EPICS-2 Working Group: Group Blog http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog?blogid=131 EPICS-2 Project Update 2008 Dissemination Tue, 28 Oct 2008 16:30:12 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=258 The update can be downloaded <a href="/fdtl4_docs/55_EPICS_update_October_2008.pdf">here</a>. Meeting with Helen Nazlie (JANETtxt) Mobile Technologies Wed, 15 Oct 2008 16:39:50 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=256 Paul Horner and I met with Helen Nazlie to further discuss use of JANETtxt with Speech and Language Sciences as part of the mobile technologies Work Package of EPICS-2. Helen had now got the required approval from the Clinical Education Committee and we discussed pilot groups / timings. The main target group will be BSc year 3 students during their placements in January 2009. The text service would be introduced to students at a mid point meeting in November. The service would be available to other BSc and MSc SLS students but the EPICS evaluation would focus on the use of text to blogs with year 3 placements. Interview with Robin Humphrey (Newcastle Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences) Postgraduate Training Tue, 01 Jun 2010 13:49:30 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=278 I met Robin Humphrey (Newcastle University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HaSS)) to find out about the mechanics of PG training and how heruns things. My notes from that interview are attached. More mobile technology fun and games Mobile Technologies Tue, 26 Aug 2008 10:27:06 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=250 It's been a while since I posted an update on what we've been doing with mobile technologies, so I thought I should make a quick post. Firstly the web framework approach is probably going to be a non-starter. The fact that I got it to work is a massive step in the right direction, but there were too many little issues with it to make it no longer be an option at this point. The issues were - 1. It was very slow (maybe that was a hardware issue and newer PDAs would work better - I'd love to try it on an iPod touch or a new smartphone). 2. Installation was really difficult. It took a long time to get it working, and the idea was to install on an SD card. Unfortunately it also required a lot of tinkering when moving the SD cards between PDAs. So the initial setup was going to be difficult, and with some of the problems with having to reinstall software on PDAs this would make sustainability quite difficult. 3. When running Django, there was a Python command line interface running all the time and the screen kept flitting between that and the actual web app. I still think it was a valid exercise and it certainly gave us a lot more flexibility than a form-buliding tool would have done, but I think were a few years away from the framework and the technology being ready for this kind of application. I have also spent some time looking into some of the main form-buliding PDA tools. My conclusion on these is that they simply don't allow use to be as flexible as we would like. The ePET portfolio is very structured, and a lot of this structure is definied in the database. In the main the structure of forms built in these tools isn't really geared up for that sort of approach. In my mind and form-builder would mean that we were spending a lot of time producing some very static tools which would need changing every few months. I don't really think that this is the best solution for ePET (that's not to say that they wouldn't work for other ePortfolio systems) In terms of what we are wanting to achieve from a PDA-based m-portfolio (or whatever we want to call it), I think our opinions have shifted. Feedback on our previous projects had been rather mixed, with some students thinking it is the best thing they have ever done and others never even opening the box it came in. The only commonality between student feedback is that writing long narratives is very difficult and time consuming on a PDA. Therefore a 'tick-box' type system is the only thing that can really work on a PDA screen. Unfortunately, very little of most ePortfolios follows this kind of approach, with more of an emphasis on reflection. We're now thinking about taking a step back and looking at other mobile applications. One option that looks like a great possibility is to simply provide students with a telephone number that they can send text messages to. Depending on the prefex of these messages, they will get added to the relevant part of their ePortfolio. This is quite a simple approach, but it covers most of the key elements of what we want from an m-portfolio. 1. We don't have to provide students with hardware. Most students have their own mobile phones and the vast majority of modern mobile phone contracts offer a large number of free text messages. 2. Most mobile phone users are familiar with text messaging and therefore there will be very little training required and we can expect students to be happier writing narrative using a text keypad than using the PDA stylus. 3. If they can't get a signal, it gets stored and sent later. 4. We don't have to install anything on the PDAs/Mobile phones. There are a couple of issues and we will have to deal with these at some point, but I think there are quite good arguments against these. 1. Students would have to pay for their own text messages (but as I said before most get these free) 2. We dont want students to submit their reflections in txtspk. However, most students wouldn't dream of submitting a reflection without checking their grammar, so as long as we let them amend their entries this won't really be an issue. We can even sell the text service as being for reflective prompts rather than full reflections. 3. A lot of our students are studying medical programmes. Mobile phones + hospitals = not good. Even though there is no evidence to suggest that mobiles interfere with hospital equipment it's probably not a great idea to encourage student doctors to walk around the wards sending text messages. They can always stand outside the front door... There are a couple of services that would allow us to send and recieve text messages. The front runner at the moment is something that is being provided by Janet and for about 4p (ish) a message we can send and recieve text messages. Getting these texts back into the ePortfolio uses a SOAP request (or even a simple HTTPS post), so it should be pretty straightforward. Am I missing something or does this look like a good route forward? Discussion with Paul Fletcher (Newcastle, DMS Systems) Postgraduate Training Mon, 09 Feb 2009 09:45:28 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=281 I contacted Paul Fletcher (Newcastle, DMS Systems, who work for Newcastle University's Information Systems & Services). The purpose of my enquiry was for me to get detailed information on data structures, data types and a general overview of the Electronic Booking System (the training booking system used by Newcastle's SAgE and HASS faculties, which is looked after by DMS Systems for Newcastle University. Our discussion was carried out by email - Paul's most recent message summarises the discussion: > ________________________________ > > From: Paul Fletcher [mailto:Paul.Fletcher@newcastle.ac.uk] On > Behalf Of DMS Systems > Sent: 21 August 2008 11:51 > To: EDNEY M. > Subject: RE: Information needed for Electronic Booking System > > Hi Martin > > Further comments and answers below. > > ... > > > > although some development work will be needed at our end. > > > > > > That will be the next problem - some of the partners I'm working with have the resources and are willing to do this kind of work, while others are less able to do this kind of development (at least a couple of the systems in use are best described as legacy systems, which are kept running, but are more or less treated as a black box, since the original developer is long gone and documentation is minimal!). > > DMS is an independent unit within the university operates on a commercial basis developing databases usually with web interfaces and also handling various other data entry / management work. We do work for both internal and external customers but we have to retrieve all our costs including overheads and indeed are expected to make some profit for the university. > > So we can do the work but someone will have to pay for it. > > We do develop and host systems for other universities both for research databases and for administrative systems. If any of the other universities involved in this would be interested in replacing their legacy systems with something based on the system we have developed for Newcastle this is something we would certainly be interested in doing. > > If they did choose to go this route it would certainly make the job of passing information back and forth much easier. > > > > We have quite a bit of experience both publishing and consuming data via web services which presumably is the sort of technology you are looking at to share data. > > > I think it will probably be a mixture of web services and XML feeds - I'm currently looking into using an XML format called XCRI. > > Sounds fine > > > > Our data structure is pretty straightforward > > > Thanks for description of the data structure - what you've described is similar to what is in use in a couple of other systems, so there are no surprises there. > > > --------------------------------------- > > > At this stage of the project, I'm doing 2 different things at the moment: > > > 1) Surveying current practice in a number of institutions (both in terms of data structures and data flows in use, but also how PGR training operates). This is mainly done, but I still need information on HASS, and on your Electronic Booking System. > > > 2) Coming up with a high level design, which will also include a lower level specification of the data flows involved, hoping that I can then start to prototype. > > > For both these reasons, I've got a few specific questions about the data structure you described: > [snip] > > > b) You mentioned that attendance is recorded. Apart from recording attendance, are there any other variants recorded? (e.g. absent, course cancelled, absent but excused) > > We record bookings and attendances, so we identify an absence by looking for people with a booking but no attendance. We don't allow any detail to be recorded about an absence but this has been mentioned as a possible future development. If the course is cancelled no attendance will be recorded - the admin staff will also delete the bookings so that they don't show as absences. > > > > c) You mentioned business logic which forces HASS students onto a 'course' of workshops rather than allowing booking onto an individual workshop which forms part of that course. I will be meeting Robin Humphrey next week, so I will ask him more about these 'courses' of workshops, but I'm interested to know what would happen if an external student wanted to book on just one of these workshops. Is it technically possible for them to bypass the business logic? Does it make sense (in training terms) to do this, or does the business logic need to apply to external students as well as to HASS students? > > I believe that Robin does not want anyone to just attend a single session - it is all or nothing. Last year students were just asked to book onto all sessions; we are making a change now to the interface to make it impossible to book a single sessions for workshop groups with a flag set for this purpose. Technically anything is possible of course :) > > > d) Please can you send me the list of elements (fields) that make up the entities 'workshoptype' and 'workshop'? I need this information to ensure that the specifications I'm generating for the web feeds and services can handle everything likely to be thrown at them, as well as to get an idea of how easy or difficult it will be to get your Electronic Booking System to supply the data needed by EPICS2 in the format needed. > > > CREATE TABLE [dbo].[WorkshopType]( > [WorkshopTypeID] [int] IDENTITY(1,1) NOT NULL, > [Title] [nvarchar](250) NULL, > [Summary] [nvarchar](1000) NULL, > [WorkshopGroupID] [int] NULL, > [DescriptionText] [ntext] NULL, > [EmailText] [ntext] NULL, > [WorkshopTypeIsCurrent] [bit], > [DependantOnID] [int] NULL, > [SurveyID] [int] NULL > ) > > > CREATE TABLE [dbo].[Workshop]( > [WorkshopID] [int] IDENTITY(1,1) NOT NULL, > [WorkshopTypeID] [int] NULL, > [WorkshopDate] [smalldatetime] NULL, > [WorkshopLength] [nvarchar](10) NULL, > [WorkshopTime] [nvarchar](255) NULL, > [WorkshopEndTime] [nvarchar](255) NULL, > [WorkshopComment] [nvarchar](255) NULL, > [FacilitatorID] [int], > [MaxStudents] [nvarchar](10) NULL, > [CreditValue] [float] NULL, > [Day] [nvarchar](10) NULL, /* used for workshops over > multiple days */ > [Venue] [nvarchar](255) NULL, > [WorkshopIsCurrent] [bit] NULL > ) > > > e) You referred to your 'user' table. What is/are the key field(s) on this table? I need to know this to get an idea of how easy/difficult it might be to handle bookings from external students, and also to make sure that my data design can meet the needs of the Electronic Booking System. > > Our User table actually includes admin staff / facilitators etc as well as students: so all users of the system are in this table. It has an arbitrary integer as key but we do also store student number (for students), login name, email address. The system is built inside our own Content Management System which does allow external as well as internal users. Internal users log in with their university login name and password (in fact if they are logged into the domain this is done behind the scenes and they are automatically logged onto the system). Internal user details are automatically picked up from our campus management / HR systems when a user logs on so we know their faculty / programme / stage etc and so they just see the workshops which are available to them. > > External users need to be set up - admin staff can do this either one at a time or by importing a file. We can also allow users to self register but they would have to be approved by someone to book onto workshops. > > They would use their email address and a password to log on to the site. > > Some work would need to be done at our end to allow workshop groups to be flagged as available / not available to external students. > > One of the things we would like to do but have not yet done is to allow a shibboleth route into the site. This could be very good for this sort of purpose as the shib ticket would certainly identify someone as from a partner institution and would remove the need for separate credentials. There is potential for quite a bit of student data to be available which would make it possible to display appropriate workshops based on that data. > > Of course it sounds as though you are not looking at getting other students to log directly into our system so to some extent the above is irrelevant - but the good news is that yes we can include non Newcastle students as 'Users' and book them onto workshops etc. > > Paul Discussion with Matt Jones (Durham, Web Team) Postgraduate Training Tue, 10 Feb 2009 12:08:59 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=282 I met with Matt Jones (Durham, Web Team). The purpose of the meeting was for me to get detailed information on data structures, data types and a general overview of their Training Course Booking System. During the meeting, Matt prepared a <a href='http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/edit/utils/file?target_id=22295'>structure listing of selected database tables</a>, which is attached to this blog posting. Northumbria Focus Group Postgraduate Training Thu, 05 Feb 2009 16:54:34 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=277 I ran a focus group with 7 Northumbria postgraduate researchers, looking at their experiences and opinions of postgraudate training. The report summarising the conclusions from the day is attached to this posting. Presentation at "E-researcher development meeting" Postgraduate Training Tue, 27 May 2008 09:59:17 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=230 Simon Cotterill and I gave a presentation at the "E-researcher development meeting". This event focussed on how electronic resources are being used to deliver training and support for researcher development. During the latter part of the session we asked the participants to give us their ideas on the main opportunities and challenges facing the EPICS2 WP5 work. I'll summarise these ideas and add them to this posting soon. I've attached the various relevant documents to this posting. This was an event put on by the Yorkshire and North East Hub of the UK GRAD Programme, although it was attended by people from beyond the Yorkshire and North East Hub. Our presentation was titled "Regional solutions for linking postgraduate training systems and ePortfolios" (see file attachments). More details of the event are available from the <a href="http://www.grad.ac.uk/cms/ShowPage/Home_page/Regional_Hubs/Yorkshire_and_North_East_Hub/Events/p!eigdpam#Previous%20events">UK GRAD website</a>, and the original event details are also attached to this posting. IP toolkit for Web 2.0 Web 2.0 Thu, 01 May 2008 11:11:09 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=229 Well worth a look: -----Original Message----- From: Cross-Institutional Support for Lifelong Learning Programme Sent: 01 May 2008 08:27 Subject: IP toolkit for Web 2.0 Do take a look at this brilliant resource produced by JISC Intellectual Property consultants, and particularly aimed at projects working with social networks, student created content (though probably of value to all projects. <a href="http://www.web2rights.org.uk">http://www.web2rights.org.uk</a> Made by a team including Naomi Korn, and (he's everywhere!) Neil Witt David -- David Kernohan Programme Manager - eLearning Team - JISC Discussion with Richard Manley-Reeve (Northumbria, Web Team) Postgraduate Training Mon, 09 Feb 2009 10:41:27 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=279 I met with Richard Manley-Reeve (Northumbria, Web Team). The purpose of the meeting was for me to get detailed information on data structures, data types and a general overview of their On-line Booking System. During the meeting, Richard prepared a <a href="http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/Uploads/martin_22275.bmp">SQL diagram</a>, and then later sent me <a href="http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/Uploads/martin_22276.zip">SQL files</a> giving listings of the database tables, views and stored procedures and also the PHP files from the web front end. After the meeting, Richard clarified a couple of points for me thus: > ________________________________ > > From: Richard Manley-Reeve [mailto:richard.manley-reeve@unn.ac.uk] > Sent: 10 July 2008 11:30 > To: EDNEY M. > Subject: RE: PGR files > [snip] > > > 2) In the table TableStudentProgramme, what is the field [booked] used for? Is this a simple count of the number of people who have already booked on the session? > > Yes that’s correct > > > 3) In the table TableStudentProgramme, what is the field [sortdate] > > used > > for? > > It’s a legacy field from the old version, not used now as far > as I know > > > 4) In the table TableStudentProgramme, I can see that that the session date is encoded in the integer field DateNum. I've found that the file session_booking.php uses a PHP function unfixdate () to convert this date into something user readable, but I couldn't find the source of this function (I imagine it's included in the file includes/functions.php . Please can you tell me how this date system works, and also send me the source of the function unfixdate (). > > The datenum field contains the date in YYYYMMDD format, as an integer, this way it’s easier to sort ascending/descending date order. We had some problems with sorting the SQL server datetime type because of software updates changing from UK to US date formats etc. > > > > 5) In the table TableStudentProgramme, are the start and end time fields SessionStart and SessionEnd just text fields? If so, does the admin. interface impose some standard for how these fields are written? > > Yes they are text fields. > > The form field is constrained to 4 characters: > > input name="SessionStart" type="text" id="SessionStart" > size="4" maxlength="4" > > The admin form has the following instructions: > > Start Time: > 4 digits e.g. 0900 > > End Time: > 4 digits e.g. 1630 > > > > > > > 6) In the table TableStudentProgramme, what is the field SessionTime used for? I couldn't see it in use in any of the PHP files you sent me. > > Again this is a legacy field, it was replaced by the SessionStart and SessionEnd fields to try and keep a consistent format > > > 7) In the table TableStudentProgramme, is the field Notes just used by administrators? Is it ever displayed to ordinary users? > > It is displayed to students on the booking page [session_booking.php] below the programme title. The code is: > > echo $row_rsBooking['Title']; > > if ($row_rsBooking['Notes'] != "") { > (echo $row_rsBooking['Notes']; } > [snip] Newcastle Focus Group Postgraduate Training Thu, 05 Feb 2009 16:19:31 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=239 I ran a focus group with 9 Newcastle postgraduate researchers, looking at their experiences and opinions of postgraudate training. Gail de Blaquiere from Newcastle University's SaGE Faculty Graduate School was also present, and she found that the focus group was also useful in informing her plans for the Graduate School as well as informing the EPICS2 project. The report summarising the conclusions from the day is attached to this posting. EPICS-2 Progress report to April 2008 Project Documentation Thu, 24 Apr 2008 13:11:39 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=221 <a href="http://www.epics.ac.uk/?pid=197">View the progress report</a> as submitted to JISC in the required template. Discussion with Simon Cotterill (Newcastle, School of Medical Education Development) Postgraduate Training Fri, 06 Feb 2009 15:47:29 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=219 I met with Simon Cotterill (Newcastle, School of Medical Education Development), who is coincidentally also the project manager of this project! The purpose of the meeting was for me to get detailed information on data structures, data types and a general overview of two systems: - Online Booking System (used by PGRs and contract researchers in the Faculty of Medical Sciences to book themselves onto training workshops - ePet ePortfolio system (which receives records of training workshop attendance by PGRs in the Faculty of Medical Sciences), and which the SAgE faculty also aspires to use (see <a href="http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=218&blogid=134">this blog posting</a>) Simon made a <a href="http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/Uploads/martin_22273.doc">Word document</a> for me detailing the internal data structures used in the Online Booking System, which is attached to this blog posting. After the meeting I went through the document in detail, and we had the following discussion by email: > -----Original Message----- > From: s j cotterill [mailto:s.j.cotterill@newcastle.ac.uk] > Sent: 09 July 2008 16:42 > To: EDNEY M. > Subject: RE: Workshop structures > > Hi Martin, > > Answering inline: > > >1) Is there a reason for duplication (vs. the table "course") of the > >fields "title", "description" > > Yes, sometimes there are minor changes to the title (e.g. if > a workshop is customised for a specific group) > > > >2) What is the field "programme" used for? > > Supports multiple training programmes (e.g. separate > programmes for CRS and PGRs). > > >3) Is the field "notes" visible to PGRs, or only to administrators? > > Yes > > >4) How is the field "quota" used? > > Prevents booking when quota is reached (people can still add > themselves to the reserve list) > > > >5) What is the relation between the fields "date" and "times". > >Presumably, because "date" is of type datetime, it includes both the > >date of the training course instance, and also the start time. In > which > >case, what is "times" for? > > Actually only using the date yyyy/mm/dd in the first field > Times currently only a text field eg: ("10:00 - 12:00") > > > > >6) How is "duration" used? Does it assume a unit of measure, or is > that > >part of the data entered here when the instance is set up? > > Again just a text field (perhaps should be an int) eg. "1.5 hrs") > > > >7) How is "registration" used? Is this this just a Yes/No flag to > >indicate whether registration is required or not for a specific > training > >course instance? > > Most workshops require registration. A small number are open > events not requiring registration but still need publicising > on the site/ > > > >8) What sorts of values go into "prog_type"? > > > > >9) What sorts of values go into "modified_by" and "created_by" > >(username, email address, full name)? > > Audit trail - username of people who created or modified a > specific record > > > > >10) What is "for_all" used for? > > Newcastle/CRS specific - if University wide, rather than > specific Faculties > > > > >Thanks Interview with Gail de Blaquiere (Newcastle Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering) Postgraduate Training Mon, 30 Mar 2009 12:25:13 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=218 I met Gail de Blaquiere (Newcastle University, Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering)) to find out about the mechanics of PG training and how she runs things. My notes from that interview are attached. Ofcom publish research report on social networking Web 2.0 Thu, 03 Apr 2008 13:29:57 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=203 Social Networking: A quantitative and qualitative research report into attitudes, behaviours and use. Ofcom, 2008. Proportion of internet users who had set up their own profile on a social networking site: 22% of adults aged 16+ 49% of children aged 8-17 For adults, the likelihood of setting up a profile is highest among 16-24 year olds (54%) and decreases with age. The report identifies distinct groups of people: <b>Alpha Socialisers</b> – (a minority) people who used sites in intense short bursts to flirt, meet new people, and be entertained. <b>Attention Seekers</b> – (some) people who craved attention and comments from others, often by posting photos and customising their profiles. <b>Followers</b> – (many) people who joined sites to keep up with what their peers were doing. <b>Faithfuls </b>– (many) people who typically used social networking sites to rekindle old friendships, often from school or university. <b>Functionals</b> – (a minority) people who tended to be single-minded in using sites for a particular purpose. <b>Non-users:</b><ul><li>Concerned about safety – people concerned about safety online, in particular making personal details available online.</li> <li>Technically inexperienced – people who lack confidence in using the internet and computers.</li> <li>Intellectual rejecters – people who have no interest in social networking sites and see them as a waste of time.</li></ul> <h3>Main findings:</h3><ul><li>Social networking sites are most popular with teenagers and young adults <li>Some under-13s are by-passing the age restrictions on social networking sites <li>The average adult social networker has profiles on 1.6 sites, and most users check their profile at least every other day <li>Users create well-developed profiles as the basis of their online presence <li>While communication with known contacts was the most popular social networking activity, 17 % of adults used their profile to communicate with people they do not know. This increases among younger adults <li>Only a few users highlighted negative aspects to social networking <li>From Ofcom’s qualitative research it appears that concerns about privacy and safety are not ‘top of mind’ for most users </ul> Link to the <a href="http://ofcom.org.uk/advice/media_literacy/medlitpub/medlitpubrss/socialnetworking/report.pdf">full report</a> Interview with Laura Smailes (Northumbria, Graduate School) Postgraduate Training Mon, 09 Feb 2009 10:46:46 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=212 I met Laura Smailes (Northumbria University, Graduate School) to find out about the mechanics of PG training and how she runs things My notes from that interview are attached Interview with Richy Hetherington (Newcastle Faculty of Medical Sciences) Postgraduate Training Wed, 11 Feb 2009 10:31:48 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=211 I met Richy Hetherington (Newcastle University, Faculty of Medical Sciences Graduate School) to find out about the mechanics of PG training, and how he runs things My <a href="http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/edit/utils/file?target_id=18741">notes from that interview</a> are attached Identity theft risks on Social Networking sites Web 2.0 Fri, 18 Apr 2008 09:16:56 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=201 <object width="425" height="373"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/mvepYYNjfBk&rel=0&color1=0x234900&color2=0x4e9e00&border=1&hl=en"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/mvepYYNjfBk&rel=0&color1=0x234900&color2=0x4e9e00&border=1&hl=en" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="373"></embed></object> Many users of social networking sites happily divulge personal details such as date of birth, phone numbers and workplace to people who they have never met - putting them at risk of 'identity theft'. This spoof video illustrates the issue! Academic Misconduct charges for student who ran FaceBook study group Web 2.0 Fri, 14 Mar 2008 10:00:41 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=197 <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2008/03/06/facebook-study.html?ref=rss">Read the article</a> Comments are interesting and show how highly emotive this can be. Ryerson University officials say their academic code of conduct applies to online behaviour of students. One person comments "...It is lazy professors who for years could hand out the same material, upset because they may actually have to change things around and put in a little effort.... One of the best ways to cement knowledge is to teach someone else what you know, and if Facebook or any other social media enables that then great." Dissemination at Festival of Learning 2008 Dissemination Fri, 14 Mar 2008 09:31:24 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=196 I participated in the 'Festival of Learning 2008', the annual conference organised by the HEA Subject Centre for Heath Sciences and Practice. Project fliers were distributed and ran a workshop 'Web 2.0 for learning: hype or reality?' drawing on EPICS-2. Durham focus group Postgraduate Training Thu, 05 Feb 2009 16:19:55 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=213 I ran a focus group with 13 Durham postgraduate researchers, looking at their experiences and opinions of postgraudate training. Eleanor Loughlin from Durham's Graduate School was also present, and she found that the focus group was useful in informing the Durham Graduate School as well as informing the EPICS2 project. This was an unexpected spin-off benefit which I'll try to repeat when I run focus groups at Newcastle and Northumbria Universities. The report summarising the conclusions from the day is attached to this posting. Dissemination at Subject Centre conference Dissemination Fri, 14 Mar 2008 10:01:01 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=192 EPICS-2 was well represented at "ePortfolios, identity and personalised learning in healthcare education"; a conference organised by the HE Academy MEDEV Subject Centre <a href="http://www.medev.ac.uk/show_workshop_page_public?entry_id=95">http://www.medev.ac.uk/show_workshop_page_public?entry_id=95</a> EPICS-2 flyer included in delagates pack (n=150) Simon presented EPICS-2 work on blogging and social networking Paul presented EPICS-2 work interoperability Tony presented on Identity management Keynote presentation by Jamie Thompson Django on Windows Mobile 5 Mobile Technologies Mon, 25 Feb 2008 11:55:13 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=190 As posted previously, I've managed to install PythonCE, Django and SQLite onto my PDA. I actually installed them all on an SD card for portability. I've written a very small Django app - it's just a list of entries and a form to add an entry (consisting of a name and text box). This works a treat. The only thing you need to remember is to get everything working on your desktop first, as editing Python scripts on the PDA isn't exactly easy, and it means you don't have to run command line interfaces on the PDA. Getting it to work with SQLite on the PDA was a little problematic (the Django syncdb command doesn't seem to be very easy to run on a PDA). As such I created the tables using a seperate Python script - <blockquote style="font-family:courier;"> import _sqlite3 db = '\\sd card\\django\\mydb.db' conn = _sqlite3.connect(db) c = conn.cursor() sql = 'create table thesite_mytest (id int, test_name varchar(20), test_text text)' c.execute(sql) </blockquote> As I mapped the sqlite database to my Django model, I just needed to run this script and set the Django app to use '/sd card/django/mydb.db' as its database, and it all ran together nicely. To get this working offline I simply ran the server as localhost, rather than with the ip address as the hostname. The following shows the python script that runs the server (I created a script called runserver.py and saved it in the root of my django project) - <blockquote style="font-family:courier;"> import sys, socket, webbrowser #run the webserver at http://localhost:8000 sys.argv.append("runserver") sys.argv.append("localhost:8000") sys.argv.append("--noreload") #open the browser webbrowser.open("http://localhost:8000/") #start the django webserver from django.core.management import execute_manager import settings # Assumed to be in the same directory. execute_manager(settings) #uncomment this to display errors #raw_input() </blockquote> Just stick it in the root folder of you django app and it should work. So in theory that's the job done - I've got a database application that runs offline, but can connect to the web when the user is online. However, there are just one or two little problems... The first issue is that the Python script is always there in the background. It's not a big problem, but the user could easilly close it down and it does need to be there in order to work properly (you get a DNS error if you close it). The second issue is that my SD card isn't actually portable. I move it to a different PDA and it won't run the python scripts. We either need some kind of executable that runs Python first, or some kind of registry changing tool, or some kind of installer that creates all the right files and puts them in the right places. The third (and biggest issue) is that it uses an incredible amount of overhead (for a PDA). If you run another program other than Python and the webserver it starts to run very slowly, and if you have something else running before starting the server sometimes the server won't even start. It uses so much overhead that running a larger server than IE (Opera, Minimo) used up too much memory and crashed the browser! We also have a few less technical issues around storing personal data in a database on a mobile device - it might be personal learning information, or passwords. Then there is the issue of moving that data over HTTP - if someone adds a lot before syncing, it will take a long time over a slow wifi network, and then you've got the issue of security when transfering over HTTP. We're getting there and things are coming on very quickly, but we're still a long way off a finished product. My next step is to set up a web service and see if the syncing side of things will actually work. Interview with Eleanor Loughlin (Durham, Postgraduate Training Team) Postgraduate Training Mon, 09 Feb 2009 10:54:10 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=210 I met Eleanor Loughlin (Durham University, Graduate School) to find out about the mechanics of PG training, and how she runs things My notes from that interview are attached More on Mobile Technologies Mobile Technologies Thu, 14 Feb 2008 14:43:34 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=182 A possibility for the EPICS-2 Mobile technology sections may be to run a standalone web-framework-based application. What I mean by this is to develop a new version of ePET in a web framework which can be installed on the PDA/mobile phone and therefore ran as a standalone/offline tool and synced with the online version when a network connection is present. How this could work is - - A basic server will serve the web pages (many frameworks come with their own basic server) - A small database will store the data (SQLite would be the obvious choice) - A PDA version of the system would be installed onto SD cards so that we don't need to worry about disc space - An inobtrusive HTTP request will determine if the site is online/offline - A webservice call will send new data up to the server and retrieve new data from the online system (when a connection is present). The main drawback I can see with this approach is that it is not using a technology native to the PDA - we're essentially running the PDA as a webserver, although if there is only ever going to be one person connected to the application this shouldn't be a major issue. It could also cause a few raised eyebrows from users if they are having to run a web browser to access what is essentially an offline application. The other problem might be that the size of the application is too big for a PDA, but we should be able to get around this by using external storage (SD cards). The benefits of this approach are as follows - - We've got a lot more experience of developing web tools than PDA/desktop applications - We're looking into redeveloping the ePortfolio in one of these frameworks anyway - if we're doing that anyway it would seem sensible to piggyback the PDA development onto this work - It's Open Source and will cost us a lot less than a proprietary form-building tool Web frameworks have been deployed on PDAs before, although I'm not sure to the extent that it has been tested by real users. I've read a few people talking about getting <a href="http://jason.stell.us/2006/01/04/ruby-on-an-ipaq-pocket-pc/">Ruby working on a PDA</a>, which would allow us to run Rails. There have been a few problems noted, mainly around the version of Windows Mobile, but in theory it should work. Several people have been able to get Django working on mobile devices, including <a href="http://marxy.org/2006/10/django-on-windows-mobile-5.html">PDAs</a> and the <a href="http://blog.wired.com/monkeybites/2007/08/running-django-.html">iPhone</a>. In terms of the PDA, there is a <a href="http://pythonce.sourceforge.net/Wikka/HomePage">Mobile version of Python </a>available, which makes installing a Python framework a lot easier. So where do we go from here? I think that the first step should be to try to install Django and SQLite on my PDA, produce a basic app and attempt to do some web service calls between the PDA and the existing ePortfolio. If that works I'll be able to explore this in more detail. A Vision of Students Today (video) Web 2.0 Fri, 18 Apr 2008 09:08:43 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=178 <object width="425" height="373"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/dGCJ46vyR9o&rel=1&color1=0x234900&color2=0x4e9e00&border=1"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/dGCJ46vyR9o&rel=1&color1=0x234900&color2=0x4e9e00&border=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="373"></embed></object> One that Jamie spotted: "A short video summarizing some of the most important characteristics of students today - how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. Created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University." URL: <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGCJ46vyR9o">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGCJ46vyR9o</a> Minutes of EPICS-2 Working Group Meeting 17th January 2008 Workgroup Meetings Fri, 08 Feb 2008 11:03:11 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=177 See the attached file Interview with David Heading (Durham, Postgraduate Training Team) Postgraduate Training Mon, 09 Feb 2009 10:49:19 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=209 I met David Heading (Durham University, IT Service & Graduate School) to find out about the mechanics of PG training. My notes from that interview are attached EPICS mobile technology solutions Mobile Technologies Tue, 08 Jan 2008 15:21:35 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=170 Our previous ventures into the realm of mobile technologies have been focussed on using existing Wifi networks with pretty good coverage, and just letting the students complete their ePortfolio online via the PDA. This wasn't without its difficulties, but we've found it to work reasonably well. However, we are pretty limited as to which locations we can actually use this technique. The university campus and James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough are just about the only locations we've been able to successfully use the PDAs at. The next stage is to allow students to use their ePortfolios on PDAs (or mobile phones?) where they don't have such a good wireless network (I won't go into the ins and outs of why mobile devices are useful for students off-campus). The way this will have to work is for the ePortfolio to be available off-line to the student. When they connect to a network (Wifi, 3G, GPRS, sync to their desktop etc), the offline system will syncronise the data from the PDA with the data in their ePortfolio (two-way syncronisation). In terms of the syncronisation, a web services approach might be a good solution for us because it would fit in with some of the other work we're doing in EPICS-2 - the sensible approach would be to use some of the interoperability standards to form the basis of the web services. There are a number of options available. The first is to use a form building tool. There are several available commercially, and all work in a similar way, although some are better than others. A GUI interface is used to design the forms that are then stored on the PDA. These forms are used to capture data and if online, syncronise this data with a central repository. I have found four such products - <ul><li>GoDB - This uses a 'sync' server or web services to syncronise. I did some testing of the web service interface a while ago and it was quite easy to use</li><li>MForms - I found mForms to be very complicated, and its reliance on Microsoft technology was an issue - we'd need to run SQL server in order to deploy it</li><li>CASL - I've got no experience of this, but it looks similar to the others and uses HTTP to syncronise</li><li>Satellite Forms - Again, I have no experience of this, but it looks very similar to the others.</li></ul> The other solutions available to us are quite diverse <ul><li>Google Gears - This allows you to use an existing online system offline. It's still in beta mode and would require some additional work to get our systems to work with it. The main potential stumbling block is that the version of IE on most PDAs does not support Javascript, and without this, Gears just wouldn't work</li><li>Joyent Slingshot - This is similar to Gears, but is still in development, and (more importantly) only supports Ruby on Rails applications (which the ePortfolio isn't). According to the blurb "Joyent Slingshot allows developers to deploy Rails applications that work the same online and offline (with synchronization)" - http://joyeur.com/2007/03/22/joyent-slingshot</li><li>It might be possible to develop a standalone web application that can be installed on the PDA, with a small database (SQLite?) and use some kind of web service to sync to the online system. Unless we used something like Flash or Flex for this type of application there could be some major security issues with this - what if someone decided to play about with the code?</li><li>Java - I have added this seperately to creating a standalone web app because I see it as being application development rather than web development. The principle of how the system would work be the same, although there would be a steep learning curve because we would be outside the web development environment that we are experienced in</li></ul> There are more solutions than these, and I'll add them as and when I find them. I'll also update the blog when I find out more information on any of these solutions. Please feel free to offer as many suggestions as you can to help us do this. EPICS-2 Poster Dissemination Fri, 25 Jan 2008 10:18:49 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=154 We now have a poster for CRA this week! Students tell universities: Get out of MySpace! Web 2.0 Wed, 14 Nov 2007 13:58:05 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=150 This was the title of an article in the Guardian: <a href="http://education.guardian.co.uk/students/news/story/0,,2205512,00.html">View the article</a> A growing sub-set of students are experienced in using social networking (Web 2.0) but still little is known about their educational potential. In EPICS-2 we are seeing if <strong>unstructured</strong> blogs / community publishing be integrated into an eportfolio to support <strong>structured</strong> learning outcomes. This is being done using institutionally hosted systems, rather than commercial/public sites. EPICS-2 Web Template submitted to JISC Dissemination Tue, 13 Nov 2007 02:19:25 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=138 The template was sent to David Kernohan 2nd November 2007 Launch of pilot for Combined Studies Combined Studies (Ncl) Tue, 13 Nov 2007 12:13:25 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=143 Dr Lynette Turner (DPD) and I gave a talk and demonstration to first year students on the <a href="http://www.ncl.ac.uk/hss/undergrad/combined/">Combined Studies Programme</a> at Newcastle University today. This included use of the blog to capture evidence and tied directly to Undergraduate Skills. There is also a section to capture Module-based and promote reflection on cross-module learning. Report from 'ePortfolios 2007' Dissemination Tue, 13 Nov 2007 12:11:11 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=146 The ‘ePortfolio 2007’ conference was held in Maastricht and attended by Simon Cotterill and Paul Horner from Newcastle University. This is an annual conference hosted by the European Institute for eLearning (EIfEL) which attracts participants interested in ePortfolios from diverse sectors from all round the world. Over the past 4 years the team have contributed 6 papers to the academic part of the conference and a similar number of live demonstrations as part of the technical ‘plugfest’ activities. The conference provides a good indication of direction of ePortfolios and an incentive to showcase and journal our work. This years main theme was employability and the conference overlapped with another event: the Human Capital & Social Innovation Technology Summit. The world of Human Resources (HR) have woken to the concept of ePortfolio and are beginning to make more sophisticated use of HR/portfolio data. From a relatively late start the Netherlands seems to be embracing the concept of ePortfolios at a governmental and large organisations basis, including werk.nl their equivalent to the UK Job Centre and Career Service networks. The conference continues to show a huge diversity of use and concepts of ePortfolios, social software and identity management. Contributions from Newcastle University / the EPICS team: 1. Plugfest a. Demonstrations from vendors/projects on the IMS ePortfolio specification (early work from Newcastle presented by Paul Horner) b. “HR-XML Europass - Europortfolio CV Interoperability Use Case from UK to Europe” (Marc Van Coillie, Alex Charles, Paul Horner and Simon Cotterill, Michelangelo Turillo). Paul demonstrated his leading-edge work with EUROPASS-CV, EuroCV, HR-XML and other specifications in collaboration with EIfEL, SkillsMarket and the EuroCV project. 2. Academic Conference a. <a href="http://www.eportfolios.ac.uk/docs/fdtl4_docs/Web_2_and_ePortfolio_cotterill_et_al.ppt">Beyond the Blog: getting the right level of structure in an ePortfolio to support learning </a>(Simon Cotterill, Paul Horner, Sue Gill, Tony McDonald, Paul Drummond, David Teasdale, Anne Whitworth, Geoff Hammond) This included an outline of the EPICS-2 project. b. <a href="http://www.eportfolios.ac.uk/docs/fdtl4_docs/NewcastleEuropass.ppt">Embedding EUROPASS at Newcastle University to support student and graduate mobility – work in progress</a>. (Paul Horner, Simon Cotterill) c. Simon chaired a parallel session on ePortfolios in healthcare Presentations available at: <a href="http://www.eportfolios.ac.uk/docs">http://www.eportfolios.ac.uk/docs</a> EPICS-2 Kick-off Meeting Workgroup Meetings Tue, 13 Nov 2007 11:49:34 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=144 The first Working Group meeting was held on 12th October 2007. The main purpose of the meeting was to review the bid and refine the project plan. Upcoming Events PDP / ePortfolio News Tue, 13 Nov 2007 13:18:26 GMT http://www.epics.ac.uk/eportfolio/blog/entry?uid=141 Some upcoming events from the document circulated at the 1st Working Group Meeting (attached). 22-23rd Nov <a href="http://www.recordingachievement.org/events/detail.asp?eventid=120">CRA Residential: Personalisation, development and planning</a> (Birmingham) 28th Nov <a href="http://www.medev.ac.uk/show_workshop_page_public?entry_id=100">Workshop on social software to enhance learning</a> 29th Nov <a href="http://www.rsc-northern.ac.uk/events/e-portfoliobookingform.asp">JISC RSC ePortfolios event</a> 28th Feb 2008 <a href="http://www.medev.ac.uk/show_workshop_page_public?entry_id=95">ePortfolios, personalised learning and identity in healthcare education</a> (Newcastle) 11-13th March <a href="http://www.health.heacademy.ac.uk/scevents/fol/festival-of-learning-2008-1">Festival of Learning 2008</a> 15th April <a href="http://www.jisc.ac.uk/events/2008/04/jiscconference08.aspx">JISC National Conference </a>(Birmingham)