Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Versioning in the Xythos software used in Netfiles

I have the Xythos client software on my laptop. It makes it extremely easy to edit documents that have been uploaded to Netfiles. If, in addition, one has versioning turned on that one has an entire record of the changes made to the document. And if one has logging turned on, then you can see who made the changes.

This is exceptionally nice for group collaboration and, moreover, it would seem to be that if we could get the Xythos clients to the students, then this could be used as a very simple way for students to publish Web pages for class instruction. The instructor makes a "template page" that the student uses and edits. Even without the Xythos client, it is not too hard for the students to open the Web page, then use the Edit Web page button (available in IE and Mozilla, for example) and then make modifications to the page. So the "template" page could have a "skin" on it already and the student could simply put in some content." For images, this can be done with copying and pasting and while Word is not considered a good HTML editor, it does allow resizing images by simply clicking and dragging from the corner of the image. So a student could delete the dummy image in the template and then paste in their own image and resize accordingly. This is very straightforward.

Have we seen this type of use of Xythos for student Web pages done as part of course? I don't know. But I hope we can encourage it, in part to find out how far we can go without formal ePortfolio software and in part because such use will open up possibilities for pedagogic practice. Now on making Web pages with nice skins, I did a Google search on free Web page templates. Most came up with templates that did cost something (but there were free trials). There are some out there that are genuinely free to use. I haven't tested how easy they are , but that they are available is noteworthy.

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