Saturday, February 24, 2007


A couple of days ago my son showed me a site called RadioBlogClub. You may also want to look at my personal blog page. Read the post called "Armin van Buuren". Besides an easy way of searching trough an enormous amount of music and embed it as an object into your own webpage, you can also click the title of the song to get a sort of RadioBlog station. It brings you to a list of songs that is selected, not only the song you choose, but also a bunch of related songs/artists. The songs that are listed in the RadioBlog are played subsequently. A nice feature is the fade-out/fade-in function if you happen to change to another song while the previous one is still playing. Interested in downloading mp3's from RadioBlogSpot to your own computer? Just take a look here. A full web application, no installation required. I have tried the procedure and it really works easy.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Testing Sakai 2.3.1

Since a few days we have migrated our testserver at the University of Twente to Sakai release 2.3.1. Interesting new features such as rWiki, Blogs (in a course or projectsite), a linktool and a podcast function have to be tested. Moreover, we have to test whether existing functionality from previous releases is still there and operational. I like the test so far. No major failures and the new features are interesting. I especially like the podcast function, with an inbuilt RSS feed, so you can put the feed in any feedreader such as Netvibes and create overviews of feeds from different course or project sites in your personal netvibes page.
The testing procedure should lead to a decision (Feb 22nd, 2007) whether or not we will migrate our production server from 2.2.0 to 2.3.1. I think it is a good thing to do, provided that backup measures are taken properly, so you can re-migrate in case of a crash. This way we will collect valuable evaluation data about the way a migration process may take place. Despite the fact that we are still in a pilot phase (no-warranties given) it's obvious that you will loose a lot of goodwill from your pilot partners, in case they would loose their work so far. It's hardly imaginable that you can convince them to built their site again.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

University of Aberdeen

Today we had a delegation of the University of Aberdeen, being a guest of the University Twente Innovation Lab. Their main interest was in the entrepreneurial activities that our university exploits both in research as in education. Within the visiting program I was asked to present something about the Wireless Campus and the consequences for organisation and education. In general I always like to tell something about my work to visitors from outside the university. Dissemination is an important part of my work I believe.
Beforehand, I was not very well aware of the expectations that the delegation would have. Of course it's possible to identify entrepreneurial aspects in the Wireless Campus project (starting from the building of the infrastructure) to the way we organise our project-based education, often with private companies being important stakeholders in a project. I was the last presentation in the program, which is always a challenge. It turned out to be a very interesting session, highly interactive. It was nice to see that the Wireless Campus of the University of Twente is still a great example of innovation.

Friday, February 09, 2007


This week about 170.000 children in the 8th grade of primary school took the so-called CITO test. It's a 3-day nation-wide assessment that is used to determine what level of secondary education the child can attend after the summer vacation. Every year there is a lot of discussion on the predictive value of the CITO test. That's probably why additional tests and the advice of the primary school is also taken into account when choosing a school for secondary education. About 20% of the primary schools already have chosen to do another type of final assessment.
One of the major criticisms is that everything seems to depend on these 3 days. If a child feels sick or suffers from stress (it can be a stressful experience) his score may be significantly lower than in a normal non-stressful situation. The CITO test is just a snapshot within a period of several years. An alternative test (the NIVO test) claims to take account of this problem by taking smaller tests during the whole year. This way the scores are assumed to be much more balanced, thus being a better predictor of a child's ability to perform. Another criticism that can be identified is that a relatively low CITO-score can be compensated by motivation, but also the other way around: a high score is no guarantee for success.
Personally, I have three experiences why I doubt the predictive value of the CITO test. The first experience is that I went to secondary school (pre-academic level; VWO in Dutch) having the lowest CITO score of a group of 5 peers who went to the same school. My 4 peers all dropped out, changed to lower levels of secondary education, the first one already after 6 months! I was the only one who finished the VWO level and achieved my degree. My second experience is at the University of Nijmegen. During my 1st bachelor year in psychology one of the instructors was interested to know how many of my cohort had achieved a high CITO score. The result was rather dramatic: according to the CITO test about 50% was tested for a lower level. The third experience is with my own son, who took the test 2 years ago. He achieved a score of 541 which is 3 points below the entrance level at some secondary schools at pre-academic level. Taking a closer look at his score profile, I noticed that he had a relatively low score on math, which considerably influenced his overall score. Strange, because in the past three years he used to score straight A's on math. Why not on this one CITO test day, I wondered? An additional talk between his teacher and the secondary school (a Gymnasium) he wanted to attend was needed, because normally they use the strict policy that an entrance score of 544 is required. Well, he was accepted under the condition that he could not fail his first year, otherwise he would have to move to another school. My son is halfway 2nd grade now and he is doing fine. His test scores are quite well and he is 'on schedule' to go to the 3rd grade after this summer. He's doing as least as well as some of his classmates who achieved the maximum 550 for their CITO test.
To conclude this post, the CITO score is just one predictor in a series of many other ones. The relative weight and stress that is put on these three days in February is rather silly. Primary schools are keeping track records for years, which seems much more reliable to me than the rather coincidental score on three days in a whole year. Why not spread out the CITO test over the 8th grade (e.g., one day in october, december and february)? A completely other consquence is that the 8th grade children are virtually free, starting today until the first week of september when they start their career in secondary school. Of course, they have to attend their schools the next couple of months until the end of June, but everything is already set. In the first week of March they receive their score, one or two weeks later they subscribe to the school they will attend after the summer. For some children it will be tough to start studying again after a 7-month period of freewheeling.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Last week was a busy week. A lot of external (whole day) meetings to which I had an active contribution. This makes your schedule very tight. First because there is little preparation time, second because you have no time to work out the results of the meetings. Starting Jan. 30th we had a Sakai information session at the University of Twente (UT). About 30 colleagues attended the meeting and were interested in the latest developments of the Sakai project. On the same day I attended a workshop on the future ICT Architecture for the UT. The contents of the workshops was not very surprising, but seems in line with other initiaves such as 3TU (see below). On Jan. 31th I went to Utrecht to a SURF Sakai SIG meeting. It was interesting to see how enthousiastic commercial partners like MemoTrainer, Portfolio4U and LOI are involved in the Sakai community. The minutes of this meeting can be found here. Feb. 1th I had to go to Utrecht again, to lead a projectmeeting of the Integrated Science Projectteam (Digital University). The importance of this meeting was rather high, because of an upcoming meeting with the DU program manager. The Feb. 1 meeting was organised to determine how far the several workpackages have proceeded. Since the last plenary meeting in June, I only had bilateral contacts with the involved project members. The June meeting was a sort of starting point for the realisation work that had to be done. I can say that I was rather relieved at the end of the day. Two of five workpackages are more or last finished. The other three were in progress, but within the time frame that was foreseen. The only worry was to get in time all the administrative details (hours spent on the project). It's nice to see that some people indeed have submitted their hours, as we 'speak'. Feb. 2th for the third consecutive day to Utrecht (it has also advantages not to live in Twente...) for a 3TU ICT workshop. I had to present to project idea that was formed within the project group on the federative digital learning and working environment for the 3TU. The project idea is based on setting up a functional services architecture first, before looking at information sources and applications. So, in ICT terms, the business layer gets first (the primary process), then we'll proceed to the next layer. It was nice to see how the project idea perfectly fits within a more generic approach of a 3TU Architecture that is being developed in another working group. This week is rather 'normal'. I hope to find the time to work out all the issues I have been dealing with in the last few days.