One of the comments that came back from the panel that marked the Bebop project bid was that we should make sure there isn’t already a plugin or method of aggregating resources from third-party websites to BuddyPress. Fair comment. It was the first thing I did when I started thinking about submitting the bid to JISC. I collected links to related plugins but there was nothing I could find that did the job.
There have been some efforts at using BuddyPress for teaching and learning, as can be seen by the Courseware plugin and there are efforts to integrate specific third-party services such as Twitter, Google Plus and Mendeley, and there’s also a plugin for badging achievements, which I can see being used (or modified for use) in an educational context. There’s a plugin that allows you to enrich your activity updates with media that is uploaded locally. There’s a plugin that we already use at Lincoln, that allows you to pull an RSS feed into your group activity stream, (and another one here) as well as various uses of OAuth with BuddyPress and WordPress. BuddyPress is also being used as a collaborative project management tool and a collaborative document editing tool.
Clearly other developers are thinking along the lines of what we’ve proposed for Bebop, which is how BuddyPress can be used in an educational context and reflect a user’s activity external to the platform, but as far as I can see, there isn’t a plugin that allows a user to easily add their username from YouTube, Jorum or Slideshare, for example, and have those resources aggregated and filtered nicely into their academic profile. The closest there is to that is this RSS aggregation plugin, which is designed to pull in external blog posts. It’s a start though and something we should look at early on.
The Bebop project aims to do more than this though by attempting to pull from the APIs of third-party services and organise the resources into collections on a user’s profile, as well as publish them to their activity stream. It involves more than simply pulling from RSS feeds (although we’ll include this, too), and once the data is being pulled in, we’ll provide a way for it to be pulled out again and re-purposed, assuming the T&C allow us to. Taking Slideshare as an example, could we re-use the data we get out of Slideshare within our organisation?
YOU SHALL NOT: sell, lease, share, transfer, or sublicense the SlideShare APIs or access or access codes thereto or derive income from the use or provision of the SlideShare APIs, whether for direct commercial or monetary gain or otherwise, without SlideShare’s prior, express, written permission;
It’s the word ‘transfer’ that worries me…. Jorum devs, please ensure that the T&C for your forthcoming APIs clearly state that the data via the API carries the same license as the resource itself. (We’ll post more about the T&C of APIs at a later date. If you have any advice, please do tell us).
Ideally, we’d like to be able to warehouse data about resources staff have published elsewhere on the web and have that data accessible over APIs on data.lincoln.ac.uk, like we’re doing with more and more of our data, so that we can build stuff with it. Getting data into BuddyPress is just one part of our project, but showing how the data can be made available for re-use is, arguably, the more interesting aspect.