[LINK] CRN: 'Aussie techies rally to save ... database'

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Sat Sep 3 11:38:38 AEST 2011

Aussie techies rally to save condemned education database
By Darren Pauli on Sep 2, 2011 11:40 AM (23 hours ago)

Educational resource set for scuttling.

The IT community has banded together to save thousands of educational 
documents at risk under plans to scuttle a 10-year-old database.

The AEShareNet database was established in 2000 between state and 
territory education departments to allow a wide berth of corporate, 
state and non-profit organisations access to free and low-cost 
educational materials.

Organisations as large as Qantas to regional colleges tapped into 
some of the best training materials available to create internal 
educational courses on a wide range of topics.

Content creators could post their materials under a series of free or 
paid licencing models later made obselete by Creative Commons.

[The word 'obsolete' is incorrect.  AEShareNet licences aren't even 
obsolescent, let alone obsolete.  CC arrived a few years after 
AEShareNet licences were launched.  What I said was that, after CC 
had proven itself and gained momentum in the market, AESL intended to 
work towards migrating AEShareNet licences into the CC framework.]

It contained what it claimed was Australia's largest catalogue of 
learning materials.

The database was to be scuttled following a directive by the 
Ministerial Council for Tertiary Education and Employment in March 
(pdf) to close the educational support agency TVET Australia which 
aborbed AEShareNet in 2006.

A statement posted on the AEShareNet website said the repository 
would be scuttled on 16 September. Documents collected over its 
decade of operation would also be lost, according to Roger Clarke, 
AEShareNet chairman from 2000 to 2006, who rushed to save the 

"The database was to be closed - all that work to simply disappear 
off the web," Clarke said. "The statement did not contain any 
information about any kind of transition for the resources."

"It was designed so that training packages did not have to be 
reinvented so, for example, a well-written occupational health and 
safety course could be dropped into teaching materials often for free 
but now all of that framework was to be lost."

AEShareNet did not return SC Magazine's calls for comment.

Clarke asked for help to mirror the site over the Australian National 
University's 18-year-old Link mailing list and help flooded in.

Internet service providers, the Australian National Library and 
university researchers offered technical advice about how the 
database could be copied and stored.

Clarke used Sitecrawler to scrape most of the content from the site 
save for "non-crucial", ASP-coded documents stored in a database and 
has hosted a mirror on his personal website: 

He said he would welcome the opportunity to salvage the remaining content.

Copyright © SC Magazine, Australia

Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

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