By: Dustin Godshall
Equella is a new tool the university is implementing which will help teachers to organize and distribute their course materials, online content, and other resources. Almost any content can be uploaded to Equella, including images, Word documents, PDFs, and any other file that needs to be shared across campus or within I-Learn courses (video and audio files are loaded into Kaltura. Please see the next article for details). Equella is an alternative solution to Box.com, and while they are both used for similar purposes, there are several significant differences as well as some major advantages that Equella will provide.
First, Equella is fast. Content uploaded to Equella is stored in enterprise class datacenters, allowing for greater access by distant users, such as those in Ghana or Mexico.
Equella is built on modern web technologies, including HTML5 and CSS3. This means that Equella does not rely on Flash, making it more accessible for users who access content on mobile devices, or those who rely on screen readers or other assistive technologies.
Equella also allows us to keep track of copyright requirements for specific materials. This will help us to be more compliant with current copyright laws.
Of course, in order to use Equella, teachers must upload content. Each time something is uploaded, Equella users will have the option to provide metadata, which will allow the item to be indexed and searchable. Metadata can consist of a title, description, tags, and copyright information.
Using Equella may require somewhat of a paradigm shift. Currently, many instructors store their course content across multiple locations including Box.com, campus servers, and their personal computers. Most of the time, this content is organized into folders. However, Equella does not organize content into folders. Instead, it may be helpful to think of Equella like a library. When searching for a book in the library, the librarians don't know exactly which row and shelf the book is on. Instead, they search the catalog and then show you where the book is. Equella is very much the same. If you remember something about the content, you can search for it, find it, and then use it.
As with any new technology, Equella will require some getting used to. If you need help getting your content into Equella, contact the Faculty Technology Center. Our employees are trained to assist you in the transition.