eduBuzz.org Gets Easier to Use

Screenshot of the new edubuzz interfaceIt’s become even easier to get publishing on eduBuzz.org following today’s upgrade to Version 1.5.1 of its WordPress MU software.

The interface redesign is the result of a lot of work by the WordPress community, including extensive usability testing. First impressions are good, but we’ll need to do some checks to see how students and staff react. Some differences bloggers will notice:

  • a more up-to-date appearance
  • a new arrangement for adding media
  • the confusing term “slug” has been replaced with Permalink:…/ Edit
  • a full-screen editor facility has been added
  • “Timestamp” has been replaced with Publish immediately…/Edit

Testing is still under way, but so far at least things seem to be going well.  An existing bug with creation of new blogs, which was leading to login difficulties under Internet Explorer, has also been fixed with this update, although a few existing faulty blogs still need to be fixed.

Update:  There’s an issue with inserting images in posts. I’ve encountered it under Firefox, but have found it’s working OK under Internet Explorer 7. Thought things were going too well…

eduBuzz blogs get tagging improvements

Tags are one of the most important tools for finding information on the web. Edubuzz blogs are now much better equipped to make full use of them.

If it’s new to you, here’s an intro to tags from Wikipedia:

A tag is a (relevant) keyword or term associated with or assigned to a piece of information (a picture, a geographic map, a blog entry, a video clip etc.), thus describing the item and enabling keyword-based classification and search of information.

Tags are usually chosen informally and personally by item author/creator or by its consumer/viewers/community. Tags are typically used for resources such as computer files, web pages, digital images, and internet bookmarks (both in social bookmarking services, and in the current generation of web browsers – see Flock). For this reason, “tagging” has become associated with the Web 2.0 buzz.

If you’ve an edubuzz blog, you’ll have noticed a new “Tags” box has appeared below your editor window, and might be wondering what that’s all about. After all, you’ve always had Categories. How are tags different? If you think of Categories as being like big, clunky filing cabinet drawers you won’t go too far wrong.  They’re a good thing, but you can have too many of them. It’s best if each post isn’t in too many Categories.

Tags, on the other hand, are used on a much bigger scale. A post may have lots of tags, and that’s not a problem. Tools like tag clouds make it easier to navigate them.

If you’re interested in using tags, the first thing to do is activate the Simple Tags plugin. This plugin, by Amaury BALMER, adds a host of tag-related features to take full advantage of this new capability. Have fun!

eduBuzz home page: makeover ideas?

What sort of things would you like to see on the edubuzz home page

At this week’s edubuzz Open Meeting the idea of it becoming a busy, one-stop shop providing an overview of what’s happening across East Lothian’s edubuzz community was proposed. It looks like we need to move it to something that needs minimal clicking, and provides the maximum information without the visitor having to scroll down.

What do you think?

edubuzz blogs help build East Lothian’s learning community

An East Lothian teacher I met tonight mentioned how odd it seemed that, in her few years teaching here, she felt that she knew so many staff in the other authority schools, and so much of what was going on.

She’d been in a city school in a previous life, and had felt much less in touch with what was going on despite the relatively short distances between them.

She didn’t put forward any reason for this, but went on to mention how her class had been:

  • using blog stats from other school’s blogs for data handling exercises
  •  stealing ideas from other class and school blogs to use in class
  • enjoying publishing their own blog and getting comments back

She had been actively involved, too, in publishing the work of a project for others to share, and enjoyed browsing staff blogs.

Of course, this doesn’t in any way prove cause and effect, but more and more of this kind of anecdotal evidence is emerging to suggest that this spider’s web of connections between schools, classes, students and staff is gradually creating a strong sense of a single learning community.

The Top 100 Web2.0 Apps

Webware Top 100 Web2.0 Apps

Via John Naughton,  the Webware Top 100 (http://www.webware100.com/) . Webware provide a navigator to help with browsing them.

Organisations will soon be scrabbling to get people who can choose the right tools from the Web2.0 toolbox, and use them effectively. Schools that continue to churn out students who’ve been “protected” from them are going to have a lot of explaining to do…

Welcome at Do Not Call it a Blog!

Just had the odd experience, while checking for WPMU news, of finding this “What if…?” post which describes a future vision that’s not a million miles from describing East Lothian’s edubuzz community.

Welcome at Do Not Call it a Blog!
What if we didn’t understand what we do in education with blogs as “blogging” but as a quick and easy way to publish online within a learning community? Or a place to feature a portfolio of students’ best work? Or a site where professors and staff track their professional and personal development? What if we understood “campus blogging initiatives” as a community publishing platform to share, learn, and integrate various resources from around the Web into a more specific community?

New OECD tests on adult workforce will focus on ICT skills

OECD, the people who run the PISA tests of international student attainment, are now planning to test the skills of adults in today’s work environment. And look what’s a core objective:

One of PIAAC’s core objectives will be to assess how well participants use ICT to access, manage, integrate and evaluate information, construct new knowledge, and communicate with other people.

Not so long ago, the emphasis would have been on the technology, and whether or not people could drive them. Nerds would have done well. Schools could have concentrated on how to use applications.

Now, we’ve moved up the value chain, and the time of the social geek micro-trend documented by Mark Penn. The recent decision in East Lothian to provide every student with their own on-line learning space looks even more like the right move.

Every child will have an on-line space in which they can keep a record of their experiences and achievements that will track through with them from the age of 3 – 18, – Perhaps even from birth where they reflect upon their learning, their experiences and achievements.

www.edubuzz.org offer some new customisable themes

If you’re thinking it’s time your edubuzz blog got a makeover, you’ll find there are now a few more themes to choose from.

These are themes that have been shared by James Farmer of edublogs.org, and many have customisable header images.  The ability to customise the header is proving a key feature for schools, classes and students so these are welcome additions.

A new look for www.edubuzz.org

The www.edubuzz.org home page has been given a new look to make it easier for people to explore the site.

There are still some loose ends to tidy up, but in keeping with the “release early, release often” philosophy, it’s time to give it a try and start listening to the feedback.

This version builds on the feedback from the last prototype. That showed that providing some pointers to help visitors start exploring was well received. That version, though, was built during the summer break but proved too complex to be sustainable under the pressures of term-time workloads.

The new version is simpler, but provides more information. It’s completely blog-based, with no bespoke code other than a customised WordPress theme, modified using standard template tags. That means maintenance can be shared, so volunteers are welcome to contribute.

Current features include:

There’s still more work to do, such as:

  • lists of project blogs
  • lists of support department blogs

Feedback welcome.