daily digest


Second day of Etug conference

Sitting on Moodle + WordPress: Teaching Educational Technology With the Best of Both Worlds talk, really an rss talk,but what is interesting is that people seem to like even this very simple integration. Google reader as an aggregator, now imagine real campus netvibes-like portal.

Preparing for the talk that I am doing with Will and Brian.

Sitting at the Knowledge mobilization talk, and the question to audience is what do we do to enable it?

We are next.


We managed through it, thanks Brian and Will!

Now at the grand finale: Can you dig it? #DS106 Radio. Perfect ending. And we all got an icecream!

daily digest


The Etug Conference is happening, opened by one and only Alan Levine, with very engaged crowd.

I really liked Alan’s “Open Attitude” idea – no matter the technology, amount of built resources or strategic planning, if we, personally and institutionally don’t breathe and live sharing and open, everything else is just empty words.

From institutional point of view, it is an imperative to enable open, to support technologies that are truly open and reusable and get people connected. The universities still have a bit of time to do so before all important university’s communities are already connected outside of university technology framework, from facebook to linkedin.

I really liked Ryan Oakley’s “There’s so much more to crowdfunding than just money — but the money’s nice too!” talk, lot of great advices and you can actually see the result of his dream made possible!

Hmmm, this crowdfunding idea of audio tour of Nelson, made me think of other crowd thing – crowdsourcing, actually crowdnarrating, UBC or anything else that is on the map and within cellular coverage. Would be nice addition to UBC Wiki or Mark II of still non-existent UBC Maps Mark I ;)

daily digest


Spent a day on the road – trip to Nelson, for an Etug conference. Went with my son Luka and we enjoyed the spectacular, though 9 hours long drive.

Got to Prestige Lakeside hotel, unpacked and had nice dinner with Brian, Keira and Harry at Bibo’s, a very nice place where one gets easily inspired. UBC CMS tagline ideas: Give it a try and feel love! Basic love motif that we already have on UBC blogs, nicely polished by Brian!

Here is one from the road, jpeg from the camera, slightly edited:

Or see full size (7000px).

daily digest


9:30-12:30, CTLT, USB

We had our regular UBC CMS working group meeting: Renita Drakes from Forestry, Mike Ko from PA, Tony Chang from MedIT, and Shaffiq Rahemtulla, Liang Shao and Lenkyn Ostapovich from Arts ISIT.

The focus today was addressing staff profiles management within typical UBC website, led by Enej.

All groups see this as an important issue for successful presentation of faculty, staff and researcher profiles within each unit/website that should go beyond simple administrative directory idea and extend to social networking, publication management and multiple identities within different contexts. So within the four groups we are hoping to create WP plugin to address this challenge. It is great that Arts is providing their expertise as they have interfaced UBC directory before and I am looking forward to work again with John Bratlien, fantastic php programmer.


So here is the proposal, took 10 mins to record, and another 5 until it showed up on YouTube (thanks Enej!)

2:00 – 3:00

Few CTLT folks (Michelle, Marianne, Manpreet and me) had a great meeting with Nathalie Baudion, UBC senior communication strategist where we presented scope of services that CTLT provide. We also talked about higher-ed institutional (in this case UBC) needs on communication and marketing and general positioning in relation to social networking and personal publishing. The topics include universities role in providing these social tools, complementing and/or competing to external outside spaces, the role of faculties and what this means to teaching and learning experience… Great to hear that some core principles are being on the radar on the highest level: meaning of brand and sub-branding, value of expression,  how the community collective publishing can influence and enrich UBC’s global positioning and put us on the map among other points.


Working meeting with Marianne, services within CTLT – are we a service unit, in ITIL terminology, at least CTLT technology side?  If so how do you prevent scope creep? Is that called innovation?

What is more “innovation”, building frameworks that you have a clear roadmaps for and that will enable thousands to create and publish, or spending time on experimenting with new small web-apps that are very cool and may or not have an impact?
Probably both.
How do you do both? I don’t know, hire students?

daily digest


9:30-12:30, VGH

Met with Emergency Medicine group: Jim Christenson, Adam Lund and Todd Raine along with Brian Kladko, Tony Chang from MedIT, Enej and Michael.

Had a great discussion on supporting the development of the new Emergency Medicine website and associated dozen or so interest groups websites.

www.thischangedmypractice.com looks like a good model for building community around these interest groups’ websites but also to feature emergency medicine feed from that website to Emergency Medicine main site.

Tomorrow, during CMS stakeholders’ meeting we will discuss the UI for profile post-type that Faculty of Medicine, Arts and Forestry all need. The starting point will be Forestry’s own app and feedback from both Faculty of Medicine and Forestry.

1:00-3:00, CTLT, IKBLC, Fraser Room

Clinic wasn’t that busy today, Lina helped with Action Theory website, Michael was helping setting up ovarian cancer website (still in works) for VGH and Enej and I helped setting up Christina Hendricks’ PulsePress blog for her course.

3:00-5:00, CTLT, USB

Enej and I are working on the preparation for tomorrow’s meeting about User Profiles functionality in UBC CMS. It should play nicely with People List plugin that we have developed during summer Will publish findings once we have something. It starts here:

5:00 +

On the way out the door, I ran into Thomas Chung, he used to work with us for a term, about four years ago. How nice he stopped by to say hi. It is fantastic to see these talented young people succeeding: he now works for Microsoft and his latest project was migration of MSN spaces (MS’s attempt to provide blog/social networking platform) to WordPress.com. Almost equally fantastic was the number of blogs they automatically moved: when I asked him how many blogs, he replied: “Millions”.

Over 30 millions to be precise.

Can WordPress scale? Microsoft certainly thinks it can.

Thanks Thomas for stopping by and balancing out day’s share of unfantastic.

blogs, tools, what's up

A Year Later

Actually, over a year since I last posted here. I guess I am not much of a blogger.
Anyways, just checking in, I am not sure why, perhaps to lubricate those few rows in one of the thousands of mySql tables that store much of UBC’s publishing content.

Aside from my dormant blog, things look great, we’ve never been busier and I mean healthy busy: working with great people, getting smart requests and supporting development of many new and existing websites.
I’ve never been happier with how our little team is performing and how much we deliver.


Wiki Books

Today, after thorough testing, we have enabled the wiki books extension on our UBC wiki server. In a nutshell, it compiles user-selected pages to user’s own collection that can be sorted, saved as a book, and printed to PDF.

It is by far the most complex extension we have enabled so far: it requires certain python, C++ and perl libraries in order to print to PDF and we have setup external server to handle resource-heavy PDF creation to keep main UBC wiki server fast and happy. It is based on Collection extension and you also need mwlib. Overview is here. Scott McMillan, that btw takes all the credit for installing this beast, will soon blog about important back-end steps that are left-out from this otherwise nice article.

For now, it is available only for logged-in users (you have to have CWL to see it and try it out). wikieducator.org and wikibooks.org both run it so in case you don’t have CWL, try it there.

Here is the case study:

Office of Learning Technology publishes annual Faculty Resource Guide (FRG), a nicely designed and printed handbook that is also available as a PDF.

Like with every printed publication, it takes time and effort (read money) to keep it current: we have annual design refreshing cycle, up-to date information edited and send back and forth to designer, the whole file sent to printer etc.

As a big step forward, we have established Faculty Resource Guide blog (http://blogs.ubc.ca/frg/) to make content authoring and keeping it up-to date a bit easier and available online to UBC faculty.

Faculty member could still not print the whole latest version of the book easily, as there is no easy way to send the content of the website to PDF or printer, one could do it only on page-by-page basis.

Wikibooks extension makes it easy:

Our FRG, just like every book should have a title page, so here it is in wiki flavour: it is nothing like a regular cover, we have instead: Short intro, links to contents (chapters), link to printable version (all pages manually aggregated – transcluded) of the whole book and link to PDF.

Very simple and still nothing special so far – now let’s see how wikibooks thingy kicks in: When you’re logged in with your CWL, you will see the link Create a book on the left hand side, just below navigation box. Once you click on it and start your new book,  every wiki page will have an option on the top to add that page to your book collection. So, I might choose to compile a few pages from our Faculty Resource Guide (let’s say eLearning Tools and Distance Learning) but also add a few other pages from UBC wiki, let’s say WordPress FAQ and Online Teaching pages.

Now, I’ve got my own new book and I will save it as eLearning Tools and Distance Learning at UBC. I can also create my own chapters and drag and drop pages appropriately. Finally, in addition to saving a book under my own user’s space (User:Nrogic/Books/ eLearning Tools and Distance Learning at UBC), I could also make it part of the overall Books space: (UBC Wiki:Books/eLearning Tools and Distance Learning at UBC).

Very cool, this could work well for all sorts of support and training and lab manuals as well as for course content. Try it yourself!