/*
* A compilation of comments from CCNMTL's software developers.
* These reflections are rooted in our professional and personal experiences
* developing educational technology. This blog is directed at hackers,
* designers, and architects of all flavors, but everyone is welcome.
*/

467px-DH_Computational_Methods.jpgThis summer Graham Sack, a doctoral student in the English department is teaching an introductory course in Digital Humanities called ''Computational Methods for Literary and Cultural Criticism''. Graham came to CCNMTL inquiring about the usage of a cutting edge approach to teaching programing to novices, a web-based programming environment called IPython Notebook.

Back in June, I attended the one-day Open Analytics Summit. We aren't really doing much with analytics or big data here at CCNMTL (yet), but there are many conversations and projects happening around campus and I wanted to get a better sense of the kinds of value these methods are yielding. These issues are sure to be central to much of the research and instruction at the Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering, and have already crept up on a number of Columbia projects we have been involved with, such as the Declassification Engine and the Open Syllabus Project.

Back in May, Anders attended the Ricon East, "a distributed systems conference by and for engineers, developers, scientists and architects". The distributed data-store Riak was featured prominently at the conference but the event was intended more as a conference on distributed systems in general spanning academia and industry.

Anders wrote up some fantastic, detailed notes on his personal blog, summarizing and explaining the sessions he attended:

Ricon East 2013 Talk Summaries

The slides and videos of the event are now posted, so you can check them out for yourself too.

As an experiment, Anders has ported the ReliefSim application to Google's AppEngine and gotten it running on the free version at reliefsim.appspot.com (the source code for this application has been released on github: github.com/ccnmtl/reliefsim).

DjangoCon '12 is on the East Coast this year, and we submitted a proposal to present on our recent intervention in South Africa. We hope to see you in DC!

Title: Offline and Off-Road: Django, Health and Human Rights

Description: For years, CCNMTL has been using Django to create interactive multimedia health interventions. We'll spotlight our latest NIMH-funded project where we deployed Django to offline netbooks at South African HIV clinics, and developed a sneakernet-based (ie USB drives) data synchronization protocol. We'll also present our FOSS CMS for authoring these ebook-like sites.

Abstract: For years, CCNMTL has been using Django to create interactive multimedia health interventions as a part of our Triangle initiative. We have worked closely with the Schools of Social Work and Public health to explore the possibilities and benefits of incorporating rich, interactive, multimedia into these kinds of counseling sessions.

In this talk we will spotlight Masivukeni, our latest NIMH-funded project where we deployed Django to offline netbooks at South African HIV clinics, and developed a sneakernet-based (ie USB drives) data synchronization protocol.

As we iterate over projects like these, we have continued to abstract the aspects of these projects that are idiosyncratic to this domain. We'll also present our open-source lightweigth-CMS that we have created for authoring these ebook-like sites. The characteristics of these sites are serial content delivery (often with specific business rules, such as preventing access to already-seen, or not-yet-seen pages), interspersed with casual learning "games" (eg html5/javascript drag and drop activities).

Finally, we will discuss the roadmap for this authoring tool, including the possibility of a networked, collaborative ebook authoring tool, that might export epub3 or SCORM-compliant sites.