Elgg 0.6 and beyond!

May 29, 2006 | Leave a comment

It’s taken a lot of work, but as you may have seen on the news blog, Elgg 0.6 final is now available to download.

What’s been really awesome about this release is the input from the wider community. As the system has matured, we’ve started to see the development process really harness the power of open source. I think this will happen more and more as time goes on, which is great – things are beginning to snowball. Although the updates in this release are largely under the hood, 0.7 will be about interfaces, design and visible functionality; the things we plan to have in place by 1.0 go beyond any other comparable software platform, within or outside of the education sphere.

What’s in a name?

May 27, 2006 | Leave a comment

Over on Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow has a piece about the O’Reilly / Web 2.0 trademark issue that I mentioned yesterday. O’Reilly are asserting that Web 2.0 is their trademark, thereby assuring everyone they’ve well and truly jumped the shark in terms of being a name to trust in web culture.

What I don’t understand is – and I realise I’m being a hypocrite here – why we have to use the ‘web 2.0′ term at all. Can’t we all agree to just call it the web? Any non-static website that doesn’t use the ‘web 2.0′ technologies is obsolete, end of story. While it was a useful marketing term, that’s what it always was: marketing. This stuff is changing the direction of software and how we use computers; I think what we call it is really the least important of the many issues we’re going to have to deal with.

Paying for your education; paying for Web 2.0

May 26, 2006 | Leave a comment

This is slightly depressing: a potential student, stuck in his cubicle job and desperate for the qualification he needs to get out, is hoping to pay for his MBA course by selling 10,000 3″x3″ art squares for $5 each. Best of luck to him, says I.

And in other news, Tim O’Reilly has trademarked the term ‘Web 2.0′, the crafty old so-and-so. Maybe Dave and I should trademark ‘personal learning landscape’ …

Not made by elves

Something I’ve observed in the years I’ve been working on Elgg is the dynamic between the people who produce tools and the academics who talk about using them. Which is this: while there are mechanisms in place for an academic project to get funding to talk about using Elgg and trial it on a handful of students, it’s next to impossible for us to get similar funding to produce the tool to begin with.

Here’s a question posed by this blog post:

If an elf appeared and offer to give you a program that met your spec, how happy would you be?

Obviously everyone knows that programs aren’t made by magical elves; we know that they take thousands of person-hours and blood, sweat and tears to get right.

What the question assumes, though, is that having a program made is just a case of writing out a spec, passing it to an engineer and having it built. This simply isn’t the case if you want to produce a quality software application, particularly if you are not a programmer or software engineer yourself. Since beginning this work I’ve heard time and time again, from people I’ve met in institutions all over the world, that e-learning software is not a place for programmers and computer scientists. This is plain wrong: of course it is. Who else has the expertise to know what’s possible and what works in a software context? Every project needs a balanced mix of expertise and skills.

Of course, this is a learning experience for us, and in some ways we’re feeling our way around the academic scene. If you’ve got any advice or thoughts on obtaining funding and/or joining academic projects, we’d love to hear it.

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