OLab4 development update

Sigh. Things always take longer than anticipated in software development. We have been caught by the same upgrade traps as many other application developers. So, where are we up to?

The main structures and data architecture for OLab4 remain sound through our testing phases. Because the underlying data schema in OpenLabyrinth v3 is pretty solid and stable, we have not made extensive changes here.

Probably, the biggest change here, which seasoned OLab authors will welcome, is much better ability to reuse existing objects within your cases. In the past with OLab3, it was relatively common practice to reuse of copy items like images or questions or avatars from one map to another. But this often broke the portability of a case.

With OLab4, we have introduced Scoped Objects, which will make such reuse much more rational and extensible. See http://olab.ca/olab4-scoped-objects/ for a better description of how these work.

We have put a lot of effort in making xAPI and Learning Record Store integration into a more integrated component of OLab4. We already have pretty decent xAPI functionality in OLab3 but now is the time to make this more accessible across a range of educational tools and platforms. In learning analytics, activity streams are much more useful than focusing on content aggregation.

Our biggest delays have been in redesigning the authoring interface for OLab4. Experienced OLab users know how powerful and flexible it is. But the creation of scenarios and cases has remained daunting for new users, mostly because our interface is pretty ugly and old-fashioned.

We have been working with the OLab community, and a team of UX designers, to improve the usability of OLab4 for beginning authors. And yet, we also hope that our power users will also find the new authoring approach to be a more efficient and effective use of their time.

CRAWWLA Project update

Competence, Resilience, and Adaptability With and Without Learning Augmentation (CRAWWLA)

This project was slow to get off the ground… apt for its name. Supported by the Taylor Teaching Scholars program, the aim of this project was to explore how teachers and learners adapt to increasing and decreasing availability of various learning augmentations.

The concept of ‘learning augmentation’ tends to focus on information technology but we should remember that there are many other forms of augmentation. So what happens when we lose it?

Do we just ‘lose it’? …as in meltdown, tantrum, go off in a huff etc.

Even the web site for this project, http://crawwla.space, took so long to get up and running that it was no longer useful to engage teachers or learners and we had generally moved on. An interesting example of the ‘Without’!

However, the project has been progressing with all sorts of work behind the scenes. Watch this space for a series of updates over the coming weeks.

OLab4, xAPI and playing nice with each other

As our various projects progress, we just want to give you an update on how OLab4 can be made to play nice with other xAPI-aware applications.

We are gradually building an extended educational research platform, with OLab4 at the core, where these various modules, functions and applications can communicate with each other via our GrassBladeLRS.

So far, we have the following in the mix:

  • OLab4
  • WordPress
  • H5P widgets
  • Moodle
  • LearnDash
  • GrassBlade Companion

As well as sharing activity statements in the common Learning Record Store (LRS), we are also sharing state, actor and context metadata.

If you are interested in exploring this with us, please contact us.

Using xAPI to support blended simulation

OLab and OpenLabyrinth have always been good at providing the contextual glue that holds together various simulation modalities. Here are some examples of projects where OpenLabyrinth has supported blended simulation activities:

  • Virtual Spinal Tap – uses haptic simulation to model the feeling of needle insertion
  • Rushing Roulette – timed tasks with a $30 Arduino lie detector!
  • Crevasse Rescue – multiple teams & disciplines, with high & low fidelity simulators
  • R. Ed Nekke – bookending around Laerdal mannequin scenario

But now with xAPI providing the background data linking to a Learning Record Store, it is much easier to do this across a wider range of tools and platforms. Some of the above mentioned projects used a very sophisticated gamut of high-speed networks, at considerable cost.

Doing this now with xAPI is proving to be much more flexible, scalable and cost effective. To support haptic projects, like Virtual Spinal Tap, we are now working with the Medbiq Learning Experience Working Group on an xAPI Haptics Profile. Check it out and give us feedback.

Hello OLab4!

Welcome to OLab4, our education research platform.

This free, open-source, software grew out of OpenLabyrinth (openlabyrinth.ca), an application that was originally designed to create virtual patients. OLab4 has grown far beyond these roots and now supports a wide range of educational activities.

All of these activities can be tracked and analyzed, which opens up many research opportunities.