E-mail response from David Tosh about Elgg, June 25, 2005

I noticed something re: Elgg in your presentation. I will try to address this here and answer your question below:

On the point:
"Control over published content (public, logged in users, private)"
This is actually only the default settings - a learner can create as many access controls as they want using the groups function. This way learners could make a blog post only available to them and a instructor - for example. These user defined access control can be applied to any object in Elgg. This gives learners complete control over who sees what.

Here is my brief list of some of the functionality:

RSS feeds on individuals, subjects and tags - very handy for following discuss on e-portfolios for example.

FOAF files.

Podcasting

Ad-hoc communities; using tagging and RSS these ad-hoc communities can spring up around subjects, topics of interest

Community building - this allows learners to create their own communities around shared interests. If you create a community others that join can contribute to the community blog and file repository etc. This take the Elgg environment from the individual to the collective - here are two examples:
http://elgg.net/pedagogy/
http://elgg.net/summer/

Access control - I previously mentioned

Social networking - (which I actually think is very important and will become more important as people experiment with it. I think education will be social networkings killer app.)

Tagging/folksonomy - we are finding is user testing that this is well received. Learners can enter some profile data or keywords to their blog posts or files (separated by commas) and the system will automatically create links to other learners who share that same interest. What we have found so far is that this is great for engagement - within 5 mins learner started finding other learner - this connect inspired them to continue exploring the system.

Templating - Elgg has a series of default template but learners can create their own look and feel - if they have HTML knowledge then they can redesign the entire site. We are going to integrating an HTML editor for those with no HTML skills

Semantic data - there is work underway to allow different nodes of Elgg or indeed any systems which adhere to some basic standards to link together allowing searching for materials etc across multiple installations

Wikis - each community has its own wiki

File repository - learners can create their own directories and then wrap access privileges around all files - this will determine who can see them. These files can then be embedded into blog post for reflective content.

We offer a free hosted service with 20mb of file space - the option will exist very shortly to buy more space if needed. The system is also completely open source and downloaded from sourceforge.

> Looking for a little more information about Elgg. I started poking
> around my account. Is there a difference between a blog entry and a
> presentation portfolio?

I guess it depends on what type of presentation portfolio you are talking about - there is the more traditional type - "here is a list of what I have completed, here are all the artifacts, here are my marks etc." in which case Elgg does not handle this as well as other tools or there is the presentation tool which is in fact your digital identity - determined by the learner on an individual basis - then the blog is part of a presentation portfolio as it will tell someone about you through displaying your thoughts/reflections and linking to files etc.

This blog post looks at the e-portfolio spectrum:
http://elgg.net/dtosh/weblog/1077.html

You might be interested in this discussion which keeps coming up on Elgg:
http://elgg.net/dtosh/weblog/616.html

> Also, do you have some examples of developed portfolios?
Still early days but here are some:
http://elgg.net/dtosh/
http://elgg.net/misja/
http://elgg.net/peteh/

Let me know if you need anymore information - have a good workshop tomorrow,
Cheers,
Dave.