Testing software in BCcampus’ digital sandbox

BCcampus’ sandbox is like a test kitchen for technology. You get to play around with ingredients and a recipe (software application) before you decide whether to put it on your menu (curriculum).

sandbox with toysThe sandbox helps you make informed decisions.

Let’s say there’s an open source software application that you’ve been thinking about using in your classroom or at your institution. (The Canvas learning management system might be one example.) But you don’t know how or if it will work. And you don’t have the resources to test it for yourself. That’s where a sandbox concept comes into play.

A sandbox provides a contained, structured setting for testing how the software would help your teaching and learning. But it’s not just you and the software playing in this sandbox—there will be folks from other colleges and universities in it too.

It’s a collaborative process.

BCcampus’ sandbox provides a shared process that is both structured and well documented. The info gathered during every sandbox endeavor is publicly posted on the site, so the entire PSE system can use it to make decisions about new and up-and-coming educational tools.

Its first sandbox project is the study of an open-source web conferencing application called Big Blue Button. Eight post-secondary institutions are taking part in the six-month Big Blue Button projectCapilano University, College of New Caledonia, College of the Rockies, Douglas College, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, University of British Columbia, Vancouver Community College.

Sandbox projects have to meet a certain criteria.

To be considered for a BCcampus sandbox undertaking, the software you want to try out has to be web-based and open source.

It also must have the potential to support teaching and learning practices at many colleges and universities. Projects will be limited to four per year, and with two to five institutions taking part in each one.

The notion of a sandbox for technology is not new. The idea is based on successful methods used by the University of Waterloo and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Guitar Hero and E-ink (used for Kindle and Kobo e-readers) were conceived in the MIT Media Lab.

For more information about this PSE sandbox and how it can help you make software choices visit BCcampus sandbox.


Notable quotes:

“In order to make an informed decision we have to have some process to be able to say at the end of the day “yeah” or “nay”. By putting these checkpoints and evaluations in place we can put a qualitative and quantitative approach to it and say, “yes, this looks like a good idea, let’s go ahead.” – Frank Fucile, Client Services Manager, BCcampus

The sandbox should be a playful place and most of us will learn if you create that sort of environment of inclusion and play. – Frank Fucile, Client Services Manager, BCcampus

Learn more:


Photo credit: sandbox© 2008 Jorunn D. Newth, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0





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