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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Haiku: Web 2.0-Friendly LMS Encourages Interaction, Portfolio Development

While most learning management systems encourage interaction, very few incorporate Web 2.0 applications in a functional, easy-to-use, integrated way. The Haiku learning management system ( has built in Web 2.0 applications, which creates a friendly environment for users who are probably already familiar with the popular applications. Because Haiku has carefully selected applications that respond to learning preferences, a robust and solidly grounded instructional strategy is possible, as students and teachers incorporate audio, video, images, and other multimedia. The drag-and-drop feature makes it possible to share the resources in many places, including the discussion board. Finally, courses and schools that emphasize mastery learning and portfolios can combine the Web 2.0 applications, even using them in conjunction with Haiku's easy-to-use assessment, dropbox, gradebook, and calendar functions.

The platform is very attractive, and extremely user-friendly, which makes it appealing for young users in primary and secondary schools. In addition, the friendly interface makes the learning management system appealing for other organizations, such as not-for-profits and corporations, which may need to find platforms that appeal to users who primarily use their computers for the Web 2.0 applications such as photo sharing, videos, and podcasts.

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Ideas for Web 2.0 applications in Haiku:

Flickr: Allows students and teachers to create photo albums in Flickr and then to share them with the course. This is perfect for portfolio development, and encourages students to create and share files. In addition, it is possible to search with key words and to find photos that align with the course content.

Odeo: The teacher can subscribe to podcasts that illustrate and augment the course content. An example might be a course in social problems and/or the family, where numerous podcasts are available. An example might be This American Life (, where although the podcasts are not free, they are affordable.

Frankly, it is a relief to see an audio file-sharing application other than iTunes.

Here is an example of an Odeo feed:

YouTube: It is amazing what one can find on YouTube these days. I've been very impressed with some of the math videos. For example, Video Math Tutor has very clear and enjoyable basic math videos.

GoogleVideo: There are a number of videos that are available via GoogleVideo that are not available via YouTube.

Here is an example of a video from a creative writing course entitled "The Heart Journal."

Finally, it is possible to subscribe to services and to download and share video and audio from other sources, including repositories of instructional media, such as Learning Portal. Here is an example of a downloadable novel:

An example of a corporate training series is the "Basics of Customer Service," located here:

Have a Plan, Avoid Distractions:

Web 2.0 applications encourage interaction and help create conditions in which learning can take place. They can motivate and pique one's interest. However, they can also be extremely distracting if not incorporated as a part of an overall instructional design that clearly points to how the media will be used to achieve learning objectives.

The same can be said for discussions. Discussions can be very productive, but if the questions are not designed well, the discussion board can easily frustrate people as the students answer the same questions and/or respond with the same yes or no answer. Prompts should inspire sharing and rehumanize the elearning space. I'd like to mention that although is not incorporated in Haiku, it is a very easy way to add a podcast even if all you have is a phone. Today's podcast was recorded using my phone, and posted. The player html code is extremely easy to embed.

Final thoughts: I'd like to say that I believe that Haiku is an example of what we'll see in the future. Instead of having to swim through the huge number of Web 2.0 applications, Haiku simplifies the task by focusing on functionality and ease of use. Simplicity seems quite zen-like -- appropriate for this very elegant learning system.

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