The Goodthink Project

Dale Hills, Waikato UniversityPart of XW12

Development of the goodthink project was driven by the evolving necessity to provide appropriate teaching and learning technology to staff and students in an increasingly BYOD environment. Most tertiary institutions have been very good at providing formal, face-to-face teaching technology in lecture theaters and classrooms. However, less attention and consideration has been given to the need for technology in the informal spaces where students congregate and can work collaboratively with each other outside the traditional classroom. This area of research is known as ‘informal learning space design’ and it is possible to provide the infrastructure and technology in any hallway, foyer, cafe or library where there is space, furniture and access to power & wireless Internet access. Our desire to provide this technology was driven by some of the positive outcomes and installations that other Universities have achieved. However, we were dismayed by the high cost of entry to some of the current costly proprietary systems that are available now. As a result, we reflected on the tools and services already available on campus and began to imagine how we might provide an informal, collaborative environment for our community.

Goodthink was prototyped on an Apple Mac Mini using exclusively open source components and existing operating system frameworks (10.7+). The goodthink system provides a wireless network for clients to connect to, along with a web interface and captive portal to route new connections to the collaborative environment (currently powered by Google Apps but other collaborative solutions are available). Connected users are free to interact with the goodthink central screen, open collaborative documents on their own devices and connect to other web resources via the goodthink wireless network (as restrictions permit).  The goal is to produce a system functionally equivalent to commercial environments such as Teamspot, using exclusively free components.

We propose a live assembly of a working goodthink collaborative environment in a hands on workshop.  Dale would explain the rationale for the development of goodthink and the pedagogical uses of the prototype, summarize some research into collaborative technologies in academia and then explain each component of the system as attendees assembles a working mockup.  Attendees would then be invited to join the collaborative environment remotely from their own devices.

Goodthink Project Web Site