Addressing the Reusability Paradox?

David Wiley talks about something called the “Reusability Paradox” of learning objects. It’s one of the fundamental issues in dealing with learning objects, and basically boils down to this (grossly oversimplified Coles Notes version of Wiley’s paper):

“If a learning object is useful in a particular context, by definition it is not reusable in a different context. If a learning object is reusable in many contexts, it isn’t particularly useful in any.”

Not rocket surgery, but it’s a tough problem to solve. The exciting thing (for me, anyway) about some of the projects we’re getting involved with at the Learning Commons, is that we’re finally starting to attempt to address this fundamental paradox. How can you have learning objects that are usable and reusable? We’re looking at ways to assemble content from lesser bits, building context along the way. We’re looking at dynamic assemblies of learning objects with varying degrees of contextualization, where the assembly itself provides the context to make it usable in a particular setting, while letting the lesser components of the thing remain reusable in other contexts…

Stay tuned, folks. This is going to be a fun ride!

Technorati Bookmarklet

I just whipped up a brain-dead simple bookmarklet to check Technorati’s link cosmos for the currently viewed web page. Just drag the link below into your bookmarks or toolbar or whatever, and whenever you click it, you should get the Technorati report on who’s linking to that page.

Technorati This

No warrantee, express nor implied. Use at your own risk. If it nukes your system, you should be using a better OS, and it’s not my fault… ;-)

UPDATE: It turns out that RTFM applies to me as well… Technorati already offers a version of a bookmarklet that does the exact same thing… Doh. Oh, well… My intension was good, even if I apparently can’t read… Here’s the official script.

Gathering Requirements: The Crux of the Matter

From the Intranet Journal: a handy tip list for how/who to best generate and manage a requirements specification for a project.

Perhaps the most important piece of any application development project is requirements gathering. After all, if you’re not clear on where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? So why do most intranet teams spend so little time focusing on developing the skills necessary to do this piece well?

DEVONthink: Outboard Brain

I’ve been using MacJournal for some time now, and have been quite happy using it as my outboard brain (for accounts, registrations, code snippets…) but it started barfing on me over the last couple of weeks – new entries not saved, etc… I know… MacJournal is open source (well, the source is available, anyway), so why don’t I just fix it myself? I’ve got enough of my own code to manage without taking on an unrelated project. That, and I’m getting lazy in my approaching middle age.

As a result, I’ve been looking for another solution to hold any kind of data that may not belong in a weblog (which acts as my online brain). Enter DEVONthink Personal Edition. I’m trying it out, and it seems quite cool. The only real improvement I can think of would be concept mapping to show the relations between items in the database.

It does have a cool “similar items” thingy that seems to do a decent job of finding items somewhat related to the currently selected item. Could be cool. I’ll update if anything exciting happens with DEVONthink.

UPDATE: Got my registration for DEVONthink today. Rock on. Also talked to their feedback/support folks. Apparently they are aware that concept mapping of items in the database would be cool, but it’s lower on the list. If that’s important, send them some feedback…