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programs, a better-prepared workforce and greater opportunities in all occupational areas. A repository the size of SkillsCommons must
of course be built on a stable technology platform and use mature tools for data
within MERLOT. DSpace exposes object metadata to MERLOT using the OAI protocol for metadata harvesting (OAI-PMH). They also enabled post-processing of complex data files so that the Blackboard learning management
The availability of affordable, openly licensed materials is leading to redesigned workforce development programs, a better-prepared workforce and greater opportunities in all occupational areas.
management, development, and delivery. Flexibility was an important factor, especially for long-term goals.
SkillsCommons partnered with DSpace contractor Atmire for managed hosting support, including the ongoing maintenance of DSpace on Amazon’s EC2 Web Services Platform (AWS). AWS is important for streaming large audio and video files — a growing area for SkillsCommons. CSU staff developed a custom DSpace interface for SkillsCommons. And staff met the unique requirements of SkillsCommons by working with the U.S. Department of Labor on the schema and set of controlled vocabularies to support the cataloging of learning objects. The CSU team also developed information and support pages in conjunction with training and support activities and documentation.
Once SkillsCommons was in place, it was not long before developers took steps to move it even further beyond a basic storage and management solution, integrating it into a widening set of systems and services. They integrated DSpace into MERLOT such that all objects would be discoverable and usable
system could process course exports and other compound objects, while also making the objects’ constituent parts discoverable individually.
In another interesting move, SkillsCommons contracted with Microburst Learning to “make over” a faculty orientation course that was submitted to the repository. The makeover version is titled “Jumpstart to Successful Instruction” — which led to the creation of a new community within the SkillsCommons Connect Center. The purpose of the “Jumpstart to Successful Instruction: IE2EI” community is to support workforce development programs across all industry sectors, preparing industry experts to become excellent teachers.
The SkillsCommons repository is helping to update current practices in higher education and industry training. Change takes time, of course, but the successes and benefits of SkillsCommons have already proven to be far reaching and continue to validate and propel the work of the SkillsCommons project.
Meg Lloyd is a freelance writer based in Northern California.

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