Planet WCET’08…is a lifeless asteroid

Partly as an exercise in personal autonomy (we’re doing a workshop on “Personal Learning Environments” so what better way than to walk the talk) and partly just in a fit of pique that the conference itself wasn’t already doing something, I created this netvibes page to aggregate the activity from the on-going WCET conference in Phoenix. It took about 30 minutes to put it together (except for the scraping of the conference schedule, which took 3 minutes once Tony Hirst showed me how to do it with the =importHtml function in Google spreadsheets – thanks Tony!)

I sent it round WCET and everyone seemed impressed, and we showed it in our PLE Workshop yesterday, but alas I fear I have given birth to a non-life supporting planet. You see – there is NO CONFERENCE WIFI. I am sitting in a session right now on “Disruptive Innovations” with about 30 people in it, and mine is the only laptop out (N.B. I was ‘permitted’ to use the secret back-door account, which despite my desire to protest in solidarity, I cannot help but make use of.) So the lingr backchannel that Chris set up is likely not going to see a lot of action, nor don’t expect a whole lot of tweets on the #wcet08 channel (despite the fact that there are at least 8 active twitter users here that I know of, plus many whom I don’t know yet). Sigh. Anyways, for those at the conference who do get online through the overpriced connections in their room, here you go, Planet WCET’08. Feels a bit like Pluto… – SWL

Notes and Thoughts from Open Education 2008

Got back late on Friday night after spending most of last week in sunny Logan, Utah at the 2008 Open Education Conference. My notes are here for anyone who might care. As usual, the conference program itself was FAR outstripped by the hallway conversations and afterhour sessions, especially the chance to not just finally meet (after years of unabashed fanboy-dom) but spend a few days talking with Tony Hirst. And working most of Thursday night with one of my favourite people mashing up interviews from the conference attendees as they talked about their history with OER was lots of fun (even if the organizers ended up shelving the results due to a malfunctioning sound system.)

I won’t spend a lot of time commenting on the program except to say the one thing I was heartened to see was a renewed emphasis on getting the production of open content into the normal workflow and (and funding channels) of instructors and institutions. This clearly has to happen if we are going to move away from the $10-25K/year/course “publishing” model that seems all to prevalent in many of the OCW projects we heard about last week.

And a final note – next years’ conference is moving to Vancouver at UBC! There isn’t a site to point you too yet, but I can assure you, you will not want to miss it 😉 Much more to follow on that topic in the months to come… – SWL

eduglu singers remix machine

When Tony Hirst pointed to this fabulous set of Javascript controls for audio called SoundManager2, I knew I just HAD to try it out. Their fantastic MPC demo is simple to add your own clips to and make your own ‘music’ machine. Now you too can remix the eduglu singers! Have fun! – SWL

My search is over – Yahoo Pipe to constrain search to linked to pages

Wouldn’t you know it, a few seconds after I finish commenting on Tony Hirst’s blog that my personal quest has been a way to dynamically constrain a search to only those pages linked on any webpage, I actually read the entire post and learn that he had already done this! A simultaneous ‘Doh!’ and ‘Hooray!’

From a usability perspective what I’ve always wanted to see was this as a bookmarklet that passes the link the URL from whatever link containing page you’re on, so I’ll look into that, but Tony has demonstrated how this is seemingly quite straightforward with Yahoo Pipes.

Why is this important to me? Think of all of the collections of links out there, people who have painstakingly vetted links on a particular subject, collected only those they felt were important. With one click you can search just those linked sites. It can definitely be argued that this always runs the risk of missing stuff outside of those constrianed sites, but there’s times when limiting the context is useful and important. – SWL

Martin Weller on Tony Hirst’s Stringle

Martin Weller and Tony Hirst have joined Marc Eisenstadt as bloggers from the UK’s Open University whose posts I now eagerly await, so it’s a distinct pleasure to find Martin posting about Tony’s project, Stringle.

I can almost hear the chorus now about how “a PLE is not an application” and yes, but whatever. Tony has assembled a really useful demonstration of how, using feeds, services like grazer and OPML manager and many of the free web 2.0 applications out there (this demonstration uses Google docs, PBWiki, ELGG and Gliffy to name a few), a fairly comprehensive environment can be aggregated together for learners. I don’t think this precludes all of the great learning resources out on the open web at all, in fact it rather welcomes them, and tools and services like Dappit, OpenKapow and ScreenScrapper are now making it easy for anyone to create RSS feeds for web content where previously there were none. It’s not hard for me to see how with something like OpenID implemented on many of these services all of a sudden you can have your safe password protected areas for student work and eat your open web 2.0 cake too. Take some time and play around with what Tony has assembled and see if it doesn’t jog your imagination. Is it going to replace your CMS tomorrow. Probably not if you are wedded to how that’s working for you. But darn if it doesn’t beckon to a day when making use of a new Web 2,0 app in your course in a way that works for you, for students AND your administration isn’t as easy as … rip, mix, feed. – SWL