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Articles for managers

Joint CETIS-TechDis Accessibility and CETIS Assessment SIG Meeting
The meeting will have the theme of "Accessible Assessment" and will seek to raise the issues, which still need to be addressed in this area.

Portfolio reference models and interoperability
This meeting of the Portfolio SIG will discuss interoperability and related issues directly and in some detail. It will be informed by the discussions on Jiscmail's CETIS-PORTFOLIO and CETIS-PORTFOLIO-DEV.

CETIS wins new JISC interoperability service contract
You might well wonder if providing a service about interoperability standards for JISC isn't what CETIS has been doing for quite a while now; you'd be right, it has. The new contract means a step change in the way CETIS will fulfill that service to the community, though.

UCISA workshop slides
The slides and the audio for a talk I gave recently entitled "Challenges for Institutions in Adapting to the Global Information Infrastructure" at the joint ULKON/UCISA/CETIS workshop "Initiatives & Innovation: Managing Disruptive Technologies" are linked from this page.

Joint Portfolio SIG & Lifelong Learning Group Meeting

Tech-Ed Funding to be Tied to Copyright-Ed?
Bit of a parochial US issue (I hope), but interesting nonetheless. A california assemblyman wants any funding for educational technology to require teaching students how bad copyright infringement is. Obvious responses include a) he's been bought and b) cash for teaching my message is not a good idea. Beyond that, however, it shows the fairly extraordinary lenghts the copyright cartels are prepared to go to in order to convince the rest of us that making a copy of something is a crime. It looks as if the punishment part of the campaign is working in that fewer people use the p2p networks for fear of prosecution, but moves like the californian assemblyman's show that they're not making a lot of headway in making the public believe that it's wrong.

CETIS Assessment SIG meeting
The next CETIS Assessment SIG meeting will focus on issues around eassessment policy and practice, and look at likely future developments.

PLE Reference Model Presentation
Fresh from the CETIS Conference yesterday where our Reference Model presentation sparked off a lively debate. Thanks to all those who contributed and helped take these ideas on. Several people asked for the slides so here they are.

Blackboard to acquire WebCT
For the academic sector, this looks like the final act of consolidation in the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) market. The two former rivals will officially merge, but much larger Blackboard will provide the brand name for the resulting company.

New CETIS briefings available
The ever-popular series of CETIS briefings on e-learning standards just received two new additions, two major updates, and some tweaking on others.

e-learning tech that is fit for purpose, innovative and sustainable
Educational technology interoperability standards are at something of a crossroads; the first generation of them are either in wide use, superceded, or in the process of final maturation. In the mean time, open source and service oriented architectures have changed the landscape considerably. Time, then, to re-examine the place of these specs in the wider development of e-learning technology.

ALT-C 2005: Exploring the Frontiers of e-Learning - Borders, Outposts and Migration
The ALT-C Conference has a number of themes relating to the e-learning - including: Architectures and Infrastructures, Collaboration, Design and Development, and Implementation.

Digesting Alt-I-Lab 2005
Since it is the biggest e-learning interoperability do on the calendar, alt-i-lab is both a good bellwether for new trends, and a bit of a powerpoint blizzard. From Professor Laurillard's high level and wide ranging vision of the UK e-learning strategy, to the pithy pronouncements of Sakai's Brad Wheeler, we pick some highlights.

It's a LOM binding, Jim, but not as we know it
For most people who have to describe digital learning resources, IMS Meta-Data is just the ticket. It provides almost everything: the model for the record, the method of encoding it and the means of checking the record. With the new IEEE LOM XML binding, that will change in some subtle ways.

OKI and IMS, wires and sockets revisited
Two years ago, at the alt-i-lab conference in Boston, the relation of the Open Knowledge Initiative's (OKI) Open Service Interface Definitions (OSIDs) with IMS's specifications was discussed at length. Now, just before this year's alt-i-lab conference, the OKI - IMS relation is finalised at the process and part of the spec level. One the wider, technical level, the merits of combining OSIDs with web services will be demonstrated during alt-i-lab in Sheffield.

Bodington Buzz - making learning more effective
The LAMS learning design package has recently been released as Open Source; TOIA is a highly regarded assessment engine free to UK Education institutions; Personal Development Planning is becoming increasingly required for institutional assessments either using blogging, e-portfolios or other methods; institutions are increasingly looking to share data in a secure way with other collaborating institutions with Shibboleth technology being favoured. All these topics are addressed in the JISC e-learning framework, and all have been integrated using the Bodington VLE.

JISC Legal Conference: Legal Aspects of Online Learning
The JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) Legal Conference will be covering a variety of legal issues regarding online learning.

LAMS is open source
As promised by the roadmap that was presented last summer, the IMS Learning Design 'inspired' Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) is now available as open source software. In a ceremony at Macquarie University, a LAMS launch CD with the system, documentation and case studies was presented, and is now available as a free download.

CETIS Assessment SIG meeting
The sixteenth CETIS Assessment SIG meeting will cover a range of issues around CAA and interoperability standards.

The Case for Creative Commons Textbooks
According to a recent survey, University of California students now spend 40 percent more on textbooks than they did six years ago. We argue that colleges and universities may be able to significantly reduce these costs by creating a coalition for the acquisition and distribution of electronic textbooks.

Third CETIS/LIFE codebash goes public
To test the interoperability of educational content, metadata and services there's nothing like getting files into and out of as many different tools as possible. Better yet, get the developers of those tools into one room, and let them sort out any issues. CETIS codebashes do just that, but the third iteration had some differences: it was co-organised with the European LIFE (Learning Interoperability Framework for Europe) project and some of the files are now public.

CORDRA or reconciling local repositories and global federations
These days, many elearning community virtually define themselves by setting up their own repositories, each with its own technology choices, metadata and content. Which is fine, but it can mean that the community can miss out on great resources made elsewhere. The CORDRA (Content Object Repository Discovery and Registration/Resolution Architecture) initiative seeks to reconcile these local concerns with global reach. A report of a two day workshop on the topic is now available.

Free Web Conference on Maximising Accessibility in Academic and Public Libraries
"This EASI Web conference presentation will offer a holistic approach to creating accessible libraries of all types."

Free Web Conference on Software Accessibility, Usability Testing and Individuals with Disabilities
This conference will be based on the paper: Software Accessibility, Usability Testing and Individuals with Disabilities by Sheryl Burgstahler, Tracy Jirikowic, Beth Kolko, and Matt Eliot.

LionShare releases personal repository milestone
Born of the recognition that the vast majority of learning and teaching material lives on peoples' PCs, the LionShare project aims to provide a simple and trusted way to share those materials with others. The open source application isn't quite done yet, but a useable beta has just been released.

NLN material plugs OK
*update* Prototype materials for the latest round of National Learning Network (NLN) content development have been successfully tested. After a round of trialling and testing by a number of different colleges and educational centres, the interoperable packages were presented in Birmingham by the five content vendors. Unlike previous batches, this round of content procurement by the NLN is aimed exclusively at Adult and Community Learning (ACL).

Beyond the Red Tape, Are the needs of governments, institutions, and learners inherently at odds with e-learning?
Why do many teachers and lecturers feel reluctant to use IT in their courses? Is it just an aversion to trying out new things, are they afraid of technology, or do they have justifiable reasons based on their teaching practices? Are the Government and educational institutions doing enough to support and promote e-learning, or do they actually hinder its adoption? Are things like traditional exam methods to blame? Or is it the measures by which teachers are externally audited?

Getting to grips with Learning Design
The IMS Learning Design workshop in Valkenburg is well under way now, with the first real life experiences of authoring and running Units of Learning (UoL) being uploaded for other people to test. We chatted with a couple of participants.

Look ma, no metadata forms
It's long been recognised that adding meaningful descriptions is one of the more unpopular and error prone aspects of creating learning objects. One solution that has been touted for a pretty long time is to leave the chore to the machines, but practical solutions have been relatively rare. There is now an open source solution from one of the founders of the Learning Object Metadata standard (LOM): Ariadne.

Patents, Open Standards and Open Source
In the last few months, there's been quite a lot to do about software patents: the idea of claiming intellectual property rights over ideas implemented in software, rather than just copyright over the software itself. An issue that used to just exercise corporate lawyers in the US is now starting to hit educational institutions everywhere, including the UK.

Sentient launch repository with Word interface
In a bid to make the authoring part of learning object lifecycle easier for non-specialists, Sentient has anounced the availability of a new repository on the UK market, LearnBase.

CELEBRATE Evaluation Report
A hefty pdf (1.8 Mb, 202 pages) outlining the outcomes of the large, 30 month Context eLearning with Broadband Technologies (CELEBRATE) project. A fair few case studies and a firm focus on the practicalities of using learning objects in schools make it well worth a (skim) read. Inevitably, some of the lofty goals of the project at the start have not quite come out as intended. For example, the question whether interoperability standards make reuse of material any easier could not be addressed systematically. Still, the finding that interoperability was as much down to minimal standards of hard- and software infrastructure in schools as the format of the objects themselves is worth bearing in mind. Thanks to EdTechPost for the link.

The state of standards at Online Educa 2004
In amongst many, many other things, Berlin's Online Educa 2004 conference had almost a full day's worth of events on the topic of educational interoperability standards. Since the morning's session was mostly about content interoperability, and the afternoon session about collaborative technology, the panel discussion at the end made for some pretty clear contrasts about where different people think interoperability standards are.

Exam in Hull, results from Glasgow
The TOIA (Technologies for Online Interoperable Assessment) project has successfully run a formative maths exam that took place in Hull on a TOIA server in Glasgow. The hosted service for the QTI compliant system is designed to make it easier to use for those (UK) institutions that don't have the resources or inclination to run a TOIA server of their own.

Fifteenth CETIS Assessment SIG Meeting
The fifteenth CETIS Assessment SIG meeting will take place on Wednesday 26 January 2005 at the University of York.

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.

Second National Workshop and Tutorial on Handheld Computers in Universities and Colleges
This event will focus on handheld computers and mobile learning. It is aimed at lecturers, teachers, staff developers and learning technologists.

IMS releases ePortfolio spec
*updated* Most of the guts of the public draft of the spec aren't entirely new, but it does draw together parts from a number of existing IMS specs, and shows how they can be used to contruct a variety of different kinds of ePortfolio that can be exchanged between different systems. Significant potential gotcha: there's a known licensed patent on part of the spec.

Bodington Buzz: Introduction to the Bodington VLE System
With the growing interest in open source solutions for Virtual Learning Environments, the Bodington team would like to invite you to a free one-day seminar demonstrating the Bodington Open Source VLE system.

Web services what Web services?
Throughtful article by Derek Morrison at Auricle. It deals with the question of what webservices are, but also tackles the necessity of a good demonstrator to show what it can do. Some services will be rolling out of the first development of the ELF soon and will be demonstrated in November. Still, setting up a simple page of demonstrators of these services on the planned ELF test server would be a good idea.

Intrallect wins JORUM UK national repository contract
With the awarding of the 250.000 GBP contract, the JISC sponsored JORUM project will start the transition to a national repository of learning materials, to be made available to the UK Further and Higher Education by August 2005.

Microsoft extends webservices, IMS Enterprise and LIP support
The extended support consists of a raft of new, education specific features built on the Microsoft BizTalk 2004 platform. The lot is known as the Enterprise Services Framework (ESF), and essentially aims to be the traffic cop in the heterogenous, multi-platform environment of a typical FE or HE network. It can take information in wide variety of forms, and push it out again in standard and not so standard formats.

Alt-I-Lab results: mind the gap...
between user expectation of interoperability and reality. Or so the University of Waterloo's Tom Carey thought. And repeated it in at least four other varieties of English to make sure the message hit home. Because last week's was the second alt-i-lab, we can begin to look at whether the participants in the interoperability fest are actually closing that gap.

Open source e-learning technology hits prime time
So stand by for the inevitable backlash. But seriously: the relation of open source to open standards was the topic of the opening debate of the big alt-i-lab e-learning technology interoperability do, the open sourcing of LAMS was announced there, the increasingly popular Open Source ePortfolio Initiative (OSPI) held a conference right before it, open source reference implementations were mentioned by nearly everyone there, most of the hotly debated service oriented approaches to MLE design rely wholy or in part on open source components, and even Microsoft announced its inimitable take on the phenomenon by launching a 'shared source' webservices kit for Class server.

LAMS to be open sourced, partnership programme announced
After an announcement of the imminent open sourcing of the Learning Design 'inspired' Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) at a special meeting held by the Department for Education and Skills in London last week, LAMS lead developer James Dalziel announced the beta partnership programme at the Alt-I-lab interoperability conference in Redwood City, California. Both moves are designed the make the popular and pedagogically innovative tool readily accessible, sustainable and convergent with the IMS Learning Design interoperability specification.

Most effective pedagogic technique ever or 21st century cannon fodder processor?
As Centre for Recording Achievement (CRA) director Rob Ward reminded the audience, the dream of a lifelong learning record is hardly new. Yet considerable political will at the national and European level, combined with an increasingly networked world and maturing technical standards mean that the dream is getting rather closer now. But what about the nightmare scenarios of invaded privacy, litigated universities, and co-erced or apathetic learners? The CETIS pedagogy forum organised a debate to consider the consequences.

UK Ministry of Defence contracts BT for e-learning system
As most large organisations have found at some point, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) found that a) its training requirements can't be met by face to face education alone, and b) its e-learning provision is patchy and disconnected. So a plan was drawn up, and British Telecom awarded about 25 million pounds to provide a system for up to 300.000 users. That's one single system...

Web services stuff we can nick
From an education sector point of view, one of the nice things about a service oriented architecture (SOA) is that the commercial world is heading the same way. IT vendors have seen the signs and have been huddling together in a range of acronyms to bash out service specifications for all sorts of things- and implementing them too. We have a look at some of the latest specs that we could help ourselves to.

Metadata and Digital Repository SIG Meeting

A British Standard for the Accessibility of e-Learning Systems and Content
This is an open meeting to discuss the requirements for the British Standard for the Accessibility of e-Learning Systems and Content.

HEFCE presents more details of UKeU restructuring plans
Following the restructuring announcement earlier this year, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has announced more details about the future of the troubled UK e-Universities (UKeU) project.

Same area, different goals; Sakai and the JISC Framework Programme
With Managed Learning Environment (MLE) implementation increasingly moving from theory to practice, two major initiatives come along at once. One will deliver a customisable but complete 'community source' MLE, the other a means of stitching together an MLE out of bits you already have or want. We talk to Chuck Severance of Sakai and Tish Roberts and Scott Wilson of the JISC Framework Programme about differences and similarities.

Blackboard, OUNL deal widens Learning Design access
IMS Learning Design and Educational Modelling Language (EML) pioneers the Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL) and Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) makers Blackboard inc. have inked a strategic alliance that allows the OUNL's Edubox player to be integrated with the Blackboard VLE and portal. The deal will make it easier for institutions with Blackboard installations to take advantage of the pedagogic flexibility and power of EML, or, in the near future, IMS Learning Design.

Canadian ADL Partnership Lab opens
With the new ADL Lab in Ottawa, Canada will be the second non-US site in the ADL co-lab network. In a sense, it is a return to base, as the Canadian forces had quite an input in the early development of the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) e-learning format.

JISC sponsored assessment management software beta released
The TOIA (Technologies for Online Interoperable Assessment) project is a JISC sponsored software development collaboration with Freedom2Learn Ltd. Together, the two have developed a server based system that manages questions and tests from just display to a fully managed high stakes test. The service is free for UK institutions, and available to buy for everyone else.

Community and conformance
It's the quintessential paradox of technology standards: enforcing a technical standard, while supporting the peculiar demands of a specific community. Such an exercise in cake possession and consumption is now undertaken by the EU Framework Programme 6 (FP6) sponsored TELCERT project, who aim to give national and/or occupational communities the tools to define their own application profiles, and the means to test conformance to them.

Metadata Quality in e-Learning: Garbage In - Garbage Out?
One of the first things I ever learned as a schoolgirl about computers and computer programming was the acronym GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. As a grownup librarian working in e-learning, I was surprised to find a few years back that those who were thinking about metadata for learning objects appeared to have forgotten this truism.

Major single sign-on work starts in the UK and Australia
It should be so simple: just log in once, then get access to all networks, electronic journals, learning objects, applications and sundry other stuff that you have the right to access. But experience teaches that isn't so easy, yet. Two programmes are addressing this problem of authentication, authorisation and access in truly networked environments. Many more are waiting to see how they could benefit from the outcomes.

Blackboard files for IPO at SEC
Some suit type acronyms for a change: it means that Blackboard the VLE maker will be listed on the stock exchange: as BBBB on Nasdaq, to be precise. Quite an achievement for an almost pure e-learning vendor. Link via Edtechpost and Online Learning Update

Pan European Portals Conference 2004
Focussing on the move from pilots and feasibility studies to campus-wide implementation of a portal, this event will provide the opportunity for managers and developers to check out what's happening in portal developments within HE and FE.

JISC programme to foster the pick 'n mix MLE
The concept of an institutional learning environment that provides the information that people need, when and where they want it has been around for a while, but has not been easy to realise. The JISC's new e-learning programme includes the e-learning technical framework strand, that is designed to make it more do-able. Now that the first call for technical framework projects is out, we look at what the framework sets out to achieve and how it intends to get there.

Flagship UKeU e-learning project faces major restructuring
Following disappointing student numbers and serious difficulty in raising private finance, the UK e-Universities has been asked by government funders to come up with a restructuring plan before April. The emphasis should shift from commercial provision of courses to supporting e-learning development in the state universities.

Fostering interoperability, Japanese style
Japan's Advanced Learning Infrastructure Consortium (ALIC) has been promoting e-learning interoperability standards in their part of the world, much like Industry Canada, SURF SiX or CETIS. Except that it funds single open source implementations of specifications. By Japan's main educational software vendors themselves. We ask ALIC's Kyoshi Nakabayashi about their experiences with the approach.

eLearning: Strategy, Development and Standards
A workshop about the Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI) e-learning specifications. The workshop will offer two strands. One, aimed at software developers and other information technologists. The second strand is aimed at educational and industry leaders and decision-makers, and will address the overall educational standards and specifications landscape.

eLearning Results 2004
This is the second of the standards focussed e-learning conference organised by VLE maker Giunti. This edition focusses on implementation and streamlining rather than new specs and practices. The conference will be preceded by workshops on IMS Learning Design, SCORM 2004, OKI, and SCORM and AICC Certification.

CopperCore to power Learning Design implementations
The Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL) has just released CopperCore: an IMS Learning Design engine, the first of its kind. Rather than provide a complete take-it-or-leave-it Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), the open source package is designed to be integrated into a range of existing e-learning infrastructures.

Sakai formally announces partnership programme
The standards based, open source Managed Learning Environment (MLE) development project has started its Sakai Educational Partners Programme (SEPP). The programme is run by Jim Farmer of Ja-SIG fame.

W3C releases major Semantic Web building blocks
The ambitious, five year old vision of the Semantic Web is a major step closer following the release of the Resource Description Framework (RDF) and the Ontology Web Language (OWL) as full World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommendations. We assess what it is and what it might mean for e-elearning.

JISC Conference 2004
Delegates will be given opportunities to learn about the full range of JISC’s work by participating in seminars, debates, workshops and demonstrations. In the exhibition area, JISC services and initiatives will be able to provide you with advice and guidance on a range of support and resources available to your institution.

UCISA Management Conference 2004
The Conference is aimed at senior staff with a responsibility for the strategic planning of information and computing services within a changing university information services environment. The focus of the conference is on putting customers first.

International Plugfest 1
The International Relations and Security Network (ISN) will host the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) International Plugfest 1 in Switzerland. International Plugfest 1 will begin with pre-conference workshops on Monday, February 16, 2004. On Tuesday, February 17 a Global e-Learning Summit will be hosted for participating international organizations to brief the Community on the current status of their adoption and implementation of e-Learning standards in general and the SCORM in particular.

Bridging the Divide workshop
Not an event about the digital divide between digital haves and have nots in the wider world, but a JISC consultation workshop that will examine the exploitation of ICT in lifelong learning and the seamless service that JISC and its partners are aiming to achieve, particularly in the following key areas: connectivity, data transfer and student and staff information skills. Presentations and discussion groups will explore:

Bridging the Divide workshop
Not an event about the digital divide between digital haves and have nots in the wider world, but a JISC consultation workshop that will examine the exploitation of ICT in lifelong learning and the seamless service that JISC and its partners are aiming to achieve, particularly in the following key areas: connectivity, data transfer and student and staff information skills. Presentations and discussion groups will explore:

Beyond the Learner: Student and Government Perceptions of the E-Learning Experience
Organised by Oxford University's Learning Technologies Group and sponsored by the JISC Committee for Learning and Teaching (JCLT), this conference aims to let education managers, Learners, Vendors and ICT Developers debate high level questions about the desirability and direction of e-learning.

ePortfolio London 2004
Following the success of the first international conference wholly devoted to the ePortfolio (electronic or digital portfolio) in Poitiers, the European Institute for ELearning (EIfEL) and the Cass Business School have great pleasure in inviting you to a follow-up event in London, to move the agenda forwards.

IMS presents public draft of Enterprise Services, reference implementation to follow soon
IMS Enterprise Services for Web Services is in effect a successor to Enterprise; IMS' venerable spec for person and group management. Where the old one was just a data format, the new provides a means to exchange, say, enrollment data between a VLE and student record system dynamically. A reference implementation was developed by CETIS at the same time, and will be available at the same time as the full release.

Portal or VLE?
Challenging rant from Derek Morrison at what looks like a blog that's well worth watching: auricle, the blog of the elearning at Bath team. This post is about the paucity of genuine interoperability, mainly because of the tendency of some vendors to "enhance" interoperability specifications with their own extensions.

ADL releases new SCORM test suite
One of the strengths of ADL's Sharable Content Reference Model (SCORM) is that the set of integrated e-learning specifications comes with a do-it-yourself test suite. The new version of the suite fixes bugs in the previous versions, so that people can test their SCORM 1.2 e-learning content and tools with more confidence.

Opening Up Online Education
The dangers of overhyping: a piece outlining the joys of the MIT-led Open Knowledge Initiative, from MIT's 'Technology Review'. While OKI can play an important role in integrating educational technology, it is not likely to be the revolution the article suggests. Especially given the increasing spread of webservices elsewhere in IT. There's also some inaccuracy regarding CETIS: we are not building a national infrastructure (though we help and advise), and the UKeU is quite independent in its own systems design. Also, the following quote of IMS' Ed Walker on OKI seems a bit implausible: [OKI is] "easily of the importance of moveable type, the alphabet, and printing,"
Link thanks to Raymond Yee's blog

More Sakai details revealed and partner programme presented
The Sakai consortium of US universities and the OKI and JASIG standards bodies have revealed more detailed plans for the open source, standard compliant Managed Learning Environment (MLE) that they are building. Most notable is a partner programme by which organisations other than the founding members can join in, and get support- for a fee.

New Research Reveals That Over 85% Of Lecturers Believe e-Learning Improves Teaching Creativity And Student Learning Success
A survey of 150 UK lecturers by WebCT. The most notable other finding is that "94% of lecturers stated that classroom-based teaching and online learning is more effective than classroom-based teaching alone." Though this is clearly not independent research, it certainly indicates that elearning is well and truly mainstream now.

IntraLibrary slots into Australian interoperability research project
The Collaborative Online and Information Services (COLIS) interoperability demonstrator project, now continued as the Interaction of IT Systems and Repositories (IISR) project, is to swap out its existing learning object repository with Intrallect's IntraLibrary.

Joint CETIS Assessment SIG/SURF SiX meeting
The 11th Assessment SIG meeting will be a joint event with the Dutch SURF SiX Expert Group.

OSS Watch survey findings: interoperability a major factor in educational Open Source adoption.
JISC's new Open Source Software Watch (OSS Watch) pilot advisory service was formally launched last week with a conference and the presentation of a scoping study of free and open source use in UK Further and Higher Education. In the study, the single biggest factor that Higher Education respondents mentioned as a motive to choose open source was interoperability through better standards support. Intriguingly, the single biggest factor holding back open source software adoption is ... interoperability and migration concerns.

We are the Problem: We are selling Snake Oil
Quote: "We now have ample data to show that: Training does not work. eLearning does not work. Blending Learning does not work. Knowledge Management does not work." That should ruffle some feathers. It's also backed-up by decent evidence, written by a veteran in the field, and published by one of the main elearning think thanks. There's a few caveats, though, both signposted and not. First, it only concerns the commercial training market, and focusses almost exclusively on methods that cram content, and performance indicators that try to measure the amount of content that stuck. Second, the author is a great believer in "workflow learning"; some axes being ground, i.o.w. The extensive comments are equally interesting
Link via Autounfocus blog

Blackboard Looks Likely To Go Public
Article in the Washington Post (requires a little registration) about the future plans of the 800lb gorilla in the elearning jungle. Note that it all looks quite tentative, with a take-over by Microsoft not ruled out either. This would make technological sense, as Blackboard has moved a lot of its code to MS's .net framework. Note that a subsidiary of the Washington Post has invested in Blackboard, so there maybe some axe-grinding going on.
Thanks to Ray Schroeder at Online learning update for the link

Launch of Sentient DISCOVER & New WebCT PowerLink
Sentient seem to be quite serious about establishing themselves as a good go-between VLEs and library systems. There's also a link-up to Blackboard in the works. More interesting longer term is the commitment of Sentient to IMS, which should mean that the necessity to obtain special 'links' will diminish. The move also indicates that there might be an increasing demand for VLE -library integration.
Link via Edtechpost

Implementing LAMS to Improve Teaching and Learning

Accessibility and Inclusion in e-Learning
This conference will review the process by which the expectations, demands, and legislative requirements can be converted into e-learning systems that respond to the needs of all learners and students.

Rethinking the Curriculum for 21st Century Students
A one day conference with a focus on the curriculum issues and cultural changes that need to be addressed to provide a successful student learning experience for all those who now participate in our mass higher education system.

US universities consortium starts OKI and Portlet implementation project
Updated. After the release of the first batch of Open Knowledge Iniative (OKI) Open Service Interface Definitions (OSIDs), and the release of the new JSR 168 Portlet specification, the Universities of Indiana, Michigan, MIT and Stanford and the uPortal consortium set up a project that will implement and integrate the lot: SAKAI. The idea behind SAKAI is to build a framework where MLE compontents can be plugged and played in a wide variety of institutional networks.

Open Source Deployment and Development
This is the inaugural conference of the new OSS Watch, JISC's open source software advisory service for UK HE and FE. The conference is intended for the service's three main audiences: developers, IT and senior managers and anyone with an interest in free and open source software.

IMS Abstract Framework names parts
Though it may look like a kind of architecture, IMS' newly released Abstract Framework is more of a reference work. Designed to map out what has already been done and could be done in the eLearning specification world, it provides a guide to the kinds of things that make up eLearning practice. We talk to the principal author, Colin Smythe.

IEEE approves the CMI / SCORM JavaScript API as a standard.
Though approved as a formal standard in August, the formal acceptance of the "Standard for Learning Technology, ECMAScript Application Programming Interface for Content to Runtime Services Communication," has just been formally announced. The wieldy title of the standard refers to what's affectionally known as the SCORM JavaScript API: a widely used way of letting content talk to a VLE.

Learning Design inspiration
After months of demos, talks and an increasing buzz, WebMCQ and MELCOE have made the Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) public. The IMS Learning Design "inspired" editing and playback system is said to revolutionise the way eLearning is done: by focussing on the process of learning, rather than just shovelling content.

LOM/CanCore Open-Source Software Components released
Rather than building a complete metadata application that only meets one set of current needs, the CanCore people built a set of components that can be re-used in many digital library applications that suit your requirements. It's an approach to open source educational software development that we're going to hear much more about.

Reusable Competencies moves from IMS to IEEE
In a move that is meant to be the first more, IMS donated the Reusable Definition of Competency or Educational Objective (RDCEO) specification to the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC) for development as a standard. Apart from enabling wider adoption of RDCEO, the decision represents a streamlining of the specification-to-standard process that has been widely touted for many years.

UK Learner Profile components to form core of European standard
With the official acceptance of the CEN/ISSS "Guidelines for the production of learner information standards and specifications" workshop agreement, the first steps have been taken to establish a European standard for the transfer of learner information. The agreement will make it easier for learners of all descriptions to present their educational credentials and achievements to employers and colleges both nationally and at the European level.

Future of SCORM 1.x guide published, services top of the menu
It's not a roadmap. It's not, in theory, exhaustive. It doesn't recommend anything in particular. It's not even from ADL itself, so it is not normative in any way. Yet Carnegie-Mellon Learning Systems Architecture Lab's "Technical Evolution of SCORM" probably is the most definitive guide to what could happen to the present form of SCORM. We talk to the author, Dan Rehak.

WebCT 4.1 adds further IMS Content Packaging support
The latest version of the popular VLE makes it easier for users to add course material in IMS Content Packaging format. Export is a slightly different matter, however.

CETIS Learning Design Workshop
*** This Workshop is now full. Registrations are closed *** This two day workshop organised by the CETIS Educational Content Special Interest Group (EC SIG) and the CETIS Pedagogy Forum will be held on Tuesday 28th October and Wednesday 29th October 2003, at Learning and Teaching Scotland, Glasgow.

9th CETIS Educational Content SIG Meeting
*** This meeting is now full. Registrations are closed *** The 9th CETIS Educational Content SIG (EC SIG) Meeting will be held on Friday 12th December 2003, at the Dept. of Computer Science, Manchester University.

Hard lessons from the big e-learning experiment
Good mainstream article on e-learning in companies and other large organisations. The message is simple: e-learning was oversold in the boom, but still has many applications when implemented in sensible, function-driven way. Quote: "In the ICUS survey, a quarter of the 275 people polled said learning in isolation, often the case with e-learning, meant there was a high drop-out rate among staff." Link via Online Learning Update.

IMS Vocabulary Definition EXchange (VDEX) is a public draft.
IMS have just released a rather handy, small and general purpose specification for the exchange of vocabularies. There are a good many potential uses for the spec, but one of the main ones is as a means to facilitate interoperability between different application profiles of existing IMS and other learning technology specifications.

The Open Source Portfolio Initiative releases 1.0
Earlier this year, the university of Minnesota realised that its well regarded and mature e-portfolio system would have a much better chance of reaching its full potential by open sourcing it, and getting others involved. The first fruits of that decision are now available for demo and download. Next stop: OKI and IMS "compliance"...

CETIS briefing on Simple Sequencing published
The latest in the CETIS series of "What is ..." briefings about e-learning interoperability standards deals with IMS Simple Sequencing. Written by Warwick Bailey of Cambridge University, it is a four page introduction to the e-learning content specification.

RELOAD editor adds Content Packaging and SCORM authoring
Following a comprehensive rewrite, the 1.1 version of the RELOAD e-learning content authoring tool can now be used to edit both plain IMS as well as SCORM content packages.

Blackboard and SCT link up
The VLE maker Blackboard, and information systems maker SCT announced an agreement to smooth integration between two of their main products.

Conformance programmes gather momentum
For as long as we've been talking about standards and specifications the issue of conformance has kept cropping up. The lack of any sort of trusted agencies bestowing the Official Stamp of Approval on e-learning products brought us to a state where the claims of vendors regarding standards compliance are treated as highly suspicious - and rightly so. However, this year we've seen several strides forward, and some hints of better times to come.

Courseware Management Systems, Accessibility versus Usability
This presentation, by EASI (Equal Access to Software and Information), takes the form of a Web-based, interactive, voice conference and provides skills to make online educational content more accessible.

IMS release specification for storing accessibility preferences
What once started as the "disability" placeholder in the Learner Information Profile (LIP) has grown into a fully fledged specification for storing access preferences. With it, learners can specify how they'd like interact with e-learning content in whatever context they find themselves.

Course identifier standardisation work started
Before you can say or do anything with a course, you have to be sure which one you're talking about. Since most institutions, or even departments, refer to courses in different ways, this leads to problems when sharing access.

The advantage of a standardised, structured data format is not limited to data exchange with other systems that understand the same format. Some cool work with XSLT by Raymond Yee and also the Digital University (DU) of the Netherlands demonstrates that content in one standard format can be transformed into another in practice.

IMS and OKI, the wire and the socket
There was a reason last week's alt-i-lab e-learning standards conference took place at MIT in Boston: OKI's main developers are there, and their baby is just about ready to stand on its own two feet. The OKI specifications are not very sexy of themselves, and they are surrounded by a fair amount of confusion, but it is well worth exploring what it can do for your institution's MLE.

ALT-C 2003: Communities of Practice
ALT-C 2003 is aimed at practitioners, researchers and those interested in the application of learning technology in further and higher education.

Interoperability in practice at the CETIS / LTScotland codebash
Bangor, Wednesday, July 2, 2003. 46 participants from 26 organisations from 4 countries came to the second CETIS / Learning and Teaching Scotland codebash in Glasgow last week, with 2 participants joining in online.

8th CETIS Educational Content SIG Meeting
*** This meeting is now full *** The 8th EC SIG Meeting is a free all-day workshop and discussion event, with reports on the latest in content-related standards and specs, and demos and presentations on new developments. This meeting is being held in tandem with the CETIS Assessment SIG Meeting on August 29th; go to the Assessment SIG website to register for that one.

A feature or a bug; SCORM and cross domain scripting
People trying to deploy SCORM across several sites have been agonising over the problems associated with playing SCORM content from one domain in a VLE in another domain. We asked SCORM luminaries Dan Rehak, Claude Ostyn, Wayne Hodgins and Schawn Thropp about their views on the nature of the problem, what sorts of solutions might work and what SCORM's makers -ADL- intend to do about it.

QTI meets LOM
The COLA project, run by the Scottish Colleges Open Learning Exchange Group (COLEG), has developed one of the first applications of the IEEE Learing Object Metadata (LOM) standard to online assessment.

OKI releases first batch of specs
The Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI) publicly released the first of the long awaited Open Service Interface Definitions (OSIDs)- the connecting bits for the OKI managed learning environment architecture. With these OSIDs, adopters can string together student records systems, virtual learning environments, management information systems and other enterprise applications with a minimum of customisation.

Next CETIS Assessment SIG meeting - 29 August 2003

OASIS portal spec approved
With the technical committee approval and the endorsement of the usual major IT vendors, Web Services for Remote Portlets is a mere weeks away from being an OASIS standard. That should make it easier to configure portals, and also make more portal content readily available for compliant systems.

Big vendors reaffirm commitment to standards
Which is nice, but what does that mean outside of their marketing departments? For a start, a promise to hold them against. But there's more.

IADIS International Conference e-Society 2003
The IADIS (International Association for Development of the Information Society) e-Society 2003 Conference aims to address both the technical and non-technical aspects of the information society - E-Commerce, E-Learning and E-Government.

No one standard will suit all
Not a new sentiment, really, but one worth repeating. And it was repeated, in many different ways across a rather wide spectrum of speakers at the eLearning Results conference in Sestri Levante, Italy, yesterday.

7th Educational Content SIG Meeting
This meeting is now full. Special pleadings and offers of good quality chocolate may be sent to the EC SIG Coordinator at

Smarter, Simpler, Social
Link via elearningspace to a white paper on social software by a new consultancy on knowledge management and e-learning. The interest here is that it strongly suggests that the trend away from monolithic, technology focussed systems to smaller, more flexible applications that are designed to fit into people's social networks is getting into the e-learning sphere from both the commercial and the education domains. "If we recognise that organisations and communities are not simply reducible to their component parts – if they behave like complex systems – then surely the applications we use to connect people must reflect this?"

Third CETIS-TechDis Accessibility Special Interest Group (SIG) Meeting
The Third CETIS-TechDis Accessibility SIG (Special Interest Group) Partnership Meeting will take place at the University of Central Lancashire.

Learning objects: difficulties and opportunities
An eight page article by David Wiley that takes a pretty critical look at the whole learning object idea. Most damningly, it contends (with cited evidence) that the whole re-useability idea isn't really working in object oriented software- and that's where the whole object idea came from in the first place. Not just that, the article also argues that the commercial content domain shows that the learning object economy is unlikely to materialise either. So is there no hope for either re-useability or the learning object idea? "If we are to follow the software development model we claim to hold dear, learning objects should not contain content at all; rather, they should contain the educational equivalent of algorithms – instructional strategies (teaching techniques) for operating on separately available, structured content."

NILTA Technical Conference - Practical Steps to Accessibility
This conference focuses on the practical steps that the post-16 sector can take to implement quality provision. The speakers have been involved in the everyday battle to strive for the best for the students requiring services from the sector. Keynote speakers will provide briefings on current issues which will be supported by practical examples and solutions.

2003 eLearning Results Summit
The summit is a high level get together of interoperability standards luminaries. There are two parts: a free conference sponsored by Giunti labs with talks by people ranging from IMS CEO Ed Walker to Anne Wright of the DfES / e-GIF. The other part is a series of paid-for technical workshops sponsored by IMS and designed to get people up to speed on the various IMS Specs and application Profiles like SCORM.

Major SCORM stakeholders unify message
In a bid to clarify one part of the elearning content field, the IEEE LTSC that is now meeting in Paris will take the initiative to set up both an overarching SCORM / CMI advisory group and a one-stop website for everything you always wanted to know about SCORM and all the specifications and standards it profiles.

CETIS launches Enterprise SIG
Bangor, Wales, 12 March 2003 - the CETIS project is starting a new Special Interest Group (SIG) for everyone interested in implementing or learning more about IMS Enterprise and related specifications.

CETIS Pedagogy Forum - Launch event
The Pedagogy Forum is a new group within CETIS and aims to provide a forum to examine and discuss the pedagogic implications of interoperability standards and identify requirements that can be input into the specification process.

Saba donates free SCORM testing tool to community.
Now this is the sort of thing that benefits everyone. Saba's decision to release the SCORM Detective tool basically means three things: it demonstrates industry support for standards in general -and those of specific players in particular!- it directly helps achieve interoperability and promotes understanding of the specs in the community too.

Clarke: Demonstrate what ICT can do for teaching and learning post 16
In the keynote to the annual JISC Conference at The International Convention Centre in Birmingham, UK education secretary Charles Clarke outlined his priorities for elearning in the Further / Higher Education sector. In essence: make sure everyone is on board first, then move forward.

Online assessment and professional development
A presentation by Granada on its latest testtool and by FD Learning about their professional development tools.

Second CETIS-TechDis Accessibility Special Interest Group (SIG) Partnership Meeting
Accessibility issues are of importance to all those involved in developing learning technology or creating content for it. The SIG (Special Interest Group) focuses on creation and implementation (i.e. on content authors and on developers) and is open to anyone interested in interoperability standards and accessibility.

Northern Ireland students will 'access the data they need, when they need it'
The Northern Ireland Integrated Learning Environment (NIIMLE) project has just been formally presented at a well received launch. The idea is to provide all FE and HE students in the region with a single, secure access point for all study information from whichever FE or HE institution they are at, have been to, or might go to in the future.

SiX plugfest report: encouraging, but could do better
Dutch educational standards working group SiX just published the results of its plugfest. Over the day, various managed/virtual learning environments were required to import, export and display a standardised set of ADL SCORM 1.2, IMS Content packaging 1.3, IMS QTI 1.2 and IMS Enterprise 1.1 data. Result: familiar problems and remarkable differences between products.

New Web Will Enable Scientists to Share Data Across Disciplines
Article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about a status update Tim Berners-Lee did on the semantic web. Offers a slim but useful outline of the (very) big idea. "dentifying and using data hidden inside complex databases is a tricky problem. But Mr. Berners-Lee believes that solving it could accelerate the pace of discovery in science and engineering, especially in areas of interdisciplinary research that draw data from disciplines other than the researcher's primary areas of expertise."

Open Access Journal Business Guides
Link via OLDaily: a couple of business guides by the Budapest Open Access Initiative for either converting an existing subscription journal or starting a new open access journal. Useful even for those just contemplating the switch to open access. Definition of open access: "...its free availability on the public Internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of (peer-reviewed or pre-print) articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the Internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited..."

UK higher education reform: the implications for educational technology
The impact of the UK government's 'The future of Higher Education' white paper is still reverberating around the system. We know about the tuition fees, and the 50% participation rate, but what's the role of e-learning in all of this?

5th Meeting- British Standards LT Committee panel (IST/43/-/2)
Fifth meeting: British Standards Learning Technology Committee panel (IST/43/-/2) on a standard for a "Code of Practice in the area of standardising eSupport for eLearning" (BS8426)

AUA Annual Conference - Supporting Success
The conference covers many of the administrative functions of an institution and there is a a wide choice of sessions - communications and information technology, marketing, estates, human resources, finance, and student services.

6th CETIS Educational Content SIG Meeting
This meeting is now full: registrations closed.

Vison 2005 London
This conference is sponsored by the International Society for Low Vision Research and Rehabilitation (ISLRR). It will include a large exhibition, speakers, key people in the field from across the world and seminars.

Web Accessibility Issues: Developing Policy
The course will be useful to Managers with responsibility for policy development and/or managment of Information Resources within the public, private and voluntary sector. It will be of particular interest to Ethical Companies, Local Authorities and Educational Establishments seeking to comply with the DDA and (Special Educational Needs and Disability Act, 2001).

Designing Courses: Learning Objects, IMS Standards, XML, SGML, etc.
Great link from the elearnspace blog: a pretty comprehensive resource list for anything to do with learning objects.

Accessible Web Design in Practice: a Two Day Training Programme for Web Designers and Website Managers
This course is aimed at web designers with an interest in accessible website design. It assumes that participants have a basic knowledge of HTML. It is a two day course and is designed to allow some flexibility so that it can be tailored to the needs of participants depending on their interests and priorities.

Web Accessibility Issues: Developing Policy
The course will be useful to Managers with responsibility for policy development and/or managment of Information Resources within the public, private and voluntary sector. It will be of particular interest to Ethical Companies, Local Authorities and Educational Establishments seeking to comply with the DDA and (Special Educational Needs and Disability Act, 2001).

Accessible Web Design in Practice: a Two Day Training Programme for Web Designers and Website Managers
This course is aimed at web designers with an interest in accessible website design.

Personal Digital Assistants and Disabled Students
This TechDis workshop will examine the use of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and issues that arise for disabled students. Emphasis will be placed on how PDAs can benefit disabled students, and issues of usability and accessibility will also be covered. The workshop will also report on how the Internet, VLEs and other technologies can be accessed using PDAs.

Sit Back and Relax
This TechDis workshop looks at the use, creation and accessibility of electronic books.

Web Accessibility - The US Experience
Dan Comden, an expert in computer consultancy from the University of Washington, will be holding this workshop for TechDis. This workshop will look into the unique US experience of web accessibility. Topics will include a comparison of the US experience of Higher Education support, compared to that seen in the UK, and important findings on web accessibility within the United States.

IMS Simple Sequencing approved
After some delay, IMS members have voted for Simple Sequencing; a means of describing how a learner can progress through on-line learning activities. The idea is that it will provide a means of choreographing learning objects in a few simple ways. The spec will be part of the forthcoming version of SCORM (1.3) for precisely that reason.

Virtual Learning Environments and Accessibility
This workshop run by TechDis looks at a variety of Virtual Learning Environments and how accessible they are. It will also look at techniques and strategies for ensuring accessible content. There will also be a short session on Computer Based Assessment and Accessibility.

IMS Open Technical Forum and Special Briefing
The Open Technical Forum event is open to anyone interested in the latest developments around elearning interoperability standards. The Special Briefing is more in-depth about the IMS specifications.

JISC calls for new round of MLE and Lifelong Learning projects
The UK's JISC has just sent round Circular 01/03, which calls for project proposals in the field of MLEs and lifelong learning. Successful projects will be part of phase 2 of a programme that explores how digitised learner information can be made interoperable, how it impacts within and across organisations and tests the personal development planning section of the UK's learner profile. Practically all projects are expected to use IMS LIP.

eLearnExpo Paris 2003
The Sixth International E Learning Expo & Conference, is being held in Paris. It will include an exhibition demonstrating the latest products and techniques in on-line conferencing and collaboration tools, an international “eLearning Master Class”, hands-on learning experiences, demonstrations and workshops.

Teamrooms: Tapping the Collaborative Learning Advantage
Practical as well as (unintentionally?) thought provoking article on how to implement web-based colloborative software (aka 'teamrooms'). The point is that few organisations seem to have made a good go of it, I suspect because of the pervasiveness of email. "In order for behavioral change to occur, the current ways of working must become so ineffective that we are forced to overcome our resistance to change and experiment with the new processes, as mentioned before. We are nearing that stage with email, particularly as complex, cross-functional teams become the norm for project work."

19th Annual Conference on Teaching and Learning
The Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning provides a forum for the exchange of information on distance education and training. The conference addresses the needs of educators, trainers, managers and designers from throughout the world who are involved in the application of technology to the teaching and learning process and in the planning, administration, and management of distance education programs.

World Education Market
A networking, buying and selling event of about 2000 participants in 2002. Given those numbers, the audience involves almost anyone who has something to do with education and training. As of last year, however, an 'eVillage' is set up with the European Institute for e-Learning (EIFEL).

The Evolving Role of Course Management System Providers in the Transformation of Education: An Interview with Blackboard's Matthew Pittinsky
Crystal clear outline of Blackboard's intentions: they'll own and monetise the platform, everyone else can supply the value added. Really good question: "By considering itself an OS and by requiring external developers to adhere to its own Building Blocks development protocol, is Blackboard trumping the evolving industry standards in favor of its own proprietary one?"

Faculty Development and the Diffusion of Innovations
A timely contribution to the rising emphasis on faculty development as an integrated aspect of learning technology deployment. Particularly useful in its outline of a framework that can accommodate various interests and moviations. "Why would some faculty be so skeptical when others have achieved great success and discovered new ways to increase learning outcomes? Why would faculty resist tools that can help them simplify their work? The answer is that not all believe in the inherent ability of technology to achieve these outcomes."

More Journals to your desktop, courtesy of the British Library, Adobe and Elsevier
[updated] Article search and delivery services aren't exactly new, but one of the biggest and most respected, inside from The British Library, is to provide easy, direct-to-desktop access to its treasure trove of research. The catch? Considerable cost and some use restrictions that will please publishers more than users.

Institutional Challenges in the Creation and Delivery of an Online Degree Program
An article from The Technology Source that deals with a fairly conventional e-learning program delivered in a fairly standard way. The substance is in the detailed overview of the kinds of purely institutional obstacles e-elearning practitioners in HE may need to overcome. Right down to promotion policies and salary scales.

The Electronic Portfolio Boom: What's it All About?
Syllabus article linked via Serious Instructional Technology. Slightly over-excited but informative article on e-portfolios. The interest here's in the author's perspective: that of a writing programme educationalist who's been doing portfolios-as-collections-of-work on the web for years. "Experience on one campus shows that, even though 100 percent of the faculty in a program have adopted ePortfolios, students still may not see their value because the faculty have not re-thought their courses to accommodate electronic portfolios"

4th International Conference on Information Communication Technologies in Education
The aims of the conference are to provide education and training to practitioners in social, industrial, and economic areas; to provide practitioners in these areas with ideas on integrating technology into all facets of education; and to provide a forum for intensive interaction. Encouraging high levels of academic rigour, the conference will offer keynote and plenary sessions, and workshops with internationally recognized educators and researchers in the theoretical and practical applications of technology in education. ICICTE 2003 will be an integrated event offering collaborative opportunities to educators, administrators, IT specialists, and others from all levels of education, from primary through post secondary. The deadline for proposals of papers is January 6, 2003. The early registration deadline is April 30, 2003.

Open uPortal technology gains ground in the UK
Over a series of meetings, US representatives of the Java in Administration Special Interest Group (JA SIG) outlined their open source university portal technology to a diverse sample of UK HE representatives. Result: intriguing points of contact between UK educational software projects and uPortal have been identified, and a UK JA SIG has been set up.

Open-source CMS: On the rise
Content management systems are still a rising meme, but people have less budget to play with these days. Hence this useful overview of the main open source CMS packages. "The tough economic times make open-source CMS look even more appealing, but the ability to customize the code is also a driving force."

A Scalable Architecture for Harvest-Based Digital Libraries
Quite a technical, but interesting article about the ideas that are now being used to make metadata searches easier and more reliable. The article is particularly valuable for those who need to know more about implementing the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting.

Developers content to bash code at CETIS
In the interest of science, about twenty-five developers were happy to have their precious programs maltreated during the CETIS content package codebash. Under the good offices of Learning and Teaching Scotland's (LTScotland) Gerry Graham CETIS' Lorna Campbell, IMS content packages were freely swapped between systems. Conclusion: getting wrapped-up learning objects from one system to another is getting a lot smoother, but we're not quite there yet.

This is the winter edition of a rather wide ranging conference that covers most topics that touch on electronic communication. The interest for learning technology professionals lies in the two opening keynotes: "The Semantic Web" by Erich Neuhold of Fraunhofer IPSI and University of Technology Darmstadt, and "The Future of Education" by Neville Holmes, School of Computing, University of Tasmania. The fee for the conference is € 600 (not applicable to those with accepted papers). Deadline for payment is December 10, 2002. Conference capacity is 200, so first come, first served.

Problems and Issues in Online Learning, October 2002
The title maybe a bit expansive, but this is a taut and to the point state-of-the-art article by Stephen Downes. Because it is by Stephen, it is not just a list of issues either; he argues consistently against monolithic, separate learning systems on both technical, functional and economic grounds. "The silo model is dysfunctional because it prevents, in some essential way, the location and sharing of learning resources."

Alternative Architectural Concept 2 - Federated Integration
This is the second in a series of articles discussing possible variations to the Learning Technology Systems Architecture (LTSA) model delineated by the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC) working group. In a previous article I covered one of the core structural issues / content object taxonomy. With the taxonomy I implied some deeper philosophical predispositions which I feel are vital to the success of any potential learning architecture.

Content village e-Learning Resource Centre
A new European link lister with a pretty impressive collection of e-learning resources. The content village is an offspring of the eContent programme.

The EU's new research plan and eLearning: open source and multilingualism
Now that the sixth research Framework Plan for the EU and associated nations (FP 6) is about to start, the priorities for eLearning research and development in Europe are becoming clearer. According to Luis Rodriguez-Rosello of the European Commission, there are two keywords: open source and multilingualism.

Major Copyright Bill Affecting Distance Education Becomes Law
One of the most readable yet comprehensive overviews of the controversial new TEACH act that just came into force. The act may not have immediate consequences outside the US, but, like so much else, it could have repercussions for the way copyrighted material is used in elearning elsewhere.

elearnspace Interview Jay Cross
Wide ranging interview with the elearning expert, author of the blog and master of quips. "We've moved from measuring butts in seats to hits on a web page"

OKI, IMS, ADL and SIF join up
The four main US-based educational technology specification bodies are to formalise their ties, set up coordinated activities and provide joint support for developers.

The Role of Quality in e-Learning: From Page-Turners to Motivating and Engaging Online Courses
Powerpoint presentation by Stephen Downes on current developments in e-learning and e-government, and the potential synergies between them. "The key to success in both e-learning and e-government hinges on the idea of participation. This involves changing learners from passive consumers of learning to active producers of learning. And in e-government, this involves changing citizens from passive consumers of governance to active producers of governance"

Impact of "Too Much Information"
Sound advice for any knowledgeworker from an elearning specialist. "The information worker's dilemma: "What do I have to know, and how do I know I have to know it?" This question is asked with each email, website, article, conversation, phone call."

LSC's Distributed and Electronic Learning Group looks to beef up e-learning support post 16
In a pretty substantial report, the distance and electronic learning group (DELG) of the UK's prime further education body (the Learning and Skills Council, LSC) outline their vision of e-learning post 16 in a series of 154 key issues and recommendations. In very general terms, the aim is to achieve a robust, targeted and comprehensive framework for the whole sector.

First Accessibility SIG Partnership Meeting publishes results
The First CETIS Techdis accessibility Special Interest Group (SIG) get-together was held Tuesday last week. The Manchester meeting brought together, for the first time in the UK, e-learning vendors and specialists, academics from the FE and HE sectors and representatives from disability groups. As the feedback indicates, the opportunity was not wasted to discuss the challenges and opportunities of making e-learning accessible to everyone.

Seminar4web make new SCORM authoring tool and outline available
Seminar is an older, Computer-Based Training (CBT) authoring tool that has recently been rewritten to facilitate web-based output. The package aims to make it easy to author SCORM and AICC compliant learning objects, and the vendor has even made a handy article available that introduces SCORM to new content authors.

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.

"SCORM is not for everyone"- ADL responds
Our 'Dan Rehak: "SCORM is not for everyone"' article provoked quite a few reactions around the web; both positive and negative. But we wanted to give ADL itself an opportunity, and Mark Oehlert, ADL's communications officer, was kind enough to take up the gauntlet and respond to some of the main points reported in the article.

The European Conference on e-Learning (ECEL) is an opportunity for academics, practitioners and consultants from Europe and elsewhere who are involved in the study, management, development and implementation of web enabled and ICT initiatives in the learning and teaching sectors as well as the professions to come together and exchange ideas and examples of best practice.

5 step guide to becoming a content provider in the JISC Information Environment
Detailed, relatively technical outline in the current issue of Ariadne that shows you how to let your resources interoperate with the JISC Information Environment. "Most content providers will already offer a Web site through which end-users can access their content. To be a part of the JISC-IE, content providers also need to support machine oriented interfaces to their resources."

Blackboard releases version 6, announces SCORM compliance, signs nation wide deal in the Netherlands
Blackboard systems, the dominant learning management system (LMS) vendor in higher education, announced new versions of their Learning System and Community Portal System products, and inked a nation wide licence deal with SURFDiensten- an IT services organisation for the Dutch education sector.

An essential resource for HE learning technology has been relaunched. Edutools is the most comprehensive database of LMS software reviews, with many features that allow users to compare and contrast different packages. The site is run cooperatively by two independent academic educational technology centres, sponsored by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Quality and eLearning in Europe
An interesting, if not entirely scientific, survey of mainly European educators and trainers. Main finding: "61% of all respondents rated the overall quality of eLearning negatively - as ‘fair’ or ‘poor’." Mostly because of poor experiences with technical interoperability. The report is a free summary pdf of a more extensive, paid-for report.

TechDIS FE coordinator receives Chair's Award at NILTA conference
Allan Sutherland, the Further Education (FE) coordinator at TechDIS (JISC's technology and disability service) picked up the prestigious Chair's Award at the National Information and Learning Technologies Association (NILTA) Annual Conference Dinner on behalf of the whole service. They earned the honour for their work on the accessibility of e-learning.

First CETIS briefing on current standards: IMS LIP
The first of a series of CETIS briefings about current e-learning standards is now available. The briefing is a concise overview of IMS Learner Information Packaging, a specification for a standard means of recording information about learners. Future versions of these general outlines will be added to the different standards' entries in the CETIS reference section.

EU e-Accessibility network underway.
The European Design for All e-Accessibility Network (EDeAN) is now well underway with more than 90 organisations represented already. The network was set up as part of the eEurope 2002 Action Plan, and particularly the Design for All approach that was set up to ensure that mainstream information technology is accessible to as many different groups as possible.

IST 2002 – Partnerships for the Future
A major event of the European Union's Information Society Technology programme. The main goal of the conference is to function as a networking event for researchers.

Wireless Interactive Teaching Simulations
A report on a pioneering attempt at wireless elearning- or 'mlearning'. The project seems a little too focussed on trying to save money by lecturing very large numbers of students with mobile tech, but the report pulls no punches in self-criticism. "These tools tend to have the same overall structure; they allow students to externalize their thinking by “playing” some value or inputting some variable into a system."

IMS Learning Design reaches public draft stage
In a close vote, members of IMS accepted Learning Design as a public draft. Now that it can be implemented, the specification promises to be a comprehensive and powerful way to design learning experiences on-line. Not just that, it aims to allow educators the greatest possible freedom in designing these experiences, while still promoting content re-use and exchange.


Creating Environments for Learning: VLEs, MLEs, digital libraries and middleware

Prometeus in transition
With the two year European Commission funding contract for its support service at an end, PROMETEUS is in the process of mapping out its future as a self funded association with a new board. As the discussion continues, we asked a few stakeholders about their view of the associations' role in elearning.

IMS Enterprise Workshop for JISC Programmes
A one-day workshop for projects involved in current JISC MLE Programmes ('SW&NI' and '1/01') covering use of the IMS Enterprise specification.

Dan Rehak: "SCORM is not for everyone"
One the 'chief architects' of ADL's SCORM, Dan Rehak of Carnegie Mellon's Learning Systems Architecture Lab, outlined the future of the widely used elearning specification at the IMS special briefing for implementers on Friday. SCORM is about to gain more flexibility in sequencing, and wider system capabilities further down the line. Strategically, he clarified which pedagogies the model supports well, and which not, and emphasised that ADL ultimately wants to hand over SCORM to the community.

IMS member exchange: Conformance Now!
Two topics were billed for the IMS Open Technical Forum: conformance issues and e-Learning Implementation in the UK. As it turned out, specification conformance was the main topic of practically all presentations. The why and how as well as the why not was illuminated by representatives from a wide variety of organisations.

First CETIS-TechDis Accessibility SIG Partnership Meeting

DfES' e-learning guru: Learning Design is the way ahead.
In her keynote speech to the IMS Open Technical Forum, Professor Diana Laurillard, the head of the e-Learning Strategy Unit of the UK Department for Education and Skills (DfES), called for the widespread adoption of Learning Design. The specification still needs to be formally adopted by IMS, but was hailed for its ability to allow easy re-use of successful learning models, without straightjacketing adopters into one single pedagogical approach.

IMS Accessibility charter approved
In a just-in-time vote, the IMS Accessibility for Learner Information Profile (ACC LIP) group charter was approved today. Right after the moment the charter was passed, the project group that is now gathered in Sheffield was able to start designing the accessibility extensions to LIP. These extensions will enable users of managed learning environments to store their technology access preferences in a central place.

Learning content. Theirs, yours, mine and ours.
On the 30th of September, MIT's Open Course Ware (OCW) initiative will make the first batch of MIT learning resources available to the world. Free of charge. On the other side of the pond, the CELEBRATE project has just started to establish a digital repository to see, among many other things, what kind of model will generate a viable stock of learning objects for Europe's schools. Meanwhile, projects like the universal brokerage project and the UK's National Learning Network (NLN) are maturing nicely. The question that arises, then, is where all that learning content is going to come from, and, more importantly, who is going to make it.

Administrative and Instructional Portals
Solid and readable overview of the present 'portal' hype. Organizationally, this is probably the key: "Building a portal presents challenges in providing the right content and overcoming the politics and feeling of ownership."

Demystifying Metadata
Clear and concise exposition of the 'metadata' concept. Well worth reading if you're new to the field. "Metadata is often described as "information about information" but I prefer to think of it as another layer of information - simplified, distilled, made orderly - created to help people use an information source."

Being Objective
Not one but two compelling entries on Jay Cross' blog (there's also The Business of learning objects. He's been to the Learning Object Symposium, and reports on the pretty fundamental discussions on the wisdom of learning objects that took place there. "NETg's Brendon Towle noted that SCORM is inadquate because, among other things

  • SCORM only supports single learner/single LO configs,
  • No way to produce complex sequences of LOs (yet)
  • No inter-LO communications (sims)
  • No concept of pedagogy at all

JISC project looks at academics' digital rights
Rights MEtadata for Open archiving (RoMEO) is a one year JISC funded project that will research ways in which the rights of academics over papers they "self-submit" to on-line repositories can be managed.

Learnwise 2 VLE presented at ALT-C conference
Granada Learning announced the availability of LearnWise 2 server --a new virtual learning environment (VLE)-- at the ALT-C 2002 conference in Sunderland.

Consolidation continues: Skillsoft and Smartforce merge
In the widely predicted period of consolidation in the e-learning software market, two of the largest vendors have just completed a merger.

Macromedia presents Authorware 6.5, cuts education pricing in the US
Macromedia will make a new version of Authorware available at the end of September. Main changes include better accessibility tools and extensive XML support. Meanwhile, deeper discounts are offered to US educational volume buyers.

Hard Bargains and Software Licenses
Solid and useful guide to the perils of managing software licences in education. "All sizes of colleges and universities report struggling with asset management in IT--the challenge of knowing how many computers they have, where they are, and who is using them."

Technologies for Education: Potential, Parameters and Prospects
Important link picked up from Stephen's Web. It is a UNESCO online book on technology and education in its broadest sense, with articles on topics ranging from deploying interactive radio to wide range ICT for education trend analysis. "This monograph is firmly rooted in a vision of education that begins with the learner and attempts to understand how technological tools can better contribute to educational goals."

Personal toolkit: Knowledge tools need to be personal, not personalized
Article at KMWorld about the value of truly personal, artisanal knowledge tools. "Satisfaction: bonding with our machines These are irrational, emotional sentiments but they won't go away, so we might as well turn them to our advantage."

Software for Online Courses?
Query and discussion on Slashdot about learning management systems. Simply essential reading. "I'd rather go with something open-source, especially since proprietary software seems to come and go, but the best open-source code is forever -- who wants to waste their time building a whole course around the flavor-of-the-month software?"

Find The Experts
Transform Magazine article on expertise management (as opposed to knowledge management). Thoughtprovoking on quite a few levels, particularly with regard to the fact that none of the expertise management system users even consider editing metadata manually. The article should be read with Stephen's Web commentary

Call for nomination of candidates as Officers of the PROMETEUS Association
PROMETEUS (PROmoting Multimedia in Education and Training in EUropean Society) is inviting applications for the positions of President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary of the PROMETEUS Association.

W3C releases working draft of Architectural Principles of the World Wide Web
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) released the first public Working Draft of "Architectural Principles of the World Wide Web." The document describes all the fundamental rules of exchanging information on the web, and, at least as importantly how web technology should be deployed and used.

Getting smart with e-learning
Article at the Sydney Morning Herald that outlines an intriguing elearning system that focusses on flexibility and AI in delivery, sequencing and file formats. The Java software has been trialled in a few places, so it doesn't seem complete vaporware.

Bringing Affective Behavior to e-Learning
Thorough essay on Technology Source about the role of affective factors in on-line learning. The piece also outlines a project that attempts to improve the affective aspect by integrating static and synchronous media in to the 'unibrowser'. "Unfortunately, CMSs have few features to 3upport the affective role. How can the twinkle in your eye be transmitted via text?"

Simulation may be the e-learning "killer app"
Summary of a Gartner report into the use of simulations in e-learning. "By 2006, 70 percent of all off-the-shelf and custom e-learning content will include some application of simulations (0.8 probability). "

Middleware The New Frontier
Solid and readable overview of the 'middleware' buzzword. "Perhaps the best way to define middle-ware is to look at how it functions in two different examples: (1) leading e-science activities, and (2) production-level campus support and service."

The Year Ahead:
Useful and timely attempt at disentangling e-learning terminology. "This confusion, in part, is the result of new terms, which have brought into discourse about distance education, and have received uncritical acceptance by us."

The Next Killer App in Education: An Interview with Michigan's Carl Berger
Interview with a veteran of e-elearning about the future; its mostly a combination of portals and wireless networks. ''Many universities have already installed the first piece, the technology for wireless communication, on their campuses. In addition, some institutions are beginning to develop "push" and "pull" technology.''

Bridging the Tech-Education Gap
Wired article on the potential gap between parents' and educators' enthusiasm for computer technology in schools. "It takes a lot more than computers to make a good classroom. Parents, unfortunately, still don't have the message."

Q&A with Don Norman
Extensive elearningmagazine interview with Don Norman, the useability guru. "Instructional design refers to a particular philosophy of setting your goals upfront and making sure there are various metrics. And what I’ve seen is very uninspiring. It’s all very logical-- and the courses are horrible."

Theory & Practice: Learning Content Management Systems
Straightforward and concise article on the benefits of using LCMS. " To fully realize the benefits of e-learning, many companies have found "a better way" by using a Learning Content Management System (LCMS) to rapidly author, deploy and manage e-learning content."

The Survey Of Distance & Cyberlearning Programs In Higher Education, 2002 Edition
Useful summary at of an extensive and expensive survey of e-learning in US higher education. "Despite some setbacks in the mass marketing of distance learning programs, the survey results show continued astounding growth in the higher education distance learning market"

CAMPUS CARDS: The Power of Plastic
Short but comprehensive overview of developments in campus ID cards, and how they are getting tied in with portals. "Now that colleges and universities are tying cards to Web pages that track on- and off-campus purchases, the campus ID card is becoming an e-card, says campus card analyst Bob Huber"

Techdis publishes VLE accessibility survey.
Techdis, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) e-learning technology accessibility service, has published the results of its VLE accessibility survey. This is rather timely, as legislation will come into effect in September 2002 that will mandate inclusive access across the UK further and higher education sector

Is our children learning?
Sharp critique of the ongoing focus on technology in education. ""Getting money for technology is not a problem around here--they'd probably cut the electricity before they'd cut that," says one teacher at Marymount School"

Ed-Tech Crusaders Seek D.C. Bucks
Article at Wired about a very ambitious iniative to set up a federal investment trust for education along the lines of the NSF or DARPA: the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust. "It would also pay for the digitizing of all materials in the country's museums, libraries and universities, and would make these resources more available to the general public"

IMS Special Briefing: Standards & Specifications in E-learning
Following the Open Technical Forum on Thursday the 26th of September, IMS will organise two open sessions on e-learning standards on Friday 27th. The morning track is intended for managers and end users and the afternoon track is aimed at developers.

Lancaster team present evaluation engine for e-learning resource brokerage platform.
A team from the Department of Communication systems at Lancaster University developed an evaluation engine that helps rank e-learning resources in the "Universal Brokerage Platform for Learning Resources".

E-learning comes to CRM
Research from the METAgroup about e-learning trends in the private sector. Like other commentators, the expectation is that corporate e-learning will be integrated into ERP systems within a few years.

Evaluating the usability of Web-based learning tools
Solid useability study of commonly used VLEs. "However, the simplicity of use for novice users has significant drawbacks. For example, these systems force instructors and course administrators to use predetermined navigation models and course formats."

ERP + eLearning
Short and sharp argument why specialised e-learning vendors could easily be swamped by the big Enterprise Resource Planning conglomerates in the business e-elearning sphere

Doing It with Meaning
It appears that corporate America is beginning to discover the advantages of the semantic web. "Yet the potential payoff—a Web that acts like a single giant database—would be worth all the effort."

Using HTML Email to Deliver High-Impact Episodic Training
A practical guide to using a zero-cost e-learning tool: email. Learners or sysadmins may not always appreciate being spammed with html emails, however...

Study shows no demonstrable link between choice of MLE and educational approach.
A team of Dutch researchers investigated the relation between various educational approaches (e.g. traditional, guided learning, active learning and experience-based learning) and the design and use of different virtual learning environments (VLE). Conclusion: it's not really possible to map an educational approach to a specific type of VLE.

JISC invitation to tender; technical review of portals
JISC is inviting tenders to review systems developed by the JISC 'Building MLEs in HE' (7/99) programme. The review will consider so-called Campus or Educational portals and similar systems.

CertMag's Guide to e-Learning
Basic, but useful introduction to the e-learning industry. "Confusion concerning e-learning comes from using the word “e-learning” to describe anything and everything within this very young industry."

elearnspace Interview Stephen Downes
Interview with Stephen Downes, which outlines a number of his refreshing ideas. "If you look at the field of standards you have the same thing. IMS thinks that it will be the standard for elearning. But IMS isn’t everything. There are initiatives in Europe."

The Open-Source Movement; Despite many obstacles, open-source has the potential to strongly influence the future of software development and support in the academic world
Balanced and focused assessment of the potential value of open source software to the HE sector. "The greatest benefit in open-source could be the opportunity to realize the best promise (and original purpose) of the Web: to make an extended working environment where information is accessible to all those involved in collaborations."

A D-Minus for Computer Exams
A Wired article that outlines the perils of on-line examinations. "Three years after they phased out paper and pencils and began administering computerized versions of the Graduate Record Examination, officials are going back to paper in some overseas regions."

The Languages of the Semantic Web
Readable and concise overview of the practical applications of the semantic web. "Even though this next-generation Web has yet to become a reality, much of the current work on the Semantic Web centers on a variety of technologies that are already in widespread, practical use."

A Metadata Approach to Preservation of Digital Resources: The University of North Texas Libraries' Experience
Extensive essay that outlines a project to preserve digital assets, with an emphasis on preservation metadata.

Many Outputs — Many Inputs: XML for Publishers and E-book Designers
Thorough essay on the XML assumption of one content, many formats. "The specific design principles of different media often give characteristic texts, which mean one cannot use these texts in just any environment without changing them."

UK learning and skills council report on elearning released
The Distributed and Electronic Learning Group (DELG) has published a final report into the role of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) in relation to e-learning. The report was commissioned by the LSC.

What Is "Usable" e-Learning?
In depth, thought provoking article on usability. It considers learning in relation to different task goals. I.e. it goes much further than just good interface design.

5th Educational Content SIG Meeting

Course management software transforms higher education
Interesting angle: institutions making their own MLEs are portrayed as the main competitors to commercial offerings. "''Things like Blackboard and WebCT are sort of the AOL in education,'' Schilling said. ''They're really the lowest common denominator approach.''"

IMS releases public draft version 1.0 of the Digital Repositories Interoperability specification.
The Digital Repositories Interoperability (DRI) spec allows Managed Learning System (MLE) users to search, gather and expose various learning objects that are stored in repositories. It also allows people to submit, store and request them, and the resources delivered. And all of this from a spec that doesn't actually specify very much.

New UK governmental e-learning standards body proposed.
An initiative to set up a new e-learning standards conformance authority for the UK has been launched. The authority's remit would consist of the drawing up of application profiles that are based on a core of international e-learning interoperability specifications and the testing of applications' conformance to these profiles.

PROMETEUS Conference
The Prometeus conference in Paris has two major aims: 'Improving Learning through Technology' and 'Opportunities for All'.

7th Assessment SIG Meeting

IMS outline future plans at London meeting
At a meeting of vendors in London organised by JISC, Colin Smythe of IMS outlined some of the specification consortium's plans for the coming year, including recommendation on transport protocols, and a brand new content specification.

ALT Workshop 'Using XML for Educational Content Management'

New JISC projects to look at cross-sector interoperability
Two new projects funded by JISC are taking the "Managed Learning Environment" (MLE) programme to a new level, by trying to create interoperability not only between systems, but between systems in different institutions in both higher and further education.

IMS release Enterprise v1.1 specification
The IMS Global Learning Consortium have released version 1.1 of the Enterprise specification, designed to allow systems to exchange information about learners, courses, and groups.

IMS release updated white paper on accessibility
The IMS Global Learning Consortium have released an updated set of guidelines on accessibility.

IMS Open Technical Forum
This public forum takes place after the next set of IMS meetings in Sheffield this September. The keynotes have yet to be announced, but the two panel discussions will be on Conformance Issues and e-Learning Implementation in the UK.

Canvas Learning: New website, improved demo now online
Canvas Learning - formerly a part of Can Studios - have updated the online demonstration version of Canvas Learning Author on their new website.

CampusSource - a European OKI?
CampusSource is an open-source initiative from Germany, with strong parallels with MIT's Open Knowledge Initiative.

UKOLN Institutional Web Management Conference
In addition to sessions on various web technologies and related issues, CETIS' Lorna Campbell and Niall Sclater of the CETIS Assessment SIG will be giving a briefing on learning technology standards, and UKOLN's Brian Kelly will be holding a briefing session on web standards such as SVG, SMIL and RDF.

JISC announce new round of FE college interoperability projects
JISC, the UK's Joint Information Systems Committee, has published an invitation for proposals to conduct interoperability projects in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The projects will use IMS specifications to provide interoperability between components of college Managed Learning Environments (MLEs), for example between a student record system and a virtual learning environment.

Consolidation before the leap; IMS Enterprise 1.1
Wilbert Kraan takes a detailed look at the latest IMS Enterprise specification, and asks is it worth waiting for v2.0?

Learning Lab 2nd Annual Conference and Exhibition
The Learning Lab firmly believes that successful use of ICT (Information & Communication Technology) in education and training relies upon technology not only meeting the needs of those using it, but also by enhancing the learning experience...

Blackboard to adopt OKI specifications
Blackboard have announced their intention to adopt the specifications of MIT's Open Knowledge Initiative.

UK Colleges report on interoperability pilot projects
The final reports from the Further Education colleges participating in a set of JISC-funded interoperability pilot projects have been published.

Don't assume because a standard is open that it's free to use - IBM patent move sets a worrying precedent for adopters
It may be an "open standard" but it may not be free to use - this is the message after IBM sets uncomfortable legal precedent for standards adopters.

Content Packaging interoperability tests reveal room for improvement
The CETIS Educational Content Special Interest Group (EC-SIG) recently carried out a set of interoperability experiments to see how well different tools handled IMS Content Packages.

More OKI interfaces from MIT
The Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI) has released more specifications on its website.

Syllabus Interviews IMS CEO
Syllabus magazine this month features an interview with Ed Walker, CEO of the IMS Global Learning Consortium.

Wolverhampton-based Learning Lab to establish ADL partnered laboratory in UK
The Learning Lab at the University of Wolverhampton has completed a deal to establish an eLearning laboratory in partnership with the National Guard Bureau and ADL, the Advanced Distributed Learning Network responsible for the SCORM specification.

Making SCORM objects truly sharable - the Dynamic Appearance Model
Canada's Department of National Defence (DND) have released a white paper proposing methods for reusing content while retaining the organisation's "house style". The intention is that sharing SCORM objects between different organisations is made easier and more effective by dynamically altering the appearance of the material without changing its content.

MIT's Open Knowledge Initiative releases first APIs
MIT have released the first set of Application Programming Interfaces for the Open Knowledge Initiative - a project aiming to produce an open architecture for educational software.

K-12 and Rights Management take Centre Stage at IMS Forum
The first IMS open technical forum meeting for 2002 was held on February 27 in Sydney, Australia. Among the issues brought to the fore included interoperability in schools or in the K-12 sector, and rights management for digital resources.

New version of WebCT Campus Edition released
WebCT announced this week the release of WebCT Campus Edition 3.7. The new version features improved performance, support for a MathML-based equation editor, and "enhanced support" for IMS Enterprise.

IMS seek feedback on Digital Rights Management
The IMS Global Learning Consortium has opened a forum to gather opinions on digital rights management. The focus of debate is a briefing paper submitted by IPR Systems and the Australian IMS Centre.

Technology Source interviews MIT's Phil Long on the Open Knowledge and Open Courseware Initiatives
The Technology Source website recently carried an interview with Phil Long - "the senior strategist for the Academic Computing Enterprise at MIT" - about the Open Knowledge and Open Courseware initiatives at MIT.

IMS presentations now online
The IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS) have published presentations made at the IMS Open Technical Forum in Sydney, Australia last week.

CETIS Assessment Roadshow - Oxford Brookes University

CETIS Assessment Roadshow - ALT eContent Conference

ePrints release update of free self-archiving software
ePrints, the self-archiving software that uses the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) metadata-harvesting standards, has a new version released this month.

Open Archives Initiative gathers momentum
The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) have announced new features for Version 2 of its Metadata Harvesting Protocol, while adoption of the existing protocol has been boosted by a new JISC program.

Re-inventing the Wheel? Standards, Interoperability, and Digital Cultural Content
Interesting item by Tony Gill and UKOLN's Paul Miller in D-Lib Magazine.

Yahoo! enter the VLE market
Yahoo! have entered the VLE market, developing their Yahoo!Groups service into a course development and student communication tool.

CETIS Assessment Roadshow kicks off
The CETIS Assessment Roadshow kicked off a tour of the UK this month with its first workshop at Herriot-Watt University.

6th International Computer Aided Assessment (CAA) Conference
This refereed conference focuses on the use of I.T in the assessment process in Higher Education. CAA is becoming increasingly common and this event will be of interest to new practitioners, academic enthusiasts as well as policy makers and administrators.

CHEST compares Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs)
CHEST, the UK education sector's group purchasing organisation, has published a chart comparing some of the more popular Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs).

Xtend release SCORM-compliant Learning Management System
US company Xtend have released Xtention, a Learning Management System (LMS) that complies with ADLNet's Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) specification.

JISC to fund standards-compliant tools and services as part of X4L programme
The UK's Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) has issued a call for proposals under its Exchange For Learning (X4L) programme, including development of tools that support specifications such as IMS and SCORM.

Perot Systems to release EML Player in Q3
Perot Systems is planning to launch a player for courses developed using the EML (Educational Modelling Language) in the second half of 2002.

Authoring EML: OUNL announces conference
In response to the widespread interest shown in its Educational Modelling Language (EML), the Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL) have announced a conference on authoring courseware in EML.

OKI to release common service layer definitions
Last month, MIT announced significant progress has been made in the Open Knowledge Intitiative, a project to define open architectural specifications for educational systems. The first public fruits of the endeavour, in the form of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) for a common service layer, are due for public release over the next two months.

Progress on standards predicted for 2002
eLearn Magazine's predictions for 2002 include progress on standards - according to some contributors, at least.

QuestionMark, Blackboard build bridges with Building Blocks
QuestionMark, vendors of the Perception assessment suite, announced an agreement with Blackboard to provide interoperability between their respective products using Blackboard's Building Blocks programme.

Universities face profiles challenge
Representatives including principals and registrars from many UK universities attended a special event last week on the subject of transcripts and personal development planning in UK education.

Click2Learn support SCORM 1.2
Click2Learn have announced their support for the latest version of ADL's Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) specification in its Aspen and ToolBook products.

University of Glasgow release IMS report
A report entitled "Testing IMS in Real Contexts: Implementing IMS Specifications, Implications and Best Practice" has been published by the University of Glasgow.

New BSI guidelines 'herald coming of age' of computer-assisted assessment
The increased use of computers in assessment has brought with it new concerns over issues such as fairness and security. Responding to these and other concerns, the British Standards Institute (BSI) has issued a new draft set of guidelines that provide a minimum set of requirements for organisations making assessments using computers.

WebCT supports open portal standard
WebCT have announced support for uPortal, an open standard for campus portals.

Take an online course in SCORM
An online course by Edward Jones covering ADL' Sharable Content Object Reference Model specification is available for free online.

Common Behaviour: IMS and OKI consider architecture issues
At the IMS Open Technical Forum in San Francisco, a panel of representatives from Carnegie-Mellon, MIT and IMS discussed using layered architectures to simplify the process of developing software and content for learning.

IMS Enterprise group considers move to transactions model
The IMS Enterprise working group outline future move away from information models to a transaction-based specification.

Questionmark improve Perception
Questionmark has released version 3 of its Perception assessment solution.

Cisco to work with OUNL on EML, eLearning research
The Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Cisco Systems, Inc. to "build a string strategic relationship for developing and deploying e-learning environments".

THINQ and Macromedia integrate products using AICC, SCORM
THINQ have announced a new partnership with Macromedia to ensure content created using CourseBuilder for Dreamweaver can be used in its TrainingServer learning management system (LMS).

CEN/ISSS Issue 'eBrochure' on European standards activities
The CEN/ISSS Learning Technology Workshop has issued the first in a series of 'eBrochures' on the subject of learning technology standards.

Blackboard pave road ahead with Building Blocks
Blackboard has rolled out its Building Blocks initiative for extending the Blackboard platform. Third party vendors – and users – can now write plug-in applications and services using the Blackboard API. What will this mean for open standards - and the future shape of the eLearning market?

IMS Open Technical Forum
IMS Open event at Palo Alto, California.

CampusPipeline release Luminus Integration Suite with IMS support
As part of their new Luminus product line, CampusPipeline have released the Luminus Integration Suite, incorporating support for the IMS Enterprise specification.

NYUOnline release SCORM-compliant learning content management system
iAuthor is the new learning content management system (LCMS) from NYUOnline. iAuthor publishes learning objects on the web using customisable "skins" and templates to create consistent look-and-feel.

Giunti announce new learning content management platform with strong emphasis on standards
Italian publisher Giunti Interactive Labs have announced a new learning content management system (LCMS) conforming to IMS, SCORM, and other specifications.

Universities UK: CETIS Profiles group present UK HE Transcript
A major consultative conference on implementing the HE transcript is being held at Universities UK on 30 November 2001. The CETIS Profiles group will present a Consultative Document mapping the UK HE Transcript against the IMS Learner Information Profile specification.

Education community advises European Commission on standards, open source, and learner profiles
The European Commission's IST Programme has launched an open consultation process to discuss the research and policy priorities in the area of "technology supported learning". So where do standards and specifications fit in?

Plateau upgrades LMS
Plateau Systems released version 4 of their Learning Management System, incorporating AICC and SCORM support.

The next wave: CETIS interviews Mikael Nilsson about the Edutella project
We are in the midst, it seems, of a quiet revolution in computing. The technologies that built the internet, with its giant server farms and gigabyte databases, are giving way to a new wave of distributed technologies. After the furore over music network Napster dies down, we are seeing a new generation of projects in the education field taking up the peer-to-peer challenge of building distributed, "democratic" learning technology. One of the most interesting new projects out there is Edutella, an attempt to create a distributed web for learning metadata making use of emerging standards. We talked to Mikael Nilsson about the project, and what the future holds.

Web Based Learning Environment
Three-day conference on web-based learning in Sweden, stressing e-Learning in a life-long learning, continuous education and vocational training perspective. One of the four conference themes is standardisation and harmonisation, and looks like it will contain some interesting material on standards.

Centra upgrades CentraOne, adds SCORM content
Centra have released version 5.2 of its eLearning system CentraOne. One of the key features of the new release is support for Centra Knowledge Catalog, a content repository solution that can be used with SCORM-compliant learning resources.

Digital repositories: IMS releases white paper
The IMS Global Learning Consortium has published a white paper on digital repositories for learning objects and other assets. The paper, by the IMS Digital Repositories working group, describes the digital repositories "problem space", and takes a look at some of the implementations of repositories from around the world.

IMS Meta-data, Content Packaging & Enterprise: An introductory course
An introductory course by IMS on specifications that support the exchange of content and course information.

Macromedia announces availability of eLearning Studio, Authorware 6
Macromedia's latest eLearning content development solutions, offering compliance with ADL, IMS and AICC specifications, are now available for purchase.

ISO cancels SC36 Plenary in Denmark
The International Standards Organisation (ISO) has cancelled the Plenary of SC36, the committee responsible for standards in learning technology. The event was due to have taken place in Denmark this week.

New SCORM release will incorporate IMS specifications
The Advanced Distributed Learning Network (ADL) is due to release a new version of the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) in the next few weeks, incorporating two IMS specifications.

IMS takes EML as starting point for new specification
The IMS Global Consortium has approved a document defining the scope of its Learning Design working group, with Educational Modelling Language (EML) as the possible basis for a future IMS Learning Design specification.

OUNL spins off EML player to Perot Systems
The Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL) has awarded a tender for the "further deployment and commercialisation" of Edubox, its EML rendering software, to Perot Systems.

Click2Learn unveils Aspen
Click2Learn have released the Aspen Enterprise Learning Platform, what it is heralding as "the industry's first comprehensive and unified e-Learning infrastructure".

The next big thing? Three architectural frameworks for learning technologies
A key event at the IMS symposium in Ottawa on August 2001 was a panel on Architectural Frameworks. Representatives from IMS, MIT’s Open Knowledge Initiative, and Carnegie Mellon University put forward three ways that learning systems of the future could be designed.

IMS, Oracle announce free iLearning classes
IMS and Oracle are making freely available three online courses covering IMS standards.

Macromedia releases eLearning Studio with support for LT standards
Macromedia, creators of popular web content creation tools Dreamweaver and Flash, today announced the release of eLearning Studio. The new package combines version 6 of learning content creation tool Authorware with Dreamweaver 4 and Flash 5, and claims support for ADL, AICC and IMS standards.

CETIS Workshop at ALT-C 2001
On Monday 10 September CETIS will be holding a one day pre-conference workshop at the ALT-C 2001 conference in Edinburgh.

MIT and the Open Courseware Initiative
MIT make their materials freely available and begin to develop Open Source tools for learning.

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