We just released a new version of Fle3 software – a web-based software for collaborative learning, knowledge building and jamming. Our main developer Tarmo Toikkanen just sent me a note that the new package is now online in Fle3 project’s website for downloading.
Tarmo also asked me to announce the release in our project’s mailing lists. Unfortunately the Free Software Foundation’s mailman server, where our mailing lists are hosted, seems to be down right now. I assume that all you who have ever released any FLOS software know that you want to get you message to the world in the very same minute the release is done. So, I am telling you.
Still after so many years of the FLE project I am really excited about this release. The last release was almost a year and a half ago. Actually the whole last year we were focusing more on usage of Fle3 – testing of it in different pedagogical practices – and less to software development. We also felt that “it was ready” and we should not add stupid features in it just to get new releases out and to make the feature list longer. I am not sure if the fight against long feature lists is an upcoming zeitgeist in software development, but if it is, it makes me very happy.
Fle3 1.5 is different. For all these years Fle3 has been a kind of closed seminar room for student centered and collaborative progressive inquiry learning. With Fle3 you need user name and password to use it. We have thought that study groups implementing progressive inquiry need privacy. The idea is that inside Fle3, with your study mates who share the same aims as you, you should feel secure to present also your naive own theories and arguments about the topics under study. Just like a door of a seminar room is closed when the seminar starts, Fle3 is protected from outsiders’ eyes and comments. Inside Fle3 students, tutors and teachers are very equal, as well. All have same user rights to participate in knowledge building and jamming and there are no hidden tracking or spying features for teachers. Tutors and teacher just hold some extra rights for managing users and courses – that’s all.
In the Fle3 v. 1.5 we are now slightly opening the door of Fle3 for the rest of the world. The new teachers’ course announcement blog feature is a very simple feature. Now teachers and tutors (not students, except if all students are given tutors’ rights) may write to the course blog course announcements, event and To-Do’s. The blog is of course using all the cool blog technology, such as RSS, trackbacks etc. An example tells more than 100 words. It may sound trivial feature, but actually the teachers’ blog feature changes Fle3 quite a lot. Now students can just follow one page (no log in needed) to keep track of the course. They may also syndicate the blog in their own site or use some RSS reader. For teachers the course blog makes it easy to guide students learning process thought one place. And probably the most important side effects will be related to the fact of making the guidance and tutoring of students more transparent. By following each other course blogs teachers may learn new ways to motivate, supervise and guide their students learning process. Same time the openness puts some social pressure on the teachers as they know that their peers may follow the blog, too.
In my own teaching I’ve been already using prototypes of the new Fle3 1.5 for a while. My experience of the blog feature is very positive. All the people behind Fle3 hope that other educators will find it useful, too. We believe that this is another small step in our way to change the traditional teacher and didactic-based teaching to be more student centered and knowledge building based.
2 replies on “Fle3 1.5 is here – and you are the first to know about it”
Congratulations for getting it out. It's funny how much easier it's to just develop rather than come up with a release.I've actually used FLE3 as an example of why you don't need a lot of features in a learning platform. You emphasize the process, not the features and that's why it gets the job done, if the job at hand is in the same lines.Think about content management systems. First they were rigid complicated, even monolithic systems. Now blog takes the world like a storm because people just made them as publishing platforms as simple as possible. The tool is only concentrating on getting that post out as quickly and easily as possible. Not much more.Then these crazy things called wikis make writing documents together easier. We have wonderfully complicated authoring tools and some wonderfully complicated collaborative authoring tools. Then a crappy thing that has almost nothing in terms of features and access/authoring control, takes the world like a storm.One guy just recently emailed me and asked for a feature list for their platform comparison chart – which is used to sort out platforms for later evaluation. I guess the ball was lost a long time ago but the players are still playing.This approach is purely based on structure and hierarchy. Not on processes or problems they want to solve. The questions are completely wrong. What are they out there to achieve?It's typical for people in western cultures to emphasize hierarchy instead of processes. For example, in a western organization, when something goes wrong, the organizational hierarchy is restructured (instead of restructuring the working processes). Another thing that gets too much attention in my opinion is preserving that structure (often a process map or some sort of an image, often simplifying a complex process to such a level that it wouldn't work anyway). I think we should emphasize change and reward those who dare to think and act differently. These are some important lessons I learned from my friend Juhani Anttila, who has perceived these from the leadership point of view.The correct questions (and answers) are not found by looking at technical features but at something that is underlying in the functional architecture.
Congratulations and keep developing. Must admit I haven't lloed ar Fle lately but its good to see its still around.Just picking up on the earlier comment – a lot of teh problem is that we focus on managing learning and not on the learning itself. Most LMS systems are strong on management and have little to say (or do) about learning.I wonder if we really need LMS systems at all. If we start from the pedagogy and then look for applciations to support that pedagogy – blogs, wikis and so on – we can build very easily some pretty impressive learning applications. OK – so institutions need to have a database of learners – and need to be able to assess their progress etc. But woth the incraesing avaibility of standards compliant (open source) application we should be able to get one bit of software to talk to another. LDAP can nadle student details perfectly well and pass details on from one programme to another. This frees up tecahers to conetrate on the pedagogy and allows developers freedom to develop the things they do best and care about most – rather than having to produce huge monolithic sowfatre suites which tie in instituions and learners alike.