The Knowledge Management Research Group

Scenario: Introducing versioning

A course in biology is held by Lars, the teacher and Kalle the teaching assistant. The course has been held five years already and there is quite a bit of old material that can be reused. Since there have been different teachers responsible each year collecting the material would have been a considerable task if not for the course portfolio where all digital material is gathered. The material is divided into courselets, learning objects that can be helpful when planning the course, one lesson typically consists of four to eight of those. The learning objects originates as supplementary comments to a coursebook that are no longer in use. Since then they have evolved during the five years into small independant pieces with meta-data and some interrelations such as dependencies. The courselets are documents in the portfolio with version history[1], hence Lars and Kalle can choose any version from the initial comment to last years version.

Lars and Kalle decide mostly to use on last years version unless in some cases where they don't like the examples they revert to an older version and develop it by themselves. Since they have very little time for meetings they work separately on the pieces they want to improve. Lars chooses a document he want to improve, makes the changes and when finished saves it back to the portfolio as a new version leaving last years version intact for future teachers to inspect. He also marks it as draft and adds some brief comments in the meta-data section about what he changed and why. A couple of days later Kalle have time to work with the course so he opens up the portfolio and finds that some new documents are marked as drafts (they are refferenced automatically in the draft catalog), after inspection he agrees with some of them and adds some more changes. This process goes on until both agree and all drafts are changed to approved.

Since the course is given to both Swedish speaking and English speaking students the final courslets are translated into english as well, the intermediate versions isn't translated since they aren't publically accessible. In the portfolio the language information is stored and made visible so that students can choose right document without having to open them. This is just one of many meta-data that allows future filters to personalize the view for students.

[1] For text documents versioning can (to some extent) be achieved by using more advanced formats with support for tentative changes etc. However there is loads of resources that can't be expressed in formats with internal versioning capabilities, e.g. image-formats have very seldom (if ever) versioning.


The rationale behind portfolio support for (external) versioning on all documents is:

  • Simplifying the work-procedure (separate tools have different support)
  • A common interface, version history together with other meta-data.
  • All versions are directly accessible in the portfolio.
  • Freedom in the choice of document formats.


  • Resource management
  • Version control
  • Document cycles
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