What difference can the SIGs make?
The question has been asked: What difference can the SIGs make? In particular, what impact can they SIGs make on the development of Specifications?
An important question - why make an effort if it will have no impact?
There are three areas or levels where SIGs can make a difference:
- On the development of specifications and standards for learning technology
- On the implementation of these in LT tools and systems
- On the adoption and use of systems and tools that support LT specifications & standards
Work in areas 2 & 3 tell us much about what specifications enable and do not enable (and hence perhaps disable). This is a valuable source on which to base input into the Specification process.
Our community is perhaps unique in covering the whole ranger from software developers, through learning technologists and authors, to learners and teachers exploring new approaches that the technology makes possible - or fails to support. As such we are able to bring together multiple viewpoints in assessing the strength and current weaknesses in the early versions of LT specifications now available.
All those involved in the development of current LT specifications are clearly aware of their limitations. They are not seen as 'the final word'!
The approach has been "what can usefully be delivered sooner rather than later that is likely to be widely adopted?" rather than "can we produce the specifications that will meet all conceivable needs?" (which may never get finished - at least before the technology has moved on).
LT specifications are seen as a snapshot in an evolutionary process which will have to match both the rapid technology developments and the exploitation of the possibilities this creates for enhancing the learning and teaching process. So..
- Current specifications are intentionally limited and designed to evolve in the light of their use
- Specification bodies want coherent feedback from users on what is most needed next
- They will integrate the best proposals that meet these needs
- They welcome quality input from members into the task of developing specifications
The impact of SIGs will therefore be proportional to the quality of the input made.
Because the SIGS are a part of CETIS which represents UK HE & FE, the SIGs:
- have access to and can attend the LT specifications & standards bodies
- have access to and contact with the UK HE & FE community
- can submit documents and make verbal input into the specification processes
- can thus considerably increase the weight and impact that UK HE/FE makes
The weight of the CETIS SIGs depends on:
- their being seen to directly represent a large and experienced group of developers and practitioners that form a significant user community, and to indirectly represent many similar communities worldwide
- the quality of the input they make
- the effort that they make
SIG contributions will be listened to and make an impact to the extent that they:
- Articulate real and widespread needs
- which carry more weight if they are backed up with surveys/research
- Make good proposals for the development of new or existing specs that meet these needs
- proposals carry more weight if a working implementation can be demonstrated
- and even more if there is open source code which others can try out and develop from