Recently I have been studying Outline Processor Markup Language (OPML), "an XML-based format that allows exchange of outline-structured information between applications running on different operating systems and environments" (source), and thinking about the potential of OPML files and OPML tools for instructional delivery.
About two weeks ago, shortly before I attended "OPML Camp", a conference of computer programmers engaged in building tools based on OPML, I Skyped with a friend about one tool, the OPML Editor, which allows one to edit OPML files. During our conversation, my friend and I experimented with the OPML Editor, each of us sharing our "instant outline" (a web-based OPML file) with the other. OPML files can also be edited online.
In thinking about the educational potential of OPML files and tools, I've come to favor the idea of placing browsable OPML files within web pages, so that all one needs to see them is a web browser. I wanted to share this experiment with you. It's here. In addition, a direct link to the OPML browser I've used (Grazr) is here.
The OPML browser (Grazr) affords portable access to a readable trasformation of an OPML file. Other OPML browsers include Optimal and OPML Browser. Those enabled with php (you know who you are) may even host your own copy Optimal. The wiki is useful, I think, for organizing a number of browsable OPML outlines.
OPML files can "include" other OPML files. They can also "include" RSS feeds and links to other web-based documents. Thus, in many cases, it might be possible to replace a web site (and its maintenance headaches) with a single OPML document.
I invite you to take a look at OPML and join me in conversation about how OPML files might be used in education.
Links included in this message:
Optimal OPML Browser
My Instant Outline
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