Filling out the E-Learning Framework boxes
The results of the first JISC/CETIS conference in Oxford are now available online. The conference brought together specialists from a number of international e-learning initiatives with all current JISC sponsored e-learning technology development projects. Purpose: to start filling out all those boxes in the E-Learning Framework (ELF), but also to give geeks and regular people an opportunity to explore trends in e-learning technology in general.
In all, some 164 people from initiatives as diverse as the US Higher Ed. Sakai project, Britain's University for Industry (UfI), Australia's Macquarie E-Learning Centre Of Excellence (MELCOE) and the Norwegian Estandard project came to the Kassam stadium in Oxford. Partly to show of what they were doing, but also to learn what connections there are to any of the eight current JISC e-learning tools strand projects, and the twenty two projects funded under the JISC's Distributed E-Learning projects strand.
Since this was the first time that all of the current JISC e-learning developments met, a lot of the work that went on was about knowledge transfer: getting an idea about what others had already accomplished, and were about to do. That's not limited to just technical know how about web services and Application Program Interfaces (APIs), but also very much about the human interaction level of different domains within the e-learning sphere. The 'who does what and why', rather than just the 'how'.
To that end, the bulk of the conference consisted of not just plenaries of the great and good (though the international partners in the E-Learning Framework all gave an overview that is required viewing for anyone interested in the framework), but mostly of workshops of domain experts and technologists. Split into domains such as Assessment, Learning Design, Repositories and Personal Learning and Research Environments, they mapped out that terrain, indicated what was happening, and what needs to happen next.
This was reported on the second day to a wider audience of the great and the good, while the techies got down and dirty about how to forge interoperability between systems in the same functional domain, as well as across them.
Finally, specific technology communities such as the uPortal architects and implementors, or researchers working with Sakai had their opportunity to touch base. One of these communities had its first proper formal meeting: the new CETIS Developer's Forum. This community has come out of a grass roots desire of people building software development kits in the ELF to have a forum to argue over SOAP, WSDL, web service choreography and other nuts and bolts that make a service oriented approach to e-learning reality.
A far more extensive write up and links to all presentations is available on the new JISC/CETIS e-elearning programme website.