Monthly Archives: August 2008

Unergonomic LD standard


While reviewing the new 1.5.7 version of the ReCourse LD authoring tool, it struck me again how unergonomic the specification is. This may explain why IMS LD has not made a break-through in the e-Learning industry since it was published in 2003. Apart from a few programming enthusiasts living off public funding support through the likes of JISC, EU, or similar projects no serious development happened that would have made a difference in the arena of VLE products.

First the teachers were blamed for not being able to express their pedagogy in a standard-compliant format, then the developers for not producing easy enough tools. In the end, though, it is the specification that’s the problem. Its hierarchy is way too deep and wrongly arranged for real design practice.

In IMS LD, the author needs to start their UoL (Unit of Learning) with a method – play – act – activity structure before they can start on activities. This is the cart before the horse, for most teachers I work with start with the activities and never need the upper layer stuff.

The trouble with tools like ReCourse (and previous Reload) is that you spend a long time filling in boxes and structures which in the end just creates an empty shell with no users and limited if any content or services presented in a unattractive way such as plain text html files. What you get is a nothing that you would not want to use with students but is understood by machines, interoperable, and reusable – hallelujah!

My files online


I finally managed to upload my files to an online provider. When I say managed it does not so much refer to the technical challenge, but to the hesitation that you have when sending your content to an external host with all the potential risks that involves (all mentioned in previous posts here on this blog).

The reasons for doing so were twofold:

(1) My blended working environment increasingly required synchronisation. I concurrently use online and offline productivity tools to edit documents in Word, Zoho, and Google Docs and it was hard to keep them in sync.

(2) Ubiquitous access became slowly but surely a requirement and I just hate our VPN setup.

Syncplicity is the tool I’ve given preference to because of it’s promiss of free 2GB storage and the ease of synchronisation in the background wherever I edit a document. You don’t even notice it does it.

Syncplicity screenshot

Syncplicity screenshot

The best feature is that is also synchronizes with your Google Docs and integrates with Zoho and Facebook (for photos). Should make blended working much easier.

Elgg 1.0 released


It’s now official: Elgg 1.0 was released yesterday afternoon. Ben Werdmuller explains the essential underlying philosophy and changes to previous versions of Elgg:

"Elgg is fully-featured and extremely powerful both to run as a
stand-alone social network and as a basis for programming on top of."

Key is that Elgg 1.0 is still open source and comes in two shapes: a build-your-own version and an out-of-the-box one for the faithful followers who want to have functionality but are technically challenged (like myself).

Elgg 1.0 sets an example of an extremely slim approach to programming. I quite agree with this way forward which stands in opposition to some other platforms that have become more and more bloated and monolithic. The open Elgg API structure is also much preferable to sellotaped functionality that doesn’t really do the job and messes up the core.