Evolution of EO4GEO ecosystem of tools: beyond sector expectations

[Authors: Estefanía Aguilar Moreno, Sven Casteleyn, Aida Monfort Muriach, — Universitat Jaume I, Castelló, Spain]

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EO4GEO is developing an ecosystem of tools, building on the rich EO/GI expert knowledge and skills available in the EO4GEO Body of Knowledge. The end user tools are targeting training and education providers, companies and organizations, and individuals as well. After intensive internal testing of the prototype tools, it is time for real users to explore them and validate their usefulness. In this article we get some answers from Sven Casteleyn, Universitat Jaume I of Castelló (Spain) regarding the tools’ development and next steps.

Sven, thank you for joining us. So, which are the pieces shaping the EO4GEO ecosystem of tools offered to the end user?

The EO4GEO ecosystem of tools is a set of collaborative tools which can be used independently or combined, depending on the user’ profile and needs. The tools are all based on the EO4GEO Body of Knowledge and connected to it through an open API. Focusing on the set of tools aimed at end users, there are five tools:

  • The Occupational Profile Tool (OPT) allows experts and companies to create occupational profiles, which can be defined as prototypical job descriptions, including the required knowledge and skills to be able to perform them.
  • The Job Offer Tool (JOT) allows companies to create job offers, starting from a blank template or based on an occupational profile, which can then be modified and extended with specific information related to the job offer.
  • The Curriculum Design Tool (CDT) is addressed to the educational sector. It was conceived as a tool to assist training designers, from Academia or industry, in creating their training offers for the GI/EO sector.
  • The BoK Annotation Tool (BAM) allows any user to annotate, using the knowledge available in the EO4GEO BoK, any existing resource in the form of a pdf file (e.g., a curriculum vitae, a scientific article).
  • Finally, the BoK Matching Tool (BMT) allows comparing two BoK-annotated resources, like the ones created with other EO4GEO tools.

Are the tools already finished or still in a prototype phase?

From the first versions of the tools, particularly for CDT, a rigorous testing phase amongst EO4GEO partners ended up in a notable evolution of the tools, which cover a broad set of users and needs. Now, we are about to open the testing to associated members of the EO4GEO project and advisory board. Until now, while EO4GEO members and partners already had full access to the tools, the general public can assess them in a view-only mode. Once this testing phase is finished, tools will be fully opened to everybody. This is foreseen on 21 October 2020, more than one year before the project ends (December 2021), which we think is really convenient to promote the tools and support the ecosystem in the medium term.

Focusing on CDT, the tool you have been deeply working on lately, which are the main functionalities of CDT that make it different from similar tools?

The Curriculum Design Tool is addressed to the education providers. It was conceived as a tool to assist training designers, both from academia and other educational institutions, such as large companies or organizations active in the GI/EO sector, in creating their GI/EO training offers. The tool displays a list of innovative training offers, populated by EO4GEO partners, which gave them hands-on experience to provide feedback about the tool and suggest improvements. Many of the functionalities requested by partners were added.

It is worth noting that there are a few examples of tools dealing with the design of educational offers. What sets the CDT apart is that training offers can use and are linked to the specific EO/GI knowledge and skills comprised in the EO4GEO BoK. Thereby, they are more descriptive and precise and allow automatic matching with other BoK-related resources, such as job offers.

Another feature we worked hard on is the full modularity of CDT. This means that a user can create training offers at any level, from an entire study program to a single lecture or lesson, which, from our point of view, allows to create offers by a broad range of training providers, from academia programs to high school curricula or VET trainings. It also allows re-use of educational offers. For instance, from a set of single lessons (publicly available in the tool), a user can group a subset of them to create a new course, be it an introductory or advanced course. And vice versa, the user can also ungroup a full study program to obtain a set of “building blocks” which in turn can be recycled in different study programs.

Publicly available educational offers can also be easily duplicated and adapted to user needs. These functionalities facilitate the creation of content, and will potentially increase the number of educational offers, bringing new possibilities and visibility to the European training offers in EO/GI at all EQF levels.

We have also added some other minor functionalities, as for example allowing editors to work in groups, advanced search or filtering by organization or keywords.

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Fig. 1: An educational offer created in the Curriculum Design Tool

You mentioned the BoK Matching Tool, that seems to be a versatile and powerful instrument. Could you explain a little bit more about it?

Indeed, having the EO4GEO BoK as a backbone of all the tools yields compatibility of the resources created with them. This allows the BoK Matching Tool to compare any resources created the other EO4GEO tools in the ecosystem. For instance, a company that created a traineeship offer in the Job Offer Tool can screen educational offers (and institutions behind them) for matching skills and knowledge. Or, this company can compare curriculum vitae, annotated with the BoK Annotation Tool, to discover suitable candidates. In a more academic setting, the BoK Matching Tool can be used to match a paper with an EO/GI conference call for papers, to determine suitability for the conference. Of course, in the latter example, both the paper and the call for papers need to be annotated with the EO4GEO BoK. These are just some of the potential uses, we are just starting to explore the full potential of the tool.

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Fig. 2: Example of BoK matching between educational offers and job offers created in CDT and JOT, respectively
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Fig. 3: Result of the matching between two resources annotated with the BoK

Cool! But, how to annotate “external resources”? Do you need to have technical knowledge to annotate your CV, for instance?

I’m glad you ask. No technical knowledge is needed! The BoK Annotation Tool (BAT) allows to upload any PDF file, browse the EO4GEO BoK using our convenient BoK visualization component, and annotate it with the required EO4GEO BoK knowledge. It’s a simple point and click interface. Behind the scenes and totally transparent for the user, the BAT automatically edits the pdf file’s metadata, adding the requested annotations using the Resource Description Framework (RDF). Once this is done, you are all ready to start matching it using the BMT.

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Fig. 4: The interface of the BoK Annotation Tool (BAT)

Any other takeaways?

We could give a couple, one addressed to the EO/GI community and another for interested outsiders. For the EO/GI community I think it is important to highlight that the EO4GEO software ecosystem is designed to be flexible and open so that interested (external) parties can build their own end-user tools upon the EO4GEO BoK, next to those offered by the EO4GEO consortium. At the same time, they can add their own educational offers, job offers… and keep the offer growing. For other potential users, we hope our tools inspire similar tools or uses in their respective sectors. We would hereby like to point out that this is an open project, so all tools could be re-used, adjusted and extended. For example, a BoK of another sector could be plugged in, instantly enabling our ecosystem of tools for another domain, but surely, other extensions are imaginable.

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