vrijdag, juni 15, 2007

Impressions on June 14th

June 14th was for me the third and last conference day. First I joined a session by Angelica Risquez from the University of Limerick. They use the rSmart hosted CLE solution. Despite the fact that rSmart did a thorough re-design of the Sakau GUI and combined functional components based on processes from the end user perspective there are still some problems. There seems to be a new version of the rSmart solution, but I don't have the details yet. Baiscally the end user requires too much navigation to get to the point where he wants to. The combination of functional components ('Learn', 'Inform', etc.) is not always logical and inflexible. Moreover, instructors tend to use it in different ways. It would be a good thing if an institute could make adaptations to the default settings that rSmart has chosen.
After that I went to a track of three sessions on the use of OSP. For me it was the first time to get some in-depth information on how OSP is used in daily practice. I saw some nice examples being presented. Marij Veugelers (University of Amsterdam) stressed that you have to organize your projects very well to be successful. Project manager, educational technology consultants, support, community of practice, communications are important components. Natasa Brouwer showed an interesting example in a 3yrs. chemist Bachelor program. The next presentation by Sara Hill adds some additional pedagogical issues to this like the issue that students have to get used to reflect on their work. Reflection should be carefully integrated into the curriculum. One of her lessons learned was the reflection intervals have to be planned in order to keep the process going one. Furthermore, it is a good thing to include peers into the reflection process. The third OSP presentation by Bergman & Poklop introduced a portfolio review tool. At Northeastern University (Boston, MA) the instructors experienced problems with finding the right portfolio in order to give their feedback/review. The Education technology department developed a PHP application that includes a reporting system. It can query the database, send alerts to the reviewer and delivers automated review reporting. All reviews are gathered in an overview matrix. One can click on every review to see what the specific details are. There was a lot of interest from the audience for this tool.
Finally I joined the presentation by Andreas Wittke from Lubeck. Although it was one of the last sessions, the title of the presentation did it's work: Zurich 2 was almost full (about 100 people)! For those who consider Sakai as a sort of religion, this presentation might have put them with both feet on the ground again. In a clear and sometimes humoristic style Andreas argued that the end users (in most cases he deals with instructors/teachers) don't care so much about architecture. That's something they can't see. They look at the front-end. The Moodle interface is much more what the teachers like and is easy to work with. So they prefer to use Moodle. Sakai also suffers from a communication (or marketing) problem, and I agree with that. The amount of people that know Moodle is much higher than those who know Sakai. In his conclusions Andreas mentioned that we might look into joining forces: Sakai has the better technical points (database, architecture), Moodle is superior from the usability perspective. Why not work together, instead of being competitors? Come together and discuss! The problem might be that the Moodle community is not as clear as the Sakai community. The people in the Sakai Foundation are easily recognized, but to whom should they talk in the Moodle community? You may want to keep posted by reading Andreas' weblog (in German).

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