Haiku – in the clouds!

Like all good things, the finest are not always found where you would expect them. The behemouth trade display at NECC mainly gave me a headache rather than inspiration – except for a couple of quiet finds that were buried amongst the usual widgets, gizmos and latest emperor’s new clothes of IT.

So after some delay I am looking back over some of those quiet discoveries.

Today I created my test account for Haiku Learning Management System. Now I am not an advocate of the usual wall-garden variety of LMS being a denizen of Web 2.0 cloud computing :-)  I understand the reason why schools go down that path. I have yet to see one that equates with the approach that LAMS (Learning Activity Management System)  takes – i.e. supporting the pedagogical side of learning, rather than just the organisation and presentation of a learning materials.  LAMS provides teachers with a highly intuitive visual authoring environment for creating sequences of learning activities that make you THINK about your pedagogy. But that’s another story!

However,  if you must have something, then chose wisely and don’t look for 20th century solutions – focus on the current and future learning platform that IS the web.

This is why the Haiku LMS has instant appeal.  It is as easy to use as any blog, wiki, ning etc  tool you are currently playing with. It does what a good LMS needs to do – allows you to create classes, drop boxes, add attachements – whatever. Choose your own templates for a fun look too!

BUT here’s the BEST part – it already has over 80 Web 2.0 tools ready to embedd – just drag and drop to rearrange your layout!

Absolutely everything that you might want is there. If is isn’t – use the embedd code box to add the latest.  I remember them saying at the NECC stand that as soon as a good tool becomes available they will grab the API and add it to their Web 2.0 kit. Looking at the full set I found all the popular Web 2.0 tools, and some I wasn’t so familiar with and am now off to explore

This is the BEST of cloud computing I have seen for a school-based LMS yet.   The power of this is amazing and wonderful – and just what we should all be doing.

I would love for this to be used at my school.

Photo: Cloud Kicker

10 thoughts on “Haiku – in the clouds!

  1. Hi all, this is a great discussion. I’m an adviser/blog contributor to haiku LMS, and I hope you don’t mind if I weigh in.

    First, Sean, I think you’ve really nailed some key issues that we’re actively wrestling with. I definitely cringed a little when I read “this is worse than a traditional LMS because at least they don’t have the pretense of being Web 2.0″ But, you’ve made some excellent points.

    I’d love to see us build a loosely coupled environment that promotes open standards, student generated content, integration with other tools/services, built with as few “walls” as possible, yet includes a few killer classroom-centric features (like attendance, gradebook, assessments, etc). Ideally, it’s these classroom features that provide the “glue” or the bounds of the LMS… and therefore allow learning and collaboration to happen on other third party tools and services.

    This open classroom architecture not only makes sense from a pedagogical perspective, but it’s also the right thing to do with software development. Why would we invest in building an inferior wiki/blog/document/presentation/chat product when other excellent and open saas solutions already exist?

    But, we’re not there yet.

    Our initial (some might say fanatical) focus on usability meant building more walls (and not enough integration hooks) as we’d like. But our roadmap is definitely pointing in the direction your both advocating. If haiku isn’t what you’re looking for now, I hope you’ll check back in six months.

    I’ve also sent this link to the haiku product manager, Bryan Falcon… hopefully he joins in as well.

  2. Sean, we’re all guessing a bit because we aren’t actually using Haiku. But I’m not sure I entirely agree with you. If we are using Web 2.0 tools with kids, their content exists on the web, not in Haiku, so all you are doing is making it easier to transact the relationship between various tools. Some people use a wiki for that, and others use a CMS/LMS as a jummping off point, but of course you can’t bring web 2.0 back into those products. Any CMS/LMS, even Haiku, can be instructivist rather than constructivist. We are all still working hard in schools to shift pedagogy. So of course Haiku or Moodle or Web CT or anything else can be a regular 20th century classroom in an online environment. No platform will change pedagogy alone. So I still am interested in a product that lets me embedd any Web 2.0 tool I like – much easier to aggregate a variety of learning experiences that way. I disagree that it is worse – it’s different. I remain unenthused about Moodle, though I see why people like it. I am still waiting for a good solution. I don’t know if Haiku is that solution in its early days. I do think it’s worth people taking a look, if only to reflect more deeply about what they are doing with an LMS/CMS.

  3. Gosh no, Judy, I wasn’t advocating incorporating web-based student generated content back into an LMS. My point was if you were going to incorporate content created on the web back into an LMS – which is what Haiku seems to be doing – why limit it only to teacher’s content? Why not go all the way and use it to aggregate student content as well? And if the home of students’ content is on the web, why isn’t the teacher’s?

    The way Haiku looks to me is it’s still based on an instructivist, teacher-centred learning model. “Come to the teacher’s place, check out the content the teacher has selected and gathered here for you and join the discussions in the blog posts and the forums that the teacher has initiated, then drop your assignments into the drop box at the end of the week for your teacher to mark.” It looks just like a regular, traditional classroom to me, just online, and using Web 2.0 tools.

    My point about Moodle is that, even though it is a walled garden, at least they give a nod to students having their own space to create content, whereas in Haiku it looks all centrally controlled by the teacher.

    In many ways this is worse than a traditional LMS because at least they don’t have the pretense of being Web 2.0.

  4. You might be right Sean. I guess anything that starts out is not as robust as well-established programs. I’m not much a fan of Moodle’s blogs and wikis, as they operate in a ‘closed garden’ approach I think. I’m not a current Moodle user, so this may have changed. I think the thing for me is that I would want to be able to use all sorts of different things with students – and this I can’t do with any standard CMS/LMS. I wonder why you would want to incorporate student generated content that is developed via a web 2.0 tool back into a LMS? If it exists in another place – then that’s it’s home, unless it is something that is generated to embedd e.g. a movie. If it comes to that Moodle and other CMS/LMS are all Elearning 1.5 until they adopt the API approach to embedd and blend the tools of choice.

    Like you I”m not defending or criticising Moodle. I like individual blog capabilities for sure…and while privacy is sometimes needed or demanded, public interfaces is also sometimes required and preferable.

    It will be interesting to see how CMS/LMS systems develop won’t it.

    Thanks for your feedback too.

  5. Correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I can see Haiku allows the teacher to integrate all their Web 2.0 tools but has no scope for importing student’s existing online content? It seems the only student input comes from commenting on forum and blog posts started by the teacher and assignments (Word docs?) submitted to a drop box!

    I’m not defending Moode, but at least it gives students individual blogs.

    Until Haiku allows a teacher to incorporate student generated content from the student’s choice of Web 2.0 tools I’d say it’s half way there.

    Elearning 1.5!

  6. We will be migrating from Angel to ? in the next year so I’ll add this to the list of candidates. I agree with Steve that a lot of energy and collaboration is going into Moodle, but that doesn’t mean it will meet my needs in the end. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Hi Steve, I can certainly understand the passion for Moodle – but you’ve hit an important point in my differentiation of products. I am totally not interested in lesson/marks integration or importing of question banks. I don’t beleive this is the way to caputure good pedagogy any longer. For me Web 2.0 integration is what it should be all about, and Haiku allows us to deliver an integrated platform within a CMS framework – which is what people seem to need to use first up to get into elearning. Once cloud computing is established, internal controls of Moodle servers and the like will vanish. It’s about change isn’t it? Moodle is a great 20th century product, getting good traction in 21c learning – for now! Will Moodle adapt? If it does, then it will remain a powerful tool for educators. Meanwhile I like Moodle, but its just a jumping off point – not the delivery mechanism for learning. Mind you, the work you are doing is fabulous, and I don’t wish to take anything away from that. I just do need to see CMS products moving ahead into the uncharted territory of Web 2.0/CMS integration and its resulting flexible learning, rather than lesson delivery and marks collation.

  8. Thank you for letting us know about the site. I had a pretty good look at it.

    Overall, while it looks good and has lot of bells and whistles, I would opt for Moodle because it is a more mature product and since it is open source, many people are making efforts to develop it.

    Haiku seems to be less mature at the present time and has a ways to go in regards to lesson / marks integration and importing of question banks.

  9. Hi Judy,

    Thanks for the great review! I hope you don’t mind if we quote you on the haiku Blog ;)

    I’m interested in hearing more about the LAMS approach. Perhaps we could work towards a module for integrating LAMS-based content?

  10. This looks so comprehensive. Not sure I’m ready for the online assignments thing at primary school but I think it’s well worth further investigation. Thanks for sharing this.

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