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The Firewall in the Mind (Slide 29)
Serendipitous outcomes: explaining ERP

ERP started off applying the tools at hand to their classroom teaching situation by creating PowerPoint slides to present the curriculum we were teaching at the time and integrate it with recorded sounds, which we received permission from the publisher to digitize for in-house use. They then moved into Hot Potatoes and were soon rearranging the frames and disassembling the JavaScript in order to put sounds, video, and whole websites into the various frames. They used Visual Basic Script and DHTML to develop recursive elements on web pages to create a Student Center that would allow students to find their teachers' web pages and include elements that changed content each day without maintenance. Next to appear on Randy's desk was a book on Java, while Paul got into Access database management, and soon they had automated many administrative tasks through a Teacher Central page that teachers could use as their home base on our LAN. They used a challenge response feature working across NT and IE5 to recognize each user who logged on and personalize the features for teachers and administrators. Teachers can use the page to click on the lesson of the day. They can create supplementary materials and upload them to the server, and the database organizes them according to the curriculum structure and allows teachers to provide feedback on them so they can be improved or integrated into the curriculum. Their work has enabled us to integrate our students smoothly into our LAN, for their work to be stored on the server, and for evaluators to access their work against certain criteria through links off the Teacher Central page.

Ed, Randy, and Paul are exactly the guys we could never have predicted would have emerged from the mix of ingredients we set up. They are prime examples of the success of our formula, vindication of the notion that if you nurture judiciously assembled materials and manpower it is possible to get out of the deal more than you anticipated when you set up the system. But they are only tips of the iceberg at the MLI. There are many others like them promoting technological development down many tangents at the MLI.

These are truly serendipitous outcomes. It's important to keep in mind that for the most part these people didn't the skills they are putting into practice now at the MLI when they started working there.

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Last updated: May 24, 2001 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0