Thursday, September 20, 2007

A quick and dirty PLE demo

So whats been cooking in Manchester? We've been making a prototype personal learning environment with a some interesting features. (We being Ian Bell, Greg Bouteiller, Mathieu Perrin, Eric Raffin, Ashish Ughade and myself.)

Now I and some of the above are looking for funding to transform this prototype into a production quality product. This could be from a grant awarding body, in which case what you see here surfaces as open source software in a year's time. But we aren't OSS proud, hey, make any suggestion. With what we (and our friends know) a savvy web company could clean up in the educational market.

And what you see here is just the tip of the iceberg folks! We have a whole bunch of ideas to support very large populations of registered users, to help develop students' metacognitive skills, and so on.

Warning, what you do see below is PROTOTYPE and this is visible to any astute observer. But it's certainly good enough to be proof of concept and for small group use now. And somehow after a few months work, we realise how little we like FLEX and RIAs, the interface will be going back to good old HTML, CSS, Javascript and AJAX with a dash of Flash for editor implementation.

Here are three five minute screencasts demoing the PLE; unscripted and single-take after a day long struggle in getting hold of reasonable quality screencasting technology. So, please forgive any imperfections, and look past them to the system itself:
  • Part 1 where I talk about the background to PLE, and show some of the social networking facilities in the prototype: Individual profiles, friendship, communities, manipulating community membership. Pretty standard stuff these days.

  • Part 2 where simple searches are illustrated, for communities in this case, but we could also search for users. Search facilities so far are pretty basic, but enable navigation around the social network of users and communities. Then this screencast moves on to constructing a learning plan, shows how del.icio.us linked resources can be incorporated into the learning plan.

  • Part 3 Shows how learning plans can be transformed by one or more users into representations of what they are learning. Learning plans and their transformation into media rich expressions of learning fit well with HEFCE's emphasis on the use of a diversity of media for learning purposes. Together with social networking facilities, learning plans and their transformations constitute the core of the PLE. They also fit well with the education 3.0 approach discussed elsewhere in this blog, particularly when ideas of the use of open educational content are paired with a PLE like this.
And if you are a funder with moolah, spondulicks, Russian oil rubles, folding money, or just plain cash to burn please send me an email. Just google my name and you will find an address.

Thanks! Enjoy!

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