A Status Update

Again, I have taken dramatic pause on this blog. This semester I hoped to start blogging about my Multimedia Projects class, but here we are at the near end of the semester, and not a peep! This is thanks to two issues: one lack of time, and two, lack of bloggable content.

I have been doing fascinating work that I am receiving credit for in my Multimedia Project course, but it’s not been something easy to explain. Like I’ve explained very briefly before, I’ve been lucky enough to become involved in a nascent project with Howard Rheingold, something we’re calling the Social Media Classroom. Along with Sam Rose and Max Senges, we’ve been trying to form the basis of the software product that will be delivered as a part the the project that has been funded by the MacArthur Foundation. You’ll notice that I have not linked to an official site about the project, because one does not yet exist. It’s so early in the project that I have nothing to “show” in a blog post. Yet.

Howard has been teaching a course at UC Berkeley about Social Media. This software is being built, at first, to power that endeavor.

The good news is that an alpha is coming soon. Late this spring we expect to have something to demonstrate the basis of our project. The software is being developed on the open-source Drupal CMS platform. This means that our project will be fully-open source, freely downloadable and modifiable. We’ll announce the applicable license when we have something to actually distribute. The short-term goal is to have a product that is reasonably easy for a teacher with a little bit of savvy to download, install, and administer without help from an IT department.

The product will incorporate the major range of social media tools, including blogs, wikis, forums, social bookmarks, chat and video sharing into something to use in the classroom. To use all these pieces today requires a tremendous amount of effort to aggregate these discrete tools from around the world. And even when you do that, there is no continuity. We’re hoping to address that in one, customizable package in which the tools have a synergy, but also, the overall product will import information from the web, and also, share it back with the global community.

In the coming weeks I’ll have more to report, as our plans are fully solidified, we launch a home webpage for the project, and have something to show for our efforts. Things have not been finalized yet, but I may be a speaker at a an upcoming conference at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. If that pans out, I’ll detail my talk here. Stay tuned.