UKOLN Approaches To Web Development: Online Discussion

An online seminar on Approaches To Web Development was given at the VLS (Virtual Learning Space) on Thursday 2nd August and Wednesday 8th August 2001 from 1-2 pm.

Note that access to the VLS requires pre-registration.


The following topic were covered:

Thursday 2nd August 2001

1. Standards Versus Proprietary Solutions
What should our attitude be to the use of standards when we are developing networked services, online learning environments, etc.?
What standards are relevant?
Why do we believe standards are important, if this is what we believe?
Who wants standards?
What's wrong with simply getting a solution from our favourite vendor and forgetting about standards?
2. Open Sources Versus Licensed Solutions
Open source solutions are currently very fashionable. Some would argue that involvement in developing home-grown solutions or participation in open source projects is simply a way of ensuring that programmers keep their jobs?
Others feel that the educational community, in particular, should make use of open source solutions whenever possible.
What do you think?
3. Tools
What type of tools are required to develop rich virtual learning environments? What functionality is required? What tools and applications have people used? Which tools are people happy with and would recommend to other? Which tools have been disappointing?
4. The Potential For "Web Services"
Are we being too short-sighted if we simply install a VLE and start developing our courses? Should we be looking at the use of centralised "Web Services" to support core interests? What do we mean by "Web services"? Who should be providing them?

Wednesday 8th August 2001

5. Constraints In The Real World
It's all very well Web developers of virtual learning environments evaluating standards and applications. But back within our institutions you may face difficulties in deploying your preferred solutions:
You may find that the IT Services department has concerns over the security implications for your preferred solution.
You may find that you are not allowed to install CGI scripts.
You may have difficulties with your institution's firewall.
You may find that your institution's policy on browsers (IE / Netscape, version, plugins, security settings, etc.) conflicts with the functionality you would like to provide.
You may find it difficult to recruit and retrain good technical staff.
Have you experienced these difficulties? Have you come across other problems? How should these difficulties be addressed?
6. Support For Web Developers
One important barrier to deployment of our solutions is lack of resources? How can Web developers get extra resources?
It can be difficult keeping up-to-date with Web developments. Web developers need to be aware of the development of new standards and protocols and their relevance and applicability, new applications and tools, architectural approaches, etc.
How should Web developers keep up-to-date?
What resources are the most useful?
Which books and periodicals are worth reading?
What events should developers attend?
What training courses may be of interest?
Would an FAQ for Web developers be of use covering, say, the typical questions that new Web developers ask?
We have several JISCMail lists which provide support. Would a regular realtime chat be of use?


The following timetable is proposed.

Time Topic
Thursday 2 August
Standards, Open Sources vs Licensed Software, Tools and Architectures (topics 1-4)
Transcript [MS Word format] - Transcript [HTML format]
Wednesday 8 August
Constraints and Support (topics 5 and 6)
Transcript [MS Word format] - Transcript [HTML format]

It is suggested that participants log on the the forum between 12:30 and 13:00. During this time participants should feel free to introduce themselves.


To participate in this online forum please go to the VLS Web site and register.

Then experiment with the realtime chat in the Cafe area. Note that you may wish to install a chat client.

Then register for the Web Development forum. This is the location for the online forum. It also contains links to relevant resources and details about the members. Feel free to add details about yourself.

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