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September 29, 2006

Pushing the boundaries of the VLE in Utrecht

I've just returned from Utrecht and the "pushing the boundaries of the VLE" conference organised by SURF. I did a presentation on PLEs and an interactive session which generated lots of great questions.

Other guest presenters were Chuck Severance of Sakai fame, and Sarah Porter and Bill Olivier from JISC. I was intrigued by what some of the other sessions might have offered, but not speaking Dutch I didn't have many choices :-)

I've got the slides as a humungous 8.7mb powerpoint file here. (I really should include fewer screenshots...or use a different presenting tool)

Some interesting stuff from Chuck on future ideas for Sakai, especially in his 'SOAUI' proposal, which is essentially enabling the entire of the system to be accessible and remixable by providing stateful feeds for everything from tools to navigation controls, enabling anyone to incorporate aspects of a Sakai system into their own environment. This is a really promising approach, and could be a practical pathway from VLE to PLE.

We also touched on the 'gateway' areas where PLEs need to interact with closed areas, such as formal submission and accreditation processes for coursework. This is something that the e-Framework should perhaps concentrate on - how to define the web APIs to these processes so tools can easily enable these kinds of transactions.

In our Plex prototype we had the concept of the 'conduit' applicable not only to posting to weblogs (using the Atom API) and social bookmarking services (etc), but also to submitting items to grading services or assignment drop boxes ("claims 8, 22 and 23" as we might say nowadays). However, no such APIs existed, or marking systems that would allow an external tool to be used to submit work. Maybe we missed something?

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