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About Maricopa Learning eXchange (MLX)

There is a rather long history to this project (see articles from 2000 here and here)– but its main purpose is to provide an easily accessible collection of innovative practices and projects developed at the Maricopa Community Colleges.

This year we have moved on several different fronts to build the collection up, from sponsoring a competitive “race” and tying the reporting of things such as our internal Learning Grants to directly go into the MLX.

The MLX is not strictly a “learning object repository” as it contains more than objects, and our set of fields are a far cry short of other meta-data schemes. Since the data is in a database, it would be easy to connect our information to a “standard” should one arise that actually is implemented.

Sometime in February 2003, I began looking at ways which we might be able to have the different college web sites in our system have a way to display current items associated from their college in the MLX appear directly into their web site, essentially a remote “window” into the MLX. This led directly to looking at how RSS was being used at news sites and more so at blog sites as a means of “syndication”.

it did not take much time to find a way to generate these RSS feeds of the most recent items in the MLX as well as feeds just for entries from specific colleges. Since we do most of our web server scripting in PHP, I quickly Googled my way to the RSSWriter script which could do a direct dynamic feed to produce valid RSS 1.0.

But rather than pummeling the database with requests, for now we generate the feeds using timed scripts (cron) on our server. However, not many people (myself included) are adept at integrating XML into their web content, so I toyed with some means of having remote sites link to a JavaScript source file on our server- it means for them inserting one line of JavaScript and linking one CSS file (they can customize to match their site). I got this idea from looking at David Carter-Tod’s News Reader that munges in XML via ASP and returns Javascript source files.

But thinking more about RSS it seemed not much of a leap to see how it could easily provide connections between different collections and implementations. (Plucked the idea from Stephan Downes RSS for Educators)

Jumping in time, since then I have been dabbling more in RSS/LOs/ and now TrackBack in conjunction with colleagues Brian Lamb (University of British Columbia) and D’Arcy Norman (University of Calgary).

It is moving fast indeed.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


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