[p2pu-dev] P2PU X PlanetMath: activity streams, salmon protocol, linked data (Re: idea for a microgrant proposal)

Joe Corneli holtzermann17 at gmail.com
Sun Feb 27 11:53:24 UTC 2011

Let me sum up briefly the idea I had about how P2PU could be connected
with PlanetMath for the benefit of SoMF courses, and as a way to
prototype possible future rich connections between P2PU and other
external sites.

To get started, two particularly relevant protocols come to mind,
ActivityStreams and the Salmon Protocol (http://activitystrea.ms/ and
http://www.salmon-protocol.org/) for (a) sharing meaningful content,
and (b) getting back annotations to that content in a transparent way.
 There are likely to be some other relevant technologies as well.
PlanetMath is being rebuilt as "linked open data" which will allow for
some very sophisticated interactions for external sites who wish to
implement them.  In particular, this would help with syllabus
construction and understanding learner progress in a rich way (not
just "who has solved what problem", but "who has engaged with what

I'm imagining the following use-case: suppose I was to re-run my Short
Calculus course with such a set-up.  People could sign up on P2PU and
then move over to PlanetMath to solve and discuss pre-existing
collections of problems.  Information about the specific activities
and interactions of these group members would flow back in to P2PU.
Further discussion about these activities could take place in either
site, and any relevant annotations made on P2PU could be sent back to
PlanetMath, transparently.

What problems would this solve?  The first one is this course would
not be "cloistered" within a context where supportive resources
(content, people) are limited to the dozen or so people who actually
enrolled in the course.  It would be like running an art history
course in a museum, instead of a classroom!  So learners would get the
benefit of the mathematical know how of the PlanetMath community, and
the pedagogic and community-building know-how of P2PU (and this light
conceptual separation of duties could help course organizers focus on
one thing at a time, rather than being responsible for everything all
at once).  Second, I can imagine a much more "natural" recruitment
process for courses -- PlanetMath will provide a place for
self-directed peer-supported problem solving, but P2PU could help
people who want a bit more structure organize into courses.  In
particular, this would make it so the course organizer doesn't have to
run around looking for people who might be interested in the course.
Rather, courses could be directly organized by peers who have an
interest in the course material and the course "style" of learning.

The concrete proposal at this point would be to hire a summer intern
for around $5000 USD to work on the relevant bi-directional
communication link in P2PU and PlanetMath.org.  Further development of
the use-cases from others at P2PU would be very helpful.  (How does
the model of a "course" change when operating in a rich semantic
environment? -- at this point it's probably anyone's guess, but by
next year, we'll be able to make some quite exiciting experiments.)
On the developer side, I expect we would want someone who could make
changes in both the Planetary and Lernata environments: it could be a
big project, but one with significant peer support on both sides.  I'm
certainly happy to discuss and refine the design aspects of this link.

I expect similar systems would be useful in other applications (e.g.
the art history example!), but I would appreciate it if we can discuss
this proposal in a focused way and keep the many *other* integration
ideas elsewhere, except when they directly relate to this proposal.


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