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Expression Widgets for Learning Environments by Marcio Galli Taboca Labs

Expression Widgets for Learning Environments by Marcio Galli Taboca Labs

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Published by: api-26000145 on Dec 01, 2009
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Expression Widgets for Learning Environments by Marcio Galli Taboca Labs and Friends This document proposes ideas

that enhances the current Web browsing experience and allows users to participate collaboratively to build open learning resources. In the scope of this document, the term learning session relates to a synchronous learning event that has a team of participants involved for a period of time. Examples of leaning sessions could be a lecture, a test for students, a discussion, users watching a movie, and more. The term expression widgets refers to browser enhancement tools that allows participants to create data content that can be shared and repurposed into online documents that supports a given learning session. Motivation This section offers a brief overview about a few areas that are considered the main motivation points in this proposal: Web Quests The WebQuest [1] model proposes that the Web itself can be used as a resource of experiences that supports inquiry-oriented tasks. This model suggests the use of real-life online data as a means to enhance engagement and discussions among students. The wide aspect of the Web has the value of the unexpected and ever changing real-life data but it also presents potential challenges as a participant could loose its focus. To help with this challenge, the quest model proposes that guidelines can exist as part of the quest. These can vary from using tools, such as a video conference session, or guideline requests such as a list of pre-determined Web links to follow. These parameters are used to support participants to achieve goals towards the presented challenges. In a similar analysis, the Mozilla Labs Design Challenges projects can be considered as examples of quests that uses certain parameters that motivates and engages participants to get involved. Open Educational Content The Open Textbook project [2] identifies barriers at educational institutions and the need to raise awareness and knowledge about open educational resources. The project suggests that the strong preference of publisher's textbooks is associated with assumptions that instructors prefers to adopt these materials. The strong culture and dependencies with traditional publishing are key challenges for new and open learning systems. In this scenario, this project proposes a more natural way in which users can participate and express their input as part of ongoing leaning events. The idea is to get participants more involved in the process of content creation without a strict authoring structure that can be confused or compared with traditional textbooks - such as text writing. Instead, it is proposed that the content creation can be more like a free form browsing experience and feels like the action of re-purposing Web content. The more users are involved in content creation, more likely they are to accept the general use of open educational resources in future learning conditions. Social-aware Web 2.0

At educational institutions, the general use of e-learning systems may raise security questions related to information security governance [3]. Governance aspects may demand complex maintenance solutions to keep e-leaning ecosystems up to date. Social Web 2.0 apps can fill certain gaps when learning systems are not as up-to-date and when groups of individuals wants to take advantage of creative social systems in team-driven projects. A study about an online tutoring using Second Life [4], shows that Web 2.0 applications, such as wikis, are being used as a resource for collaboration that is defined by the community of learners. This model allows team-based external systems to affect interaction dynamics that could be previously set by a tutor. In the case of a game environment with strict rules, such as second life, the wiki page could well serve as a quick for quick annotations for everything else that is difficult to do under the game rules. Expression Widgets with JetPacks In the scope of this project, a learning session is a synchronous session such as a lecture of 1-2 hours given by a tutor. While some of the ideas can be used for asynchronous sessions, such as an assignment task that lasts one week, the synchronous scenario seems to be a good candidate for an implementation that could go along with a future evaluation test program in a real class. The initial scenario is a traditional lecture with a number of learners following notes from a tutor. It is assumed that the participants are also using laptops or other types of devices where they can directly control a Firefox user agent with the JetPack infra-structure installed. An expression widget is defined as a JetPack-based application that lets participants to use Web content and applications as resources to create and repurpose Web data as their expression notes, and share into a repository that represents the leaning session. The remote repository itself should not enforce too many rules. For this reason a wiki is recommended. Similarly to the way that a wiki page works, the repository itself should represent the conventions established by the partitipating members. In some cases, the wiki could start empty, other scenarios can be tested with a basic framework set. Jetpack infra-structure supports the direction of a free form easy to use browsing/ editing experience that allows manipulation over Web-based content. As an example, a student could write in a hand book and easily put arrows to connect objects of information previously written. These expression widgets could function in a similar way and support the easy manipulation of elements from the Web or previously created, or previously shared in the wiki repository. The following table enumerates the main capacities part of the expression widgets: Capacity Description Widget code may offer interface elements that allow participants to repurpose existing web content from pages. Examples, Comments * Possible to get anything from the Web; * Examples are: take screenshot, take text from pages, take

Web Content - Repurpose

numbers from pages, takes mathematical expression from pages, takes SVG elements from pages, and more. * local apps dont have URI could be a problem; * local app can perform really well; * remote input, over the wiki, can also carry reference to the JPbased script; * As an example a canvas-based drawing. While this case is not considered a web-based page, the implementation itself can be available using the very same Web-based model with URI. * post an item from user A in section A in the wiki page; The item has a timestamp and also meta-data about the widget plus data section; * the convention is part of the posted expression statement. The aggregated view of items could represent more complex conventions to other widgets that interpret the whole data? would it be possible to re-express a whole aggregated view of expression statements? Like sum votes[a+b+c] where a,b,c are users. * widget should post in a friendly way with the

Web Content - Create

Widgets to allow participants to simple create new content not exactly tied to existing pages on the web.

Conventions - Share

General idea is to have content to be shared in a friendly way that participant A input, when posted to the wiki, does not conflict with participant B in terms of the wiki requirements. As an example, widgets can be smart enough to add content under its separated wiki section. Each expression statement should have enough meta-data, such as timestamp or UUID, so that recontextualization is also possible .

convention rules established over the remote repository; Expression widgets can also render content from the wiki in a richer format. The wiki itself may end up with a list of user sections and bullets that represents each user expression action. The more complex the widgets are, it may get to a point tha the text is not readable by a human. This is a tricky point it needs to be discussed; Participants should be able to refer and possibly reuse and modify the expression statements from others in a way that is friendly to participants evolving conventions and boost constructivism.

* possibility to make a game or expression rules that takes into consideration input from many users; * possibility for statements of user A to be cloned by user B as in a retwitt effect in the wiki; * means to resolve a widget;

Conventions - Interaction

The following illustration shows a sidebar on the left with some of the available widgets available at the bottom left corner of the participant's browser experience. Examples are Screenshot, Drawing, Text, MathML, etc. The upper left area has other note books ( other learning session repositories .) The content on the right is the widget-powered view of the content that can be transferred to the repository. This can be considered a visualization mode / editing switch mode. When in creation mode, the widget can let users to add over the very same page or capture and re-purpose content from other tabs over to this session page.

The following illustration shows the basic wiki view page that represents the learning annotation space for a given event ( a lecture for example ) that happened for a period of time. Each section of the wiki page holds the collection of statements provided by a participant. Note the presence of timestamp attributes at the beginning of each statement. This page has three different sections (in yellow, blue, and green) representing input from three individuals.

Other visualizations would also be possible and could mix the wiki view with the widgets-rendered view. Depending on the mode of operation, widgets could also be used to render the rich view over the wiki page as in creating additional realities of visualization. There is also opportunities for special display panels that could be used to give some general views to the whole class in case of a real live session. How JetPack supports this implementation This section enumerates some of aspects in the Jetpack infra-structure and how it may related to benefits in the learning space based on the proposal ideas. Infra-structure Aspects


Learning Aspects


Unlike the traditional extensions support in Firefox, the JetPack infra-structure offers a sandbox model where certain types of extensions, called JetPacks, can run with improved security. A survey with Firefox extension study [5] shows that a number of the popular Firefox extension behaviors are related to features that could be exposed without a need to expose the full API. The JetPack Security Model [6] is currently under development and defines limitations in terms of the resources that a JetPack-based script can access from the browser XPCOM libraries.

Higher security means that participating users can use the widgets in a natural way that requires less technical expertise or understanding the widget code. The user can quickly review the list of installed expression widgets, disable or easy import new widgets to their session. Once a user knows about the list of trusted expression widgets, he/ she should be able to simply use it in a natural way that is similar to an common browsing experience. This aspect may also be an opportunity to enable university environments to accept the wider use of browser widgets as part of their learning and authoring systems. The security aspects in a JetPack powered experience can lead to an opportunity for wider acceptance by educational institutions as they may have information security criteria as part of their governance structure. If expression widgets can be smoothly installed, there is a greater chance for the aggregated of these tools at the same time. There is an opportunity for association between

Seamless Installation

JetPacks can be installed without a need to restart. With traditional Firefox extensions, the need for a browser application restart is required. While Firefox offers

session restore features, the act of restart is time consuming and lead the user to loose its focus. In the case of Firefox, most of the extensions do not talk with each other and they in general interact on Web pages or the user's profile browser session. The JetPack infrastructure allows Web developers to deploy Web-based JavaScript that can access and manage data from the user's current session. A JetPack script has access to a variety of resources proposed as JEPs and allow developers to come up with great ideas to enhance the default browser experience. Examples of items that a JetPack script can access are: Information about Tabs, content from pages, perform XHR operations, and others.

collection of Jetpacks and a given learning session. As an example, a student part of a math class maybe using widgets such as page screenshot capture, text capture, MathML, and SVG generators.

Access to Browser Session

The browser and the Web becomes the content generator that allows a variety of data to be repurposed, created, and shared under a given learning session.

Collaboration and Publishing

Posts and reads using feeds model and XHR transport - compliance with to Web 2.0 negotiation model application - for remote or local data-sources;

Participants can post to collaborative repositories that they understand what is it about. The use of wiki as collaborative resource offers less barriers to other participating users, tools, and transformation systems.

Example Ideas • Professor requests a circle; Professor talks about a species of a fish; One student grabs a image of the fish from Google Images, other quotes part of the definition available in the wikipedia document. Other student finds an SVG of a fish that is not really the real fish, other student draws a fish. While the students could be using skills associated with quests on the Web, there could be chances that the use of these communication languages could inspire students to pay attention or discuss other areas too. • It is important to evaluate how to create more complex scenarios where students are can create things together and possibly the expression evaluation is also associated when the aggregated view is rendered. Let's say a mathematical expression and additions or insertions. The insertion statements are more complex and each item refers/quotes item from other participants, and adds to it. Example: @felipegomes %01 { x=10 } ... @marcio %02 { "@felipegomes %01 {math:x=10}" math:x=10+10 } Final Words The general goal of this work is to identify opportunities in the online learning space and propose scenarios to support participants to annotate, organize, and collaborate about topics occurring in events. This work also explores emerging opportunities for collaborative and learning frameworks that may friendly, or even disconnected, from specific governance rules that are in place as part of learning systems at educational institutions. In terms of future works, a system implementation is suggested with focus on a set of widgets that can support certain types of classes in the technical and engineering field. The technology field seems to be a good candidate for a pilot evaluation program as it should be easier to get buy in from professors from respected universities. A pilot evaluation program is strongly recommended and also a criteria for tests and analysis. Additional documentation should be provided in case the evaluation program and widgets implementation is required. Thanks to Felipe Gomes for the great contributions and the many learning and brainstorming sessions we had. Also thanks to Mark Surman and Frank Hecker input with open education materials. References [1] Dodge, B., (1997). Some Thoughts About WebQuests. From WebQuest.org website: http://webquest.sdsu.edu/about_webquests.html [2] Baker, J., Thierstein, J., Fletcher, K., Kaur, M., & Emmons, J. (2009, November). Open Textbook Proof-of-Concept via Connexions. From International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning website: http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/ irrodl/article/view/633 [3] Chang, V., Uden, L. (2009). Governance for E-learning Ecosystem. School of Information Systems, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia. Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Technology, Staffordshire University, Stafford, United Kingdom

[4] Fedeli, L., (2009, August). Avatar-assisted learning: Second Life and the new challenges of online tutoring. University of Macerata, Macerata, Italy. VIWO 2009 WORKSHOP (ICWL 2009) [5] Felt, A., (2009, October). A Survey of Firefox Extension API Use. Technical Report No. UCB/EECS-2009-139, website: http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/Pubs/TechRpts/ 2009/EECS-2009-139.html [6] JetPack Security Model. From Mozilla wiki website:https://wiki.mozilla.org/Labs/ Jetpack/JEP/29

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