THE ITEC WIDGET STORE - A STORE FOR HOSTING, DEPLOYING, CREATING AND ANNOTATING WEB BASED APPS
This paper describes the deployment of the iTEC Widget Store into educational contexts around Europe. It covers the processes developed, the challenges faced and some of the feedback gathered in introducing this new technology into project work in twenty-six different countries around Europe.
iTEC is a large-scale validation project which investigates the way in which existing and new ICT can be usefully deployed in schools. In order to support this large-scale investigation and validation exercise, a number of new technological interventions were planned. One of these was the adoption and deployment of the W3C widget specification as means of integrating technologies into existing platforms (such as Moodle, Liferay, Drupal, DotLRN and direct embeds). To support this use of widgets we developed the iTEC Widget Store. This supports the use of the W3C widget specification through social meta-data, searching, widget creation and widget management.
The paper has two main parts. The first part gives an overview of the innovative aspects of the store, which is capable of distributing services across multiple platforms and education systems. These features and innovations are described both in the context of the iTEC technologies as a whole and as a separate entity which can be used by educators embedded within their own learning systems.
The second part will give a summary of the evaluation work carried out, an overview of the analysis and results for the first year after the store’s release and an outline of the current piloting and early results. The results we have attained have been from evaluation work undertaken within the iTEC project, pilot usability testing, feedback from National Coordinators and the Server Logs. These separate sets of analysis have been considered together to try and give a clear picture of the affordances and issues with the store. There are many unknown factors relating to ICT use and the practices, policies and needs of the classrooms across the broad spectrum of schools in Europe. Indicators of observable patterns of behaviour in use of the Widget Store have begun to shed light on these uncertainties. This not only provides valuable information for the finalisation and exploitation of the Widget Store, it also offers the opportunity to learn more about the use of technology in the classroom and its promotion, and provides evidence which feeds into future decisions on which interventions are more likely to be successful, if indeed interventions are required.
To conclude the paper outlines how the store can be used by others as a deployable technology with some examples of how it is currently being taken forwards by other institutions.