Thursday, February 09, 2006

e-Literate: Stephen Downes Missed the Point

e-Literate: Stephen Downes Missed the Point has some very good discussion on VLE/LMS architecture/development/direction. It seems to have some parrallels with the questions I have regarding the project Tetra. And what do I think? I'm very skeptical about this idea that we are close to a framework where we can take tools from different places and plug them together. If the tools are written against an existing product that defines the layers and APIs then everything works (like plugins for Firefox), but we are trying to get Firefox plugins to work in IE. For me the biggest problem in the VLE world is dealing with authentication and authorization which is often ignored by other web applications as they don't have materials that they need to restrict access to. Eg, Amazon doesn't have some books that only some people can see, so it's web APIs can be simple. In the VLE most of the current material is restricted and authorization checks have to be peformed.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sakai vs. Moodle |

Sakai vs. Moodle is a rather one sided look at two VLEs that are in the news at the moment. The problem with the comparison is that they are Apples and Oranges, Moodle was designed from the ground up to be a small VLE developing all its tools internally, Sakai was designed to intergrate existing tools developed in Universities into a campus wide VLE. The task Sakai had in had is an order of magnitude harder from both a technical and management point of view. I don't believe that any small department would seriously look at Sakai as a product, it is too big and complex. But because of the simplicity of Moodle several institutions are looking at/have(?) deploying it on a large scale. Does that make Moodle better?

Friday, February 03, 2006

WebCT Blogs and Bodington

Tama’s eLearning Blog - WebCT and *ahem* “blogs” notes some of the problems with the blog tool in WebCT. What is quite interesting is that as social software and elearning tools crossover they begin to collide. In this case it is that traditionally VLEs have required a login (even if it is a guest login) before a user can participate, but something like a blog is normally completly open so when you put a blog inside a VLE should you require people to login? We here at Oxford are trying to change our VLE (Bodington/WebLearn) so that it no longer requires a login to access public pages this makes it easier to intergrate with other tools as they don't have to have special support for our VLE. Although there isn't a blog tool in Bodington if there was it would be a choice for the owner of the blog as to wether to allow public access to the blog. Bodington likes to put control back to the owner of a resource which for the most part is where it should be.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

JavaScript Variable Scoping

Although JavaScript has variable scoping it only has two scopes, global and function. Being a Java programmer this caught me out as I had some JavaScript in a function:
  var i = 8;
  if ( i ) {
     var i = 2;
Which I thought should tell me i was 8 at the end as the second i should only be available in the if statement but actually the i declared inside the if is the same variable as the one declared on the first line.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Firefox 1.5 and LiveHTTPHeaders (0.11)

One of the most useful plugins for firefox is LiveHTTPHeaders which allows you to see the headers for both the requests and responses for web pages. When I upgraded to Firefox 1.5 I found that I needed a new version of the plugin (0.11) and although most things worked Right Click -> View Page Info -> Headers didn't. It was giving an error message about how I needed to copy a file out of my profile and into the Firefox installation directory. After trying this a few times and it still not working I went to the bug tracker and found a bug with my described problem. Installing the attached package makes the plugin work fine again. Yay.