Design & UX
Article
By Lisa Herrod

Text Book ‘Mash App’

By Lisa Herrod

I’m experimenting with Tumblr and Jaiku at the moment, and I have an idea that by combining them, I’m going to create a really useful ‘Mash App’ for my User Focus class at SIT next term.

Tumblr

Tumblr is a free blogging tool that I’ve been using lately, and I don’t think I’ve ever fallen so quickly for a web app like I have with this one. Tumblr in fact likens the tool to scrap booking, which may soften its appeal to some users, but have a look; I see multiple uses for it that are tougher than that!

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One thing I especially love about Tumblr is that comments are disabled; they aren’t even an option. It’s quite a mind freeing experience and more intimate too. Posts are listed chronologically, in a linear fashion, and there are five different types of articles a user can publish:

  1. Text
  2. Photo
  3. Quote
  4. Link, and
  5. Video

Jaiku

Jaiku is also a free web app that aggregates various types of content, as decided by the account owner. As the owner I can pull a whole range of data into my stream, which Jaiku will aggregate for me chronologically. This includes blogs, photos, bookmarks, music, places, events, video and Atom or RSS feeds. I can also publish short, 140 character posts to the thread.

Commenting is enabled in Jaiku. Of course, anyone that wants to leave a comment also needs to have a Jaiku account, but the registration process is very quick and easy.

So… What’s this cool idea I have?

My idea is to get each of the students to register for a Tumblr account, which I will pull in as feeds to the class Jaiku account.

There appears to be so many benefits to working this way:

  1. Each student will have complete ownership of the content in their Tumblr account, which they can continue to add to long after the class is finished.
  2. Students will benefit from each others research by being able to easily view it in one place, the class Jaiku account.
  3. Students will be able to socialise and form an online micro-community by commenting on each others Tumblr posts within Jaiku.
  4. Jaiku will aggregate all student work, publishing it in a central repository, making it easy to monitor and assess.
  5. Jaiku will act as a central point from which I can access each of the student tumble logs.
  6. As the Jaiku account holder, I’ll be able to add additional information to the class account for discussion and comment, and all updates in Jaiku are also posted to my registered email account – easy!

So I’m really excited about it all, but what I love is the possibility of creating an inspiring, learning environment by combining these two apps. So while I’m not really creating a mashup, you could probably think of it as a ‘Mash App’.

Using the apps in this way will allow the class to create a fantastic resource collaboratively in Jaiku, while at the same time easily maintaining a sense of individuality and ownership of information in Tumblr. The set up feels very easy, efficient and simple to use; things that make all the difference when you’re teaching.

But the best part of all is that class starts next week… I’ll let you know how we go!

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