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July 01, 2003

Web-based TrackBack Tool for MLX

For our new CDB readers, we have been experimenting a few months with adding Trackback records to all items in our Maricopa Learning eXchange (MLX). This allows a way for each item to potentially record an entry everyitm someone describes an MLX item in a weblog. And we also have included a TrackBack summary tool for our entire collection.

But still we new, and were reminded by David Carter-Tod (and also noted by Randy at CarvingCode) that there is still not much of a pool of people who can easily send those TrackBack messages or pings (Limited now to MovableType users although Dave says it is coming soon to Manila and Radio) .

So, as one first crude cut, we have a new feature of every MLX item that provides a web form for registering a new ping. It is still not nearly as elegant as a tool that can autodetect the Trackback record and automatically send a ping.

In fact since SiT's Manila site lacks a TrackBack function, I used a new feature in the MLX to post a TrackBack ping to the item he blogged about as if David had done it himself.

But here it goes, along with a recap of the TrackBack features we have added to the MLX.

The Trackback concept offers a way to add many interesting layers of connection between web content. What we woiuld like with the MLX would be an environment where people who read an idea or download some content from an MLX package, would use TrackBack to either describe how the idea might be implemented for the writer or provide a URL where some "object" has been used in a new context.

So our first examples were our fake bloggers Lora and Boris who, in theory, were using weblogs to document their exploration of learning objects in their discipline.

But let's say I come across an MLX entry for an ice breaker activity and I decide to modify it for use in my Calculus class. I might post the activity directions into my online syllabus. So, if I was a considerate of the person that created MLX entry #670, I could use the link for Add a TrackBack ping, which brings up a form for me to enter the information that transmits to MLX#670 by a simple ping the context and link of how I have used that item.

So uses of learning objects in Course Management Systems could register pings (well, of course those pesky CMS's have password resitrctions).

Or maybe my department could be building a web resource that lists some interesting class activities that came from the MLX.

So let's review what we have now in the MLX for use of TrackBack. Looking at MLX Entry #849 in the TrackBack area:

mlx_tb.jpg

1 View the TrackBacks associated with this item (view it...)

2 The number of pings registered for the item is updated every hour, and a summary for all Trackbacks in the MLX is also available.

3 Use this new tool to add new pings to the Trackback record, the place for people who have gotten some use from this package and are willing, nice enough, respectful, etc to followup.

This pops open a revised version (View image) of the standard Trackback ping entry form, except we already have populated the ping URL, so the user just needs to provide:

  1. General name for the cite where the information resides. In we Weblog, it is the name of the blog, but could also be the name of a department web site or a name of a resource collection.
  2. The exact name for the area where a citation occurs, e.g. the title of a blog post or the part of a course that uses a media object downloaded from the package.
  3. The web address where the information is found or the object is used.
  4. A brief, very brief description of what this citation or reference is about

It is still a somewhat tedious entry job, but offers at least another avenue for people to start sending TrackBack pings.

The tools will eventually evolve it.

blogged July 1, 2003 11:00 AM :: category [ objects ] :: TrackBack
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