14 June 2012
We are halfway through day 1 of a developer day, where we (with Elsevier) have challenged a group of computer science students from Newcastle and Nottingham universities to create apps, useful to veterinary students, in 24 hours.
We are lucky to have Chris Trace from the RVC with us, who is on hand to give our students (both undergraduate and postgraduate) advice on how their ideas could be used in a veterinary education context, and to give them clinical advice too.
The content is being supplied by Elsevier UK (textbooks division), from their veterinary education list, mostly in either ePub or XML formats, and students are being encouraged to think about slicing this content up in new non-linear paradigms, drawn from several text book sources.
Graham Isaacs from Elsevier's eLearning team is also on hand to get the content required, if he hasn't brought it with him.
There are cash prizes for the best work done in 24 hours, and Graham has hinted that if there is something good, and it's not finished, he may be able to facilitate something.....
The atmosphere is great - lots of animated conversation and flipchart action going on, and three teams working on 3 very different ideas, which have got us excited to see what they come up with in 24 hours.
Graham's colleagues at Elsevier are skeptical about anything getting to a state where it can be shared by the end of tomorrow afternoon, but our teams are confident they will be able to demo apps by 3pm tomorrow.....
Before lunch we set the context, got to know each other, looked at the content to be 'appified' and talked through some ideas.
After lunch and more idea development, we have shared ideas for projects, and the teams have begun to map out their projects, drawing on Chris and Graham's vast experience of veterinary medicine and Elsevier content to refine their approaches.
One team is working on a flipbook quiz game, based on veterinary anatomy flashcards, with a fairly generic framework which will enable content from other areas to be plugged in. There are three developers in the team, and they have decided to take a platform each, looking to end up with apps for Windows, Android and iPhone. Graham is interested in their ideas for how a publishers database API could enable their app, so that all the content would not have to be stored locally.
Another team is working on a desktop app taking content from a range of publications and mashing content together into richer contexts based on searches. They are concentrating on 'horse' data drawn from veterinary anatomy, equine formulary, and veterinary dictionary textbooks, and are developing for Android.
A third team is working on importing ePub files, and disaggregating on smartphones, in turn enabling sharing and selecting socially with friends over social media. They are concentrating on making the content more fun and social, on both Windows and Android platforms.
Meanwhile James is taking his already developed ePub 'disaggregatortron', which takes ePub books and breaks them down into chapters, whilst retaining the contextual metadata, and deveoping is futher. His task is to strip HTML tags like <div>, <span> and <class> used to format paragraphs, and be able to break ePub book file right down to paragraph level. These will go into a searchable database, enabling content snippets to be taken and reused in several new contexts.
All the work seems fairly ambitious to us, but there is no doubt of the high levels of skill and enthusiasm in the room. We are very much looking forward to seeing how things go over the next 24 hours.
So far this is my favourite event of 2012.
Related tags: Elsevier, publishOER, student app day
Posted by: Suzanne Hardy
Posted in: Suzanne's blog