Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Open Learn

OpenLearn is an activity of the UK Open University to provide free access to Open University course materials. The Open Learn website - called LearningSpace - has hundreds of free study units - each of which can be exported in Common Cartridge format.

This page shows some examples of using the Icodeon Common Cartridge Platform URL Language with one of the Open Learn study units: Evolution through Natural Selection.

This first screen shot shows the Open Learn study unit displayed in the Icodeon Common Cartridge Explorer - an application built using only the Platform URL Language and an AJAX toolkit:


This kind of application is built by making requests to the Platform to return representations in the JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) format. The JSON format is specified in the Platform URL language as an extension path variable.
  • .json extension:



    {host}/cartridges/{cartridge_id}/
    items/{item_id}.json
We can also use other extension path variables to request different representations. For example, it is easy to write an image tag to quickly place a thumbnail image on a different website.
  • .gif extension:



    <img src="{host}/cartridges/{cartridge_id}/
    items/{item_id}.gif">
In addition to supporting standard file extension path variables (like .gif and .jpg), the Platform APIs include some extensions that have specific meaning only within the Icodeon Platform.
  • .go extension: used to redirect to a file that is referenced by an item resource in the cartridge manifest. Secure links can be built using the .go extension and the redirect is a URL with a time-stamped expiry.



    <a href="{host}/cartridges/{cartridge_id}/
    items/{item_id}.go">Go to the page</a>
  • .do extension: used to redirect to a landing page. The landing page can be configured using a plug-in component on the Platform - and the algorithm that determines the landing page URL is passed a collection of properties and meta data about the item resource in the cartridge manifest. The default plug-in uses the properties and meta-data to set up a Google search.



    <a href="{host}/cartridges/{cartridge_id}/
    items/{item_id}.do">Go to the landing page</a>
These extension path variables can be used in the URL Language in exactly the same way as standard file extension path variables (like .gif and .jpg).

So the use of the Platform URL language, and different extension path variables, is a simple way to securely re-use and re-mix content  from study units on different consumer websites.

Below are the results when Platform URL language is used in this blog page:

1 Charles Darwin

Go to the page

Go to the landing page

The techniques of using the Platform URL language can be combined with other Web APIs.

An example of  combining the Icodeon Platform APIs with other web APIs is shown below - content on the Icodeon CC Platform can be easily and securely shared into a Facebook activity stream using both Platform and Facebook Web APIs:


(Click for full size image)

The content then becomes available to other apps, such as mobile applications that can read the users activity stream. See the screen shot below from a Blackberry mobile device:


(Click for full size image)

Page fragment embedded into to Google Blogger blog entry.

1 comment:

  1. Outstanding ICT initiative award winner announced

    The winner of the Outstanding ICT initiative award sponsored by JISC has been announced at the Times Higher Leadership and Management Awards.

    The awards are designed to celebrate the sector's leadership, management, financial and business skills and JISC's award generated 17 entries from universities across the UK.

    In the end, the Open University (OU) entry was chosen for its virtual learning environment called OpenLearn which has widened access to education and transformed learning in developing countries.

    JISC judge Chris Cobb, pro-vice chancellor at Roehampton University and JISC committee member, explained why the Open University's initiative stood out: "The OpenLearn innovation breaks open previous university models and chimes in an age when everyone expects content for free."

    "The boldness of the project is based on having absolute confidence in the quality of the OU experience - over and above that of the teaching resources alone."

    The online learning website now boasts more than 600 study units and 6,000 hours of tuition for students logging on from around the world.

    Professor Andy Lane, senior fellow in the support centre for open resources in education and former director of OpenLearn said: "This award is further recognition of The Open University's global leadership in open education and open educational resources. But the OpenLearn initiative draws upon and involves all parts of the Open University from student services to the library and is a good example of how one project can become more and more embedded in the mainstream owing to years of work.

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