Tonight I completed a bunch of hacks on Lernid and a number of new bug fixes, improvements and refinements have landed. To best explain where Lernid stands, I wanted to perform a little walkthrough of how it works.
Imagine you are interested in joining the fictional Ubuntu Example Week event. No longer do you need to know what the heck IRC is, figure out what software you need and figure out how to connect and join the right channel. Simply fire up Lernid:
When Lernid starts all you need to do is select the week you wish to participate in and enter a nickname. When you connect you will see all the sessions that are part of the event and the current session will be indicated with an arrow:
In the Classroom pane you can see the main session happening (only the session leader talks here), and in the Chatroom pane you talk with other session participants about the current session.
When the session starts, the session leader can show the first slide by simply typing in
[SLIDE 1] and the slide will appear conveniently in the top-right of the Lernid window: this means you can see the slide and the session at the same time. For you session leaders and organizers, all you need to do is save your slides as a PDF (which OpenOffice.org and other office suites can do), put them online somewhere, and add the slides in the Description in the iCal feed that contain the sessions. Lernid will do all the rest in terms of automatically downloading the PDF and displaying the correct slide to Lernid viewers.
At this point Lernid viewers can now not only see the session going on and chat about the session, but can also see the slides triggered by the session leader as they happen. This already provides a far more interactive feel to the sessions.
Now the session leader wants to show all of you lovely Lernid viewers a web page. To do this he/she just types in the URL in their session and Lernid will automatically load it into the built-in browser and show it to you, but still show the main Classroom and Chatroom channels so you are not distracted away:
Now the session leader wants to get back to the slides and triggers the next slide by typing in
[SLIDE 2] and Lernid automatically flicks back to the slide view and displays it, again never taking your eyes away from the main Classroom and Chatroom channels:
With these features we can breathe new life into online learning channels that are based on IRC. Lernid now provides a simple means for people to get involved: no more faffing around having to learn what IRC is and how to get connected, and when you are connected via Lernid, you can view rich content with slides, view web pages instantly and easily see the schedule of events, all converted to your local timezone.
So…what’s next? Well, I want to fix a few remaining bugs and then roll out a 0.4 release to my PPA, which I hope to have ready as a nice little Christmas present. The next step is to then remove the hardcoded Ubuntu server configuration which I added for convenience sakes and instead add a preferences dialog where you can select from multiple server configurations. This means that our friends in Fedora, OpenSuSE, Debian and elsewhere can rock their learning events with Lernid too. My plan is to merge these features in, fix any last remaining bugs and then consider Lernid as 1.0, ready in time for Ubuntu Developer Week.
It has been a fun journey, and thanks for all the wonderful contributions, patches and encouragement to and for Lernid. I really hope it helps enliven our rocking learning events!
UPDATE: Check out the new Lernid Website.