Tuesday, August 10, 2010

WebLion asking for plone users in K-12 for ideas on a buildout!

Thanks to WebLion for providing this forum for educators to communicate about their experience and needs for plone.  It seems like they are preparing to create a buildout they will share that is customized for educators!

I've used multitudes of products since plone 2.0 came out.  The following list includes ones I'm currently using or would like to use.  Of course not sure if they all still exist or if there are better updates of them.  Anyway, here is the list with annotations:
  1. CacheFu.  I've used this along with Squid to speed up my site.  Great though I needed help to get it set up.
  2. TinyMCE (epoz then kupu were OK but fckeditor was better though when they made it easy to have colors in kupu and FCK was creating some problems I switched to use kupu again.  Looking forward to see what TinyMCE can do.
  3. ImageEditor.  Upon reading about this in Jon Stahl's blog I had to try it and it IS the cat's meow.  I've got no idea how difficult it would be to add the following functionality BUT I do know it would make it a 'killer App' for science education.  What I would like it to do is to add editable-annotations to images.  Imaging a student taking a picture of something/s seen found through a microscope, uploads that image to the specific place in Plone, then adds arrows with text such as a name of a part or of a specific creature or asks a question about a specific part of an image.  Then, with that page being commentable, students could have a threaded discussion about that piece of comment.  It would be important that the arrow with text were visible without requiring a mouse over or worse having to click on a link that takes you away from the image.  I've looked for a good open source app to add text/arrows to an image with ubuntu, have found some apps but they aren't simple. If this annotation could be done on the web, edited by various team mates, improved over time (always with versioning available as a fall-back), well, that would be incredible)
  4. PloneFlashUpload.  I need something that will work.  I've not been able to get this to work since Plone 2.5.  I really dislike uploading 12 images, 1 at a time, after having used this add on.)
  5. Something to translate the plone interface for kids.  Last year I had kids from 12 different languages as their home language.  I remember a Vietnamese student I had a few years ago (the last time I had multiple languages available for my plone site) who was quite literate in her own language but spoke virtually no English.  When she set her home language for the plone interface (I think I had linguaplone installed then?) and I showed her about wikipedia in her own language and google translate she was so happy and it enabled her to study English within the science content I was teaching.  It was hard to help her, though, as even though I knew about what buttons should be where on the plone page, when everything was in Vietnamese I had a hard time helping her as i couldn't understand anything!  I guess an ajax mouse-over to convert the interface to English would have been great but I can't see that being of wide spread utility.
  6. Ploneboard.  An important part of my site has been a Q/A forum section and ploneboard was nice.  Two useful features that would be great are having a couple of basic editing tools such as numbered/bulleted lists and tables available for comments.  Another function that would be great is being able to create 'collections' of forum posts based on group membership.  Imagine having generic posts for topics of interest to all students in a school, other posts relative to biology students there and still other posts being class-specific--all in a single page based on student group membership.  I just remembered--it is important that WHILE commenting on a web page or as part of forum post, that all contents can be seen by just scrolling.  It's frustrating making a comment and then forgetting some detail of a comment you were responding to and then not being able to see the previous comment unless you open the page in a new tab!
  7. Vee content type.  This is a completely unique content type and distinguishes my plone setup from our district's moodle server.  Students create a Vee--a graphic organizer for inquiry--on line as a plone content type.  It has the advantage of sharing editing privileges for team members, and is commentable encouraging class dialog on student research.  Students can include web images such as concepts maps (mentioned below in item #8).  A big plus with these images is that when a student updates her concept map, it is immediately shown in the Vee! Here's a very simple but nice example from a couple of my students showing the basic idea of a Vee.  Unfortunately this content type isn't on plone.org site.  I'd love to load it up there, though.
  8. FancyZoom.  For me, this is a killer app.  Filling a folder with important images that are then displayed as thumbnails, allowing students to click on an image, seeing it almost instantly without leaving the page, is BIG!  Something that would multiply its usefulness even further is if I could add an image to a page at a size that could be defined in settings, AND upon being clicked, this image located elsewhere on the web would ZOOM in the same fashion as when it was an image in a folder with fancyzoom selected as the display option.  This would be hugely useful in many contexts, for example, I could embed an image of a concept map from my CmapServer and not have it take up too much space on the page, but when someone wanted to see the details they would simply click on the small image and it would quickly pop up without needing to leave the page (important for usability reasons).
  9. Webcouturier dropdownmenu I've installed this and it would be a big time saver, but unfortunately it was inconsistent when it would work and looked weird with our theme.
  10. webcouturier.icompany.theme  I love this theme.  I use it on a few sites.  It might be nice to have a few that teachers could choose from.
  11. Plone TrueGallery.  Not had this working since plone 2.5, but it was really nice for the class I taught with inservice teachers.  Looking forward to using it again.
  12. LDAP authentication.  I really need this to work with our districts AD LDAP server.  Students and I spend too much time getting and working with accounts/passwords etc.  Failing getting this working, I need a bulk-upload function that works (couldn't get Tomster's to work though he was/always is helpful.)
  13. Group-Membership-based site root.  I need it so that the students in my classes, upon logging in, are immediately taken to my folder with all content applicable to their classes located inside of that.  Then, when a student in a different teacher logs in, since this student would be a member of this this other teacher's group, it would take him to that teachers root folder.  I got this idea from reading about a plone add on (uwosh.something?) but couldn't make it work.  This would be GREAT.
  14. Ploneformgen.  This sounds like it would have tons of uses to collect and organize student thinking.  With some spiffing up this could probably become a decent way to create a portfolio.
  15. Plone4Artists/ATVideo.  I never really got this working well so was never able to do much in the line of videos but the district has been getting better tools for that so maybe I won't need videos, but it would be nice having the option...
Would Really Like but never used.  Some of these exist, some are on the 'wish-list'!
  1. Glossary.  I used to try to get plone glossary working but never could.  That would have been a great tool to build and assess class understandings.  It would be great to have each class have their own root install so their definitions wouldn't overlap (or even be visible to each other?).
  2. Some kind of a 'frame?'.  It would be nice to have a collection (live folder) which would show content from several different pages or from different anchors on the same page.  So, instead of it being a folder listing content with a particular keyword, it would be a web page showcasing (not simply showing links to) the content with a particular keyword.
  3. Maybe use Timeslot at our school as a way to sign out computer labs--it's not super efficient right now.
  4. I need to look into Easyslider...
  5. Being able to simultaneously edit a plone page, like in google docs, would also be a killer app.  I'm guessing that it's a pretty unrealistic wish at this time...

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