Using Garmin eTrex Vista HCx with Ubuntu 14.04LTS & QLandkarte GT

I have a rather old Garmin GPS eTrex that I use for GPS on walking holidays and cycle rides. I use it with OpenCycleMap contour maps downloaded from talkytoaster. To plan routes and manage the routes, tracks and maps on Ubuntu I use QLandkarte GT.  This summer was the first time I used this combination on … Continue reading Using Garmin eTrex Vista HCx with Ubuntu 14.04LTS & QLandkarte GT

garminI have a rather old Garmin GPS eTrex that I use for GPS on walking holidays and cycle rides. I use it with OpenCycleMap contour maps downloaded from talkytoaster. To plan routes and manage the routes, tracks and maps on Ubuntu I use QLandkarte GT.  This summer was the first time I used this combination on my new PC, and I found some of the config difficult because the info I could find (e.g. this from GPS babel) related to old versions of Ubuntu (not surprising, this garmin is from the Ubuntu Feisty era). What needs doing seems similar but how you do it has changed.

I edited /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist to stop Ubuntu loading the garmin_gps module.  I don’t know if this is necessary, but everything I want seems to work with it there. That file now looks like:

# stop garmin_gps serial from loading for USB garmin devices

blacklist garmin_gps

The to make sure that the Garmin is automounted r/w for all users when plugged in to a USB post I created /etc/udev/rules.d/51-garmin.rules , with the content

SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ATTR{idVendor}=="091e", MODE="0666", GROUP="plugdev"

I found the lsusb and the gpsbabel utility  useful in testing the connexion. With it installed and the etrex plugged in I now see

phil@shuttle$ lsusb
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 8087:8001 Intel Corp. 
[...]
Bus 003 Device 004: ID 091e:0003 Garmin International GPS (various models)

phil@shuttle$ gpsbabel -i garmin -f usb:-1
0 3834401962 694 eTrex Vista HCx Software Version 3.40

And then in QLandkarte I can go to setup | general and under the “device and xfer” select Garmin in the main drop-down and EtrexVistaHCx in the Device Type (other Device options left blank) and happily transfer routes and tracks between the PC and the GPS.

Screenshot from 2015-08-07 09:11:51

Two projects about describing courses

I’m currently involved in a couple of projects relating to representing course information as linked data / schema.org. 1. Course information in schema.org As you may know the idea of using LRMI / schema.org for describing courses has been mooted several times over the last two or three years, here and on the main schema.org … Continue reading Two projects about describing courses

I’m currently involved in a couple of projects relating to representing course information as linked data / schema.org.

1. Course information in schema.org

As you may know the idea of using LRMI / schema.org for describing courses has been mooted several times over the last two or three years, here and on the main schema.org mail lists. Most recently, Wes Turner opened an issue on github which attracted some attention and some proposed solutions.

I lead a work package within the DCMI LRMI Task Group to try to take this forwards. To that end I and some colleagues in the Task Group have given some thought to what the scope and use cases to be addressed might be, mostly relating to course advertising and discovery. You can see our notes as a Google Doc, you should be able to add comments to this document and we would welcome your thoughts. In particular we would like to know whether there are any missing use cases or requirements. Other offers of help and ideas would also be welcome!

I plan to compare the derived requirements with the proposed solutions and with the data typically provided in web pages.

2. Institutional course data as linked data

Stefan Dietze commented on the schema.org course information work that it would be worth looking at similar existing vocabularies. That linked nicely with some other work that a colleague, Anna Grant, is undertaking, looking at how we might represent and use course data from our department as linked data (this is similar to some of the work I saw presented in the Linked Learning workshop in Florence). She is reviewing the relevant vocabularies that we can find (AIISO, TEACH, XCRI-CAP, CourseWare, MLO, CEDS). There is a working draft on which we would welcome comments.

W3C HCLS Dataset Descriptions Profile Published

After 3 years hard work, countless telephone conferences, issues and drafts, the W3C Health Cara and Life Sciences Community Group (HCLS) have finally published their community profile for describing datasets. The profile deals with different versions of a dataset with each version being published in multiple formats. Below is the announcement from the W3C. The Semantic […]

After 3 years hard work, countless telephone conferences, issues and drafts, the W3C Health Cara and Life Sciences Community Group (HCLS) have finally published their community profile for describing datasets. The profile deals with different versions of a dataset with each version being published in multiple formats. Below is the announcement from the W3C.

The Semantic Web Health Care and Life Sciences Interest Group has published a Group Note of Dataset Descriptions: HCLS Community Profile. Access to consistent, high-quality metadata is critical to finding, understanding, and reusing scientific data. This document describes a consensus among participating stakeholders in the Health Care and the Life Sciences domain on the description of datasets using the Resource Description Framework (RDF). This specification meets key functional requirements, reuses existing vocabularies to the extent that it is possible, and addresses elements of data description, versioning, provenance, discovery, exchange, query, and retrieval. Learn more about the Data Activity.

 

 

Quick notes: Ian Pirie on assessment

Ian Pirie Asst Principal for Learning Developments at University of Edinburgh came out to Heriot-Watt yesterday to talk about some assessment and feedback initiatives at UoE.  The background ideas motivating what they have been doing are not new, and Ian didn’t say that they were, they’re centred around the pedagogy of assessment & feedback as learning, … Continue reading Quick notes: Ian Pirie on assessment

Ian Pirie Asst Principal for Learning Developments at University of Edinburgh came out to Heriot-Watt yesterday to talk about some assessment and feedback initiatives at UoE.  The background ideas motivating what they have been doing are not new, and Ian didn’t say that they were, they’re centred around the pedagogy of assessment & feedback as learning, and the generally low student satisfaction relating to feedback shown though the USS. Ian did make a very compelling argument about the focus of assessment: he asked whether we thought the point of assessment was

  1. to ensure standards are maintained [e.g. only the best will pass]
  2. to show what students have learnt,
    or
  3. to help students learn.

The responses from the room were split 2:1 between answers 2 and 3, showing progress away from the exam-as-a-hurdle model of assessment. Ian’s excellent point was that if you design your assessment to help students learn, that will mean doing things like making sure  your assessments address the right objectives, that the students understand these learning objectives and criteria, and that they get feedback which is useful to them, then you will also address points 2 and 1.

Ideas I found interesting from the initiatives at UoE, included

  • Having students describe learning objectives in their own words, to check they understand them (or at least have read them).
  • Giving students verbal feedback and having them write it up themselves (for the same reason). Don’t give students their mark until they have done this, that means they won’t avoid doing it but also once students know they have / have not done “well enough” their interest in the assessment wanes.
  • Peer marking with adaptive comparative judgement. Getting students to rank other students’ work leads to reliable marking (the course leader can assess which pieces of work sit on grade boundaries if that’s what you need)

In the context of that last one, Ian mention No More Marking which has links with the Mathematics Learning Support Centre at Loughborough University. I would like to know more about how many comparisons need to be made before a reliable rank ordering is arrived at, which will influence how practical the approach is given the number of students on a course and the length of the work being marked (you wouldn’t want all students to have to mark all submissions if each submission was many pages long). But given the advantages of peer marking on getting students to reflect on what were the objectives for a specific assessment I am seriously considering using the approach to mark a small piece of coursework from my design for online learning course. There’s the additional rationale there that it illustrates the use of technology to manage assessment and facilitate a pedagogic approach, showing that computer aided assessment goes beyond multiple choice objective tests, which is part of the syllabus for that course.

New projects for me at Heriot-Watt

I’ve been at Heriot-Watt University for many years now but haven’t really had much to do with the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning here. A couple of new projects might change that. The Learning and Teaching Strategy for the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences mentions using technology to create a more student centred … Continue reading New projects for me at Heriot-Watt

I’ve been at Heriot-Watt University for many years now but haven’t really had much to do with the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning here. A couple of new projects might change that.

The Learning and Teaching Strategy for the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences mentions using technology to create a more student centred approach to learning, and also reshaping the soft learning environment to meet challenges raised by things like delivering courses across campuses in Edinburgh, Dubai, Malaysia, and with learning partners around the world. So it references ideas like the use of khan-academy style videos where appropriate, effective use of formative assessment and feedback and use of the virtual learning environment to facilitate student interaction and collaboration across those different campuses.

To put this strategy into action the School has set up a working group, which I am convening. The approach will not to be prescriptive and dictatorial, that wouldn’t work; we want to focus on identifying, nurturing and disseminating within the School the existing practice that aligns with those strategic aims. We also want to bring in ideas from outwith the School that can be realised in our contexts, they will have to be practical ideas with demonstrable benefits (I’ll still do explorative researchy things, but through other work). We started work a couple of weeks ago, with two initial tasks: 1, a survey to identify what people are already doing that might be worth sharing and to identify what ideas they would like help progressing; and, 2, an internal show-and-tell event to discuss such ideas. I rather hope that the event isn’t a one-off, that it leads to other similar events, and also that the practice we find through it and the survey can be made open so that we can interact with all the other people doing similar at their own institutions.

Coincidently, I have also been asked to look at automated assessment, especially in exam scenarios in Computer Science. We have run electronic exams in the past, and many staff appreciated the automatic marking, but the system that we used until now is no longer available. So I shall be working with colleagues to try to find a replacement. I haven’t worked much with online assessment before, but I think there are three related but separate strands that will need following: 1, the software system, its functionality and usability; 2, policy issues such as security for high stakes assessment; 3, pedagogic issues. Clearly they are interdependent, for example if your pedagogic considerations lead you to decide that students should have access to the web during exams, then the security issues you need to consider change.  My feeling is that only an off-the-shelf system will be sustainable for us, so I’m looking at commercial and open source systems that have already been developed. However, Computer Science obviously has a very particular relationship with the use of computers in teaching and assessment that may not be exploited by general purpose computer aided assessment.

LRMI / schema.org validation

We are currently preparing some examples of LRMI metadata. While these are intended to be informative only, we know that they will affect implementations more than any normative text we could put into a spec–I mean what developer reads the spec when you can just copy an example?  So it’s important that the examples are valid, … Continue reading LRMI / schema.org validation

We are currently preparing some examples of LRMI metadata. While these are intended to be informative only, we know that they will affect implementations more than any normative text we could put into a spec–I mean what developer reads the spec when you can just copy an example?  So it’s important that the examples are valid, and that set me to pulling together a list of tools & services useful for validating LRMI, and by extension schema.org.

Common things to test for:

  • simple syntax errors produced by typos, not closing tags and so on.
  • that the data extracted is valid schema.org / LRMI
  • using properties that don’t belong to the stated resource type, e.g. educationalRole should be a property of EducationalAudience not of CreativeWork.
  • loose or strict interpretation of expected value types, e.g. the author property should have a Person or Organization as its value, dates and times should be in iso 8601 format?
  • is the data provided for properties from the value space they should be? i.e. does the data provider use the controlled vocabulary you want?
  • check that values are provided for properties you especially require

[Hint, if it is the last two that you are interested in then you’re out of luck for now, but do skip to the “want more” section at the end.]

See also Structured Data Markup Visualization, Validation and Testing Tools by Jarno van Driel and Aaron Bradley.

Schema.org testing tools

Google structured data testing tool

https://developers.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool/ 

If Google is your target this is as close to definitive as you can get.  You can validate code on a server via a URL or by copying and pasting it into a text window, in return you get a formatted view of the data Google would extract.

Validates: HTML + microdata, HTML + RDFa, JSON-LD

Downsides: it used to be possible to pass the URL of the code to be validated as a query parameter appended to the testing tool URL and thus create a “validate this page” link, but that no longer seems to be the case.

Also, the testing tool reproduces Google’s loose interpretation of the spec, and will try to make the best sense it can of data that isn’t strictly compliant. So where the author of a creative work is supposed to be a schema.org/Person if you supply text, the validator will silently interpret that text as the name of a Person entity. Also dates not in ISO 8601 format get corrected (October 4 2012 becomes 2012-10-4 That’s great if your target is as forgiving as Google, but otherwise might cause problems.

But the biggest problem seems to be that pretty much any syntactically valid JSON-LD will validate.

Yandex structured data validator

https://webmaster.yandex.com/microtest.xml

Similar to the Google testing tool, but with slightly larger scope (validates OpenGraph and microformats as well as schema). Not quite as forgiving as Google, a date in format October 4 2012 is flagged as an error, and while text is accepted as a value for author it is not explicitly mapped to the author’s name.

Validates: HTML + microdata, HTML + RDFa, JSON-LD

Downsides: because the tool is designed to validate raw RDF / JSON-LD etc, just because something validates does not mean that it is valid schema.org mark up. For example, this JSON-LD validates:

{ "@context": [
    { 
         "@vocab": "http://Schema.org/"
    }
 ],
     "@type": "CreativeWork" ,
     "nonsense" : "Validates"
 }

Unlike the Google testing tool you do get an appropriate error message if you correct the @vocab URI to have a lower-case S, making this the best JSON-LD validator I found.

Bing  markup validator

http://www.bing.com/toolbox/markup-validator

“Verify the markup that you have added to your pages with Markup Validator. Get an on-demand report that shows the markup we’ve discovered, including HTML Microdata, Microformats, RDFa, Schema.org, and OpenGraph. To get started simply sign in or sign up for Bing Webmaster Tools.”

Downsides: requires registration and signing-in so I didn’t try it.

schema.org highlighter

http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_jmarks/LRMIViewerBookmarkTool

A useful feature of the validators listed above is that they produce something that is human readable. If you would like this in the context of the webpage, Paul Libbrecht has made a highlighter, a little bookmarklet that transforms the schema.org markup into visible paragraphs one can visually proof.

Translators and other parsers

Not validators as such, but the following will attempt to read microdata, RDFa or JSON-LD and so will complain if there are errors. Additionally they may provide human readable translations that make it easier to spot errors.

RDF Translator

http://rdf-translator.appspot.com/

“RDF Translator is a multi-format conversion tool for structured markup. It provides translations between data formats ranging from RDF/XML to RDFa or Microdata. The service allows for conversions triggered either by URI or by direct text input. Furthermore it comes with a straightforward REST API for developers.” …and of course is your data isn’t valid it won’t translate.

Validates pretty much any RDF / microdata format you care to name, either by entering text in a field or by reference via a URI.

Downsides: again purely syntactic checking, doesn’t check whether the code is valid schema.org markup.

Structured data linter

http://linter.structured-data.org/

Produces a nicely formatted, human readable representation of structured data.

Validates: HTML + microdata, HTML + RDFa either by URL, file upload or direct input.

Downsides:  another that is purely syntactic.

JSON-LD Playground

http://json-ld.org/playground/

A really useful tool for automatically simplifying or complexifying JSON-LD, but again only checks for syntactic validity.

Nav-North LR data

https://github.com/navnorth/LR-Data

“A Tool to help import the content of the Learning Registry into a data store of your choice” I haven’t tried this but it does attempt to parse JSON-LD so you would expect it to complain if the code doesn’t parse.

Want more?

The common shortcoming (for this use case anyway, all the tools are good at what they set out to do) seems to be validating whether the data extracted is actually valid schema.org or LRMI. If you want to validate against some application profile, say insisting that the licence information must be provided, or that values for learningResourceType come from some specified controlled vocabulary then you are in territory that none of the above tools even tries to cover. This is, however, in the scope of the W3C RDF Data Shapes Working Group “Mission: produce a W3C Recommendation for describing structural constraints and validate RDF instance data against those.”

A colleagues at Heriot-Watt has had students working (with input from Eric Pud’Hommeaux) on Validata “an intuitive, standalone web-based tool to help building valid RDF documents by validating against preset schemas written in the Shape Expressions (ShEx) language.”  It is currently set up to work to validate linked data against some pre-set application profiles used in the pharmaceuticals industry. With all the necessary caveats about it being student work, no longer supported, using an approach that is preliminary to the W3C working group, this illustrates how instance validation against a description of an application profile would work.

Linked learning highlights from Florence #LILE2015

I was lucky enough to go to Florence for some of the pre WWW2015 conference workshops because Stefan Dietze invited me to talk at the Linked Learning workshop “Learning & Education with the Web of Data“. Rather than summarize everything I saw I would like to give brief pointers to three presentations from that workshop and the “Web-base … Continue reading Linked learning highlights from Florence #LILE2015

davidI was lucky enough to go to Florence for some of the pre WWW2015 conference workshops because Stefan Dietze invited me to talk at the Linked Learning workshop “Learning & Education with the Web of Data“. Rather than summarize everything I saw I would like to give brief pointers to three presentations from that workshop and the “Web-base Education Technologies” (WebET 2015) workshop that followed it that were personal highlights. Many thanks to Stefan for organizing the conference (and also to the Spanish company Gnoss for sponsoring it).

Semantic TinCan

I’ve followed the work on Tin Can / xAPI / Experience API since its inception. Lorna and I put a section about it into our Cetis Briefing on Activity Data and Paradata, so I was especially interested in Tom De Nies‘s presentation on TinCan2PROV: Exposing Interoperable Provenance of Learning Processes Through Experience API Logs. Tin Can statements are basically elaborations of “I did this,” providing more information about the who, how and what referred to by those three words. Tom has a background in provenance metadata and saw the parallel between those statements and the recording of actions by agents more generally, and specifically with the model behind the W3C PROV ontology for recording information about entities, activities, and people involved in producing a piece of data or thing. Showing that TinCan can be mapped to W3C PROV is of more than academic interest: the TinCan spec provides only one binding, JSON but the first step of Tom’s work was to upgrade that to JSON-LD and then through the mapping to PROV allow any of the serializations for PROV to be used (RDF/XML, N3, JSON-LD), and to bring the Tin Can statements into a format that allows them to be used by semantic technologies. Tom is hopeful that the mapping is lossless, you can try it yourself at tincan2prov.org.

Linking Courses

I also have an increasing interest in the semantic representation of courses, there’s some interest in adding Courses to schema.org, but also within my own department some of us would like to explore advantages of moving away from course descriptors as PDF documents to something that could be a little more connected with each other and the outside world. Fouad Zablith’s presentation on Interconnecting and Enriching Higher Education Programs using Linked Data was like seeing the end point of that second line of interest. The data model Fouad uses combines a model of a course with information about the concepts taught and the learning materials used to teach them. Course information is recorded using Semantic MediaWiki to produce both human readable and linked data representations of the courses across a program of study. A bookmarklet allows information about resources that are useful for these courses to be added to the graph–but importantly attached via the concept that is studied, and so available to students of any course that teaches that concept. Finally, on the topic of several courses teaching the same concepts, sometimes such repetition is deliberate, but sometimes it is unwanted.

Showing which concepts (middle) from one course (left) occur in other courses (right). Image from Fouad Zablith's presentation (see link in text)
Showing which concepts (middle) from one course (left) occur in other courses (right). Image from Fouad Zablith’s presentation (see link in text)

Fouad  showed how analysis of the concept – course part of the graph could be useful it surfacing cases of where there were perhaps too many concepts in a course that had been previously covered elsewhere (see image, above)

Linking Resources

One view of a course (that makes especial sense to anyone who thinks about etymology) is that it is a learning pathway, and one view of a pathway is as an Directed Acyclic Graph, i.e. an ordered route through a series of resources.  In the WebET workshop,  Andrea Zielinski presented A Case Study on the Use of Semantic Web Technologies for Learner Guidance which modelled such a learning pathway as a directed graph and represented this graph using OWL 2 DL.  The conclusion to her paper says “The approach is applicable in the Semantic Web context, where distributed resources often are already annotated according to metadata standards and various open-source domain and user ontologies exist. Using the reasoning framework, they can be sequenced in a meaningful and user-adaptive way.” But at this stage the focus is on showing that the expressivity of OWL 2 DL is enough to represent a learning pathway and testing the efficiency of querying such graphs.

SICSA Databases for the Environmental and Social Sciences

Today I attended the SICSA Databases for the Environmental and Social Sciences event hosted by Andy Cobley from the University of Dundee. I gave the below talk on the challenges of linking data. Many areas of scientific discovery rely on combining data from multiples data sources. However there are many challenges in linking data. This […]

Today I attended the SICSA Databases for the Environmental and Social Sciences event hosted by Andy Cobley from the University of Dundee. I gave the below talk on the challenges of linking data.

Many areas of scientific discovery rely on combining data from multiples data sources. However there are many challenges in linking data. This presentation highlights these challenges in the context of using Linked Data for environmental and social science databases.

New Open PHACTS Explorer Released

The Open PHACTS Explorer has a shiny new interface that provides a web based application for searching and exploring the data in the Open PHACTS Discovery Platform. The video below (10 minutes) will demonstrate how to use the new Explorer and give you an overview of its features.

The Open PHACTS Explorer has a shiny new interface that provides a web based application for searching and exploring the data in the Open PHACTS Discovery Platform. The video below (10 minutes) will demonstrate how to use the new Explorer and give you an overview of its features.