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Eduzope initiative seeks to combine standards support with open source

Two trends are starting to dominate IT government policy making in Europe: standard compliance and open source licensing. E-learning is no exception there, and the Eduzope initiative has sprung up to cover both bases.

Though Eduzope would not be entirely unique in being both open source licensed and elearning standard compliant -the UK's Colloquia Managed Learning System (MLS) does both too, for example-, it could prove a valuable addition to a rather slim list. A clue to that value lies in the range of companies that have come together in the Eduzope alliance: XML authoring and publishing tool specialists (Infrae, Q42), workflow and collaboration infrastructure experts (OpenFlow, Bluedynamics), a user interaction/interface and content management system specialist (Plone) and a consultancy that focusses on elearning standards (OpenSource.AG). Combine that with the easy and rapid collaborative development strengths of the underlying Zope platform, and the result could be a suite that not only serves as a robust, standard compliant MLS, but functions as a powerful and easy to use collaborative authoring environment as well.

A strong authoring environment is particularly interesting because the Eduzope initiative has strong links with the Valkenburg group- the association of Education Modelling Language (EML) implementors. While the pedagogic strengths of EML and its derivatives (i.e. IMS Learning Design) are widely acknowledged, the potential complexity of a particular EML learning design means that decent authoring tools are quite important. The Eduzope initiative seeks to support not just EML, but also some IMS specs and particularly CEN/ISSS recommendations. The initiative has been invited to give a presentation to the CEN/ISSS Learning Technologies Workshop in Copenhagen in December, with a view to become the official CEN/ISSS reference platform.

The operative word in all of this, however, is 'could'. At the moment, the project is just beginning and coding work will only start in earnest when funding has been secured. Though the contributing companies will hope to create some revenue from support, customisation and consultancy fees once Eduzope is widely deployed, additional capital is needed to start development now. This is unlikely to concern a great deal of money, as the main components (the workflow engine, the content management engine, the database, various authoring tools) are all already there, but need updating, optimalisation and, above all, integration.

More information is available from the Eduzope website.

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