ePortfolio 2006: Plugfest

Walking along the River Thames this morning to the ePortfolio 2006 Plugfest in the middle of a serious thunderstorm was perhaps not the smartest of plans – but it didn’t take too long to dry out. I attended the plugfest last year and it was excellent, the day was packed with demos and slinging around of data between a variety of eportfolio solutions and this year it was just as interesting.

ePortfolio Systems Integration

This session follows on from the previous year where there was a lot of focus on using xml (mainly IMS-ePortfolio and IMS-LIP) to move portfolio data from one system to another. Only this time the collection of standards has expanded to cover HR-XML and Europass initiatives.

We started off with ePet and EPICS projects – the projects are based in the north-east of England and in use at Newcastle University as well as several other HE and FE institutions in the region. They have been using IMS-LIP for data transfer – which was demonstrated last year, but have now added Europass XML to the list of capabilities – for both import and export of data.

KiteCV is a plugin to add eportfolio creation and export capabilities to several other systems; wordpress, elgg and dotclear. I had a good go with this particular tool (compiling it on my Mac with the developers looking over my shoulder) and indeed it successfully created a europass conformant CV from within WordPress. Using it as a plugin though feels slightly odd – yes it lets youembedd a CV within a blog entry but I’m just not sure why you might wish to do that!

Selwyn from Phosphorix showed iomorph, a generic transformation engine for they have added europass – hr-xml to their list of available formats (the officially supported list is IMS-Lip, UKLEAP, and XCRI – but the toolkit is also capable of supporting custom xslt transforms and CSV data). For the demo they took the newcastle data in hr-xml format into their icebox system – merrily generating nicely formatted CVs.

Giunti Labs stepped up with exact Portfolio – trying to import and export IMS eportfolio. This wasn’t so successful however they assured us that it did work and that they are working on creating plugins and transforms to get the data in and out of other formats too.

Pebblepad (and their lovely flash-based interfaces) showed their export cv functionality. A user chooses one of their many cvs (they can of course generate them for different purposes) and dumps it out in some exchangable format. Their focus is on making all the technicalities as invisible to users as possible – so importing a webfolio from an external site is just a matter of pasting in the url and the software does the rest.

This got me thinking – how do you expose and discover an eportfolio on a public website – could it not be done in the same way as RSS feeds are exposed on via link-rel tags? Perhaps one to develop for next year.

Sarah Davies from JISC asked a sensible question as to what happens if the concepts don’t map? If one system does actionplans and someone else does goalplanners – the fields encoded in the xml _should_ map sensibly even if the semantic meaning is slightly different – but the general consensus was that your milage may vary.

Sample xml files from this part of the plugfest are all available on the eifel website.

One thought on “ePortfolio 2006: Plugfest

  1. Good to see you there, Sam, and thanks for comments.

    The good point at the end – I was most of the day with the group discussing ontologies and competencies, and I think these people are very aware of the problems, even if they don’t have all the practical solutions yet. In effect, particularly at this conceptual level, either the concepts need to be hard coded into agreed vocabularies, or the concepts need to have public identifiers which are used commonly.

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