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My DTL blog: Chris' blog

thoughts as we build Dream to Learn

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Oct 10 2017

RSS feeds

You can now view blogs, mini-blogs, and user profiles via their RSS feeds.  RSS feeds allow you to keep track of updates through a feed reader such as  Feedly  or Digg.   Blog and mini-blog feeds list posts, so you can see when there are new posts to the blog.  The feed for a user profile tracks all that user's activity-- what you see in"Recent Activity" in DTL.   There is one important difference between what you see in DTL and what you'll see in a feed reader.  Within DTL, what you see in your feed is what you have permission to see.  This means that if a user posts to a blog...

by Chris Tennant

October 10, 2017
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Oct 04 2017

HTML editor and file upload upgrades

I've upgraded our HTML editor(we use CKEditor) to the latest version, and done the same for our image upload library.  As a result, we should now have much better phone support for editing documents.  I've also noticed that some users were having issues uploading profile pictures-- that should now also be fixed. If you do see problems with editing documents, or with uploading images, please let me know.

by Chris Tennant

October 04, 2017
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Oct 01 2017

activity feed updates

I've been busy these past few weeks, and will start posting about the new features that have been added.  Today I'm going to cover enhancements to the activity feed.  Your activity feed-- covering users and resources you are following-- is now pulled out as a separate top-level navigation item, as"my feed".  Previously you would see this on your own profile page, which was confusing.  Now on your profile page you'll see the same feed everyone else sees, which is a list of the things that you've done. If you click on the feed on your profile page-- covering just your own...

by Chris Tennant

October 01, 2017
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Jun 16 2017

new features!

I've added some new features in the past few weeks.  I also have a regular job(working for CoSo Cloud), so this is something that I do as time allows.   Here's the big stuff: activity feeds Activity feeds are back!  For now they include only blog posts(like this one) and micro-blog posts.  You'll see them on the DTL home page, on your profile(where you'll see a feed of things you're following), and on your content library(where you'll see your own feed, which is what*other* users will see when they see your profile). It's confusing to describe, but should be...

by Chris Tennant

June 16, 2017
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Apr 26 2017

"Thanks"

In Dream to Learn you can now give and receive thanks.  "Thanks" are a"like" with substance, reflecting how someone has helped you move forward toward your goals and objectives.  They have substance because they always include a comment from the person giving thanks. Both experience and scientific research show that giving thanks can make you happier: http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier.   You want to be doing things on Dream to Learn that lead you to both give and receive thanks.  You want to let people help and support you so that you...

by Chris Tennant

April 26, 2017
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Apr 01 2017

Sign-up is back!

I think a lot about internet trolls.  Wikipedia describes it like this: a  troll  (/ ˈ t r oʊ l/, / ˈ t r ɒ l/) is a person who sows discord on the  Internet  by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,   extraneous, or  off-topic  messages in an online community(such as a  newsgroup, forum,  chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an  emotional  response  or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion,  often for the troll's amusement. Everyone has seen troll comments attached to internet content.  In the long term, I have two goals...

by Chris Tennant

April 01, 2017
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Mar 12 2017

from Hangouts to Skype

It's been a good long while since I posted.  I've been busy during that time.  I've been coding some, with a lot more coding since the start of the new year.  But I also moved from France back to the US(to Eugene, Oregon), and got married.  My wife Giuditta is from Italy-- she was a professor of Italian in Grenoble, and we met in a climbing class.  She just got her green card this past week. There have been a lot of developments with Dream to Learn, and I'll be posting about them over the coming weeks and months.  Today I want to talk about Google Hangouts and Skype.   Google...

by Chris Tennant

March 12, 2017
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Jun 28 2014

A reunion in Ottawa

As I write this, I'm in Ottawa for a reunion of former law clerks at the Supreme Court of Canada.  My life has taken a very different path from my clerk-colleagues, and I haven't really kept in touch with them.  We see one another at reunions, but it's been ten years since the last reunion.  But there's something about having gone through that intense year together -- talking now after all those years, it's as though no time has passed.   I also had the chance to see "my judge", Frank Iacobucci, and his wife Nancy.  They hosted a luncheon today for all of Frank'...

by Chris Tennant

June 28, 2014
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Jun 13 2014

Dream to Learn updated

I'm thrilled to say that the Dream to Learn update is now live!  Jeannie Smith has created a beautiful and functional design, and you'll also see that the way that information is organized and presented has been significantly improved. The release of the update is just the first step.  Now that we've released the new codebase to production, we can iterate rapidly on new features. I'm wiped after the huge push to get this new code out, so I'll write more once I've gotten some sleep.  But a big thank you to the whole Dream to Learn core team -- Jeannie, Lyndsay and Ryan....

by Chris Tennant

June 13, 2014
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Feb 23 2014

Focusing on the "Dream" in Dream to Learn

I had a great conversation with Benjamin Tauber last week that got me thinking about the 'aspirational' dimension of Dream to Learn.  From the beginning, Dream to Learn has never been about just the acquisition of knowledge; it's also been focused on the development and growth of the people who use it.  As one of our tag lines put it, "Dream to Learn is about being and becoming." But our message has been muddy -- we weren't showing our first-time visitors clearly and simply that Dream to Learn is a community of people who learn and grow together.   And so we've been...

by Chris Tennant

February 23, 2014
10

Feb 18 2014

Internet trolls

just came across this fascinating piece on internet trolls: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/climate_desk/2014/02/internet_troll_personality_study_machiavellianism_narcissism_psychopathy.html need to do some thinking about this, as it's directly relevant to our objectives with Dream to Learn :-)

by Chris Tennant

February 18, 2014
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Jan 25 2014

The dangers of navel-gazing

I've just read Thomas Frank's brilliant piece, TED talks are lying to you .   As I read his argument, there's a tremendous disconnect between the real world and the world described in books and talks about creativity.  In the real world of recent years, economic growth has been slowing, unemployment has been high, and the internet hasn't proved to be the utopia it was predicted to be.  Yet in the "creativity promoting sector", everything has been roses: There were TED talks on how to be a creative person. There were “Innovation Jams” at which IBM employees brainstormed...

by Chris Tennant

January 25, 2014
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Jan 17 2014

thinking about communities, users and dreams

It's been a while since I've posted on this blog -- I've been busy working on new features, including a mobile-friendly UI and Google Hangouts integration, and  Ryan Anderson has been holding the fort on the blogging front.  I've been thinking a lot lately about what people  do on Dream to Learn.   The answer to that question today is that you write documents and blogs; collaborate using discussion rooms, colleague chat and Google Hangouts, and help to build communities of people who share common dreams to learn. All good stuff, but reading Valerie Singers 's incredibly...

by Chris Tennant

January 17, 2014
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Nov 07 2013

Reporting system status and uptime

We've now implemented system status, including uptime reporting, for Dream to Learn, using Pingdom.  You can see our live status page here: https://status.dreamtolearn.com There are more monitors than the ones that we're exposing on the status page, and we're experimenting with the right mix to display publicly, so expect some changes in the coming weeks and months.  But the overall...

by Chris Tennant

November 07, 2013
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Nov 06 2013

A new look for Dream to Learn

We've started rolling out a UI refresh, including simplified navigation, more white space, and overall a cleaner, simpler look. We're also adding images for communities (prominently displayed in the navigation bar).  Under the covers, the upgrade is driven by an upgrade to Bootstrap 3 (see  http://dtl.to/chris/dtl-tech/9 for details).   You should also see a much better experience on...

by Chris Tennant

November 06, 2013
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Nov 01 2013

Christopher de Marigny

This week, Isabelle and I drove down to Montpellier, to visit with a friend who is in France advising a company building articulated, ergonomic backrests for wheelchairs. The company is Evom, and Evom's founder is Christopher de Marigny, pictured here. Christopher is an inspiring guy -- when he was in his twenties, a swimming accident left him a quadriplegic (later a paraplegic). He went back...

by Chris Tennant

November 01, 2013
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Oct 26 2013

Sharing to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and via email

We've now added the ability to share blog and blog posts via Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit and Twitter -- anybody can share a post they are interested in, not just the author.  We've also added meta-data to blogs that will help surface the right information on LinkedIn and Facebook, including the right thumbnail image.  We've also reworked the blog UI to make it cleaner, including the...

by Chris Tennant

October 26, 2013
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Oct 23 2013

Facebook integration of blog posts

We're currently working on Facebook integration for blog posts -- when you post a new blog entry, you have the option to share it on Facebook.  It's a two step process by design -- you check a box when you publish the blog, and then get taken to a confirmation page where you need to click on another button to publish.  We want nobody to be surprised when their post shows up on Facebook....

by Chris Tennant

October 23, 2013
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Oct 21 2013

How is Dream to Learn different?

I've been giving some thought to the question of differentiation.  It's something Ryan and I talked a lot about in the beginning, but recently the focus has been on implementing the features to allow us to get to alpha, and that question has slipped to the back burner.  In my experience with startups, the question of differentiation naturally recurs periodically, as your product becomes...

by Chris Tennant

October 21, 2013
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Oct 21 2013

a glut of acronyms: MOOCs, DOCCs, cMOOCs and xMOOCs

A DOCC is a "distributed open collaborative course", as opposed to a MOOC, or "massive open online course."   What's interesting to me is the focus on collaboration: Alexandra Juhasz, a professor of media studies at Pitzer  who is the other co-facilitator of the DOCC, said via e-mail that "our DOCC is built to value situated experience and emphasis, and to share authority...

by Chris Tennant

October 21, 2013
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Oct 15 2013

Progress report

I wanted to update folks on where we are with Dream to Learn.  For the past couple of weeks, we've been focused on working with our potential 'alpha' communities. In working with these communities, our focus has been on: agreeing on a clear "community plan" that sets out the goals for the community, and identifies how members of the community will interact and work together...

by Chris Tennant

October 15, 2013
20

Oct 04 2013

Reflections on distraction

My wife Isabelle sent me a link to an Ephipheo.TV video that argues being constantly connected to the internet -- checking emails on your smart phone, looking up articles on Panda attacks on wikipedia, watching videos like the Epipheo video -- causes us to live in a state of continual distraction.  This state of distraction can actually prevent us from learning things, because there is never the...

by Chris Tennant

October 04, 2013
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Oct 02 2013

Presence for colleagues

I'm very excited to announce a new set of features around "presence" for colleagues.  When you are logged in to Dream to Learn, you can now see which of your colleagues are online.  If a colleague is online, you can send him or her instant messages.  The architecture is clever enough to be able to handle the intermittent connectivity of HTTP pages (under the covers, a new websocket...

by Chris Tennant

October 02, 2013
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Sep 25 2013

introducing Lyndsay Rockey

I am very pleased to welcome Lyndsay Rockey to our Dream to Learn advisory board.   Lyndsay was most recently the He ad of Human Resources for  LOVEFiLM.com, a venture-backed startup that was acquired by Amazon on 2011.  Dream to Learn will benefit from Lyndsay's extensive experience at LOVEFiLM with learning and development, communications, and budgeting, as well as her experience working at...

by Chris Tennant

September 25, 2013
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Sep 20 2013

Introducing Valerie Gonzalez

I'm pleased to welcome Valerie Gonzalez as the second member of our Dream to Learn advisory board.  Val graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in chemistry, and then went on apprentice with the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto.  She became a Resident Artist at the COC, and went on to sing professionally in opera theaters throughout Canada, and in the USA and Europe....

by Chris Tennant

September 20, 2013
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Sep 20 2013

Introducing Dan Senter

One of the ways we're keeping ourselves honest at Dream to Learn is by having an advisory board.  I'm very pleased to announce that the first member of the advisory board is Dan Senter.   Dan is currently the lead pastor at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Lafayette, California, and is someone who is deeply engaged with the question of what it means to live a significant, meaningful...

by Chris Tennant

September 20, 2013
10

Sep 17 2013

Entering alpha

Dream to Learn is not far from its "alpha" release.  Alpha can have different meanings; for us it means a usable site with a basic core of features that people can start to use to form real communities.  We've been using the Dream to Learn platform internally for some time not only for testing, but also to keep track of our progress, and Ryan and I and others have been using it for...

by Chris Tennant

September 17, 2013
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Sep 13 2013

Encouraging "collegiality"

Currently I'm working on measuring "collegiality".  I'll talk below about some of the things we're going to measure and analyze.  But that's not what's most important: what's most important is that we're going to help users to collaborate and work better together.  You won't need to know anything about the collegiality score -- if you behave collegially,...

by Chris Tennant

September 13, 2013
10

Sep 12 2013

Surfacing and encouraging good content

In college, you express your thoughts through content -- essays, performances, stories, and so on.  To the extent that college is successful, you get better at writing, performing and expressing yourself as you learn.  In the same way, a primary objective of Dream to Learn is to help users to produce good content, and always to be learning to produce better content.   So how do we identify and...

by Chris Tennant

September 12, 2013
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Sep 06 2013

Passionate communities

Today, I posted this as my Facebook status: I'm looking for people with a passion for learning, teaching and sharing something. It could be anything -- learning a language, fixing old cars, living sustainably, writing better computer code, being a good parent, surfing, astrophysics, taking great pictures, being spiritual, collecting stamps -- absolutely whatever you are passionate about. My...

by Chris Tennant

September 06, 2013
20

Aug 14 2013

Why Dream to Learn?

Why Dream to Learn?  I have an eclectic history:  I have degrees in anthropology and law, and have spent fifteen years working as a web software programmer and technical executive in the San Francisco Bay area.  I start with what Dream to Learn means today, and then, for those interested, provide some detail on my past history.  Dream to Learn For me personally, Dream to Learn brings together...

by Chris Tennant

August 14, 2013
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About the Author

Chris Tennant

Chris Tennant

Eugene, Oregon

I co-founded Dream to Learn in 2013. I love the outdoors, growing and building things, and the challenge and beauty of writing computer code. I live in Eugene, Oregon with my wife Giuditta, my two kids Joshua and Rebecca, and our cats Sprinkie and Hugino.

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Created: June 28, 2014

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