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Archive for April, 2009

Linked Periodical Data

Posted in Technology on April 20th, 2009 by darcusb – 2 Comments

I’ve had an idea for awhile that it’d be a really useful thing to have metadata about periodicals (journals, newspapers, etc.) available as linked data. After some informal chats about this with some people at Talis (and Ed Summers), Chris Clarke decided to throw out a somewhat more concrete idea for wider input.

The most important initial step is to find sources of good, clean data that can be issued under an open data license. If you have any ideas or would like to help, please followup on the Bibliographic Ontology Specification Group.

Collaborative Course Blogging

Posted in Teaching, Technology on April 9th, 2009 by darcusb – Comments Off

Kris Oldes posted a link to an interesting article about an effort to use a multi-user WordPress-based blog with social networking functionality (BuddyPress) to integrate four different courses around a broader theme. This is the sort of thing that’s impossible to do in any LMS that I know of, but which has the potential to be a really valuable experience for students and faculty alike. Moreover, the intellectual work embodied in the course can endure beyond the semester, and the small group of students involved.

I’m interested in doing something like this (though more modest; only one class) next term for my Global Change course. At some point, though, I need to talk to people about the technical (how best to do it; Elgg vs. BuddyPress) and privacy issues involved in such an effort. I really like the idea of doing public blogging and comments, for example, but am not sure how to deal with privacy issues around that

Boycotting ResearcherID?

Posted in General on April 1st, 2009 by darcusb – 7 Comments

So I just got this note from Thomson Reuters in my inbox, regarding their new ResearcherID service:

When you register with ResearcherID you are assigned a unique author identifier that expressly associates you with your work, helping to eliminate the common problem of author misidentification.
I’m presented then, with an ethical dilemma: do I participate because it’s probably in my personal interest to do so, or do I boycott this in favor of larger principles because of Thomson Reuters’ otherwise reprehensible activities (the Zotero suit)?

My tentative answer: boycott. I already have something that identifies me: http://bruce.darcus.name/about#me.

Moodle, Sakai, etc.

Posted in Teaching, Technology on April 1st, 2009 by darcusb – 1 Comment

A public answer to a question about my experience with/thoughts on Sakai or Moodle

I have not used Moodle or Sakai except for playing around with demos, which does not really qualify me as an expert. But that aside, in each case I came away feeling something like Michael Feldstein; that all LMS’s are pretty good/bad. On my superficial look, however, I would give the nod to Moodle for three reasons:

  1. Usability: notwithstanding absolutely atrocious default design aesthetics, Moodle seems to be pretty clean and intuitive.
  2. Hackability: Moodle is built on PHP, not Java. While I really dislike PHP, there’s no denying that it’s widely used, and easy to find people that can work on it.
  3. Community: there seem more people contributing to Moodle’s development; I suspect this goes back to my ‘hackability’ point. OTOH, when I read comments like this from people I respect, I have to wonder about Sakai. Projects without strong communities tend not to do well.

So I’m not exactly supremely impressed with Moodle or Sakai, though I think either are at least as good as Blackboard.

In my ideal world, however, I’d really like a seamless melding of the traditional course-centric LMS, with the more free-flowing learner-centric model enabled by social networking applications like Elgg. This is the vision behind the in-progress Sakai 3 effort (try the demo; promising, but not as nice as Elgg). It is also surely what will be at the core of the nascent Pinax-LMS effort (Pinax is a new generic social networking and site development framework, so the LMS features would just be added as modular applications). I would expect that the best way to achieve that now is some sort of integration of Elgg and Moodle, though I am unsure of how seamless that integration can be technically.

Anyone with more direct experience with any of this have feedback?