I was very excited when I saw the announcement for Google’s new Course Builder platform. Education is such a big part of libraries but they’re all on their own, constantly reinventing the wheel from scratch. A free, consistent platform librarians could build on and share the way they have other technologies could make life a lot easier for librarians in the public and special sectors as well as academics.
So I went digging for information.
- It looks like you can limit registration to your course using Google’s Apps for Education service so that only people from your school try to access restricted resources.
- It’s a hosted app so the URL is “theappname.appspot.com.”
- It won’t work for most educators I know.
The last is disappointing. Course Builder’s webpage describes several of the same options included in Blackboard except with more flexibility, making for a promising alternative. However, the problem is in the backend. These courses aren’t products of an application, they’re apps themselves.
I don’t know many educators with these kinds of skills or the time to acquire them.
Course Builder is definitely in beta with several features already requested. It’s possible it’ll become more user-friendly in the next year but Google doesn’t have a very good track record with that.
In short, join the community to provide much-needed feedback if you can, or check back next year to see if it’s still around.
WordPress is one of, if not the most, popular pieces of software for blogging and managing websites, mostly because of the ease of installation. But customizing it can be a difficult and technical process.
Annotum is a WordPress theme built for publishing research papers. It has all of the functionality built-in for multiple authors to collaborate, edit, review, and import and export in the NLM-DTD format. It creates the correct document structure by default and has visual editors for figures, references, tables, and equations. Because it creates an Article post type, you can still use the same installation as a regular blog.
It is an available theme on WordPress.org, so you can just create a blog and choose it. If you host your own WordPress blog, you can download it from the depository and customize how it looks with a child theme.
I’ve updated my list of Open Source Software for libraries, updating links and cleaning out dead projects.
techPresident â€“ Why the White House’s Embrace of Drupal Matters
Drupal developers are abuzz with the realization that the White House’s new Recovery.gov site was built using the free and open-source content management platform Drupal. Pre-Recovery.gov, the perhaps highest-profile use of Drupal had been the Onion website. But that’s not the only reason that Drupal fans are excited. I asked two CMS expert friends to help me understand the situation, and here are a few of the reasons they gave for why the White House’s embrace of Drupal is momentous:
Open-source software is the most cost-effective and often the most user-friendly option for academic and educational users but central IT groups are usually too wedded to Windows and afraid of the unknown to look at them.
Having such a visible use of open-source software from a traditionally technology conservative source should hopefully speed up its acceptance by the mainstream.
LISNews.org | LibLime Koha is Chosen by the Guggenheim Museum
Tina N. Burger dropped by to spread The Word on The Guggenheim Museum going with Koha. The Guggenheim chose LibLime for its open-source expertise, and is confident that the partnership will better enable the museum to achieve its future library automation goals: “Working with LibLime will greatly reduce the learning curve that presents itself in most new projects. As we are undertaking this project with the intent to adapt the system to our needs, rather than implementing a known system, their knowledge is invaluable.”
How cool. Maybe the next time a library is considering a change they’ll be more open to OSS too.
Koha with Class: Free Hosted Koha for Library Classrooms | oss4lib
Just like Dialog, students can now play with Koha during school. Brilliant advertising for Liblime and Koha.
Boing Boing: Giant, amazing study of Free/Open software
Rishab Ayer Gosh has led an international, interdisciplinary team of researchers through an enormous study of Free/Open Source Software. The paper, called “Economic impact of open source software on innovation and the competitiveness of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector in the EU,” runs to 287 page. It exhaustively documents the way that Free/Open technologies dominate information technology and describes who actually writes Free/Open software. It also talks about what it would cost to replicate the benefits of Free/Open software through proprietary development (EU12 billion!), how many person years that would take (131,000!), and projects the total size of the Free/Open market in the years to come.
Rishab’s one of my favorite researchers, a really sharp cookie who writes superbly. This is the most authoritative study of Free/Open code I’ve seen, and no one is better suited to write it than Rishab.
Drupal is a very powerful open-source content management system but it’s also hard for non-programmers to understand. DLCMS is a prototype of a Drupal system modified for library websites.
LISNews.org | Are OPAC Vendors Days Numbered?
… the combination of open source and the reluctance of vendors to keep their systems up to date will result result in the demise of significant number of commerical library vendors in the next five years. The poor performance and outdated products of commercial OPAC products is due largely to the disconnect between developers in software firms and their customers. This should be an advantage to library developers, and the timing to look at open source networks/incubators is ripe.
I wish I could believe it but the adminstrative quagmire in libraries in my area is such that no one wants to do anything first. Not only do they ask if another library has already done it but they want to hear about another library of their type and size. I simply can’t see convincing the people who hold the purse-strings to take a risk on that large of an unknown.