Widget Beta (8LEM/Viewpoints & Learning Design)

Brian has been working hard and making good progress with our lightweight widget toolsets to support the pedagogic design processes associated with course development:

A web application designed to aid the development of course / lesson planning. With the goal of supporting as broad a range of tasks as possible the application tries to strike a good balance between prescriptive and open-ended use-cases.

Our ultimate ambition is to have a flexible tool that can be adapted to many different planning activities, this includes those directly aligned with the Coeducate project aims but also other activities that would benefit from a structured process supported with guidance.  Key to this will be the use of the Wookie server for collaborative work and the ability to customise the tool – we are aiming at the ‘average’ teacher/lecturer rather than developing something that requires a learning technologist or programmer to make changes.

For now, we have two examples, one based on the work undertaken by the Ulster Viewpoints programme and another developed at Bolton.  In each case, a deck of cards are used as prompts and sources of information to help practitioners plan modules.

A mechanism is in place to allow for a collection of cards to be handled as an atomic ‘deck’, with more than one deck usable simultaneously. Conversely the canvas on which they are placed allows for cards to be placed in any desired configuration, contains a simple text label that allows entry of a custom title for that period and a button to create a new entry (as many entries as desired can be created and stored).

The widget can be fond HERE, and currently the top deck  uses the  Viewpoints cards inspired by 8LEM and the second deck starts below the Meta ‘card’ and is inspired by the IMS Learning Design concepts of role, activity and environments  (resources) and designed to get staff to think about taking face-2-face modules online. For a Viewpoints workshop approach, it might be that the tool is used to record face-2-face sessions and allowing participants to take away their design at the end of the day and export the text generated into a usable format.

We have undertaken one evaluation session with PGCHE students and will undertake a series of of events throughout 2012 with the dual purpose of refining the generic tool, but also developing card sets.

Read below for technical details and our current development priorities, comments welcome!

Technical Description:

Implemented using contemporary web standards such as HTML5, DOM storage and JavaScript, the application can be run in any browser that supports the relevant standards (including Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari amongst others).

The resources used can be packaged as a w3 widget (http://www.w3.org/TR/widgets/) and hosted in any environment that supports the widgets specification; in particular we’re aiming at deploying the completed widget on a wookie server (http://getwookie.org/) which enables embedding in arbitrary applications (e.g. connectors are available for moodle, WordPress and others).

In addition to providing an application-agnostic hosting platform, wookie supports the google Wave API which will in the future enable real-time collaborative use of the application.

The current prototype supports the following features:

* Drag-and-drop interface for placing and removing cards from the canvas.
* Support for any number of time periods
* Support for the University of Ulster’s Hybrid Learning Model cards.
* Support for internally-created learning design cards.
* Support for ‘special’ cards, currently limited to a sticky note.
* Local persistence (the current browser) of card data.
* Can be packaged as a w3 widget and hosted on a wookie server and embedded in moodle.

The following features are partially implemented and will be ready in the next prototype:
* The names and roles entry should allow for the creation of as many inputs as people involved.
* Sticky notes should be available in other colours.
* Card movement – cards should be droppable the top of a container between the time period entry and the cross.

New features in the next prototype:
* Better print support: transform the data in the cards in a way that allows the results of a planning session to be printed in a more appropriate layout.

* Collaborative use of the application: Using the Wave API offered by the wookie server, a version of the tool will be created that supports real-time collaborative editing of cards from within moodle.

* Duplication of completed cards & entered data.

Future features (time-permitting):

* Export (save to disk) capability; allow for offline sharing of application data.
* Search feature?
* In-application Card and deck creation / customization: much of the code is ready to support this feature, the difficult part is UI design.

* Sharing of customised card decks.

* Customisation of time-period background (images, HTML5 canvas element for dynamic backdrops such as time-scales)
* Creation of backdrops; titled frames, graphics.
* Cards that allow for a ‘link’ to another web resource (for example YouTube, Flickr etc).
* Scalable / resizeable cards: user-testing suggests that this dimension can be used to indicate the importance of a card relative to others, indicate the duration of an activity etc.; by being non-prescriptive the hope is that we can support as many different uses as possible.


3 responses to “Widget Beta (8LEM/Viewpoints & Learning Design)

  1. Great to see this coming to life Stephen. Hopefully people will pick it up and customise it too.


  2. Sounds like the prototype process is coming along nicely, have you got around to finishing a final (if there is one) prototype?

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