Lernid: Progress And Walkthrough

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.

  • http://blog.lassehavelund.com Lasse Havelund

    Lernid is starting to look exceptionally sweet. Keep up the good work; I’m looking forward to seeing this used for actual events. Oh, and when are you going to hack in IRC support via telepathy?

  • http://theravingrick.blogspot.com rickspencer3

    Very very sweet. I suppose the next step is to include a/v, so the presenter can speak or even show video during the session (maybe with network clocks ;) ).

  • http://www.nixternal.com nixternal

    Did somebody say clocks? We have plenty of clocks in KDE4 :p Jono, digging that presentation mode dude! Making this a universal app is relatively easy, as I already thought about that route. Hit me up on IRC if you feel like discussing.

  • http://www.didrocks.fr didrocks

    Sweet! Good progress and congrats on this app. I guess that was what prevented a lot of people joining the IRC channel. You lowed the barrier and that’s great :)

    I’m eager to giver my next UDW presentation and seeing how many additional people get there through lernid.

  • http://hauberg.org Søren Hauberg

    It would be nice if you could suggest a nick name. You should be able to get the users real name and simple remove spaces (or replace them with periods or something like that). This would be a nice service to your users.

  • http://www.justanothertriager.wordpress.com Nigel Babu

    Great to see the progress and the features that you’ve planned is just mind blowing. I’m looking forward to the developer week to use Lernid :)

  • Miles

    Nice!

    I’d suggest the ability to detach the presentation from the rest of the GUI: that would allow people to use 2 monitors to follow the course.

  • Who cares

    Is there possibility to make that controls even bigger? In todays GTK world it’s like everyone is blind or whatever.

  • http://wookielove.wordpress.com mish

    Just had a quick look at the site and in particular the config for a session – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Lernid/LernidEvent – and wondered if a line for the IRC server to use would be hard to add. It could be optional and default to irc.freenode.net but I can definitely think of users who would like to be able to use their own server.

  • Luke

    I second a/v as a great future feature, I’m sure it’s on its way (as I’m sure are buttons to advance to the next slide rather than having to type in “[SLIDE 2]” :) ) This is an app I’ve wanted to see for a while!

  • http://kp.org Dylan

    I’ve been following your blog entries about Lernid with interest. I think the potential of an open virtual classroom environment is huge. There are many people in the Linux community that may not be coders, but are enthusiastic users. Some write tutorials, others record instructional YouTube screencasts, but what’s missing is an open, WebEx-like classroom, where anybody could teach a class in his/her area of expertise.

    Dim Dim is another very promising project, although I think that in order for the ‘open classroom’ principle to really take off, some form of corporate sponsorship (hosting the sessions) would be essential.

  • http://kp.org Dylan

    BTW–Does anybody know what happened to the Marratech software Google aquired a couple of years ago?

    http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/04/20/google-acquires-marratech-gets-into-webex-territory/

  • http://josernestodavila.blogspot.com alucardni

    Great job! Lernid was the star application in the second episode of our Free Software Podcast, recorded by the Nicaraguan Free Software Community!

  • http://ricsipontaz.hogyan.org/2009/12/lernid-ujdonsagok/ Lernid újdonságok

    [...] Már egy régebbi bejegyzésben eset szó a Lernidr?l. Viszont Jono Bacon azóta még inkább belehúzott a fejlesztésbe és számos hibajavítás és újdonság került az alkalmazásba. Nem sokára megéri a program a 0.4-es verziót, így Jono egy kis bemutatót tartott a program használatáról blogjában. [...]

  • http://jonathancarter.co.za Jonathan

    It looks like a lot of fun to use! I haven’t had a chance to try it yet but I will soon. Thanks for all your hard work :D

  • http://www.theopenlearningcentre.com Alan Bell

    I just tried it out with a Karmic Live CD I will do it again in a VM and document with screenshots. This could be handy for people who don’t yet have a proper operating system installed.