[Edu-sig] Curriculum Repository Frameworks (needed?)

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Fri Oct 3 18:00:07 CEST 2008


Here's a window into my business world where I'm thinking out loud about web
frameworks in education and curriculum writing (I'm a curriculum writer),
the subject having come up in my Portland context when McCarty recently
suggested I use Moodle again (for a repository), and Tara (a grad from that
school) says "Winterhaven is crazy about using Moodle" but in a tone that
suggested "over the top" (same tone she uses when saying I'm crazy about
Britney Spears).

In thinking about it, I wrote the reply to Anna Roys below (she's running
the TECC pilot, still on the drawing boards in a lot of ways).

Now, having thought about it some more (and this isn't the first time), I
want to revise and extend:


I think it's especially likely that gnu math teachers such as myself will go
for a spare, austere, not so web frameworky system, simply because it's our
job to teach XHTML, CSS, WSGI and related APIs, so from the point of view of
"making it accessible" we like to show how we code up from scratch, like a
chef in the kitchen (per Ratatouille -- hi Jody).  However, in other subject
areas, such as chemistry or home economics, the teacher may not have the
time or patience for "hand coding" and said web framework is a godsend.


It's not either/or in other words.  Too many so-called "religious wars"
begin with either/or as a premise, and it's phony.  It's not Ruby or Python,
not Java or Jython, not Scheme or LISP, not Smalltalk or J, although in any
given special case circumstance, yes, the crew may elect one over the
other.  And sometimes technologies fade, like SQL is more the industry
standard than MUMPS anymore, even in health care (MUMPS named for
Massachusettes General).

I think my point is gnu math teachers are training future developers, future
geeks.  It's in "building one to throw it away", programming for the fun of
it, loving it, that you come to discover the true value of frameworks, which
is in customizing them for different clients, each with special needs.
Rather than have an end user's perspective, our students think in terms of
serving people, adding to their happiness and satisfaction (we hope -- we
work to not over promise and therefore disillusion).


We're also into XP techniques (e.g. pair programming) in age appropriate
ways i.e. take a page from the constructionists in having students develop
their team working skills.  The career of the solo coder may be glorious and
fun, but when they're still young like this, we want to keep doors open to
some of those "team only" careers (not every coding solution is accessible
to the solo developer, although open source culture already ensures that
we're sharing tools and know-how, so the teams may be surprisingly small
(one of the lessons I teach @ Saturday Academy)).


Yes, web frameworks are very much needed, included those like Edu2.0, geared
specifically to teachers.  However, some of the most proficient in Internet
technology will choose not to use them, and not because they're luddites,
quite the opposite.

Caveat:  I've not mentioned environments like Second Life or, in my case,
Active Worlds ( http://www.activeworlds.com/edu/ ), as places to serve
curriculum.  That's a somewhat different topic, engines like Croquet not
being the same animal as webapps like Django or Ruby on Rails.

Kirby Urner

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: kirby urner <kirby.urner at gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Oct 2, 2008 at 4:14 PM
Subject: Re: Using Edu20 for online Board of Directors Meetings? Maybe not a
good idea?
To: Anna Roys
Cc:  [ xxx ]

I'm not persuaded "one stop shopping frameworks" (e.g. Moodle) are the way
to go, am starting with new Python proteges here in Portland and planning to
use mostly email, sharing links as I see fit.

Of course tutoring < > classroom teaching (not the same thing), but an old
fashioned lesson plans, jazzed up with lots of URLs, and put on-line in the
classroom folder, needn't involve any fancy framework, even open source

Homespun and simple carries the day, lots of times, plus different teachers
have different teaching styles (as much a reality as student learning
styles, which I also believe in honoring, though limits apply).

Two cents from the lower 48....

Kirby Urner

On Thu, Oct 2, 2008 at 3:06 PM, Anna Roys <roys.anna at gmail.com> wrote:

> Rachel,
> I am getting no response from edu20 today. Last summer I received almost
> immediate response each time.  I am wondering if this is not such a good
> place  for us to try get our work done. A great vision for free e-learning,
> but  maybe the site is no longer maintained well enough for our use?
> Did any of you receive anything from edu20?
> Please remind us what was your suggestion for where to carry on our online
> meetings  and how do we proceed?
> Anna
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/edu-sig/attachments/20081003/35344c01/attachment.htm>

More information about the Edu-sig mailing list