The next Elgg release will happen either tonight or tomorrow night – Dave and I will confer on the version number, but I suspect it won’t have an “a” or “b” suffix. We’ve made so many changes, and some really excellent contributions have been made (which you’ll see reflected on this site very soon). Want to use external blogging clients to post to an Elgg site? Want to save your login information so your Elgg installation remembers who you are? Now you can … Thanks to Leonard Lin and Misja Hoebe for those. Alison Wong has also created a rather splendid new default template, which vastly improves the look and feel of the basic site. Watch this space …
Here in the UK, universities and public organisations are subject to the Disability Discrimination Act, which dictates that we must make “reasonable efforts” to allow content to be accessed by the disabled. This largely means blind people, although there are also issues for people with impaired motor skills; the RNIB, a charity for the blind, is making a point of launching test cases against applicable web services that don’t do this.
This obviously has a bearing on Elgg, which will largely be used in public institutions. Ideally, all templates will be controlled using strict XHTML and a style sheet; the internals don’t quite allow for this at present, but it’ll take a handful of tweaks to bring us up to that level. Perhaps there ought to also be a specific supplied template for increased accessibility.
I was wondering, though, what the disability legislation was in countries outside Britain and the USA. If you have any knowledge of your own country’s legislation, could you leave a comment here? I’d be very interested to hear of any special requirements, how much the law is enforced, and the number of actual students at your institutions that might be impacted. The latter is just out of interest; I want Elgg to be as accessible as possible no matter the number.
I’m back from my whirlwind visit to Odense in Denmark, where I was invited to speak at the KnowledgeLab‘s E-portfolio & Talent Management conference. I’d once again like to thank Niels and the team for a really though-provoking, well-organised event.
Of course, I got to explain Dave and my vision for the Learning Landscape, as well as spend a couple of hours taking people through the features of Elgg on a more or less one-on-one basis. As I understand it the slides I used, as well as a video interview, will show up on the conference website soon.
Something I mentioned during my talk, and I know Dave has mentioned in similar talks, is the question of ownership. Even if an institution doesn’t explicitly own a user’s portfolio, if they’re defining the questions that have to be answered – in other words, if the institution controls the data – then they have implicit ownership. The user still isn’t free to define his or her portfolio, and therefore his or her digital identity. What we’re hoping to do with Elgg and the Learning Landscape is to give the user that full control, and after my interview that was put brilliantly to me: while most e-portfolios prompt the learner to provide answers to questions, the Learning Landscape prompts them to find more questions.
Conversations are what this is all about. On behalf of the Elgg team – Dave, Alison and myself – I’d like to welcome our new users who have joined because of that event and others; please don’t feel shy to ask questions and make comments, both on your weblogs and on ours. You may find the video tutorials (click “home”) useful for the basics – for everything else, there’s the Elgg Features community, which you can join by clicking the little “plus person” icon – – next to its name.