Blog Pile

When Projects Rain, It Pours

Yes, what is with the weather? Even here in Arizona, the last two weeks have brought tremendous rain to the desert, doubling are average, flooding the dry washes. Up north, the mountain tops are getting snow by the foot.

And this week, the projects here habe been coming down in torrential buckets (as opposed to buckets of torrents?). Why spend even more time blogging? I need a break from the coding! It relieves me! Whatever.

I am still short staffed with absolutely no sign of any change on any horizon, meaning I am floating my projects and the ones that Colen had supported before be moved to a cushy job at ASU. These means a big slowdown, or grinding halt to working on the supposed open source version of the Maricopa Learning eXchange (MLX). I have a deadline now to drive me, as I am offering to build one for another office in our organization, and they would need it for their March conference, and Pat D is coming to town as well and is likely looking for an oMLX too.

While I do not have the programming support, I do have a talented new web designer to help relieve me of much of the web tasks which suck the days out of me… well, there is a lot for Cheryl to learn with the tangled web of 11 years of content here, and all of it tied with scotch tape and rubber bands that only I know how they connect. Well, it is not that bad, but it takes time to jump in to our web of webs. Anyhow, Cheryl is working this week on some new CSS styles for the MLX, and I am hoping to eek out some programming time to get that pesky last 10% done.

Something I’ve toyed around with adding, but may wait now, is some sort of ability to MLX visitors can build personal collections, like the way MERLOT does, so as you surf through the MLX you could add packages, share them, annotate them… it would not be all that complex to do if I had some T-I-M-E!

In the meantime, there are new dialogue day web sites popping up left and right, each with online registration, emailed notifications to registered participants, and slightly different content on every site. I have it down to a nice PHP template, but still, ti can be about 2 hours start to click.

I’ve also had to do some mad web toiling for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival site, coming here in February. It has been pillaged a bit from the Dance Festival site I provided last year. The Theatre Festival is a huge planning operation (not my realm), with 2 college sites plus events at a hotel, and maybe 1000+ participants. The content has been very slow in getting to me, and their dreams for online registration evaporated as the choices expanded– I bailed and set up Word app forms that are mailed and faxed with payments.

But with less than a month out, just yesterday I got a pile of documents with the content for the schedule, workshops, and presenter bios. The planners had the notion if they formatted it all pretty in MS Word, I could just click a button and make a web site. So it was all day yesterday, yanking content out of Word, reformatting, putting some stuff into a database to make it less tedious. It would have been less horrendous if their Word formatting was consistent (thanks to BBEdit and grep search/replace), but noooo, sometimes workshops had a colon after their name, others not… Anyhow I got the schedule linked up nice with a database to drive the Workshop details, dynamic links to the presenter bios… well, that is fun when it works in the end. Don’t tell any CSS snobs, but I wimped out and tossed a few HTML tables in there.

We also have tasks going with our internal Learning Grants, a process which runs on a 100% online submission, review, and notification system we built. There are all kinds of layers of activity here, right now the 60+ submimtted grants are out to review by some 80 reviewers (we assign electronically at least 3 readers per grant), and along the way we need to trigger reminder messages etc– it is more combing of the database, but anytime you have to run a script that sends emails to a bunch of people, cc:s their deans, well, you spend a lot of time testing before you click the big red button.

And I am rushing to work on another internal application system for our faculty professional growth summer projects, which needs to open at the end of the month. Last year was the first time around for an elecotrnic application and review system (plus online report submissions, which get cross listed to the MLX). The good news our faculty commmittee agreed to our suggestions to simplify the complexity of their group projects, the bad news is that I have to rewrite a lot of code.

And we have planning to do for the semester and beyond for our Ocotillo Groups including our year end Ocotillo Retreat, where this week I also need to build an online form for submitting presentation proposals. There is pre for our February 25 ePortfolio Dialogue Day, Digital Stories of Deep Learning for Students and Faculty with Helen Barrett.

I have some video interviews to shoot by the end of the month as well.

And along the way are March presentation for the League For Innovation Conference, a visit and presentation at MIT, a keynote for the TCC2005 conference in April.

And of course, I need to check my RSS feeds several times a day, and blog about silly stuff.

Yes, it is raining projects, it is crazy, and I would not change it for anything.

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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.