LO-blog community meeting

From David Wiley’s Autounfocus weblog:

Let’s pretend that a major foundation that is interested in the intersection of learning objects and online community had approached me about sponsoring a meeting of people with said interest, and I had funding to bring 12 or so people together for a multi-day summit this summer to discuss the state of the art and where we go from here. Which is all true.

Who should I invite? You can only nominate five people, and none of them can be you.

What a cool way to set up a meeting. Hopefully, they’ll publish the proceedings (or better yet, blog them live…)

Browse Learning Objects Interfaces

I’ve been implementing the browse objects interface for the SciQ project, and it struck me just how different it looks from the current browse utility in CAREO. They do basically the same thing – allow the user to use predefined vocabularies for searches based on standardized metadata elements – but the presentation difference is quite striking.

Compare the two, CAREO on the left, SciQ on the right:

CAREO Browse Interface SciQ Zones Interface

Trying WebObjects on Solaris

Today, we’re going to install WO on a Solaris8 box, in preparation for deploying CAREO for the MedCIS project.

The fun part of this will be integration with SunONE Single Sign On to override authentication within CAREO. We’ll also be imposing several “classes” of users (Instructor, Student, Guest), and allow users to share documents with their own “class” as well as optionally with those in “lower” classes.

I’ll report back on how the install goes. Could be interesting, but we should be able to do the whole thing remotely.

UPDATE: That was easy. Of course. Now, to get WO talking to SunONE SSO… They’re still trying to get SSO working properly (Sun software, on a Sun OS, on Sun hardware, and it needs tweaking… Apple software installed just fine. Go figure.)

Learning Object Repository Interest Level Rising

Over the last week, I’ve been completely blown away by the level of interest people are showing in LORs, and CAREO specifically. Wow. Really.

It’s been odd, because for the past couple of years, it’s seemed like nobody knew or cared about learning objects, never mind learning object repositories, and now people all over the place are looking at CAREO to help them play around with LOs and LORs.

That’s just plain cool, for a few reasons:

1. We weren’t wasting our time in building CAREO and ALOHA (even if it felt that way sometimes).
2. We appear to be on the right track, or at least quite close to it.
3. We’re about to hit a critical mass of deployed repositories, which will make inter-repository communication (part of the EduSource project) have something to chew on.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what other groups come up with when they start kicking the tires. CAREO is just our current best guess, and it meets OUR immediate needs, but I know we’re going to have folks come up with completely new and innovative uses/purposes for the repository. This can only benefit CAREO, and now that we’re trying to set up a “Club CAREO”, everybody who’s playing with it will benefit.


Trying to install WebObjects on Linux

We’re going to give it a shot. We need to test out CAREO running under SunONE single sign-on authentication. We don’t have a Solaris box, but we do have a RedHat box sitting here.

Should be fun. Found what appear to be useful instructions here. I’ll report back if they were useful or not.

UPDATE: Yup. Worked like a charm. I’ll post some notes in the comments for this entry.

Add Objects works again!

Wow. I just cleaned up the old IMS-only metadata entry component in CAREO, and lo and behold, IT’S ALIVE! It actually does a pretty decent job.

Next, I’ll need to clean up the logic that determines who is allowed to edit an existing object, then I can re-activate the “Edit” link on the object listing component.

The “default” and “commons” themes will have the “Add Object” button now, and as soon as I can scare up the graphics for the other themes, they’ll be activated too. Cool.

Update: Just looked at the timestamps on the last 2 posts in this weblog… an hour and a half to go from “I should look into building this for our client” to “It works, and it’s live”. Not bad. Have I mentioned how much I love WebObjects?

Learning Object Creation/Editing

Now that the SciQ theme is mostly roughed in, I’m shifting focus yet again. We’ve had a Very Important Client request a form-based method to create and edit learning objects within the repository. We have ALOHA, but they need it integrated into the web interface.

We actually had that function about a year ago, in the CAREO prototype, but eventually had to scrap it because it was hard-coded to a single metadata schema, and that schema got updated. That broke the editor.

I’m going to be looking at building a quasi-schema-agnostic editor, ideally one in which the theme definition for the editing page could be used to define which fields should be provided to the user for entry (provide xpath?). Should be an interesting challenge… Worst-case scenario would be resorting to an IMS-only editor, and assume that 1.2.2 is good enough… How to handle the “Edit” button for objects described in other schemas, though?

SciQ ramping up

The SciQ Project is ramping up right now. Just received final content and UI, so I’m busy working away on transforming it into a theme for CAREO. That’s going to put pretty much everything else on hold until it’s ready to go.

This will be an excellent test of the theming engine in CAREO, though, and a cool use of the technology to get actual students (and teachers) using Learning Objects in the classroom.