New Stream Brings Dream of Decentralized LMS Closer

I am excited for the newly redesigned Stream launched by I now have a major piece in my jigsaw of trying to remix a decentralized Learning Management System (LMS).

In the years I have spent researching literacies and literacy acquisition I have come across a pattern no matter the mode a reader uses. When reading print, video, web, or one of the myriad of flavors in between good readers mark up texts. Annotation is the OG augmented reality we have layered upon existing texts for centuries.

The web is no different. I try to remember this as I teach future teachers of future reader and writers.

In my course design I try to empower students as creators and writers. Yet I also strive to include annotations and build a class practice around social annotations. Time and time again studies of good readers and writers highlight the importance of annotation.

Using a tool called I get to watch thought unfold and then transform into long form writing. I am teaching in a text rather than about a text. is an open source web annotation tool. Users can install a plug-in or use a special web address to annotate any text or website. PDF annotations work well. You can link to videos and pictures, use markdown (if thats your thing), and reply to other annotations. has always been a great learning and teaching tool. Yet tracking contributions and navigational pathways was clunky. Documents could get messy (in a good way) quickly, So when looking at individual contributions you basically had a chronological stream. Recent features of the newly launched Stream have addressed most of my concerns.

More importantly the Stream maybe the teaching dashboard a decentralized LMS needs.

The Decentralized LMS

In my course design, based on the Domain’s Of Own One’s Project, I try to empower my students to shape their emerging teaching identities on the web. Every student creates their own blog. All of our work gets syndicated through RSS. The students also share to a class stream where they get to decide to share the post just with the class or with the public at large. At the end of the class students get to choose whether to unpublish their blog or hopefully keep it under development.

Keeping track of data, surfacing patterns, and focusing feedback was always difficult. When your class is a bunch of “small pieces loosely joined” some morsels may fall in the cracks. This is where the new stream comes in. I now have the teacher dashboard the decentralized LMS needed.

The New Dashboard

The team of designers, thinkers, and engineers have just unveiled the new Stream. I provided early user feedback on different drafts of the wire frames and got to beta test the new features. As an instructor, when using the group feature in your class, you now have some powerful metrics and navigational tools to increase the efficiency and efficacy of teaching with

The Stream

The new stream is broken into a two column view. In the larger left hand column annotations are arranged first chronologically and then by source. You can collapse all the annotations in that source or access the url of the annotated document.

One the right column You get a list of tags and group members. As a teacher tags are very important to teaching the practice of annotation. People stink at tagging. They often forget. Yet I also use tags as a pedagogical tool. For example when we annotated the Common Core State Standards students had to annotate and tag the foundational skills. Specifically they had to identify the knowledge and skills students needed at the end of each grade.

In #questiontheweb, the leaners developed a codebook to help annotate website credibility. We developed a series of tags that would serve as our “codes” such as perspective, authority, institutional authority, etc.

In the newly launched Stream you also get a list of all members in your group and a frequency count of their number of annotations. While this number doesn’t represent a qualitative judgement it does provide a teacher with a quick check of activity levels. The list of members in the Stream also provides for quick navigation when customizing feedback.

One Step Closer

I am excited to use the new Stream. The navigational pathways just created the teacher dashboard my version of the decentralized LMS will need.

Originally published at INTERTEXTrEVOLUTION.

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