X-Stream power link

I spent a pleasant morning talking code with Mike and Nick who are working on the repository and various methods for enabling access from other applications. They (and the X-Stream team 🙂 recently enable tutors to access the repositories Learning Objects (LOs) via a power link in X-Stream. Basically this means when creating a course the tutor can select the power-link, search the repository and embed one or more of the returned LOs as part of their modules content. Now all we need to do is fill the repository with LOs, not an easy job. During our discussions I asked them if it was possible to create a link that the students can use to search for content and research. This would be useful for the PC3 project for several reasons. Since we are considering using X-Stream as our main port of call students will need to be able to search both LOs and research papers for their own learning, as well as search course specifications and learning paths to help them decided on their own learning path. Nick said he would look into it but it wasn’t a perspective they had been considering. The alternative will be either a link to the intraLibrary login, with students using it directly, or a link to an external search facility, like the one the repository team have already developed for research papers.

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Decisions decisions …

We have spent the last couple of months considering what applications and technologies to use for the PC3 framework. All the trips in to ePortfolio conferences (see previous posts) and such have been focused on finding the right combination. The webinar a week last Friday with Campus Pack Fusion was the last up for consideration. In the last couple of days I have been putting all this information together, mapping all these resource and their potential to the PC3 framework which resulted in this:

Mapping technology to framework

Mapping technology to framework

The Studeo, personal learning space, was originally perceived as some type of ePortfolio, hence the conferences. At Wolverhampton we were first introduced to the possibility of using a blog, such as WordPress, to support this personal reflective space. There are several issues with this such as external or internal hosting, making it public or private, and limitations on space if video blogging is used frequently. Campus Pack Fusion sort of answered some of these problems. The pack contains both a blog and a private journal module that can be embedded in X-Stream or hosted separately.

However the team discussions keep coming back to three essential elements of the Studeo that blogs (in the main) just don’t support, but portfolios do. As follows:

  1. Each post or reflection created by a learner should be able to be linked as evidence to a set of competencies (either directly or via a referencing system).
  2. The learner should be using one application for reflection, and be able to choose who they wish to share each post with. Rather than having a public and a private blog.
  3. At the assessment or any other critical stage learners should be able to select a collection of suitable reflections and present them however they choose.

The remaining parts of the framework have coursed a lot less problems or already exist. At the moment its looking like we will be using:

  • Home page – X-Stream with power or hyperlinks to external apps
  • Studeo – PebblePad
  • Health Check – PebblePad
  • Learning Bank – IntraLibrary & X-Stream
  • Commons – Ning
  • Coaching Lab resources – Face-2-face, telephone, email & Elluminate for communications.

This still may change as development goes on 🙂

Campus Pack Fusion

Attended a webinare today showing the various elements of Campus Pack Fusion (CPF).  This suite of tools plugs into the X-Stream virtual learning environment (VLE) that is used at Leeds Met. It can also run independently as individual learning spaces. It uses the same build, tutor and student views provided by the VLE, and the various tools are selected from a drop down list. Each can then be configured regarding who has access, description, purpose etc. the tool set includes a blog, wiki, podcast feed and private journal (only student owner and selected tutors can view).

We are looking into this package as a solution to an ePortfolio. At the moment the blog and wiki tools are the same as you would find on the web. The company are in the process of developing some templates to represent portfolio but no details were given on how this will look. The two main issues that I have with this package, as compared to dedicated ePortfolio, is that view and edit permissions are set by the tutor (with X-Stream version only) and they apply to all content not specific posts (both in X-Stream and external). A work around would be to use the external learning space for all reflections and then cut and paste selected content into an assessed blog or wiki with in X-Stream. That way a student can choose what they want to share and still be able to reflect intuitively for themselves.

I captured a few screen shots here to give some idea of the interfaces we would be working with:

I did have one idea while attending this, which was really well done by the way. That was to use a wiki as a competency resource collection. We could set up a page for each competency that students need to cover. Everyone, students to tutors, can add and comment on any content, modules, courses and other resources they have come across, or simple as a way of sharing experiences and providing support. This would have to be external to X-Stream as it would be a useful resource to pass form cohort to cohort. This is somewhat similar (or may be exactly like) to the competency wiki put forward by Serge Ravet at ePort2009 workshop.

This suit could do the job we are looking for with some work-a-rounds. There’s no clear way at the moment for individual students to link evidence to competencies, an element we are keen to provide. We would also have to use a simple spreadsheet for competency evaluation, something we have already considered as a first step. The MindMap below shows how various aspects of CPF and other apps could be used to build the PC3 framework. The permissions setting is a bit of a bind, and doesn’t really achieve what we were looking for. Being able to reflect and then choose who, if anybody, to share that reflection with is an empowerment feature that encourages ownership of the work. How important this will be I’m not sure at the moment.

MindMap showing CPF apps linked to PC3 Framework

MindMap showing CPF apps linked to PC3 Framework