Creating a town from a village: scotedublogs
After not having any computer access since Sunday I've only just cottoned on to the discussion around creating some kind of service for Scotedublogs, bringing together all the posts on the wiki on which people can promote the existence of their school blog, podcast or wiki. It's a great idea and one that has been developing at very much the embryonic stage on the eighth floor of LTS for the past two months.
We've also been building our own 'testbed' service out in East Lothian which will be launched in January and make it far easier for East Lothian teachers to find those who share an interest, a year group or subject. The way we've done this - once we're sure it works - will be blogged in due course.
Today I met up with Nova Stevenson, the Content Editor working on the new LTS Interact service, Graham Wilson, the Technical Team Leader at LTS and Robin Wylie, the developer extraordinaire with the task of helping to put this project together. We took a look at what has been developed already and what is likely in the relatively near future. If you spot something where you might have a skill or idea to offer, please just bang a comment at the end of the post.
1. Pulling Scottish educational blogs together into one feed. This is the easy bit. We've created an online service which will aggregate all existing and any new scotedublogs into one feed, one river of information. There's nothing in this, of course, which Suprglu can't offer, but it's a start. We will also publish as comprehensive a list as possible of all the blog with:
- Blog name
- Mini description
- RSS feed
- Anything else?
This will be made available for anyone who wants to fiddle with it or publish it on their own site.
2. A new blogs service as part of LTS Interact We're thinking about creating a new element to LTS's online services. It'll be created in .asp so that it conforms to LTS's content management system, so that LTS's sites could, in theory, draw on blog information to supplement information published elsewhere on the site (kind of like "latest news on this subject from the blogosphere"). As well as the initial project of the "river of news" we were also thinking about starting off by manually creating 'Channels' or 'Playlists' of blogs which will be of interest to specific interest groups. These channels can be subscribed to, of course, but, as yet, there is no online aggregator programme planned. Users might use LTS's existing advice and create their own Bloglines, Netvibes or Pageflakes account, for example, and copy and paste those channels' feeds into their aggregator of choice.
In East Lothian, we are working with the great guys at Pageflakes to create 'Flakes' for these channels, so it's as easy as clicking the title of the channel (e.g. "Geography blogs"; "MFL Teacher blogs"; "Primary Animation Vlogs") to make it appear on your personal homepage.
3. Submit your blog We also thought it would be useful to create a form through which individuals can submit their own blog or the blogs of others which they have found. This information could be published manually on the list of scotedublogs and the source made available for other uses. At first, this would have to be a manual process until demand creates a need to automate it. At current levels of growth, even in the case of East Lothian's sprouting blogosphere, this process could probably be done within 24 hours by a Content Editor.
In the future: Tagging of information after it has been published on the LTS site and by any LTS user is, as Robin the developer put it, something that we "have not done no work in". Tags help users be presented with information that is more relevant to them than a regular internet search, but again, in East Lothian we are using services such as Quintura to create that more targeted search where tags do not exist. There is a desire to let users play with data and improve it over time this is where Glow could kick in.
John, Robert and Peter who have started off suggestions on the scotedublogs wiki itself. There will be other interested parties, too, and between us, we could create something really powerful and useful as the Scottish edublogosphere continues to expand. Nova's blogging more on this project over on her blog, and Robin, the developer, will be guest blogging on the work he has and will be doing on this particular project over there, too. will hopefully kick in.
For example, Glow will know from the user's personal profile what information they are most likely to enjoy being told about. Using the feeds and metadata gathered through scotedublogs LTS will be able to push through relevant blogs, maybe even at a future date, relevant individual blog posts. Glow will also allow people to share their own remixes of RSS feeds, their own 'channels', at a local, regional or national level and thus feed back into the system. One thing is clear - we'd love to come out and meet those with an interest in getting this right. Online is OK but F2F might make this a whole lot easier.