Fall projects

I’ve got a busy fall on the go with some new initiatives and projects keeping me busy.

EdTech Demos

This is a new educational technology initiative here at BCcampus, designed to help expose the system to some new ideas and educational technologies. These are free 30-60 minute virtual  demonstrations done about once a month.  So far I’ve done 3 of these demo sessions (Canvas, FieldPress, H5P) and I’ve been very happy at the response and attendance from the post-sec system.

One of the goals I have is to try to make some space for open source educational technologies as these are often interesting projects that don’t have the marketing or promotional budgets of a commercial edtech company. But there will be a mix of commercial and open source, big and small to try to get a nice flavour of what is happening in the edtech space. I have 2 more schedule for this fall, one with D2L Brightspace on Learning Analytics at the end of October, and another with Hypothes.is in late November.

I’ve put together an email notification system that people can sign up for to get notified when these demos happen. I am shooting for about one per month.  I’m also looking for suggestions of edtech that you would like to see a demo of.

Guide on the Side Sandbox

I’m also coordinating a sandbox project with a group of academic librarians from aroun d the BC post-sec system for an open source application called Guide on the Side. Guide on the Side is an open source app developed by the University of Arizona to create guided tours of websites and web applications. We are just in the process of installing the software and forming our community. This sandbox project will run for the next 6 months as we test out the software. I am trying to put together some edtech evaluation frameworks (SAML, RAIT, etc) to use as a guide for evaluating the software. I imagine I’ll end up cobbling a few of these together to come up with a framework that works for what we want our sandbox projects to do.  We’ll be releasing our findings in the spring.


I’ll be heading to EDUCAUSE in Anaheim at the end of the month. The last time I was at EDUCAUSE was in 2007 where I first met Bryan Alexander and learned about this new thing called Twitter. I don’t know if this one will be as memorable (Twitter became kind of a big deal in my life), but I am looking forward to attending.

I am in a bit of session overload right now as I plan to attend and put together my schedule. I forgot just how massive this thing is. Holy session overload! One time slot I am looking at has 53 concurrent sessions. Even when I filter from 7 to 3 streams, I still have 25 options. This one looks most relevant for how I feel at this moment.


As I have written about before, I am intrigued by a few new technologies and ways of thinking about edtech that have been coming out of EDUCAUSE, specifically the idea of Next Generation Digital Learning Environment (NGDLE) and applications like CASA. These are the sessions I’ll be attending, along with some more on personalized and adaptive learning which I feel I have a good conceptual understanding of, but have yet to get a good grasp on some of the more practical applications of these technologies.

Privacy Impact Assessment & WordPress Projects

One of the other projects I have on my plate for this fall is some Privacy Impact Assessment work for the BC OpenEdTech Collaborative. We had a very productive meeting of our WordPress group where one of the barriers identified by the group was the lack of clarity about data sovereignty and privacy with the technical solutions we are looking at (EduCloud, Docker, and WordPress itself).

While we do have a FIPPA compliant hosting service in EduCloud, that is just one (albeit significant) piece of the FIPPA puzzle. But there may be other privacy considerations when it comes to using WordPress. For example, a plugin may potential disclose personal information to a server outside of Canada.

Since privacy and FIPPA (within the context of educational technology) is part of my wheelhouse, I’ve taken on coordinating a Privacy Impact Assessment for an EduCloud based WordPress project.  Since a privacy impact assessment is something that is done on an initiative and not just the technology used as part of the initiative, I’ll be taking a fairly in-depth look at one of our applications of WordPress and using it to construct a Privacy Impact Assessment report that can then (hopefully) be used as a template for other initiatives using similar, but slightly different technologies. I have an idea of how to do this in my head, but haven’t yet fully formed how to execute it yet.

Other stuff

There are a number of other projects I have on the go right now (including a big one with BCNET and UBC developing an onboarding process for institutions who wish to join the provincial Kaltura shared service), and participating on the SCETUG steering committee. But these are likely the ones I’ll be blogging about over the coming months.

Oh, and something unrelated to my work with BCcampus – I’ll be spending some time prepping to teach in the new year at Royal Roads University in the Learning & Technology program. The course (normally taught by George Veletsianos) is  LRNT505: Community Building Processes for Online Learning Environments, and I am thrilled to be able to get into a (virtual) classroom and work with students. Being that I have been out of an institution for the past 4 years, I am immensely grateful to have the opportunity to jump back into an institution as a faculty member & work directly with students.


Getting a RSS feed for a Delicious tag

I keep having to refer back to how I have done this in the past because it is not obvious within Delicious how to do this, unless you start to dig around the developers documentation. So, I am posting this here in case anyone else needs to get the RSS feed for a Delicious tag.

I’ll get to why you may want to do this in a minute, but first the meat of the post.

To pull an RSS feed for a tag, the url pattern is:

http://feeds.delicious.com/v2/rss/tag/<insert tag here>?count=10

So, for example, to pull an RSS feed of the last 10 resources tagged moodle, the url would look like:


That will pull an RSS feeds of the latest 10 resources tagged with the keyword “moodle”. If you want more or less resources, you simply change the number 10 to whatever number you want in your feed.

If you want to track a different tag, simply replace the word moodle with whatever tag you want to follow. So, if you want to track the last 20 resources tagged “pln”, for example, the feed would look like this:


Now, why would you want to do this? Well, one of the things I like to do is monitor Delicious for new items that are tagged by the community, but I don’t want to have to go to Delicious to see what is newly tagged for whatever topic I am tracking. What I like to do is pull an RSS feed into a site I already check everyday (actually multiple times a day) – my Netvibes page, which is my personal dashboard.

Here is what the Moodle example above looks like on my Netvibes Moodle tab:

The widget is in the top left corner of my Moodle tab, which is in context with all the other Moodle resources I am tracking on the web. Now whenever someone tags a resources with the keyword “moodle” in Delicious, it will appear in this widget, in context with all the other Moodle resources I am gathering.



3 research studies on potential advantages of using Twitter in the classroom

Three academic studies are cited in this article about Twitter, and how it can increase student engagement, enhance social presence, and help develop peer support models among students through the formation of personal learning networks.

Amplify’d from spotlight.macfound.org
A small but impressive study of students at Lockhaven University in Pennsylvania found that those who used Twitter to continue class discussions and complete assignments were more engaged in their classwork than students who did not.

Four sections (70 students) were given assignments and discussions that incorporated Twitter, such as tweeting about their experiences on a job shadow day or commenting on class readings. Three sections (55 students) did the same assignments and had access to the same information, but didn’t use Twitter.

In addition to showing more than twice the improvement in engagement than the control group, the students who used Twitter also achieved on average a .5 point increase in their overall GPA for the semester.

An earlier study [pdf] by Joanna C. Dunlap and Patrick R. Lowenthal from the University of Colorado at Denver found that Twitter was able to “enhance social presence” and produce other instructional benefits in an online course.

Another experiment into the use of social media at the University of Leicester found that tweeting helps to develop peer support among students and personal learning networks and can be used as a data collection tool. Read a more detailed description of the experiment here. [via Faculty Focus]

Read more at spotlight.macfound.org


Why SCORM is bad for elearning

This post is in regards to the recent $2 billion dollars that the US gov’t has set aside for the creation of Open Educational Resources. A significant shot in the arm for OER’s, except for on small glitch – the content has to be developed to be SCORM compliant. This post rips apart how that little gotcha puts the whole idea of resuability at risk. A good trashing of the SCORM standard. It should be noted that the trashing is being done by a person who is involved in creating a competing standard, but these remain valid concerns with SCORM. But really, what about just developing to web standards and be done with it?

Amplify’d from www.imsglobal.org
1. SCORM is severely outdated and narrow in scope. The model upon which it is based is 15 years old and very focused on one specific need: self-paced computer-based training (CBT). It is also old in terms of the technology used to implement it. It is not web friendly. It was even kind of outdated when it first came into the market. Now it is ancient.
. SCORM does not provide reliable interoperability or reuse. SCORM is very complex and notorious for providing inconsistent interoperability even among products achieving the SCORM certification.
3. SCORM was not designed for and has NOT typically been used for cohort-based educational courses with teacher and professors involved.
4. SCORM is especially bad for customizing and remixing by regular teachers and professors. SCORM objects are generally a “black box.” They require complex authoring tools to create and edit SCORM content. Therefore, remixing and republishing by the users is extremely complex
5. SCORM has no concept of or support for assessment. At best SCORM can be set up to provide short quizzes or individual questions that are a black box.
6. SCORM has no concept of protecting access to content with license codes or any other protection mechanism.
7. SCORM has no concept of or support for existing in a wider Information Technology (IT) infrastructure in which there are administrative student systems. This means that SCORM does not think through how access to various content and resources is restricted to certain individuals, including cohorts of students for collaborative activities and courses, or how data gathered from the learning is reported to administrative systems
it is very difficult to find even a single higher education course that has been reused as a result of SCORM
So, why is SCORM a poor fit for education? SCORM may be part of the solution, but at best it only addresses 10% of the requirements, and unfortunately based on very outdated technology.
Social learning, collaborative learning? These were never even contemplated with SCORM.

Read more at www.imsglobal.org