Basecamp: project management Stellarium - open source planetarium
Jun 22

I’ve been taking a look at web application based eLearning services. Nuvvo andSo many Web 2.0 choices! Chalksite certainly forge new ground with educators in mind. For educators wanting to run courses online for students to access at home and at school, these simple to use web apps may be an incredibly handy tool to have in the toolkit. While they certainly don’t have the scope of Moodle, Blackboard or WebCT, in time they promise to offer similar functionality. As these web 2.0 apps mature, the simplicity of their implementation is surely going to prove popular with educators. I run an Instiki wiki to host my student’s collaborative writing from my NB4Ts laptop. The ability to view, mark and add notes to the student’s good work from this portable base is a very convenient tool. On the flipside, the set-up of this was laborious and distracted from my planning and DOTT time. This is the exact kind of situation where these new online eLearning services such as Nuvvo and Chalksite start to come into play……


Nuvvo claims to be the first free on-demand eLearning service. Nuvvo uses Web 2.0 innovations to facilitate easy course creation, search, and syndication. Individualvice), Skypewhich allows a person to display teachers to sign up and begin offering courses in minutes. Courses can be private or public, free or pay. Nuvvo has integrated with Skype (peer to peer voice ser his/her Skype status on the site. This means that university students using Nuvvo for example will have access to talk live with their teacher if he/she is a Skype user. Nuvvo says:

Nuvvo is your way to teach on the web. Everyone knows a little bit about something, and this free, AJAX-enhanced eLearning web service is designed to bring out the teacher in all of us. Sign up and build a course in minutes; advertise your course on our eLearning Market to get the word out. Get teaching with Nuvvo, Web 2.0’s answer to eLearning.

Also, there are capabilities in Nuvvo to enable rich media, such as audio and video. It is free to create a course and Nuvvo makes money from ads and by taking 8% of any course fees set by the educator. it looks like they have lots of activity there with courses both free and for a fee, from programming language tutorials to customer service training to foreign language to self-development.

Chalksite offers simple design built on the Ruby on Rails framework and allows educatorsChalksite to post messages, assignments and manage grading. Chalksite allows teachers to create their own weblog and about me pages to help communicate and display biography information which is a great implementation of a blog. The open and intuitive design sets Chalksite apart from Blackboard, Moodle and Elgg. Chalksite says:

It’s the quickest, simplest route to expanding your classroom onto the internet. Teachers, students and parents have a central point to access grading, assignments and messaging. Chalksite is a total web package designed just for teachers, giving you a personal website and tools you actually need without requiring an IT degree to use them.

Chalksite was designed for teachers and tested by teachers at every stage of its development. It’s specifically created to be the easiest path to online learning for real teachers and students — people who don’t have the time to decode complicated software packages or hard-to-follow instruction manuals.

While looking at the Chalksite website I noted it is similar to 37 Signal’s (designers of Basecamp) website and design sensitivities. While I couldn’t find any direct reference to the fabulous web 2.0 company 37 Signals it appears Chalksite have been directly inspired by their CSS and layout.

Chalksite GUI

The thing I like most about web 2.0 apps is their gentle learning curve. Chalksite seems to be a great “stand alone” classroom enhancing product that takes less than 4 minutes to learn. The current free pricing is restricted to 5 students. With the paid pricing starting from US$4.95/month for 50 students. Chalksite does allow unlimited assignments to students/classes with image/file uploading/sharing, a complete web-based gradebook that allows students to view grades, messaging to individual students or entire classes, and a personal website.

I get the feeling that for online courses to succeed, students must be able to become engaged interactively in the learning process through discussion board comments, and plentiful guided course document and assignment postings. The more interactive the site, the more the student will return to the site. For eLearning services such as these to succeed, interactivity and collaborative features will be the most requested features together with an intuitive interface (GUI).


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6 Responses to “Web 2.0s first eLearning services?”

  1. Steve Adcock Says:

    There is a definate flow toward innovative use of the web in terms of education now. LAMS is definately the best thing that I have seen for older students but I am yet to see something that links your everyday work to an easy online application that is not time consuming. iWeb obviously has the right characteristics with its podcasting and photocasting with one or two clicks. With the amount of apps trying different aspects and methodologies it may not be to long before we get something that school teachers can use quickly and easily that meets our educational teaching requirements. We are just about at the stage where we can link our IWB’s, laptops, phones, etc through a single web interface no matter what the OS. Things are getting interesting.

  2. Terri Van Zetten Says:

    I like the look of Nuvvo. Nuvvo looks more appertising than some of the other ones I have seen around. I am in a crossroad to what to use to present my classroom work etc. IT is quite daunting with so many different options around.

    Teaching the younger kids and also ESL children, I find many of the options too text based. We have MyInternet, but I have gone off that as when I move on, I can not easily move or get my resources! I want a cheap, easy option but it all takes time to work out! Bryn, I think there is a market here for advising teachers!

  3. Steve Adcock Says:

    I know what your talking about Terri and it is to expensive to keep buying software that does part of the job and often becomes boring after a while. Many interactive websites that meet your real needs are hard to find and so what we really need is digitised interactive learning easily created by teachers. If we look at what many teachers do in developing lessons for their students needs (traditional lessons) we now have a problem in that it is not that easy yet to do this digitally to the extent many teachers need. At the moment this is a resource requirement not being developed very well yet. We have seen on the MacEd list about the NSW portal that may be trying to some extent to address this, EDNA refer people to the The Learning Federation but they have a hard methodology for creating content that restricts the creators to a relatively few people and so the content is quite small and singular in terms of teaching strategies. Many Ed Departments have tried adding resources but still what I think we need is a large resource development (department) that employs teachers of all different Learning Areas and Years to start digitizing learning in a wide spectrum of ways to meet the different needs. If you were to have a site like iTunes where you download or have access to web based interactive concepts, etc I think that would be a much better methodology. However there needs to be a range of interactive content that is easily created such as in the way that Wikipedia is created. With current technologies this would be possible , not easy but I can think of a couple of technologies not exactly being used in the way this would require so cost would be quite large to get it off the ground (not for our government departments).

  4. Bryn Jones Says:

    I would put in a strong recommendation for Moodle. The rate at which it is gaining world wide credibility and the ease of use plus the ability to include LAMS is hard to beat.

    Of course individuals don’t want to bother with installing, hosting and backups etc and that is where there may be a commercial opportunity. Providing people with course pages in a Moodle that is already set up and make them the teacher with full editing rights.

    We’ve done that for a few schools and people at the sandpit stage and it has been quite simple. We are reluctant to take it on as a business though as we don’t want to be responsible for people’s data forever.

  5. Bryn Jones Says:

    Didn’t make it very clear in my last comment - what I was referring to is a personal online environment that belongs to the teacher not the school. Hence you can take it with you when you go and keep it for life.

    A blog would provide some of the functions but not all.

  6. Kim Flintoff Says:

    Yes, I’ve thought about the MOODLE FOR RENT option as well. The ease with which we can backup courses and relocate them is a real strength. I’ve not had a good look at Chalksite yet but I wonder about the portability of courses… if I take them from Chalksite where else can I locate them?

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