Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Most e-learning content today is designed, authored, delivered, and managed via centralized learning management systems (LMS), learning content management systems (LCMS), course management systems (CMS), or content management systems (CMS) such as WebCT, Blackboard, Moodle, ATutor, ILIAS, Plone, or Drupal as static-packaged online courses and modules. A common idea behind these systems is that different tools are integrated into a single system. Consequently, learners have to spend some time to get familiar with such complex systems. Jay Cross and Stewart mader also point to the drawbacks of those centralized, feature-rich, and often difficult to use systems. Jay uses the Swiss Army Knives metaphor and states "Too many software suites aim to provide ever feature they can, a holdover from the days when naive purchasers made decisions about which LMS or word processor to buy by checking off boxes on a features list. Over-stuffed software is like a Swiss Army Knife. They do a lot of things but do none of them as well as a dedicated tool. It’s handy to have a Phillips screwdriver and a corkscrew in your pocket; you never know when you’ll be in need. However, if I’ve got to drive a dozen Phillips-head screws or uncork several bottles of wine, I’ll use a screwdriver or a real corkscrew. Most of the time, single-purpose tools and software work better than toolkits-on-a-knife or bloatware". In the same direction, Stewart writes "I've used both Blackboard and WebCT in my own teaching, and helped several schools set up both. I initially liked the idea of a single virtual space to enhance and extend a traditional course, but that perception has changed over time. Although the CMS combines everything from discussion board to live chat, file management, assignment submission, online quizzes, etc., you feel like you're spending less time actually using them and more time learning all their quirks and particular ways of doing things. This is my biggest frustration with the CMS".

I believe that we do need a more natura
l and learner-centric approach based on personal learning environment (PLE) and the freeform use of a set of lightweight tools that belong to and are controlled by individual learners. Rather than integrating different tools into a centralized system, the idea is to provide the learner with a myriad of tools and hand over control to her to select, combine and use the tools the way she deems fit.

Connectivism: What´s happening with content?

  • A presentation given by George Siemens at Mount Royal College in Calgary on connectivism...
  • Videos of George explaining Connectivism.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Trust 2.0 - Trust in Web 2.0

Just ran across this article by Mark McElhaw on how to ensure trust in Web 2.0. The author writes:

"To ensure site visitors continue to trust your site, you need to ensure users are who they say they are. Ways you can achieve this when users are registering include:

  • E-mail an activation link

  • Send a text message with an activation code

  • Send the activation code to a home or business address

You can also:

  • Only allow site visitors access to content/functionality if recommended by a registered user (LinkedIn, the online career network, does this)

  • Show people you know their IP address when they're logged in

  • Collect users' credit card details

If site visitors know you've validated the credibility of users creating content, they're far more likely to trust that content.

Other ways of increasing trust of user generated content, and enhance the credibility of users, include:

  1. Make users' profiles publicly available to everyone in the community (the profile can include tastes, expertise or experience, for example)

  2. Allow users to rate a person for their content, services or products (eBay does this)

  3. Set up a reference system to highlight respected contributors (Amazon now gives out 'badges' to reviewers, where they get tagged with 'real name' (if the site can verify that it's their real name) or 'top 500 reviewer' (if the site feels the person has given good reviews)

  4. Have real time face-to-face interaction (e.g. Skype on eBay)

You won't of course need (or want) to implement all of these techniques - think about what your site is trying to achieve and the needs of your audience. You should then be able to come up with an appropriate trust strategy".

Yahoo behind Google in terms of Personalization

Yahoo announced a new beta version of My Yahoo. Here is a screencast. On the Read/WriteWeb blog, Essentially it's Yahoo finally upgrading its long-running personalized homepage, with a new design more closely aligned to, splashes of Ajax and dollaps of personalizationIt will at first be a private beta, with a limited number of users being offered a beta account at Yahoo's plan is to gather feedback from those early users and then make the My Yahoo! beta more broadly available - with additional features - over the coming monthssome of the new beta features:

  • pre-built personalized page for each user, based on data Yahoo has already gleaned from their usage of Yahoo properties - the design of the page is closely aligned with;
  • Category pages for topics such as cooking, plus "content suggestions";
  • Users can further customize their page with drag-and-drop modules, and new four-column and small search box layouts;
  • Feed previews and a full post reader on the page;
  • Editable Personal Assistant with instant access to things like Yahoo! Mail, horoscopes, local traffic, etc;
  • Redesigned modules from Yahoo! and select partners, with games, music, commerce, sports updates, weather, finance portfolios, TV listings, etc;
  • Sharing feature, enabling users to send their My Yahoo! page or favorite modules to friends and family - note, this is very similar to Pageflakes' sharing feature, only Yahoo told me that their sharing service doesn't require sign-ups;
  • More "new interactive modules" to come
To note that Yahoo is far behind google in terms of personalized Ajax-enabled start pages. Google's Personalized Homepage is an early adopter of Ajax and has already most of the features of the new My Yahoo beta. Moreover, Yahoo plans in the future to integrate Yahoo Widgets with My Yahoo. On Google's Personalized Homepage widgets (gadgets) are already there!

Monday, March 12, 2007


Over the past 2 weeks I´ve been attending 2 nice events:

The PROLEARN internal review and the thematic workshop on social software in Vienna, organized by PROLEARN in cooperation with the project iCamp, the Austrian Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and the PRO-LC. 6 Keynote talks were on the workshop programme. The talk that I liked most was the one given by Ralf Bendrath on Social Software and Privacy which is indeed a crucial issue. In the afternoon there have been 2 parallel workshops, a case study workshop and a teacher workshop. I´ve attended the first one to get an idea about social software in business (Enterprise 2.0). I have the feeling that everyone is seeing the need to integrate/use Web 2.0 technologies though there is no agreement on how to do it or sometimes why to do it. Actually I´m still not sure if the current explosive growth of Web 2.0 will not be followed by a dramatic decline, as it is always the case with new technologies!

The BTW conference (12. GI-Fachtagung für Datenbanksysteme in Business, Technologie und Web) organized by our chair and chair of computer science 9. It was a great opportunity to get an overview on current research directions in the areas of database systems technologies, experiences and applications. I was and I´m still very interested in this research field which was also my specialization area during my Diploma studies under the supervision of Prof. Theo Härder. I was very happy to get the chance to talk to him at the conference. I also met some of my old colleagues in Kaiserslautern. I have also to mention that the conference was nicely organized by my colleagues David and Christoph. They really did it well!