Getting MLX Comments Into MLX Comments

We are doing some tinkering soon on our Maricopa Learning eXchange (MLX) “packing slips” to increase the visibility and usage of the commenting tools, which are relatively unused situated near the very bottom of each packing slip. Ideally, this is the place MLX users would describe their potential, or real, re-use of MLX content.

As it works now, comments are linked to each packing slip, and a copy is sent to the MLX package author. The comments can be anonymous, but if an email address is provided, the author can answer a question directly via the email copy they receive (the comment-er’s addresses is inserted in the FROM e-mail header).

Currently, the comments are tacked into simple text files, but we are going to be rolling them into the MLX database, so they can be managed, sorted, and likely deleted by the author or an admin.

But getting back, how can we get better information to package authors from the comment feature? There are several unheeded reminders on each packing slip, first under the detailed description

Note! As a professional courtesy to the owner of this package, if you use some aspect of this package or have some thoughts about it, please share your feedback via the Comments Tool.

and following any uploaded “supplements”:

Note! As an aid to the person who shared these items, if you adopt any of these materials or have some ideas about them, please share your feedback via the Comments Tool.

Perhaps open ended comments are not direct enough in terms of soliciting useful feedback? Just today, I got an e-mail comments from a colleague:

This afternoon I was helping a faculty member with Blackboard, and I was explaining how easy it would be to include a predefined Google link so students could research outside web resources. I went to the mcli site (because I remember seeing that you had done it for some topic in the past), and what do you know if the second most recent MLX package listed in the feed was your Google Linking! How unexpected! We printed the package details and the supplemental webpage, and off the faculty member went with something new to learn.

This is wonderful stuff, but as a personal email message, I and the sender are the only ones who know of this experience.

Finally, there is the even more un-used “TrackBack” feature- we try to explain it in non technical terms, provide a linked web form interface for submitting trackback-like information. I am thinking of re-writing that section of the packing slip as well, and labeling it something more like “ShareBack- a place to share back how you have reused this item.” Isn’t that the gist of the theoretical “Reusable” aspect of learning objects? How come this is not a primary effort to track re-use at other learning object collection sites?

Technically the TrackBack is working fine (see MLX TrackBack Summary), a few of them being auto generated by appropriate blog tools and a pile of them I have added manually. I see problems with the arcane binary data format the MovableType StandAlone TrackBack CGI scripts create- again, I am going to try and modify them to record directly to our database.

Update (a few minutes later)…. TrackBack definitely works! In referencing / linking to an MLX package in this blog post, the ping was automatically registered in the MLX Trackback- see it for yourself! I had to do nothing but link to a MLX URL! I think that is freakin’ amazing. What is the authoring software we used for content creation could send such “pings” back to learning object repositories when content from the collections are “re-used”.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com 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.