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Archive for October, 2005

Educause: Pachyderm 2.0

Thursday, October 20th, 2005

I’ve been following the Pachyderm project for a couple of years now, so I was excited to see a session here at Educause for the 2.0 version of the open source development platform.

Pachyderm is a tool originally developed by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to allow them to develop rich multimedia presentations without requiring programming skills on the part of the collection developer. The original output was of very high quality, but the code was not very clean, portable, or scalable. Enter the New Media Consortium (NMC), who wrote and received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to take Pachyderm to the next level.

The product has been totally reworked from its FileMaker and WebObjects origins and runs in Java. The interface is clean and fairly intuitive. There are still a few rough spots around the edges (the development interface could use a visual browsing interface that allowed for more intuitive browsing of media, for example) but overall the package is very impressive. It will be released as a public beta on Monday, October 26th. The NMC will host content for a year to allow testers to get a feel for the package and time for the development of installation binaries for multiple platforms (OS X and Windows in January, with Linux and Solaris close behind).

I can’t wait to start playing…

Educause: McNealy keynote

Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

Listening to Scott McNealy’s keynote at Educause. There are some interesting tidbits of information, but to be honest, I feel like I’m sitting through a two-hour sales pitch. There is only so much of “look how bad everyone else is and how great we are” as a theme that you can take.

Of interest:

  • >Global Education and Learning Community (GELC)

Informative conversation on “Blogfolios”

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

As always, the folks at UBC did a bang-up job in providing a stimulating conversation. Today’s focus was the use of social software tools (primarily weblogs) to extend/replace ePortfolio software.

  • Generally: An overview of some basic tools and models used to create electronic portfolios.
  • Specifically: A conversation about social software as a concept and its appropriateness for the generation of electronic portfolios (or the extension of electronic portfolios).

Issues
There are common challenges to the effective implementation of an electronic portfolio initiative.

  • lack of common descriptive language
  • varying requirements by potential user groups
  • difficulty in customization/contextualization
  • Privacy (walled garden) vs. open access (public park)
  • Social aspect of blog requires open commenting/access
  • what would it mean to offer commenting on all eportfolio entries?
  • comment from audience: value of social software "personal, local and fleeting"?

The University of British Columbia has funded pilot projects for the use of weblogs by faculty, staff, and students. These projects have led, among other things, to the creation of weblog templates specifically focused on portfolio-related needs.

Students desire ease of use and flexibility of delivery.

  • Centralization vs. decentralization
  • integration with CMS
  • standardization
  • rubrics
  • "Small Pieces Loosely Joined" vs "?"

Blogfolios

  • OSPI/iWebfolio = too structured = too constricting for students = no sense of ownership
  • wanted to help students see value
  • can create more social structures within eportfolios
  • moving target / fine balance / flexibility vs structure
  • can’t please everybody
  • user and support perspective -> how to help people understand tools that exist and how we can adapt them to meet current and future needs

In her reflective post, Michelle does a great job of summarizing what she would have said if she had more time. At one point, she talks about her belief regarding the purspose of electronic portfolios:

"Portfolios for the **end user**. I don’t know if I’m down with the e-Portfolios for the Institution. I like the idea of them benefitting the user more (i.e. portfolios for personal development) rather than using portfolios for institutional purposes, like grading)."

I, too, think that the most powerful implementations of portfolios will come when the individual student is the focal point. I do not believe, however, that we can dismiss the other uses of portfolios out of hand. Institutional portfolios such as those employed by colleges of Education are a reality and aren’t going anywhere. The biggest problem with the status quo is our lack of common vocabulary to effectively describe the obviously different uses for electronic portfolios. Articles like "Portfolios to Webfolios and Beyond: Levels of Maturation"  in the Educause Quarterly and initiatives such as the IMS ePortfolio Best Practice and Implementation Guide make attempts to establish such a vocabulary/schema, but they don’t seem to be as far reaching as they should be.

Much to think about.

cross posted on Educause blog

Educause: Blogfolios

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005

University of British Columbia has a fairly advanced approach to electronic portfolios. They seem to be managing the gap between bootstrapping initiatives at local and institutional levels.

There is a wide array of purposes and experiences held by the participants.

Link to Presentation wiki

ThinkFree Office Online

Friday, October 14th, 2005

I’ve been very impressed with a free web-based productivity package
that allows you to create and edit MS Office document types (Excel,
Word, and PowerPoint). It runs in the browser and looks very well-done.

Check it out if you’ve got a minute:

http://online.thinkfree.com/

Remodeling the political spectrum

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

Remodeling the political spectrum: “With the rise of ideologies such as paleoconservatives, neolibertarians, and radical centrists, creating a political spectrum model that can describe them all has become more challenging. No longer does the simple left-right axis suffice, nor even the ever popular Nolan Chart. This article proposes a new model that attempts to accurately describe all known ideologies using a three dimensional spectrum.From kuro5hin.org on July 9, 2005 at 4:45 p.m.”

(Via Edu_RSS.)

A Netflix convert

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

I tried Netflix when it first came out several years ago, but stopped our service after their first price hike. We recently quit our satellite dish service because we just weren’t happy with the cost/benefit ratio. We did find that we missed the pay-per-view, however, so after receiving an offer to try Netflix for free, we decided to give it another whirl. It has been a couple of months, and I have been very pleasantly surprised. Here’s what I like:

  • Turn-around time

    – Because we have a distribution center fairly close, we usually get our next movie within 2-3 days of mailing off the last one viewed.

  • TV shows on DVD

    – We missed the last part of ABC’s LOST last season, so we decided to catch up with the DVDs before beginning to watch this season’s episodes (which were waiting on our PVR). We never felt it was worth it to fork out $40-60 for a series that we were only likely to watch once, but this way we get to watch at our own pace (and without commercials). Very cool.

  • Flexible subscription options

    – There are more pricing options than the one-size-fits-all version that used to be in place. We have the 2 DVDs at a time with unlimited DVDs per month, which costs $14.99/month. You can have 1 DVD at a time for $9.99/month, which we may go to when we’re through with the TV series.

Sounds like a commercial, but I just thought I’d share what I have found to be a useful service.

The Death Of Privacy: Harry Potter Edition (via Gizmodo)

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

The Death Of Privacy: Harry Potter Edition: “

potterclock.jpgMicrosoft researchers are developing a clock that they acknowledge owes a debt of inspiration to the magical clock in the Harry Potter series that tracks the location of any Weasley family member at any given time. Designed for the (non-existent) family with no issues over personal privacy, the “whereabouts clock” will track the GPS signal on family members’ cell phones, indicating whether they are at Home, School, Work or the vague Elsewhere. Whether Elsewhere means a brothel, a crack house or just another family’s house for a decent meal, this sounds like a real Domestic Doomsday Device to me.

Harry Potter mania hits scientists [PhoneyWorld.com]

(Via Gizmodo.)


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