According to the remit this group is to "deal with issues relating to further education in any other special interest groups".
The group is one result of JISC taking some responsibility for ICT innovation and implementation in Further as well as Higher Education. Most Colleges in England will have seen the hand of JISC in the installation of 2 meg links but unless involved in some of the JISC funded interoperability projects will have little knowledge or engagement in the world of standards.
The developing interoperability standards are there to ensure that one can both plug the components of a Managed Learning Environment (MLE) together and can 'play content, assessment and communication activities' without any restrictions through any combination of MLE resources.
Paradoxically although much research is being conducted in HE, it is Further educations JISC funded 'interoperability projects' which are testing 'the standards' for real. Suppliers of VLEs (Virtual Learning Environments) are having to prove that their software will communicate with the student information systems. Publishers are having to prove that their learning material will play through a VLE.
Such activity is raising the profile interoperability across FE and sectoral organisations such as Becta, LSDA and NILTA are further promoting the concepts. Regrettably there is much work going on across our 400+ institutions such as learning material development that is ignorant of these developments.
The slightly different remit of FE in Scotland (from south of the border) where some major Colleges are involved in research and development of online programmes is also having an impact
Some of the other 'standards specific' Special Interest Groupsí have not yet been able to encourage individuals from FE to become involved. This is regrettable although some of the talk is technical, opportunities for sharing experiences, tools and learning materials is missed.
Our remit, therefore, as co-ordinators of the FE Group is to raise awareness of interoperability and engagement in interoperability application within our sector.
Our strategy is as follows:
Develop an informal network of those within the sector who are involved in interoperability.
Inform national bodies that support FE (NILTA, LSDA, Ferl etc.) about interoperability developments
Support the implementation of eLearning projects within the FE sector.
Encourage colleagues from FE to attend 'standards specific' Special Interest Groups.
Provide a conduit for information on 'interoperability developments' to the FE sector.