For around a year now, Microsoft has been turning over a beta program, codename "Grava", which has formally been announced today with a new name. Microsoft Semblio is a set of software applications and design tools which will make learning content easier to make, and have better applications for students.
Part of Office 14, the next version of the Microsoft Office System, Semblio may have a stupid name but it has already been proven to increase collaboration amongst students.
But the problem is, it's hard to fully know what this is exactly. Both Mary-Jo and myself shrugged our shoulders at this a few weeks ago, and I'm still no closer to fully realising the potential of this new technology. Buzzwords, key phrases and other jargon doesn't really solve this problem for me, or other students I would reckon.
What I imagine it to be, is a "development tool" unlike no other. We've all dabbled a little in Visual Studio at some point, playing around and giving it a go. However Semblio isn't aimed at developers per se, but aimed at educators, academics and even students who wish to create learning content, in an easy to understand, interactive format, based on the Windows Presentation Foundation.
Some of the potential from this is interesting, and the entire technology is based around Silverlight. But this is nothing that Flash can't do already.
Although from the looks of the website, you will need developer skills - and that is something myself and most people do not have, nor want to learn.
I just don't know with this one. I can't put my finger on whether this is a good thing - a dedicated set of applications for students, or a bad thing - because the skills needed to work with Semblio (again, a stupid name) are simply not readily available.