LeMill 2.0

Our final deliverable for CALIBRATE project is ready. The original promise was to develop an ‘open source learning toolbox for collaborative learning’ and this should be it.

It looks like our latest version announcement was from version 1.9, so 2.0 doesn’t seem so big a step, but really, we have gone a long way from that: 1.13 was our latest previous release. Our community has grown close to 900 people, 800 learning resources, 2300 media pieces plus tools, methods, groups and references. This is good growth, yet not explosion of popularity. One notable feature of LeMill has always been our multilingualism (12 working translations for LeMill, 3 partial) and this is really affecting our feeling of community: there are few very active countries (Estonia, Georgia) and for me having those visible, but difficult to understand, gives me a good general feel of what we want for our language group to do together. Instead of one story about evolution of LeMill community, there probably will be as many stories as there are teachers native languages.

For next few weeks we’ll have a lighter touch on development, and concentrate more on just observing how people use LeMill. Welcome.

Publications coming

We today got together to organize work around preparation and writing of research papers. Our new research assistant Katrina is taking the greatest responsibility to keep us analyzing and reporting the research results from the last three or so years of work in the research group. We are working on the following papers (working titles):

Software as hypothesis – developing human-centered design research method through three design cases

Audio wiki for mobile communities – information systems for the rest of us

Design of LeMill – web community for finding, authoring and sharing learning resources

The first article is a formulation and conclusion of the design research method and practice we have been developing in the research group.

The second article is presenting new design direction for the MobilED project proposing that the audio wiki is probably more useful as an informal community information system rather than as an application for formal teaching and learning (for what it was originally designed for).

The third article is the first proper description of LeMill with explanation of principles behind it, design rationale and the process of designing it.

We are aiming to get these out in six coming months. We are targeting to some journals and some conferences. Can’t wait to get these out!

LeMill 1.9 released

LeMill 1.9 is another step in getting everything right. This time we’ve redesigned the collections, and worked more on the new front page, and converted group blogs into group forums. The last change came from discussions where we concluded that for blogs to truly enable dialog, they must be used in an extreme way, meaning that each participant must have his own blog, follow other blogs, comment on other blogs, write about stuff in other blogs and respond to comments in his blog. Anything less means that you’re not really blogging, but just keeping a diary. So we converted blog to forums, since forums aren’t that demanding to enable dialogue.

What I’m exceited about is the upcoming merge of LeMill.net with the Learning Toolbox. The Toolbox is a closed instance of LeMill which has been used by the teachers participating in the CALIBRATE project. In our last consortium meeting is was decided that the two environments will be merged. So hopefully next week I can transfer some 150 teachers and the resources they’ve produced into LeMill.net. And from then on we’ll have only one community to grow and foster, instead of two overlapping ones.

LeMill 1.8 released – no longer just a preview

On behalf of the development team, I’m proud to announce the release of LeMill version 1.8. We finally figured out a way to give more prominence to teacher-generated experience reports (now called teaching and learning stories). Collections now double as teaching and learning stories, and they will be shown on the brand new front page that’s been in the works for the last few weeks.

We’re still keeping the new front page locked away for a while, so we have time to generate a few good stories into LeMill.net, so the front page won’t look completely anemic. We’ll enable the front page next week. So keep tuned.
But I guess the major news is that Hans finally removed the “preview” part from the LeMill logo. Which means this is the first version that he’s not “ashamed to release as his design”, to quote his words. In web 2.0 terminology, I guess we now dropped the “beta” from the logo.

For more information:

  • lemill.net is the free, public online service that anyone can use
  • lemill.org is the fully open development site where you can more closely follow our development progress
  • you’re welcome to chat with us in IRC (irc://#lemill@freenode) which you can also conveniently access from the Community page of lemill.net
  • and of course there are the mailing lists

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 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 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