Pachyderm madness

D’Arcy is all over this news on Pachyderm, but (I hope) these developments will have an impact on UBC as well, so I’ll do the echo thing here…

Pachyderm is a piece of software developed by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art initially intended to allow the aggregation of static images into interactive, Flash-based presentations.

The applications for this utility in educational contexts are obvious, and immensely promising. Pachyderm 2.0 is intended to fulfill this potential, in their words, “to create a new, open source authoring environment for creators of learning objects.”

I’m especially keen on this project, as it corresponds with an approach that emphasizes user-level assembly and recombination, one that I think is essential to tapping the potential of digital multimedia. As D’Arcy puts it:

Imagine a comparative invertebrate zoology professor who sits down to create an interactive lesson. She may have some photographs, video clips, animations, etc… as well as some additional text. This tool (Pachyderm 2.0) will let the professor collect the assets to form an interactive narrative, so the students can work through the various bits of content at their own pace, and explore and inquire as they move through it.

Or, our old friend Lora may have some photographs from a field trip, as well as some some slides and rock samples, and she can create an interactive field trip out of these assets.

The resulting interactive pieces are, in turn, learning objects that can be shared, reused, and potentially broken down and rebuilt in other contexts (or, failing that, the assets used to build Piece A could be used in a different manner to build Pieces B through Z)

I would go a bit further, and hope that Pachyderm might be useful to students as well — maybe that’s a given, considering how much more technically adept (most) students are than (most) teachers…

The project has just received some substantial funding, and it looks like it’s all systems go. And one of the best pieces of news, from our perspective, is that CAREO is part of the planning team, and it looks like the next incarnation of CAREO will be closely integrated into the final tool… in D’Arcy’s words:

We’re looking at integrating Pachyderm 2.0 into the software that runs CAREO, so that learning objects and standards-based repository technologies will help drive the process.

In the end, we’ll be able to take small learning objects in CAREO (or any other source tied into the system, such as Corbis, or any other installation of the repository software) and create rich, engaging, and inquiry-based resources which will, in turn, be fed back into the system for use by other people.

All in all, I think this development merits a big-time, Hee Haw-style SAAAA-LUTE!! to all concerned.

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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