Tuesday, 16 October 2007

WebPA intergration with VLEs

I have in the past twenty four hours been asked about the projects plans to develop integration modules for a particular VLE. I knew that this question would arrive eventually, but I still found my self relatively under prepared to answer it.

What I should be doing is asking the person who sent the query to then develop the solution. That is how open source software works, right. But this is also a project with deliverables which in the perfect world have to be met. I also don't want to scare our potential pilot institutions away from the project. As a result I did reply with a concise statement "that this may be considered in the future". But there are a lot more VLEs than one, so I do desperately need the contribution to the project.

At the beginning of the week I read an article about how to run a successful open source project by approaching the development modularly. This is said to encourage users to write their own plug ins. This method has been a success for other open source project such as Mozilla FireFox, Drupal etc. But from a little investigation this is also a successful model for established software companies and one in particular Blackboard, where the community contribute "building blocks". As a result of this, I really need to be encouraging the current developing user community into becoming a contribution community, creating these needed plug ins/modules/widgets.

I have a feeling this maybe more successful than I thought it would. With the Web 2.0 movement, especially in Education, more and more individuals are developing these little code elements to accomplish tasks they need doing. Therefore, in an ideal world, those individuals should be happy enough to add modules for WebPA. This then has a knock on effect for me... I need to now go and assess the code to see how easy it will be for individuals to contribute. I will also need to make the changes to the system in order for this to work. Even if we do not see the benefits now, I hope that we see them some where in the future.

NOTE: I initiated a conversation on the Community-Development JISCmail list. The full conversation to date can be found at http://jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/COMMUNITY-DEVELOPMENT.html

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