Yearly review of CALIBRATE shows green light

The CALIBRATE EU project where we develop LeMill had its first year review this week. Three expert reviewers have been going through the deliverables and documentation for the past month, and on Tuesday we were in Brussels presenting our work and answering their questions.

All in all the review went well. This seems to be a serious project that actually does something. And reviewers were particularly pleased with our work package’s deliverables and thought quite highly of the Toolbox system we’ve developed (LeMill with a different skin and integration with the EUN LRE). The final review report is due before the year is over, but already the reviewers accepted all deliverables and with some recommendations the work we’re doing seems to be to their liking.

We’re now starting our group’s Xmas holidays, and we won’t be officially back to work until the 8th of January, although I probably have to read e-mail and keep the servers running. So happy holidays to everyone! Thanks for an interesting year, Sztaki, UiO and TLU!

LeMill 1.4 released

Another release done on time. For 1.4 we concentrated on getting all bugs fixed, and that we did. Unfortunately Hans kept generating new ones, so some known problems still exist. Happily nothing serious. Main new things are Russian translation, partial Lithuanian translation, multilingual support in the PILOT player, revamped user profiles and such.

We’ll be doing one more release this year, and that’s in two weeks, just before the annual project review. Then we’ll take a breather and do some long range planing on what we want LeMill to do in 10 months time. We should by then also have some feedback from the teachers that are being trained to use the system (today 40 teachers were in a full day workshop in the Czech Republic). Just a few days ago we got some heuristic usability results from our Norwegian partners, and fixed some issues already for this release. More will follow.

LeMill development sprint

It’s been too long since our last development sprint, but this week is a sprint week. The Estonian developers split up, with two of them joining the Hungarians in Budapest, and one of them joining us here in Helsinki, Finland. We have a release in four days, and from our previous experiences with colocated sprints, we should have quite good progress during this week.

During this year I’ve really seen how challenging a dispersed development project is. Even though we’ve stayed on schedule, our efficiency would be many times greater if we all worked in the same room. Never mind the integrated development site, IRC, mailing lists, FlashMeetings, Skype, and whatnot, they don’t replace working side-by-side.

LeMill 1.3 released

Version 1.3 (codenamed Tijl Uilenspiegel) was released today. This is another cleanup release, with loads of usability and technical fixes, but not that much new stuff. I’m getting a bit anxious that we’re only doing bug fixes and not creating new stuff, but then again, getting the system to work correctly is of course a high priority goal.

From the user’s point of view the new feature of course is the PILOT learning resource type, which allows you to do rich media slideshows, which are designed for progressive inquiry learning. From the technical perspective this is nothing new, since it’s been available for a month now, but we just now got the critical bugs fixed from it.
For the next release we should finally have some improvements to the community section, which is still very much underdeveloped and underdesigned.

LeMill translations starting

We have finally stabilized the user interface of LeMill enough to start translations – version 1.2 was released last week. Today we sent the UI translation files to our project partners, who will translate the user interface to Czech, German, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Polish, and Slovenian. The UI is already translated into English, Finnish, and Estonian. If anyone wishes to contribute a translation to any other language, we have instructions.

LeMill 1.0 released

After one year of hard work in four countries, we have LeMill version 1.0 ready, as the project schedule demands. We still consider it a preview, but most of the basic functionality is there.

What makes LeMill different from all the other learning content authoring systems that are out there? The pedagogical perspective. LeMill is not just about learning materials, but (and in my mind more importantly) pedagogically meaningful activities and tools, and a community of teachers collaboratively working on all of them.

The LeMill demo is here: http://lemill.net

And more information about the development is here: http://lemill.org