Wednesday, March 16, 2005

ETECH: Remixing Wikis with Rendezvous, Web Services and SchoolTool

Just heard an excellent presentation titled, "From the Classroom: Remixing Wikis with Rendezvous, Web Services and SchoolTool". Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Oregon are using wikis (Instiki) and some basic web services to provide an interactive, low-budget teaching "intranet."

Basically they have teachers run Instiki on their laptop, then students in a lab use Mac's Rendezvous to connect to the teacher's laptop & create and submit their schoolwork on the teacher's wiki.  The teach can then take home and read/grade/comment on schoolwork.

Teachers and kids love it.  They love it because it's easy and it works.

Then the needed to integrate w/other systems, e.g. the class rosters or student profiles are located on a different system.  They're using SchoolTool, an open source school management program, and then using web services to hook up the wiki so it syncs with the other IT systems used by teachers.  (SchoolTool reminds me a bit of CivicSpace.)

Then they needed a calendar, so the turned to "SchoolBell" -- a calendar server that is part of SchoolTool, and again use web services to tie the calendar to the wiki.

This is awesome stuff.  It's great to see an elementary school principal talk about how they're mixing technologies to self-serve a better way to teach students.  And this is bottom up -- they bypassed the school district's grand plans for infrastructure that will be purchased "some day soon" and put something together today.

Friday, March 11, 2005

At O'Reilly ETECH Next Week

I'm heading down to my old hood next week for the O'Reilly conference.  I'll be there with fellow JotSpotters Abe and Joe.

ps. up for grilling a steak while sipping a cocktail and lounging in a red naugahyde booth?

OpenXource Helps Open up Closed Source Software

I had the pleasure of coffee Bob McWhirter (blog) yesterday.  Bob is the guy behind, home to open source projects such as Groovy, Jaxen, and ActiveMQ among many others.  Bob recently founded OpenXource, a consulting and product company focused on helping companies move closed source software to open source. 

Helping with the strategy and execution of moving closed source to open source is an undeserved market according to Bob, and I agree with him.  Folks like Sourcelabs and Spikesource are going the other direction, helping companies bring open source in.  I don't know of anyone else specializing in the other way around. 

And while perhaps a smaller market, it's a much harder problem IMHO.  I had a taste of this helping Orbeon transition their presentation server product to open source, and of course their biz model too.  Oh yeah, that thing.  They've since joined ObjectWeb and their community and biz is on the rise, but going it alone, without the benefit of experience, is difficult.

Behind raw adoption numbers, the next most important metric of an open source project's success is the size and health of its dev community.  OpenXource is addressing this with a hosted community service called Xircles.  Its Open source community in a box, leveraging the insights gained starting, growing, and managing  They've got to differentiate from the Collabnet's, sourceforge's, and GForge of the world, but there seems to be room to innovate there for sure.  This is a needed service, and I wish Bob and OpenXource success!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Developer Relations Conference, San Jose

I'm headed down to the Developer Relations Conference next Mon/Tues in San Jose.  Looking forward to meeting some new folks, learning, and sharing some ideas.  If you're going, drop me a line (scott at jot dot com), or leave a comment here.

(Too bad the conference isn't walking distance from CalTrain.  Here's my 44 mile commute.  Google is calling this a 39 minute drive...  When are they going to incorporate a realistic driving time algorithm to compliment their fancy-pants maps?)