Weblog Trackbacks to provide context for learning objects

Alan Levine, Brian Lamb and myself have been kicking around this idea for a few days now. I think it’s quite cool, and could be an amazing feature to add to a LOR.

Imagine this: “Person A” is searching a LOR and comes across a really cool LO that they want to use. They have some comments that they might be wanting to share with a community outside of the LOR. They publish these comments to their weblog (say a departmental or institutional or even personal LO-related weblog), and include a trackback to a URL provided by the LOR for that specific LO.

Sometime later, “Person B” is searching the LOR for some content, and finds the same object that “Person A” found. They click the “Details” button to learn more about the LO, including the metadata context stored in the LOR, and all trackbacked weblog entries related to this LO. They are able to see “Person A”s comments directly in the LOR, providing some addition outside-of-mandated-metadata-schema context that wouldn’t have been available otherwise.

“Person C” is surfing the LO-related weblogs, and come across the post from “Person A” about a LO. They click the link, and are brought to the LOR’s “Details” page for that LO, where they can see the “official,” centralized metadata, as well as all informal, distributed metadata and comments aggregated by the Trackback feature of the LOR.

This could be quite cool.

Imagine this going one step further… There is no reason for Trackbacks to be restricted to weblogs… They could just as easily be generated by other LORs, or even other completely unrelated software. Imagine a user on CAREO being able to trackback a LOR in MERLOT. Or vice versa. Or a CAREO user being able to trackback and comment on something in the Corbus collection. Or an instructor working on a BlackBoard course being able to search for and add to comments on LOs in LORs all around the world, in the context of their course…

It looks like Alan is going to have some time to play with this before me, so he’ll probably have a working demo of this Real Soon Now. I’ll add Trackback functionality to CAREO as soon as I get a chance. Unfortunately, that’s looking more like next week, though… Stay tuned!

UPDATE: Just got an email from Alan. He’s got it working already. Cool. Have to check that out…
UPDATE 2: I got a chance to implement it in CAREO, too. Any object can now be tracked back. Just check out the “Metadata” page for any LO to get the trackback URL, or to view current trackbacks for that LO.


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