the network and the integration of automatic translation in more languages, aiming at the facilitation of access to the resources by even more users!

This becomes obvious by taking a quick look at the analytics of the Organic.Edunet Web portal: Between 1/1/2010 (when it was officially launched) and 31/4/2014, the portal has received more than 200,000 visits and 600,000 pageviews from more than 167,000 unique visitors located in 202 countries all over the world and this obviously means that the portal has achieved its aim; however, Organic.Edunet will keep working towards the facilitation of access to quality learning material and the portal will be further improved in order to provide the ever-growing number of its users with an even better user experience.