You may have heard of LionShare, Penn State's new filesharing technology designed to enhance academic collaboration, but wondered, "how would I use it?" Mike Halm, Lionshare project director, and recent users of Lionshare have some ideas on how Penn State faculty and staff can make best use of the collaborative technology.
LionShare is a peer-to-peer application that enables faculty, staff, and students to organize and legitimately share files such as images, videos, presentations, papers, Web pages, etc. It enables users to control who has access to these files, has no file size limit, and includes tools for further collaboration such as instant messaging. Users can also add metadata to files, which is descriptive information such as file names or file descriptions. Metadata makes it easier for LionShare users to find files via keyword searches.
The value of LionShare is quite evident to those who already use it. Tom Davis, instructional designer for Penn State's World Campus, uses LionShare to collaborate with Penn State Public Broadcasting to produce digital video files for use in online courses and projects produced by World Campus.
Davis likes the ability of LionShare to share large files, such as digital videos that often can be more than 20 MB. "LionShare facilitates the transfer of files that would be difficult to share otherwise because of their large size," he said. "Files that size are too big to e-mail and there is a file size restriction in ANGEL, not to mention the hassle of burning and mailing a CD."
Davis also found other benefits of LionShare. "Lionshare is easy to get up and running, and it is a solution that is s upported across the University," he said. "That makes it an obvious choice for collaboration in courses or other University work that require the sharing of large files."
Halm offered several scenarios where faculty would find LionShare to their advantage. For example, three geology professors, two in different Penn State campuses and one at another university, rely on PowerPoint to illustrate their class lectures and research presentations. They find using images in PowerPoint especially useful in helping students identify various rock formations and understanding how the formations develop.
Instead of wasting a lot of time searching for images on the Internet that are not exactly what they are looking for, the three professors would like to combine their personal resources. They know that each of them have a personal collection of their own digital rock formation images on their computers that would meet their needs if combined into one image repository. However, they do not know how to share these resources with each other in a way that would allow for effective searching and retrieval, and also limit access to just them.
LionShare allows the professors to upload their personal images and organize them into different folders categorized by rock formation type. They can also limit access of these images to their group and if they desire, staff assistants and students. They can also add metadata such as specific geological terms to help each other quickly find particular images. Once they are found, the professors can download them and add them to a PowerPoint.
Halm also offered a scenario that covers how LionShare can help with access and copyright issues. Copyright problems are always a concern for faculty. For example, a professor wants her students to review copyrighted high-resolution art images as a homework assignment. This leads to several problems, as the copyrighted images can’t be placed in a publicly accessible place such as a Web site, the high-resolution files are so large they will not get accepted by many e-mail servers, and setting up alternatives such as a password-protected Web site requires resources and skills the professor does not have.
The professor can upload the images into LionShare and then set access controls to limit viewing to just his class members. By limiting access to just his students and taking into account that the images are part of curriculum materials, the professor can avoid copyright problems since this usage would fall under "fair use" exemptions. She could also change access each semester to remove access for former students and transfer it to new students.
Halm noted that as more faculty and pedagogical staff such as instructional designers use LionShare, additional creative use ideas will become apparent. He also pointed out there are several use cases available on the LionShare Web site, http://lionshare.psu.edu. Penn State faculty and staff can also download LionShare for free at this site.
Along with the Web site use cases, faculty can learn more about LionShare's benefits and best uses during LionShare seminars at ITS Training Services training event for faculty, Winterfest, to be held in early January. More information on Winterfest can be found starting in November at http://its.psu.edu/training/.