It's been a busy summer for the OER Commons Platform team, and we're so excited to share out what we've been up to over the past 3 months. Below, you'll find overviews of our new feature development, details about our bug smashing activities, and information about performance upgrades we've made to our tech infrastructure.


New Feature Releases

Standards Self Service Beta Production Release

With the release of Standards Self Service ISKME Library Staff and Microsite Admin are able to manage the creation, import, and maintenance of machine readable sets of curriculum alignment tags. This allows site admin and library staff to ensure that digital learning content remains consistently aligned to new learning standards and course catalogue tags as new learning standards documents are published, or new OER course offerings enter a course catalogue. Additionally, the Standards Self Service tool can be used in conjunction with our Standards Crosswalking tool to automatically update all aligned content in your library when new curriculum alignment tags are published.

We're piloting standards self service with several partner projects this fall. Highlighted projects include: 

  • VCCS Transfer Course Mapping Hub, where librarians and faculty are working together to align OER to the Virginia Community College System transfer course catalogue. 
  • UEN eMedia has recently imported Utah Core Standards across all subjects. The team will be expanding content alignment support to all subjects covered by the Utah state core standards. The team's model for authoring, evaluation, and alignment was piloted with the Utah Science and Engineering (SEEd) Hub

Next up, we'll be working to improve flexibility to ensure we're able to accommodate a wider range of data models and schemas, as well as working to make the user interface more intuitive and pleasant to work with.   


Federated Search and Discovery via the OER Exchange Beta Production Release

ISKME has completed the first milestone of our OER Exchange project, which enables OER Commons and our community of Digital Library Microsites to select high quality featured collections to share within a cross site search engine. This allows both OER Commons and our community of digital library partners to share the latest greatest in content publication and curation across the network. 

Next up, we'll be working with partners to select high quality OER collections to highlight on the OER exchange as we gear up to take the OERX public via community demos and conference presentations. 

 New Search Functionality in Pre-Release Beta

The ISKME Platform and Library Services teams have been working together to modernize our digital library search engine. We're testing capabilities like full text search and search results retrieval for search query synonyms ( if you search for environmental science we'll also return results for things like atmospheric science) to improve the topical relevancy of search results. We're also working towards surfacing higher quality materials in search results by making tweaks to the way our algorithm works and the types of metadata it considers most important when determining quality. 


New Analytics Tools in Pre-Release Beta 

We recently transitioned off of Google Analytics and on to a platform called Matomo Analytics. We're excited about this shift for several reasons! On top of some seriously great new functionality, Matomo's commitment to privacy allow us to ensure our data, and yours, is fully protected from inclusion in data sets accessed by third parties (such as digital marketers) and remains 100% internally owned.

We're working to give our Microsite and Hub reports a big makeover using more powerful data collection that provides more targeted insights. We're excited to provide our partners with more visibility in to the reach and impact of their work, and support more data driven decision making.

Bug Remediation

Inconsistent Theming and Display Issues

In v25, we started the work to create consistent and efficient theming across OER Commons and our Microsites. We'll admit, there's been some bumps in the road, but we're committed to making it to the finish line. In Q3, we were able to resolve several theming and front end design bugs, to ensure new site development and site refreshes will be faster with fewer remediations issues. 

Next up, we're looking ahead to building self service low code/no code tools for site theming and page content editing to make changes to your site design easier and faster.

Post v25 Migration Functional Bug Scrub

We're making good progress on our post v25 migration bug scrub. In Q4, we'll be doing full evaluation of issues reported to Help Center, as well as bugs we're catching in our own code monitoring tools. We'll share out our findings and next steps we'll be taking to get things scrubbed clean. 

Performance Upgrades

Autoscale Upgrade

In Q3 we were able to complete upgrades to our Autoscale services that drastically reduces outages due to traffic spikes by increasing our redundancies. When outages do occur, recovery time is almost immediate. 

Background Processing Upgrade 

We updated the underlying technology we're using for doing resource heavy tasks that run in the background, such as updating collections across sites when new content is added, indexing new content that's bulk uploaded, and making bulk changes to metadata. 

Next up, we'll be completing several refactoring projects to ensure our code runs data processing tasks as efficiently as possible. 

Together, these things will allow us to ensure our sites run more smoothly and to level up in the complexity of tasks we can process. 

OS Upgrade 

We upgraded our Operating Systm to Debian Bookworm 12

Django Upgrades

Over the past two years, we've been working on a large scale code modernization project. At the end of Q3, we've landed several version upgrades, and are currently on Django 4.2.1 and Python 3.11. This allows us to build more reliable code, and more modern functionality in to the platform. Python 3.11 also gives us a 25% bump in processing and code execution speed. 

Next up, we'll be upgrading to Django 4.2.6. when it is released in October. 

Database Server Upgrade

We're updating our database server to improve failure resilience and enhance security. This will ensure we are able to support accelerated growth in the amount of content we host and index.