In the spirit of Dan’s grab-bag of ideas, here are three things I’m thinking about:
1. Engagement Analytics
As teachers, instructional technologists, and project managers, many of us have been involved in the creation of new, open-source spaces for teaching and learning. As those spaces become increasingly networked and increasingly open to student content, enabling a student-as-producer paradigm, they offer students multiple ways to connect to their classmates,to their educational institutions, and to the wider public. They open up new possibilities, in short, for students to become more engaged with their own learning experiences.
“Engagement” is a great term — I love using it to describe my central pedagogical goals — but what does it mean in practice? And, at a time when educational institutions are preoccupied with assessment, how do we measure it? What kinds of data should we be looking at as we strive to show our administrations and our funding agencies that, say, an open-source platform can foster more (or different) student engagement than a siloed, proprietary system like Blackboard? What kinds of measurements from social network analysis can be used in an educational paradigm? And, most importantly, how can we create analytics that are aligned with an ethical perspective that respects student privacy and autonomy, and that refuses the dystopian paradigm of the CMS-as-panopticon?
2. The Future of RSS
Is RSS dead? Dying? Or have reports of its death been exaggerated? And what can we do about it? Are there ways we can build support and development for RSS into our digital projects to help build a sustainable ecosystem around it to help it thrive? To what extent should we be concerned about the future of RSS and to what extent do we have a responsibility (or ability) to keep it alive?
3. Baby Photos!
Yes, baby photos. Like many other DHers, I have a small child at home. This child has loving grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends who want a steady supply of baby photos. But I don’t want to use proprietary systems and services like Flickr, Picassa, Kodak, Shutterfly, Tumblr, etc., to share photos because I have ethical, privacy, and sustainability concerns about such systems.
Instead, I want to build an open-source solution that has the following characteristics:
1. Can be password-protected (I want a private site) but can be easily accessed by relatives who are not at all technically literate;
2. Offers ways to easily download and print photos;
3. Allows for easy batch-uploading of photos;
4. Allows metadata to be applied to batches of photos;
5. Allows movies to be embedded on pages;
6. Allows email notification of new posts on the password-protected site.
The closest I’ve come to such as system is a password-protected WordPress blog with the NextGen Gallery plugin for photo management and Subscribe2 for email notifications. I’ve been unsatisfied with NextGen, however (though I haven’t used its most recent versions — maybe it has improved), because the batch uploading and tagging capabilities seem clunky.
So, I’m curious to hear about what systems others use for baby photos. And, if the perfect system does not exist, I’d like to sit down with someone to spec out a better one.