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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

November 21st, 2006

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02:03 pm - Thinking about where to go from here, web-wise
I've been looking over Chronarchy.Com's backend specs. The site sits at about 275 MB in size, out of a possible 400 MB. My virtual "rent" is fairly cheap (which is good: I could never afford more), but I'm thinking about what I'd like to do with the site, and it *does* just keep growing.

So as I look at it, I start to size it up. There's ever the option of adding wiki. . . A fun tool that ADF members will know well (as will users of that silly depository of "knowledge," Wikipedia), but it doesn't seem to serve my needs. There are mailing lists and polls and things like that which could really enhance the "experience" of Chronarchy.Com, but they're not so much useful as "cool."

I could create a "members only" section, but that bothers me on a lot of levels: I'm one of those rare people who really likes the transparency that the Internet provides, the openness it promotes and the weird quirks of oh-shit-I-shouldn't-have-posted-that moments that we all have. They make life interesting, at the very least. Only one directory on my pages is password protected, and all it's got are four images.

I can create a nifty chat function (I did this on the Three Cranes site, but more as a fun thing to play with than an actual tool), but I don't have the time to staff it or really participate in it to any extent.

I could add a blog, but between MySpace, Facebook, and LiveJournal, I am totally blogged out. Enough that my webpage, which I always wanted to keep primary, is wasting away for lack of new content (don't tell me you haven't noticed. . .)

I could sell stuff, but given the lackluster response my CafePress site gets (even with ADF-related material available on it being published at cost), I have a feeling that's a losing proposition. Besides, the CafePress site is linked off every page of the site, and in a year and a half, it's earned all of $6.02.

But what actually interested me was a little program called "Moodle". Moodle is a course management system that allows people to take courses on your website. It allows for virtual workshops, assignments, chat sessions, creation of resources, etc.

I look at it and I think that, hell, I could put the WotY up on that. I could set it up to assign things on a regular basis, create due dates, quiz people over the material, and seriously upgrade and reorganize the resources available. And I could also create something like that for the various GSP courses, or clergy training. And honestly, I'm a little excited.

The central problem with it is the installation size. It's nearly 50 MB, and that'll put me dangerously close to the edge, given my current usage and the rate the site has grown at: about 68 MB/year on average.

With additional size, there's additional cost. So now I'm thinking: is it worth the upgrade cost? How can I make the additional virtual "rent?" Would anyone use it? How much backend work is needed: can it run itself? Is it fair to offer the course for cash (the idea makes me somewhat uncomfortable), or should I just check ADF membership and make it a free-for-all romp if I decide to do it?

Yes, these are things I wonder about during sunny lunch hours in winter.
Current Location: Southeast of Disorder
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: "If the Phone Doesn't Ring, It's Me", -JB

(39 comments Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:November 21st, 2006 10:02 pm (UTC)
I am calm. What are you?
[User Picture]
Date:November 21st, 2006 10:13 pm (UTC)


Okay, I'm actually just sleepy. But I don't see why you are reacting with such attitude to me...? Aren't you always looking for feedback on this type of stuff and trying to hear the voices of the ADF members? Maybe you just weren't expecting disagreement to this idea, but I think I figured out the gyst of what bothered me and sent it to you in email instead. No point in rambling that here.

This idea touched a nerve -- and I don't think I'm the only one who has it.
[User Picture]
Date:November 24th, 2006 08:04 am (UTC)
I think the idea is good in theory, but in practice I suspect that the extra work involved in using the Moodle site will actually be more of a hindrance than a help to students.

As you say, singingwren, WotY already provides a pretty good structure. Really, all that remains is for students to follow it and do the work. I'm not sure that additional web tools will really help make that happen; either the student makes the time to follow the program, or s/he doesn't. I don't see that having assignments and web calendars will make that more likely.

But, I'm all for testing it out and being proven wrong, too. I'm just (believe it or not) cautious about over-techifying things. But I also have my own styles for learning, so I may be missing a certain subset of students that could benefit from even more DP structure, this time via additional tech tools.

So I'd say go for it, test it out. Though, relevant to the question of whether to pony up the additional cash to test out moodle, is there a simpler, smaller system you could use to test the concept, first - a sort of "poor man's moodle"?

And I certainly hope you guys have patched up any silliness from this exchange by now - you two are both among the most nice and also dedicated to ADF folks I know.

You're really on the "same team" here, both trying to help the Dedicants learn the best they can, it's just there's a little disagreement on the exact approach.

And hey, if all that nice-sounding mumbo-jumbo doesn't work for ya', you can team up and flame me, if that'll get you back in each others' good graces ;)
[User Picture]
Date:November 24th, 2006 08:06 am (UTC)
Oh, and I should say, if disk space alone is stopping you, you could also set up a test server on archives.adf.org - I think we still have plenty of space there.
[User Picture]
Date:November 24th, 2006 09:32 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately I received this comment a little too late; had I known that Mike and I were both on the same team, I wouldn't have gone out and firebombed his house to the ground!

*shakes head* Ah well, you live and learn, right? ;)

On a slight tangent, a lot of my issue with this system is that it runs the risk of making ADf TOO standardized/technical/impersonal, especially if we do 'mass mentoring' or use the quiz and grade features. I'm actually a little (okay, a LOT) skittish about too much centralization; I guess I've got an anarchist streak there.

Oh, and on a WAY bigger tangent, I just found out that I was born at 6:29 am. :)
[User Picture]
Date:November 25th, 2006 02:36 am (UTC)
it runs the risk of making ADf TOO standardized/technical/impersonal

Hm, I think you may be on to something there. Periodically I have to remind myself (and sometimes others) that "ADF is not the lists" - or LJ, whatever.

I think the one-on-one mentorship connections are really what helps, just like meeting people face to face at festivals is better than 1000 e-mails.

However, I think we still have more mentor requests than students, so while I agree there's definitely a risk of making it too technical and impersonal (which is a better way of what I was saying when I said over-structured, I think), I think it's worth trying out with a focus group.

As I said, I'd love to be proven wrong - but that can only really happen if the focus group actually says it works.

I'm not sure, but I think one of your concerns might be that this would be implemented as an official ADF system when, in fact, I don't think Mike meant to do that unless the test went well.

And even then, I'd think the system would be optional, not an integral part of the DP. (And even the WotY is optional of course).

Oh, and on a WAY bigger tangent, I just found out that I was born at 6:29 am. :)

Great! If you remind me before Wellspring I'll try to do your chart and bring it with me, or if either of us forget, I'll just do it on my Palm Pilot there :)
[User Picture]
Date:November 27th, 2006 02:39 pm (UTC)
And even then, I'd think the system would be optional, not an integral part of the DP. (And even the WotY is optional of course).


The interesting thing is that a number of people despise the WotY (some with more passion than singingwren does this weird moodle idea I got) because *they* learn best without the structure, and they see the WotY, even as vague and socratic as it is, as "feeding them the answers" or "making it too easy."

Their concern is well-placed: they want everyone to get the best experience out of the DP possible, and they saw/see how they did it as the best way to learn it.

The problem is that not everyone learns like they do. In fact, the best way to teach material to a varied audience (and ADF is nothing if not varied) is to offer as many avenues of learning and as many styles of teaching as possible.

So undirected training (the DP in its original format) must remain available. WotY needs to remain available. Mentorship needs to remain available. The Virtues book needs to remain available. And every one of them needs to stay optional. Each of these methods is vital, and each one approaches training in a different way.

Another thing to remember, too, is that we are also dealing with a wide spectrum of learning abilities. We have a wide population with Asperger's, who seem to learn best when the information is laid out and referenced all in one tight package. We have people who don't have any sort of learning disability but have a time deficiency (after speaking to a working mom three weeks ago, it became apparent that a time deficiency can become worse than a learning disability in terms of what can be learned by various methods: she called online courses "a godsend" and indicated that they were the only way she could get through school).

What it comes down to is that the options have to be available for those who learn in these ways.

But we'll see. I didn't listen to the people attacking WotY because I knew it was needed. I'm not sure that the online stuff is needed, but I have a strong feeling that it would *help*, and that might just be enough for me. Besides, I'm getting a lot more support for the idea than I thought I would.
[User Picture]
Date:November 27th, 2006 02:02 pm (UTC)
And I certainly hope you guys have patched up any silliness from this exchange by now

It's okay: what you see here. . . well, it's how our relationship has always been.
[User Picture]
Date:November 28th, 2006 12:46 am (UTC)
That's the problem with those Scorpios... they're so intense. They're great to have on your side, but they get pissed off easily and then they brood.

I either love (particular) Scorpios or I hate them, and usually it's the latter, and in general I just want to avoid pissing them off (they tend to have a thing about revenge, a la being a dish best served cold), so I usually try to give them a wide berth :)

That's enough stereotyping for one day, I think!
[User Picture]
Date:November 28th, 2006 01:23 pm (UTC)

So, what you're saying, is that it's her fault?

*grins wider*
[User Picture]
Date:November 28th, 2006 04:58 pm (UTC)
No, what I'm saying is I would never *dare* to say it's her fault... she'd kill me in my sleep if I did! ;)

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