And the Winner Is … The UK

I have spent this week at the IMS Learning Impact Conference in Long Beach California. I’ve enjoyed the conference and sensed a remarkably fresh approach, amongst delegates and IMS alike, to standards and their role in educational technology. Overall I’d suggest a strong re- affirmation that the direction of travel we have been following in CETIS is very much on course. Lots of talk of openness, collaboration and Learner centred approaches (I’ll reflect on this in my next blog post). As is custom at this event the final activity, before workshops and working group meetings, is the annual Learning Impact Awards. It was something akin to the British (music) invasion of the early 1960’s with the UK dominating the platinum awards across all categories winners included The BBC for their accessibility tool kit ASK, Pebblepad and the Nottingham Xerte online toolkit Three out of the four main awards to the UK with two of these being accessibility tools.

The IMS Technology Enhanced Flexible Learning project Group

Whilst at the Learning Impact 2008 conference in Austin Texas, incidentally a more pleasent place than I expected, I became more aware of the activities of the Technology Enhanced Flexible Learning (TEFL) project under formation group.

Those educatiors involved in language teaching may get confused over the acronym but essentially the TEFL project group is aiming to develop and promote an “end-to-end” methodology for introducing e-learning students to the online environment, to include best practices drawn from literature, personal accounts and workshops (LTAC and other) for each student Introduction Phase (i.e. Expectations, Preparation and Induction). It is anticipated that this methodology will provide a framework for learning technologists and e-learning faculty and administrators to address the quality and service needs of introductory adult e-learners while establishing a effective practices for recruiting, retaining and supporting student persistence.

This is undoubtedly of significant interest to those charged with the retention of students within HE and FE instituitions and signals a clear intent by members of IMS to move away form their historic areas of focus interoperability and data exchange standards and into the contested area of “qaulity standards” it will be interesting to see how this develops.

Thoughts on the Amazon “Kindle”

The Amazon Kindle is device is creating quite a storm in educational circles in the US. The device has a 6″ screen and weighs a lttle over 10 ounces.
“Utilizing a new high-resolution display technology called electronic paper, Kindle provides a crisp black-and-white screen that resembles the appearance and readability of printed paper. The screen works using ink, just like books and newspapers, but displays the ink particles electronically. It reflects light like ordinary paper and uses no backlighting, eliminating the glare associated with other electronic displays. As a result, Kindle can be read as easily in bright sunlight as in your living room.The screen never gets hot so you can comfortably read as long as you like.”

So why the storm ? well its Digital Rights Management again . Amazon have invested heavily in this technology and consequently have built in a sphisticated DRM system which prevents users form “openly sharing content”. Educators are begining to use the technology in educational settings and emerging are two distinct viewpoints, use and support the technology issue and the DRM issue will be resolved by user presssure, or boycot the technology completely and Amazon will “cave in under consumer pressure”.
It is of course a small part of a much larger discussion relating to open access and digital rights management and content publishers attempts to forge new business models in the digital age. It will be interesting to see what evolves………..

What about LETSI ?

I have been asked on numerous occasions, well perhaps I’m exaggerating a little, what is happening about LETSI another acronym Learning, Education, Training, Systems Interoperability?

For the uninitiated LETSI is an international organisation that is currently being formed by several international partners , supported by ADL to, amongst a wider remit, provide governance for SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model) standard and other learning technology specifications and standards.The organisation was born out of ADL’s desire for SCORM in the future to be self sustaining managed governed and developed by a community of users. JISC CETIS has monitored the development of the organisation and contributed to the intial start up meeting earlier this year.

The Organisation was officially launched last week in the United States by Wayne Hodgins at an event in Orlando Florida and without comment or endorsement the video of this launch is available at the link below.

We here at JISC CETIS will continue to monitor developments in this area, representing the needs of the UK HE and FE communities.