Updated: 24/9/05; 10:33:59

David Davies' Radio Weblog

 Tuesday, April 30, 2002

If you're in Oxford tomorrow (1st May) then pop along to the CETIS Assessment Roadshow at Oxford Brookes University. I'm giving a presentation on IMS interoperability using our favourite web tool, Manila.
Posted 6:37:14 PM - comment []
 Saturday, April 20, 2002

Ha ha! Seems my reputation precedes me. Seems s l a m knew what I was going to do before I did it ;-)

I hadn't seen this until someone pointed it out to me. I also didn't know I had a reputation, or at least a good one!

Posted 3:46:16 PM - comment []

I've released a new version of my assetManager tool. Please update by refreshing the tool's code. In Radio, Tools -> AssetManager -> Refresh Code...

New features:

Added Google support via right-click menus allowing you to search for text that either you enter or that you select from a buddy's instant outline. Install these new menus via Tools -> AssetManager -> Install right-click menus...

  1. Google -> Search for...

    Brings up a dialog box allowing you to enter search terms for Google. Results appear as a new outline in Radio.

  2. Google -> Search for this...

    Searches Google for whatever you right-clicked on e.g. outline headings in a buddy's instant outline. Results appear as a new outline in Radio.

  3. Google -> Search for parts of this...

    As instant outlines are read only, you can't select specific text, groups of words, etc within an individual outline. This right-click menu captures the outline line you right-clicked on and allows you to edit it before searching Google. Very useful! Results appear as a new outline in Radio.

  4. Google -> Related...

    Searches Google for web pages related to the item you right-clicked on. The result is a new sub-outline to the item you right-clicked on. This 'Related...' menu command works on any Radio link nodeType including those in your or anyone else's instant outliner.

Please note. If you've previously installed any of my right-click menus you'll see they've all been incorporated into this new release under an Asset Manager right-click menu. As you may have modified these existing menu items for your own purposes I have not set this new install script to automatically remove old menu items. I have instead set the installer to pop your right-click menu to the front so you can delete unwanted older items yourself, if you want to of course!

Posted 11:15:56 AM - comment []
 Friday, April 19, 2002

Thanks, Russ. Here's that 50 bucks I promised you...
Posted 9:56:13 AM - comment []

It's my birthday today. I'm only 37. A couple of days ago I thought I was going to be 38. I just gained an extra year. They say life begins at 40. Now I have another year to wait to find out.
Posted 12:17:18 AM - comment []
 Saturday, April 13, 2002

Just had an idea to decongest my search portal results page. Use Google's snippet data in the link title tag instead of presenting it on the page by default. Hover the cursor over the Google link and hey presto!, you get the link snippet. Tidy!
Posted 11:20:09 PM - comment []

Interesting observation of the day #1

UserLand's implementation of Google's API in Frontier & Radio is undoubtedly a powerful thing. Witness all the activity since its release only a few days ago. Its highest profile manifestation in Radio and Radio weblogs in particular is in the form of a Google box, often set up to list the top 10 occurrences of the author's name. Now here's the observation. In a Radio weblog the HTML title of the page is always the same, at least by default. In mine it's always 'David Davies' Radio Weblog' so every page in my weblog has this html title. Putting 'David Davies' into my Radio Google box lists a bunch of pages that give me no indication whatsoever what they're about, so they'll be no use to you either. Browsing around some other Radio webloggers shows exactly the same thing. We're abstracting all of our hard wrought musings into a repetition of the same basic title.

I wonder if individual day archives in a Radio weblog can have their own title?

Posted 11:51:54 AM - comment []

There's a toy for anyone to play with in my instant outline (subscribe via the big OPML coffee mug at left). Right-click on anything in Radio such as a name in your Buddies list or an outline heading in your instant outline and you can choose to search for the selected text using Google. The results pop-up as an RSS file in a new outline in your copy of Radio.

Google to RSS in Radio. A picture speaks a thousand words...

Posted 12:59:10 AM - comment []
 Friday, April 12, 2002

Here's something else before I break for some dinner. A search portal based on Manila and Frontier's Google API linked to an existing XML data source, in this case a medical publications database. The result is a one-stop-shop for all your medical info needs!.

Try it here:


Posted 8:20:42 PM - comment []

Ain't life strange. No sooner had I incorporated the Google API into my medical quiz search engine, I spotted this suggestion from Raymond. There's clearly a meme that's rapidly passing though the consciousness of many people these last 24 hours.
Posted 7:47:37 PM - comment []
 Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Starting to explore some educational collaborations with Raymond Yee and David Carter-Tod. We have several things in common but one of the strongest right now is our use of Userland technology such as Manila and Radio.

Will you join us? We're looking for individuals working in further or higher education who are using these tools who'd like to join a team that will develop Manila in particular but also Radio into an engaging suite of learning tools. Please get in touch. We'll use either an existing forum to discuss these issues or create a new one.

I'd also like to create a directory of users of Frontier, Manila and Radio in an educational setting (any level) that'll put people in touch with potential partners or even just someone to share ideas with.

Posted 12:48:37 AM - comment []
 Sunday, April 7, 2002

Big push this weekend to get IMS QTI compliance to my Manila-based self assessment system. I think I've cracked QTI Lite.

Have a go with the following and let me know how you get on...


Is anyone interested in IMS compliance for Manila?

For those interested in web-based self assessment and quizzes, here's my existing Frontier-based quiz applications:


Posted 8:00:45 PM - comment []
 Friday, April 5, 2002

Holy moley! Is this true? Chlorophyll on Mars! This is NOT April 1st!
Posted 9:22:57 PM - comment []

Here's a survey for you (originally posted to Yahoo's eLearningleaders group:

What is the key to expanding e-learning content ?

Here are the results so far.

What did you say? For me it's increased levels of interactivity every time. Tools are cheap, expectation should be higher, not lower, production costs? OK, can be expensive but it depends upon the media you're using.

So what about SCORM? Well, that's likely to be an ongoing theme discussed in this weblog. Sharing RLOs seems to be a good thing, but is it realistic?

Posted 10:35:44 AM - comment []
 Thursday, April 4, 2002

There is a major new e-learning consortium project that is exploring the potential to set up a global virtual medical school. It's presently in the feasibility stage and I've just come back from a steering group meeting. There are around 40 international medical schools signed up already. There will hopefully be a public web site soon so for now I won't go into any details about the partners or how this consortium will operate. What I can talk about are some of the issues we discussed as they're pertinent to most e-learning projects.

One of the approaches the consortium will be taking will be to develop a global bank of reusable learning objects (RLOs) covering aspects of medicine, nursing and potentially other professions allied to medicine. These RLOs will have a resource discovery system and will interoperate with existing Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS) in consortium institutions.

High amongst the issues being discussed are metadata tagging (which schemas?) and IMS compliance and the SCORM reference model.

Questions I'd like to ask you are:

  1. Does you institution consider the sharing of RLOs to be a viable proposition?
  2. Do you currently run an LCMS to deliver some/all of your content?
  3. Is you system IMS compliant or can it be made compliant if you thought this was important?
  4. Does the value of RLOs lie in the ability to use them 'in place' i.e. in the format/location of the originating institution or should they be embedded within your own local system? And in fact are these two mutually exclusive?
  5. Can you retro-fit metadata and content packaging onto existing learning objects (you may not have thought of them as such when you created them) or is it best to scrap legacy material and develop new material with these issues in mind?
  6. Are these the right questions to be asking?
Posted 1:16:58 AM - comment []
 Tuesday, April 2, 2002

I'm interested in being able to share my learning resources with you and if you're willing to do the same then maybe our institutions might be able to spread the risk and burden of developing web-based teaching and learning materials.

The components of my teaching and learning materials, images, video clips, text, questions, are called reusable learning objects (RLOs). These RLOs are stored in databases and each RLO has its own metadata, data that helps you find it when searching for particular RLOs. My database systems can send you an XML file that describes each RLO and links to it on the web.

One of the problems surrounding sharing RLOs is that the system you use may be different to the system I use. There are initiatives looking at how we might embed each our RLOs into our respective systems.

Another problem is resource discovery. Before we can embed an object we must first know where it is. If it's deep inside my institution's virtual learning environment (VLE) then are you going to be able to find it?

I'm approaching this from a very simplistic angle as I'm not able to answer some of the big questions. I am however chipping away at one of the edges. I use a tool called Radio Userland to think about how we might achieve interoperability and resource discovery. Rather than try to describe how I use Radio Userland in this context, it might be easier to show you.

To take full advantage of these couple of demos you need to be running a copy of Radio.



The first example shows you that by clicking on a special icon embedded on the page you can fire up an outline document in your local copy of Radio. This outline can be embedded into an instant outline or repurposed before re-publishing back to the web.

The second example shows how cross-platform RLO databases can be linked together via XML-RPC.

These are projects I'm working on so if you'd like to know more or to get involved then please get in touch.

These examples use my assetManager tool for Radio. I've just updated it so if you'd like to try any of the examples mentioned then either download it here or if you already have a copy, select 'Refresh code...' from the assetManager menu under the Tools menu in your copy of Radio.

Posted 4:13:38 PM - comment []
 Monday, April 1, 2002

Happy Birthday Scripting News, Frontier & Manila.

Also commemorated today are the birthdays of:

Otto Von Bismarck
Lon Chaney
Debbie Reynolds
And probably many, many more!

On this day in 1578 William Harvey discovered blood circulation and in 527BC Justinianus became the emperor of Byzantium. Go Justinianus!

Posted 3:43:59 PM - comment []