Jackalopes, Ocotillos, Learning eXchanges, RSS, and Other Arizona Learning Technology Curiosities

MIT Crosstalk Series, March 10, 2005
Alan Levine, Instructional Technologist, Maricopa Community Colleges

Note: This is a copy of a presentation posted originally at http://realgar.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/cdb/wiki?CrossTalk//

The Arizona desert is a land of extremes and curious creatures that have adapted to these conditions. No, this is not an ecology lecture, but an overview of some of the research and development in learning technologies from the Maricopa Center for learning and Instruction (MCLI). The MCLI supports the 10 colleges of the Maricopa Community Colleges, which provides education for more than 240,000 people per year in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Some of the curiosities covered include:

  • Ocotillo is the desert plant metaphor has been part of the landscape at Maricopa since 1987. A precursor of the Teaching, Learning, Technology Roundtable concept, Ocotillo acts as a faculty lead initiative to investigate and promote new instructional technologies. This year, we have 4 working groups covering the areas of Learning Objects, Hybrid Courses, Electronic Portfolios, and Emerging Technologies. Our work is supported by a collection of "Small Technologies Loosely Joined", the online components of our work facilitated by a connected set of weblogs, wikis, and discussion boards, tied together with RSS.
  • The Maricopa Learning eXchange (MLX)is our online "warehouse" of anything created at Maricopa that supports learning (broader than just "learning objects") with a designed metaphor of "packages" and "packing slips" that represent underlying technical concepts of metadata. The MLX was one of the first sites of its kind to apply RSS syndication of its content that allows it to be re-deployed in multiple settings as well as weblog "trackbacks" that theoretically can "track" external uses of MLX items "back" to the source.
  • Feed2JS is an experimental service that has exploded- it allows mere mortal faculty to insert a dynamic feed provided by XML to any web page by insertion of a single line of cut and paste JavaScript. It enables the concept we call "Rip. Mix. Feed." that drastically changes the way we look at web-based information-- not as a cohesive whole, but bits we can pick and choose, and then create new content in unexpected ways.

As far as the "jackalope" you will have to show up to see that creature.