Nice Saturday afternoon here on the East Coast, and a very interesting day of talking to some very nice people in Europe about the upcoming nordic conference, and how to make money at this edtech stuffâ€¦ I have a ton of things iâ€™m playing around with, which is part of what makes all this so fun. One of the things that keeps coming up on my radar screen is Elgg. For those of you who listen to the webcast/podcast, you know that I am very fond of the program for many reasons. As Harold Jarche said on the brainstorm on Thursday night â€œelgg is the first program to really invert the paradigm, to allow the user to create their environment, to choose to create their own groups etcâ€¦(pardon the pitiful paraphrase harold)â€ Soâ€¦
Who the %$@ am I to talk about it?
Contrary to what people might imagine considering how much I talk about this program, i have no formal affiliation to the elgg community. Iâ€™m a teacher and an edtech who started looking for software for my own students a few years ago, and just came across this in a conversation with Nick Noakes in edtechtalk #5. I installed it, instantly liked it, and have been playing with it ever since. Iâ€™m currently edteching for 2 installations, both K-12, teaching a university level course with it as an adjunct to moodle(comparing its usage to blogger in a comparable class) and hopefully will be a member of it in another, continuing-ed context. Four elggs, four different situations. I have experience, not knowledge. This is not meant to be a definitive post, but more the opening of a conversation on four fronts, with pieces filled in as I go.
What is it?
Elgg is, in the words of its founders, a personal learning landscape. In the words of others, itâ€™s a multiuser blogging platform with FOAF capacities, and still others an e-portfolio platform. It supports tagging and podcasting, as well as RSS. The elgg.net installation has a couple of thousand members, and is by far the largest installation i know about. Itâ€™s being used for communication between professionals in companies, for students in a classroom, as a meeting community for people of various interests, as a blogging platform, and as an eportfolio environment. It has a couple of really cool features which facilitate this, everytime you post to the site or add a file, you can mark it as public, restricted(to a particular group) or private. It also very easily facilitates the creation of impromptu groups by people who are members of the site allowing for a very natural layout, controlled by users. It will not grade tests for you, or allow you a great deal of control over other members of the site.
This is something that I have just started, and I actually moved the class to a computer lab for the first go at it. They registered and were up in about 10 minutes. They posted quite easilyâ€¦ and seemed to have a good time for a first day, Iâ€™ll update as we go.
It can offer some much needed security if you are looking for a private environment, and also has one feature that really sells it as a blogging platform for students – at the click of a button, you can see all the posts made by everyone on the site.
The install into a root directory is pretty straight up. mysql database (import the .sql file), includes.php file, a couple of chmods and youâ€™re ready to run. If you want to install out of root, thereâ€™s a couple of minor adjustments that need to be done, but not a big deal. It has a simple, effective admin panel. More than youâ€™d expect from a 0.3 release, but not what youâ€™d get from something like moodle (which i like btw, the less control the admin has over somthing like moodle the better, although there are a couple of features like more control over registration that Iâ€™m hoping for for 0.4, also possible with a little playing around) There are apparently still serious issues if you wish to play outside the English language. Iâ€™m told they are working on it, but itâ€™s an important consideration.
If itâ€™s so cool where can i get one?
Last i heard, the elgg guys were offering elggs for people to try out. Go to elgg.net and post on the site. Itâ€™s the best way to get started. If thereâ€™s a more formal way of registering Iâ€™ll find it and post itâ€¦
Over the next few months, Iâ€™ll be talking about the relative success of the different projectsâ€¦ Iâ€™ll keep basically the same format, and weâ€™ll see if itâ€™s any use to anyone.