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DEMML

Distributable Educational Material Markup LanguageTM

News:

First Alpha version of schema published.

Though it is still rough and only covers the fundamental constituents of a DEMML™ topic, the DEMML_0.1 schema is available for viewing here.

Created DEMML™ blog site.

It took me a while to get around to creating a blog but it is finally up. (Updated July 8, 2009)
click here...

Added new Features and Benefits page.

DEMML is truely unique but I seem to have a hard time getting people to see that. Hopefully this will help. (Updated Dec. 10, 2007)
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New Powerpoint about Communications Systems

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History:

How DEMML™ was Invented

Necessity truly is the mother of invention.
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Objective Three: Distribution

A means must be devised to distribute this material very simply and easily so that any educational organization can quickly get set up to store and forward whichever portion of the available material they choose to the students in their local area. This is important because full time internet connections are not available everywhere in the world that students may want to study. Those connections that are available in remote areas are often quite slow so it doesn’t make sense for each student to re-download all the material they need individually. However, nothing will prevent students from downloading material from other sources if their local server does not have what they want or need. The system for finding all this additional content will be seamless and transparent to the user.

The DEMML™ format is designed so that the content can be stored in a simple computer directory structure rather than a complicated database. The directory structure and naming system has already been devised so that content can easily be copied from one server to another using simple scripts and mirroring software which is readily available at no cost. A three tiered structure will be set up. There will be one main central content server. A domain name (demml.net) has already been registered for this server. A collection of special “mirror” servers will be set up at various major universities around the world. The internet domain names of these servers will follow the pattern demml.university.edu or perhaps demml.department.university.edu. Any accredited university can volunteer to set up one of these servers. These servers will be required to copy all of the content in all of the languages that are commonly used in their region of the world. The third tier will be the local servers which may be in local school district offices or even in a hut in one of the larger villages in the middle of any third world country. The domain names must start with “demml.” but can be tacked onto any existing domain name used within the organization. These servers are only required to copy content that they expect their local students to be interested in. This reduces the bandwidth consumed by copying content out to all local servers and allows the local servers to be relatively small, and inexpensive.

The system is also designed so that the content can easily be made available to the public using simple web-server software. Each folder contains an HTML index of the content within that folder with links to all the child folders under it. No other software is required on the server to provide this content to the user. No “server side code” is required in the HTML. This is software that runs on the server to do special things like automatically generate a web page specially designed for a particular user. Server side code and additional “internet facing software” (software, such as a database engine, running on a server which listens for and responds to signals from the internet) introduce many potential vulnerabilities and require a great deal of expertise to set up and keep running reliably. By sticking to standard, well-tested web server software, easy set-up and long term reliability of the system is assured. While the content may contain “active” items (multimedia, java programs, etc.) all of that activity will take place on the user’s computer and is all compatible with standard, modern web browsers.

Finally, the format is also designed so that users can easily copy content among themselves. Educators can post content of their own creation on their own web sites for users to download and integrate into their personal databases (although that content will not be marked as official, vetted DEMML™ content). Users can simply e-mail content to each other, copy it over a network or use a USB memory stick. All content will also be marked to indicate the minimum requirements of any device used to display each particular item. This enables users to easily select content to be synchronized to mobile devices for even easier study on the go.

Finally, the most important benefit of distributing the content all the way down to the local servers is that it vastly increases the availability of the content even in the most remote areas. There is a separate project under way called “One Laptop Per Child” wherein very inexpensive laptops are being manufactured and distributed to children all over the world. Unfortunately, without a continuous internet connection, the functionality of these laptops is limited. Broadband internet connectivity is spreading throughout the world but there are still many remote areas where people have to walk ten miles for water, let alone an internet connection. For many children throughout the world, the closest internet connection is a day’s walk away or more. And that connection is likely to be a slow dialup modem connection. With DEMML™, a small server could be set up anywhere a phone connection is available. That server could connect to the internet only once a month and download any new material pertinent to the local population. If a child or their parent only made their way into the village with the server once a year they could still easily connect to that server and download all the content their entire family may need for that entire year in minutes. And the server wouldn’t even need to be connected to the internet at the time. It would even be possible to distribute content to local servers by horse or camel simply by burning the content to a DVD and sending it out on the next caravan. DEMML™ ensures that no one will ever have to be an education “have not” again.

Next: Objective Four: Display...

First Published: April 12, 2007 — Last Modified: April 16, 2007
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