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Yes, I am still here.

The summer and start of fall term have been nonstop this year. I’m currently preparing for Educause 2006. I’m presenting a session on online course evaluations called “From Pencils to Pixels: Course Evaluations Go from Online Pilot to Production.” I’m also doing a poster session on moodle called “Moodle for the Masses: Deploying an Enterprise-Wide, Open-Source CMS.” I’m looking forward to connecting with others in Educause interested in these topics.

To Dallas!

CourseEval3 block for moodle 1.5.x

I whipped together a block for the new RPI interface to CourseEval3 (what we use for our course evaluations).  You can find it on my moodle mods page.  The RPI provides a data stream for the current user (in this case a javascript table) to external portals.  I look forward to seeing if it improves our response rate in the winter trimester and spring semester.  Our students are constantly going to moodle so it’s a logical place to put it.

Netvibes is the future

Well, maybe not the future. But it is impressive. The more AJAX-driven Web 2.0 techologies (click on those if I’m making no sense) I see the more I want our academic web services to use them — thinking CMS/moodle here. Netvibes is just a fluid portal that I’d love to have for a campus portal. I’m still just amazed at how in a web browser I click and edit and move objects around — just like a desktop application. There have been some AJAX-based modules developed for moodle.

Dublin City University, moodle, podcasts

I’m just finishing up listening to the podcast of the Auricle interview of Dublin City University’s Morag Munro on their moodle migration. It’s a good listen. They’re running moodle for 13,000 students on a single server with a backup/development server standing by. They easily linked it to their authentication system and their student information system. Had I seen this when I was in Dublin last week maybe I would have looked them up? Well, probably not. I was able to not think about work for those 2 weeks which was a record.

Back to podcasting. I’m finding I’m using podcasts as tivo for radio (which is not uncommon). My habit has been to take the podcasts for FutureTense, On The Media, and The World: Technology and burn them to CD for listening in the car. It’s been great to have my favorite radio spots whenever I want them. If I was really crafty I’d get an iTrip for my iPod and just use that. But I still like the simplicity of the CD.

A Capabilities Approach for the Next-Generation CMS

My eyes lit up when I saw this article in the latest Educause Review. The title made me think back to a session I went to in 2003 – Authority of Consensus: Next-Generation Course Management System Features. I left that session thinking, “yeah, I wish CMSes did all of this.”

This article actually is a chapter in a new book, Course Management Systems for Learning: Beyond Accidental Pedagogy. It looks like it could be good. Weigel starts by noting how CMSes assumed that all the characteristics of a classroom needed to be replicated in a CMS. As our eteam report noted, do what works best face-to-face when you’re face-to-face, and do what works best online when online. From the outset CMSes were constrained pedagogically. So perhaps it’s not fair for me to be so critical of CMSes, moodle had the advantage of starting fresh and avoiding the pitfalls of standard CMS architectures. The major CMSes have grown so big they would need to be rewritten from scratch to break free of their constraints. Sure, they keep adding features to break away from the functional approach to design, but at their core the course is a collection of functions.

Weigel sets out 4 learner-centered capabilities and 4 capabilities that could be incorporated into new CMSes.

  1. critical thinking capability
  2. self-confidence capability
  3. peer-learning capability
  4. knowledge management capability
  1. discovery-based learning capability
  2. 360 degree out-of-the-course capability
  3. knowledge asset capability
  4. teach-to-learn capability

Hhhmmm, I’m seeing some moodle-like things here. Thankfully Weigel explains what these are in the article. What is knowledge management and a knowledge asset? Take a read of the article yourself to get clarification.

The 4 CMS features (second list) are pointing to moodle. Item 1 is clearly constructivist. Item 2 suggests a blurring of the concept of “a course” and opens up interdisciplinary connections. While moodle does still have “courses,” the modular nature of it allows for sharing of modules between courses. Item 3 calls out wikis and I could see glossaries as fulfilling this too. With item 4 synchronous tools are called out. While currently weak, moodle 1.5 has a strong IM component and offers easy gateways to traditional IM clients and Skype (noted in the article). I’m interested to see what our students do with the IM gateways as most of the incoming students IM constantly.

I hope Weigel has looked at moodle.

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