BigBlueButton is an emerging, open source web conferencing system for on-line learning. It is an accessible, browser-based conference and lecturing tool that includes: slides, polling, audio/video, text chat and recording capability. Big Blue Button provides all the amenities of a real classroom alongside a host of features that allows teachers to tailor their virtual classroom and enhance the learning of their students.
Working with Blindside Networks of Ottawa, CDOT has helped to develop an integrated polling module for teachers to use with their students. The module was developed to work seamlessly with students who are participating in the physical classroom as well as those who would log on to learn through the Big Blue Button interface. CDOT has also played a role in ensuring a high level of accessibility throughout the Big Blue Button software so that user working with all manner of disabilities can still benefit from the technology. Big Blue Button has not only wowed the educational field but also found the attention of the business industry as a method to provide advanced and dynamic web meetings and conferences. An HTML5 client is also currently in development.
The Webmaker project is an exciting new initiative coming from Mozilla that aims at making web users into web content creators. Among the suite of utilities included in the Webmaker project, Popcorn Maker is one of the most interesting and has had CDOT hands on it since its inception. It is built around Popcorn.js, an HTML5 framework that allows developers to create time based, interactive web pages using a variety of media. Popcorn Maker adds a user friendly interface to the browser that allows users of the web a chance to create their own time based media projects and host them with Mozilla.
The idea of Popcorn Maker and Webmaker as a whole is that anyone should be able to create great content and get it up on the web for the world to see. Not only does it provide the tools for users to do this but it teaches them along the way about how they are doing it, providing them with tools to see the code of their web pages and how to improve the quality of what they are creating. In its current iteration, Popcorn Maker allows users to take Youtube videos and add time based events to them but a large amount of new tools and functionality are planned for the future.
CDOT is working with Fivel to customize Popcorn.js and Popcorn Maker to enable Fivel to develop the framework on which they deliver, as a commercial product, online interactive learning vignettes. Employees in a business environment can conveniently fit these 5 minute segments into their busy work schedule making them more effective users of the new technologies introduced.
The Raspberry Pi is a single board computer the size of a credit card that has an entire computer system on a single ARM chip. Currently available in $25 and $35 models, the Pi is designed for experimentation and education, allowing experienced and new users alike to learn through trial and error without the worry of damaging an expensive system. There is also a focus on getting Pi systems to high school students and students in developing countries to enable a more computer literate future generation. Seneca CDOT has been working closely with the Pi, helping to develop a stable operating system that meets the Pi’s unique standards.
Raspberry Pi Fedora Remix has required a highly specialized development from CDOT and Fedora Remix developers around the world. The latest version has been designed to run on the version 6 ARM processor iteration of the Pi but work is also being done to prepare the operating system for the new 64 bit version 8 ARM processor that is expected to be released by the time the Pi hardware is widely available.