Learning Mashups

September 1, 2009 at 1:40 pm 3 comments

Every day I am asked to explain mashups and their impact on the world of learning and assessments and I felt that it was about time that I shared something more widely.  In the context of learning and assessments mashups can be categorized as follows:

  1. Portlet – configured by an end user
  2. Page (Web, Wiki or Blog) – configured by a web author
  3. Data – configured by a programmer

Portlet Based Mashup

image Portlet based mashups provide different “windows” that interact with different and separate applications and users can move these portlets around their screen to meet their own personal requirements.

This is explained in the YouTube video below:

How is this applicable to learning and assessment?

As organizations standardize and align on their IT architecture there will be a framework in which to view applications in the context of someone’s job role.  The job roles for CLOs, Training Managers, Instructors, Teachers, Professors, Instructional Designers, Psychometricain, students and other stakeholders are different and have different preferences, priorities and organizational styles.  Portlet based user interfaces allows users to view their screens in the way that they find them most useful to perform their tasks.

Page Based Mashup

Page based mashups are configured by the author of the web page, wiki and or blog to determine where application data and interactions might occur.  As an author of a blog I have inserted a YouTube video above and another below that explains how to embed a video and assessment into the same wiki page:

To learn more about inserting assessments into web pages, blogs and wikis check out: http://questionmarkdemo.wikispaces.com/

Back to mashups…

This blog posting is presented as an HTML web page, with HTML text and a video feed from YouTube and a assessment feed from a Questionmark server.

image The diagram to the left shows this diagrammatically.  The main page contents are coming in from the web server, and in this case, a Questionmark assessment is coming in from another server.  The author of this web page is the person that chose how this design would be rendered.

How is this applicable to learning and assessment?

Documentation, learning content and assessments are often available throughout an organization’s infrastructure but challenging to find and they are especially difficult to find in context.  Wikis, blogs and web pages can be used to expose existing resources, wrap context, to provide a meaningful learning and/or assessment experience. Learning mashups can improve learner experiences and learning outcomes.

Data Mashups


A data mash up is where data is drawn from different data sources and displayed within a single page.  In this style a programmer constructs a program to retrieve the data, from different data sources, and then display it within a web page.


The diagram to the right illustrates the data that is mashed up to provide a presentation of the price of taxis in New York City.

This form of data mashup used to require that the application had direct access to the database.  These days, with web-services, it is possible to read and write data anywhere in the world with a single application.

How is this applicable to learning and assessment?

With more data being accessible via web-services, applications can now provide powerful reports to assist decision making to improve learning outcomes, drive qualifications when required and boost performance.


Standard tools and technologies supporting blogs, wikis and web pages can provide new styles of easy-to-maintain stimulating and powerful learning environments.

Did you learn something from this mashup?


Entry filed under: Assessment, Learning, Professional Life, Types Of Assessments. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

We’ll Kick Off the Questionmark European User Conference at Manchester United’s Old Trafford! Eric Shepherd’s Blog is now at http://blog.eric.info

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Paul  |  September 1, 2009 at 4:34 pm


    This is great stuff. The two videos in particular bring this to life.

    Keep up the good work


  • 2. jrcbaker  |  September 6, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    Eric, you show how to meet real needs in improving a learner’s experience and learning outcomes by mashing (banging?!) learning and assessment into one.

    The pre-requisite integrative technologies and skills are common, whilst contemporary learners – even in brick ‘n’ mortar industries – are on board with emerging eLearning components. End users, online authors, and programmers each have a certain role in your systematic approach.

    Just one of your idea to share that is new to me is that learning content for a conceptual purpose, which is supported nicely by available technology, can consist of these three simple end-user activities: contribute, discuss, and consume. Awesome!

    As a constructive observation, I’ll say that the data category for the programmer suggests that you might expand into tracking the user’s learning event selection, participation, and evaluation for improvement. Such integration could make the end-user experience so easy and productive.

    Thank you so very much!

    My regards,


    • 3. Eric Shepherd  |  September 7, 2009 at 11:46 am


      I agree with your constructive observations and thank you for your generosity and ideas.

      The challenge is provide feedback and recommendations in the context of people’s goals, knowledge, skills, abilities, qualification and “in the moment” expectations. To provide item, topic and assessment feedback is relatively simple but to provide contextual authoring, delivery, and data driven feedback is the next challenge that we want to take on.

      It’s going to be fun!

      Warmest regards, Eric


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Add to Technorati Favorites

Recent Posts


%d bloggers like this: