Archive for February, 2006

Prototype of the CALIBRATE Toolbox

Thursday, February 2nd, 2006

CALIBRATE Toolbox is – or will be – a collaborative environment for authoring and sharing learning content.

In January 31st we published the first prototype of the CALIBRATE Toolbox we have been working on since last October. The development of Toolbox takes place on our semi-open development site. You will find from the site a link to the demo server.

The software is not really usable at this point, but from the prototype’s user interface you may get an idea how it will be one day. When we started the software development I wrote about the vision. I wrote:

“ToolBox is not a LMS, neither CSCL tool nor a “personal learning environment” or “Future VLE”. The idea is simply to pull teachers to use ICT in more exciting way. To empower teacher by offering them tools to use and share content, methods and tools to implement meaningful learning patterns, on- and offline, with ICT and without.”

When writing the vision we already had results from several participatory design sessions we implemented with teachers in Finland, Estonia, Norway and Hungary. In the sessions we used scenarios to open up the discussions about the online services which teacher could find useful. The sessions were all recorded. From the audio files we them wrote down summaries in English and made some conclusions.

In an intensive one-week long workshop we defined a basic vocabulary and made a visual conceptual model of the concepts that will be used in the system. However, these are not carved to stone and already we are using slightly different vocabulary in the prototype.

Based on this work we have wrote 93 user stories and UI paper prototypes of which 19 stories and UI prototypes has been accepted for development. From these we have now implement several to the first prototype software.

What happens next?

We will polish the user interface of the prototype and implement features that do not yet work in it. There is a lot of work in this.

Then we will show the prototype for as many people as possible: from teachers to colleges and you! We will gather information for the next iteration of design and development.

We will release often. We expect that the next version that will already have our “look and feel” as well as polished UI widgets will be released in two weeks. Then we will show it again for everybody, gather information, think, make design decisions and code.

In March we will have the “Spring roll”–release. This version should be ready for testing in schools.

Tarmo reminded me today that according to some studies about 60% of software projects fails. We are humble in front of this number.

CALIBRATE Toolbox is not the final name of the product. We will announce the name later. Toolbox is developed in the European Sixth Framework project called CALIBRATE.

PS. If you did not already guess it Toolbox is build on Zope, Plone and Fle3. It is Free/Libre and Open Source under GNU General Public License.