The first meeting of our new widgets working group took place last Wednesday at CETIS HQ , University of Bolton. The group has been formed as a response to the widget session at the CETIS conference and part of the day was spent trying to define the groups aims and objectives.
Some broad overarching objectives were identified after the conference, primarily to investigate an infrastructure whereby a collaborative widget server is available to anyone in the H/FE sector – including developing widget server plug-ins for all major web platforms and making widgets easily discoverable and embeddable. Followed by determining models of widget use in teaching practice and support development, sharing, embedding of teaching and learning specific widgets. Whilst these are pretty much in-tact some short terms aims were decided upon, and these were prioritized by the participants.
In terms of infrastructure, two main approaches to widget development and deployment were discussed. These came from the TenCompetence team at University of Bolton and the CARET team, University of Cambridge. The Bolton team have developed their own widget server (called wookie) and have been developing a number of collaborative, shared state widgets (such as chat, voting etc) using (and extending) the W3C widget specification. These can be deployed in a number of systems including Moodle and elgg (see previous blog and David’s post re creating widgets for wookie).
The team from Cambridge on the other hand have taken the shindig/opensocial/ approach and are starting to embed “gadgets” into their new (under development) SAKAI environment. So a short term goal is going to to try and get an instance of wookie server running along side shindig and vice versa and report back on any issues. Over lunch a couple of “lite” interoperability tests showed that widgets built by each team could run in both systems. It was also agreed that some kind of overview briefing paper on widgets (whys, what’s where etc) would be a valuable community output.
Once these initial tasks have been completed we can then look at some of the other issues that arose during the date such as a common widget engine interface, deployment and security of widgets, as well as accessibility, how to write widgets and of course actually using widgets in teaching and learning.
The next meeting is provisionally scheduled for 23rd March in Edinburgh (to tie in with the JISC conference the next day). More information will be available soon and if you are interested please let us know and come along to the meeting.