Stringle – almost a web 2.0 PLE?

Tony Hirst visited me yesterday in Cardiff and we spent the day going through his String n Glue VLE (Stringle). I’ll split up my posts on this, so in this one I’ll do a quick users guide, then I’ll look at what else it needs in another post, and finally some thoughts.

Before we get stuck in I ought to just say that there is a bit of clunkiness about this, and the immediate reaction might be ‘most students are not going to do this.’ Which is true, but a lot of this clunkiness could be removed with a bit of resource and programming (e.g. creating a button that automatically adds a resource). I’ll come back to this in the next post, but for now, assume it could all be made easy.

You will need a del.icio.us account and an OPML manager (e.g. from http://www.opmlmanager.com/) in place before you start.

Go to Stringle at http://ouseful.open.ac.uk/stringle2.php

You’ll see a list of tools across the top like Docs, whiteboard, etc. Clicking one of these will load the tool in to the Tools tab in the central frame.

One the left there is a list of content. Clicking on one of these will open the content in the Web tab in the centre (or you can add in a URL in the box at the top and it will display it).

And that is essentially it – you have your tools at the top and your content down the side. Both are configurable, so let’s start with the tools.

Say I want to add in a scheduler tool, like Remember The Milk. You need to bookmark the site using del.icio.us (any social bookmarking tool could be used but for demo Tony has opted for the best known one). You need to tell Stringle it is a tool, and to do this you use the tag stringle:tool You can create clusters or categories of tools, which you can load in to Stringle at different times. So for example you might have a collection of collaborative tools. Lets say I group my Todo tool in with admin tools. I would then add in the del.icio.us tag by leaving a space and adding ‘admin’. Now I want to tell it what text to put along the top in Stringle, so I add another tag, say ‘stringle:Milk’.

Now I want to load my admin tools in to Stringle. To do this I add in some text after the URL – ?t=del.icio.us name/category name. So in my case I would add in ?t=mjweller/admin to give the url http://ouseful.open.ac.uk/stringle2.php?t=mjweller/admin

Okay I said it got a bit clunky, but this could all be automated. Now let’s add some content in to the left hand panel, which comes courtesy of Grazr. To do this you’ll need to go to your OPML manager. If you are in OPMLManager, then right click on the main folder and create a sub-folder. Let’s say I’m creating a course on Evolution, so I’ll add in a folder with this name. As I discover different resources I can add them in here using the add link function. These can be sites, rss feeds, podcasts, etc.

Once you’ve built up your collection of resources, you want to import it in to Stringle. This requires URL jiggery-pokery again. This time add ?oURL for OPML feed so in my case it would be ?o=http://www.opmlmanager.com/opml/mweller.opml giving the URL http://ouseful.open.ac.uk/stringle2.php?o=http://www.opmlmanager.com/opml/mweller

Now we can of course combine the two to give my toolset and my content –

http://ouseful.open.ac.uk/stringle2.php?o=http://www.opmlmanager.com/opml/mweller.opml&t=mjweller/admin

It may be a bit buggy still (especially in IE Tony tells me), but you get the idea. That’s the boring stuff, I’ll look at what else could be done to it in another post.

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