An exciting, recent development in e-Learning is the ability to create new and powerful learning tools for a course using "mashups."
Defined simply, a mashup is the combination of two or more data sources to create a unique result. Often a mashup involves a map, photo, video and/or news. For a more detailed explanation of mashups, check out this definition on Wikipedia.
Mashups are a popular topic of discussion amongst developers, but why do they matter to education? They matter because they are . . .
- Alive: They are current, up to date, and so consistently relevant. For instance, live election mashups show you how an election is changing as those changes happen.
- Interactive: Mashups can immerse you in the educational experience. Google Earth, for example, provides the ability to traverse ancient Rome, visually follow the growth of the world’s population or examine more than 50 years of U.S. Geographical Survey data.
- Engaging: Because they are always relevant and immersive, and because they bring students into the learning process, mashups have the potential to be highly engaging.
At Blackboard we’re trying to envision ways to help increase student achievement by making learning experiences increasingly engaging. Imagine being able to include a mashup in an assignment within your Blackboard learning environment.
The mashup could possibly integrate and interact with your course data. Maybe it could map to learning plans and standards. Imagine if it could be assignable to individual students or groups of students. How useful could a mashup be if it were gradable and even integrated with an online grading system? What if we could could leverage open Building Blocks technology so that base mashup functionality could be extended in new ways by you or by one of the hundreds of Blackboard developers?
A peek at what’s further down the road for Blackboard and mashups is the Timeline tool on OSCELOT. This tool is an open source Building Block that combines the MIT-created Timeline tool with Blackboard course data to provide a visual and interactive representation of course activities.
Take a look at the OSCELOT site to see the possibilities, and check back here for more on Project NG.
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