Tin Can API new solution, same problem?

I’ve just caught up with the SoLAR webinar featuring Megan Bowe talking about the Tin Can API. Tin Can is being supported by ADL and is in many ways an evolutionary step from the SCORM heavily content driven approach to a specification that is much more flexible and context and activity driven.

It is being designed so that it can work with SCORM content but also pull in data from a multitude of other sources. The idea is that this data is stored in a Learning Record Store (LRS) on top of which reporting or visualisation (of particular interest of course to the SoLAR community) can sit. Being concerned with storing activity data it has used bits of the activity streams spec but is adding to that to make it more relevant for learning activity. There are also similarities between it and RDF. Tin Can is based on actor/verb/object statements which has a familiar subject/predicate/ ring to it and it also uses URIs. However Tin Can is as Megan put it not as “chatty” as RDF.

The spec is at very early stages and work on it has only really being going on for about a year. It is taking a very open development approach which is always good, and there does seem to be growing interest in it from vendors. But it does suffer from the age old problem of adoption. Megan was very up front about the difficulties in building LRS’, but if you have a lack of LRS’s then there is a following lack of reporting/visualisation layers for people to experiment with. The initial support (not surprisingly) seems to be coming from the commercial training sector. One example of this is MapDeck, a powerpoint aggregation and remix tool which uses the Tin Can API primarily in its search functionality. Megan also highlighted Tappestry (a mobile interface) which I have actually downloaded but to be honest never quite figured out how to incorporated into my daily activity. I think that might be more a personal #fail than a technical/UI one.

Of course. like any specification, to get traction takes time and as Megan said they are still at the “baby steps” stage just now, and I think the initiative should be given credit for taking a radical shift from the SCORM model. Getting past the baby steps stage is going to be quite a challenge and I do wonder if in education initiatives like iBloom which Lorna reported on recently might detract development activity away from building the kind of LRS’ advocated by Tin Can. There was also some discussion about the use of LTI (which connects systems and can pass limited amounts of data at the moment), but again it seemed that this is probably a next stage development. At the moment I think it’s fair to say that LTI and Tin Can are looking at slightly different types of system connections.

Anyway if you are interested in finding out more I would recommend having a listen to Megan’s presentation and looking at the Tin Can API website.

Open Architectures – solving more interesting problems

The JISC Innovating e-Learning online conference is just a couple of weeks away, and this year I’m particularly glad that this is an online conference and I can catch up with sessions via the recordings and join the discussion via the online forums. Typically, the Open Architectures – solving more interesting problems session I was involved in developing with Rob Englebright and Lou McGill clashes with the SoLAR Flare meeting were co-hosting with the OU.

The background to the session goes something like this . . .

JISC has a long standing tradition of supporting open approaches, from software to educational resources. Part of that support is routed in notions of allowing greater empowerment for users to adapt technology and systems to suit their teaching and learning needs. Many teachers, learners and VLE administrators have been frustrated by the lack of flexibility and opportunities for customisation and personalisation in VLEs. However in over the last few years, there have been a number of developments which are allowing far more flexible and open approaches to be taken.

Back in 2010 myself and Wilbert Kraan produced the Distributed Learning Environments Briefing Paper. This outlined five potential models for the opening up and integration of VLEs with a number of other administrative systems and the wider social web and allowing increasingly flexible access to VLEs from mobile devices. The briefing provided the background for the JISC Distributed Virtual Learning Environments Programme in which 8 projects explored a variety of approaches to extending their learning environments. The Extending the Learning Environment briefing paper provides an overview of the highlights of the programme including the development of WAGs (widgets, gadets and apps) and the use of the IMS LTI specification. It also illustrates how flexible approaches can support innovative teachers to experiment with a range of tools quickly and at low cost. A set of more detailed case studies from the projects are also now available.

Earlier this year, at Dev8ed a number of the sessions were based on the work of the DVLE programme, particularly the use and adoption of IMS LTI as a way to integrate new tools into VLEs. A number of conversations centered around the shift in VLEs. There were a number of discussions and examples of how VLEs were actually becoming more of a development platform, allowing developers and teachers to create customised solutions for their specific needs. The conference session builds on these initial conversations.

Mark Johnson, Scott Wilson and Martin Hamilton will look at some of the popular solutions that underpin teaching technology, and how these solutions prescribe to some extent the learning journey. Whilst we often say pedagogy leads all our decisions, the decisions we make about our infrastructure often determine what is possible. So if you are interested in how you can solve some more interesting problems with your VLE, sign up and join the conversation and see what interesting problems we can help solve together.

Martin Hamilton provides a taster for the session in this short preview video.

IMS and ISO Agreement

The IMS Global Learning Consortium has announced the signing of a general permission agreement with ISO/IEC JTC 1 SC 36. Their press releases states that the “agreement supports continuing expansion of IMS standards adoption to support digital learning across the globe.” This formal announcement is great news for all those who have been working across both organisations to bring about closer alignment of standards.

From the press release:
This agreement follows from successful collaboration between SC 36 and IMS in enabling ISO/IEC versions of IMS Access for All (ISO/IEC 24751) and IMS Content Packaging (ISO/IEC 12785).

SC 36 is chartered to produce IT international standards and guidance in the learning, education and training markets. SC 36 promotes international consensus in standards development and adoption of quality standards.

“The IMS specifications have proven support in industry and are already implemented in many countries,” commented Erlend Øverby, Chair of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC36. “Having IMS specifications as ISO standards benefits all and SC36 are looking forward to a close and fruitful collaboration in developing standards for the best of Learning, Education and Training for a global audience.”

The collaboration with SC-36 benefits IMS member organizations by opening up a path for adoption of IMS work in additional regions of the world.

“As we enter a new era of ubiquitous digital learning it is important that to IMS play a role in opening up new opportunities worldwide and this agreement with ISO/IEC is aimed at that purpose,” commented Dr. Rob Abel, Chief Executive of IMS. “My thanks to the IMS member organizations for their support in developing and sustaining a world-class organization with the means to help make global adoption of digital learning a reality.”

IMS Global Learning and SIF Association set goals for organizational alignment

Just a quick post to share the latest update from IMS and SIF on their plans for “organisational alignment”. A joint press release has just been issued the text of which is below.

IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS Global) and SIF Association announce they are furthering the organizational alignment that began almost one year ago with the formation of the Assessment Interoperability Framework (AIF) project. The alignment activities are supported by the Boards of Directors of both organizations and designed to accelerate progress in developing and deploying interoperability standards in support of digital learning. The details of the collaboration are captured in a letter signed by both boards and posted on both organization’s web sites: imsglobal.org and sifassociation.org.

With the release of the letter of intent, both communities have outlined specific collaboration goals to:

*Facilitate the development and support of a single technical standards community model that promotes an ongoing dialogue around the interoperability needs of preK-20 education across the globe.
*Collectively create and foster the development, adoption and implementation of open technical specifications for learning and educational technology interoperability.
*Enable technology-based personalizing learning opportunities and create opportunities for the sharing of effective practices to further the educational marketplace.

For countries around the world to evolve to better results from their educational systems, the need for a complete “picture” of the learner is critical to link the appropriate resources, programs and content to allow for a successful personalized learning progression. It is then critical that this information and its linkages be available for use throughout the learner’s life, including preK-12, vocational, higher education and/or the workplace.

IMS Global and the SIF Association are currently exploring cooperative projects and aligned operational efficiencies similar in structure to the highly successful AIF project, which is currently reshaping the landscape of U.S. assessment in cooperation with the U.S. Race to the Top Assessment program.

Dr. Larry Fruth II, Executive Director, SIF Association states, “The AIF opportunity began our community alignment and made obvious other areas of leverage and leadership in interoperable standards critical to the education marketplace. By collaborating we are able to make huge strides forward in ensuring we improve learning experiences and enhancing the open-standard even further to fulfill the needs of the marketplace.”

“To enable the next generation of digital learning it is essential that educational applications interoperate with data analytics so that usage of digital content can be correlated with student achievement,” said Dr. Rob Abel, Chief Executive Officer, IMS Global. “As the two leading standards consortia worldwide, IMS and SIF are well-positioned to lead this charge – and the progress of the last 12 months indicates we are well on our way.”

Binding explained . . . in a little over 140 characters

Finding common understandings is a perennial issue for those of us working in educational technology and lack of understanding between techies and non techies is something we all struggle with. My telling some of the developers I used to work with the difference between formative and summative assessments became something of an almost daily running joke. Of course it works the other way round too and yesterday I was taken back to the days when I first came into contact with the standards world and its terminology, and in particular ‘bindings’.

I admit that for a while I really didn’t have a scoobie about bindings, what they were, what the did etc. Best practice documentation I could get my head around, and I would generally “get” an information model – but bindings, well that’s serious techie stuff and I will admit to nodding a lot whilst conversations took place around me about these mysterious “bindings”. However I did eventually get my head around them and what their purpose is.

Yesterday I took part in a catch up call with the Traffic project at MMU (part of the current JISC Assessment and Feedback programme). Part of the call involved the team giving an update on the system integrations they are developing, particularly around passing marks between their student record system and their VLE, and the development of bindings between systems came up. After the call I noticed this exchange on twitter between team members Rachel Forsyth and Mark Stubbs.

I just felt this was worth sharing as it might help others get a better understanding of another piece of technical jargon in context.

Couple of updates from the JISC Assessment and Feedback Programme

As conference season is upon us projects from the current JISC Assessment and Feedback programme are busy presenting their work up and down the country. Ros Smith has written an excellent summary post “Assessment and Feedback: Where are we now?” from the recent International Blended Learning Conference where five projects presented.

Next week sees the CCA Conference and there is a pre-conference workshop where some of the assessment related standards work being funded by JISC will be shared. The workshop will include introductions to:

• A user-friendly editor called Uniqurate, which produces questions conforming to the Question and Test Interoperability specification, QTIv2.1,

• A way of connecting popular VLEs to assessment delivery applications which display QTIv2.1 questions and tests – this connector itself conforms to the Learning Tools Interoperability specification, LTI,

• A simple renderer, which can deliver basic QTIv2.1 questions and tests,

• An updated version of the comprehensive renderer, which can deliver QTIv2.1 questions and tests and also has the capability to handle mathematical expressions.

There will also be demonstrations of the features of the QTI Support site, to help users to get started with QTI.

The workshop will also provide an opportunity to discuss participants’ assessment needs and to look at the ways these might be addressed using the applications we have available and potential developments which could be part of future projects.

If you are interested in attending the conference, email Sue Milne sue.milne@e-learning-services.org.uk with your details as soon as possible.

New CETIS briefing paper on IMS LTI

A new CETIS briefing paper on the IMS LTI specification is now available online.

Written by Stephen Vickers (ceLTIc project and an early adopter, developer and user of the specification) the briefing provides an overview of the specification and illustrates benefits of using it for for developers, VLE administrators, teachers and learners.

The paper is available for download from here.

Curriculum Design Technical Journeys – Part 2

Continuing from my last post, the next part of the programme technical journey focuses on Cluster B projects: T-Sparc, PALET, UG-Flex and PREDICT who all had a broad common theme of organizational change.

In many ways this cluster represents the ‘business end’ of the programme. With Cardiff, Greenwich and City Universities all having pretty robust institutional system integrations in place before the programme started. The programme was a way to develop these existing systems to allow more effective and pedagogically driven processes to be developed and incorporated.

*Project Prod Entry

Unlike the other 3 projects in this cluster, T-Sparc didn’t have as robust an infrastructural starting point, however providing a means for organizational change around curriculum design was a key driver.

The project had four key aims;

“• To inform programme design activity through the improved provision of relevant information to those stakeholders engaged in curriculum design.
• To redesign the ICT infrastructure which supports the workflow of curriculum design and programme approval processes.
• To develop and pilot mechanisms for supporting, through electronic means, course team discussion during their programme design activity.
• To develop and pilot the electronic representation of programmes and underpinning evidence for the purposes of approval.”

One of the key findings from previous technical conversations with the programme was the number of instances of Sharepoint, and its central role for a number of projects. As I commented then, that probably wasn’t that surprising given the that over 90% of UK universities have an installation. The T-SPARC project initially were looking towards utilizing Sharepoint as a definitive document repository and take advantage of its document version control abilities. However as the project has progressed, it has evolved to become the central part of their curriculum design system. A number of workflows were created from their stakeholder enagement and baselining processes using combination of modeling techniques including experiments with BPMN, UML and Visio as outlined in these blog posts.

The team were also able to negotiate dedicated time from an specialist Sharepoint developer in the institution to work with them using an agile development process. A dedicated area in the project blog documents their experiences in working with Sharepoint, and agile project methodology. The posts in this area are particularly useful in sharing real experiences of a project working with agile methods, as well as with corporate IT services – worth a look if you are new or going to be working with others new to this type of approach. Their prototype PADS (programme design and approval system) system is now being trialed by eight programme teams. A key challenge in terms of sustainability and embedding is how to ensure that the system is integrated into wider institutional initiatives such as the recent implementation of SITS. However, as with many other projects, cultural interoperability is perhaps more of a challenge than its technical counterpart.

Perhaps the leading light in terms the use of video narratives, the T-Sparc team have invested time and money into capturing the stories and experiences of their key stakeholders (staff and students) included a very innovative video baseline report. The team have used a mix of video caputure methods including flipcams and the ipad based MiiTuu sytesm. The later is a relatively new development which the team have been using with students and employers. The allows exporting and sharing of questionnaires across devices and allow for time reductions in the setting up and gathering of data. The system utilizes i-Tunes, BCU has an institutional wide itunes provision, so again sharing is simplified. The use of video for personal reflection is fairly mainstream within the institution now too. The team have made extensive use of free editions of video editing/compression packages (Handbrake, Microsoft Expression), however they are still searching for a real time video compressor. Ideally one which would compress on the fly and have an automagic deposit to repository feature to suit their needs – and budget. Again storage for video is an issue (as highlighted in this post) – is this where cloud storage could play a useful institutional role?

The team are also developing a Rough Guide to Curriculum Design which is outlined in this post which will synthesis all aspects of the project.

*Project Prod Entry

In contrast to T-Sparc, the PALET project was working within the context of a fairly robust internal technical infrastructure based largely on IBM websphere and Lotus tools. Institutionally, the Lean methodology was also being widely supported. Cardiff also had previous experience of Enterprise Architeture and, as the project developed, through other institutional projects, links to the JISC FSD programme.

The PALET project’s aims were to:

“Utilising the Lean Thinking methodology for process improvements, the PALET project will develop revised procedures for the approval of new programmes to create a more agile, efficient and flexible approach to the design of new curricula and the subsequent programme approval process. In the context of the University’s Modern IT Working Environment (MWE) project, a service-oriented approach will be utilised to develop a toolset to support academic and support staff through each stage of the new programme approval process, which will also ensure that the resulting programme and module information is clearly defined and can be seamlessly utilised by other business applications.”

Key to the project has been the creation of a single data source which contains all relevant curriculum design and approval information which can be easily re-purposed and accessed by various stakeholders. Interestingly the project has ended up taking a scaled down approach and building their own webservices and not using IBM tools.

They have moved away from using websphere as their main data source and SITS is now core for the storage of course related information. This has allowed the team to write their own webservices using Grails, and taking restful approaches and the Groovy programming language. This was quite a sea change for all involved as outlined in this blog post. As highlighted in the post, the team have found this experience very useful, and this generic web services approach/architecture is now being rolled out in other parts of data provision in the University. This should help with sustainability and the embedding of more data services/ provision as and when needed. Again the successful managing of change during the lifecycle of the project has been key for everyone. Sometimes a simple approach is best.

Parts of the their larger infrastructure remain and there are now better connections with for example Lotusnotes and bringing feeds and topics into one overarching portal for end users. However, the team have developed a dedicated portlet for course information which links to the main websphere portal. Details of which are outlined in their portlet technical specification. The work done on the underlying technical infrastructure ensures that the progress in terms of redesigning course and module templates can be fully utilised.

Like T-Sparc, the team are still analyzing the need for XCRI, and are confident that they could easily create a feed if need, however there still aren’t key internal drivers for this as yet.

A full technical specification for the project is also available.

*Project Prod Entry

Like PALET, UG-Flex also had a robust infrastructure (based largely on SunGard Banner ) in place which they planned to build on.

“We envisage that our technical outputs will be of use to other institutions using SunGard’s Banner system and we plan to feed these outputs into the European and international Banner community. The project also intends to share the lessons learned about the challenges of working with a proprietoriaml product based applications with the wider education community.”

Although the institution did have dedicated business analysts the experience of the project has had an impact on approaches to business processes in general and the use of and techniques applied for modelling. For example although their Business Analyst were conversant with various visual modeling techniques and languages (BPMM, BPEL, UML) to illustrate and developed technical infrastructures, having resource dedicated to the project allowed them to work at a far greater level of detail. This experience has allowed the for the processes used in the project be incorporated into day to day techniques in other large scale projects throughout the University. Exploration of TOGAF methodologies is ongoing and staff are undertaking accreditation training..

In previous conversations with the team, they had expressed an interest in XCRI. Greenwich has been successful in gaining one of the JISC Course Data projects and it is now embarking on their xcri-cap production stage. A nice example a synergistic relationship with the outcomes and findings of UG-Flex, and future institutional planning e.g. KIS returns.

Through Banner, there is use of IMS enterprise compliant tools, but there has never been a plan to develop anything at the enterprise level. However, in terms of future developments there are some major changes for the IT team. The new versions of Banner are now component based as opposed to Oracle based. Whilst on the one hand this does allow for greater flexibility and more agile approaches, as well as an improved UI; on the other this is a major change for some more traditional database developers, and so an issue for staff skills and development.

Again we had talked about Sharepoint in previous discussions, and concerns had been raised about its suitability for managing data as opposed to documents which it has undoubted strengths in. Now there is a fully supported installation in their Business School. Preparatory work is been undertaken around implementing some automated workflows, in particular around QA processes which have been developed through UG-Flex. As an adjunct to this work, and UG-Flex, a personalized timetabling service is being developed and trialled in the Business School. The team have also kindly agreed to write this up as a guest post in the CETIS other voices blog.

During the project lifecycle the institution has also migrated to Moodle (more details of some of their approaches and the lesson learnt about stakeholder involvement and process mapping have been included in this summary post from Lou McGill )

Overall the team have found that the UG-Flex project has been exemplary in terms of academic needs driving developments, and not the IT department. Particularly with the VLE migration, there is a strong sense of ownership from the academic community as they feel they have been fully part of the decision and migration process.

*Project Prod Entry

PREDICT was again a project with a pretty robust architecture and like UG-Flex, they have noticed a perceptible change in attitude during the lifecycle of the programme. The use, and understanding of the term, Curriculum Design is now far more commonplace in conversations within the IT department, and the core business of the University – teaching and learning – is being considered more at the start of discussions about new IT developments.

“The project focus is to develop a new curriculum design process that is efficient, flexible, focuses on enhancing educational development and the student experience and, is supported with responsive technology to accommodate our curriculum models. It is essential that the design process takes account of our diverse stakeholders – whether learners, staff or employers.”

In terms of use and standards, the project haven’t really deviated from their original plans. One of the few institutions to be have an implementation of xcri before the programme started, they actually haven’t done much more. They have looked at xcri-cap but, largely due to the current lack of vendor buy-in and wider external drivers, they haven’t felt the need to implement it.

In light of the KIS requirements they are reviewing their current data provision and in particular their local course information database (Prism). They are considering some re-engineering and simplification of the UI, taking a more component/SOA approach. They have also been in discussions with other institutions about building similar tools in SITS. SITS and in particular StuTalk has proved to be central for developing more business processes, and they have “service enabled” their installation for wider business processes. Like Cardiff they use IBM Websphere and it provides their key middleware stack. In conjunction with these back-end developments, the project has also made progress in the redesign of their course and module documentation for staff.

The PREDICT project, and other internal projects relating to blended learning have been useful in terms of developments in their Moodle deployment, and getting people to engage more about using it, and not just using it as a defacto course notes repository.

One area the PREDICT project has highlighted is a gap in up to date information on staff in the HR system. There is basic employment/payroll information but not an awful lot on what they actually do day to day. Creating more personalised timetables is something they (and many others) are currently investigating. The potential for joining up curriculum information, student information with staff information so, for example, a student would see which lecturer was taking each class, and have links to the staff members research interests; publications etc is very attractive. But again, requires more work on the sharing of the appropriate information between systems.

Overall the project has shown that it is worthwhile to allow staff and students and the IT department time to think through their IT service provision together. Enhancing business processes alone can’t make a poorly designed course better (the supporting pedagogically guidance the project has produced will help with that!), but they can make some tasks easier/less time consuming. Like UG-Flex there is now more IT provision planning being done in conjunction with educational development staff which wouldn’t have happened before the project.

So from this cluster, agility and greater communication between central IT provision has been key. Agile approaches can allow for more rapid development of light-weight, but effective web services as highlighted by PALET. However, this change of approach can bring with it issues of staff skills and development. Effective communication is always central to the success of any change process, and maintaining the links fostered through these projects will be key for future sustainability and embedding.

Dev8ed – building, sharing and learning cool stuff in education

Dev8eD is a new event for developers, educational technologists and users working throughout education on the development of tools, widgets, apps and resources aimed at staff in education and enhancing the student learning experience, taking place in Birmingham on 29 – 30 May.

The event will will include training sessions led by experts, lightning presentations and developer challenges.

Confirmed sessions include:
*Understanding and implementing the IMS Learning Tools Interoperability specification
*Exploring and sharing tool for learning design through a number of design challenges
*Widget store: Sharing widgets and tools to help you design, build and publish your own widgets
*Mashing coursedata xcri -cap feeds
*Node js
*Human Computation related to teaching and learning

All participants will be able to share their own examples, expertise and opinions via lightning sessions, workshops and informal networking opportunities. So, if you have an idea or something you’d like to share, then sign up!

The event (including overnight accommodation) is free to all participants and is being organised by DevCSI and supported by the JISC e-learning, course information, open educational resources programmes and CETIS.

We hope to see many of you in Birmingham in May.

Summary of technologies in use in the JISC Developing Digital Literacies Programme

The JISC Developing Digital Literacies programme is now well underway. As I reported from the programme start up meeting last October , the aim of this 2 year programme is too

” . . .promote the development of coherent, inclusive and holistic institutional strategies and organisational approaches for developing digital literacies for all staff and students in UK further and higher education.”

with projects:

” . . .working across the following stakeholder groupings in their plans for developing digital literacies: students, academic staff, research staff, librarians and learning resources and support staff, administrators and managers and institutional support staff . . .”

As part of the programme support project, over the last couple of months I’ve conducting our usual technical audits with the projects to get a picture of what technologies and standards they are using/considering to use at this stage. The results of these conversations are recorded in our PROD database.

The projects are due to complete their baselining phase at the end of January, so it has been timely to discuss some of the wider issues around using various technologies with each of the projects. The rest of this post gives a snap shot of the range of technologies the projects are currently using. NB Unfortunately I haven’t been able to speak with the UCL team, but once they have completed their baseline report we will be meeting and I’ll update the data, however don’t expect the general trends outlined in this post to change much.

The map shows the locations of the 12 projects, with links to the prod entry for each. As the programme progresses, I’ll be adding a links to the design studio pages for each project too.

Map showing locations of DDL projects

Map showing locations of DDL projects

The mindmap below gives an alternative view of the data entries for each project (if you click on the picture it will take you to a live version, NB the mind map will be open so you may find it easier to close nodes before exploring it in full).

Mind map of PROD entries for DDL programme

Mind map of PROD entries for DDL programme

The focus of the programme is more on the effective use of technology rather than as with other JISC funded work, the development of technology. On saying that, there are a couple of projects who are planning to develop some mobile applications and there are strong links between the work of the W2C project at MMU in relation the provision of mobile services, particularly with the SEEDPod project, University of Plymouth who have been working with MMU in conducting surveys of students uses of mobile devices. There are a number of approaches to mobile provision. The Developing Digital Literacy as a Post Graduate Attribute project is providing students with ipods to record and share their learning journeys, and to some extent leaving it to the students to find what works/doesn’t work for them. Whereas other projects (SEEDPod, InStePP) are developing more holistic, device and location agnostic approaches to provision of services/content.

So far we have 94 individual technologies and standards. The wordle below gives an overview.

Wordle of technologies & Standards in DDL progamme (Jan '12)

Wordle of technologies & Standards in DDL progamme (Jan '12)

This bubblegram gives another view of the range and instances of technologies and standards. Again if you click on the picture you’ll go to a larger, interactive version.

Bubblegram of technologies and standards in DDL, Jan 2012 (v4) Many Eyes

The projects area all blogging (you can access aggregated feeds here) and WordPress is top of our chart with 8 projects using it, the majority of these are also using institutionally hosted versions. What is also noticeable, is the (relatively) high instances of non- institutionally based services such a social networking sites – particularly twitter and Facebook. At the moment the main (and anticipated) use of both is for general project dissemination, however a number of projects are both to communicate with staff/students e.g. to get people involved in focus groups. The PADDLE project are planning to use existing facebook groups as collaboration/communication point with some of their focus groups.

Other external services such as drop-box (for document sharing), doodle for arranging meetings and a range of google apps (docs, calendar etc) are also being widely used. For the later there is a mix of institutional provision and more general use of, for example google docs for sharing project team related information. As with other programmes and the following a general sector wide trend, Moodle comes out as the most common VLE across the programme.

In terms of standards, the main focus was on packing formats with IMS CP, IMS CC and SCORM all getting one mention each. As we are still in early days, most projects haven’t got a clear idea of what format they will release any content in, however there was an overall interest in, and indeed knowledge of OER (i.e. the DIAL project is building on experiences from a previous UK OER project) and most projects expressed an desire to release any relevant content as OERs.

A number of projects (e.g. The Exeter Cascade Project, InStePP) are looking at greater integration of digital literacies into wider competency frameworks through for example making more explicit curriculum links to institutional graduate attributes; and also through working with other wider programme related stakeholders such as SCOUNL and ALT.

As mentioned earlier, projects are just coming to the end of their baselining work, and at this stage they are keen not to be prescriptive about the technologies they will be using, as they want to be as flexible as possible. Also, key to number of the projects is the exploration of the how, what, where and why of technology use (both hardware and software) of staff and students and then making appropriate interventions/recommendations for wider institutional policies.

When I repeat this exercise next year, I have a suspicion that there may be a subtle shift to more institutionally based services as more content will have been created and being used/shared within VLEs/repositories. As any changes to curriculum provision, and institutional policies, if not in place, will be fairly well scoped by then too. I am wondering if we will see, similar to the Curriculum Design programme, an increase in the use of Sharepoint for more formal documentation and a decrease in use of more informal sharing services such as drop box. At the moment there the project teams are using drop box primarily for the convenience of any time/where/device access.

One of the things I was curious about was if these projects would be more “literate” in their choices of technologies to use, and what would be the balance between use of institutionally based services and more general web based services. I don’t think I have an answer to the question, but I have seen a healthy sense of pragmatism displayed by all the projects in terms of their approaches.

I’ve had some really interesting discussions with projects (particularly Digitally Ready) around the definition of technology and what it was I really wanted to record i.e. everyday /commonplace technologies like email, calendars etc; was I interested in what the project team were using for project management or more what they were using for stakeholder engagement? In fact it’s all of the above – which probably goes some way to explaining the number of different technologies recorded to date. I feel it’s also worthwhile every now and again just stepping back and reflecting on how our expectations of peoples and projects use of technologies (JISC programme digital literacy perhaps?) have evolved. A few years ago, we’d be lucky if we got all projects to have a blog with more than 2 or 3 entries by the end of a programme – now, it’s one of the first things on a projects to do list, and most institutions provide some kind of hosted blogging service.

When we were developing PROD originally it was to record the tools, standards outputs and development processes of very technically focused projects. However as we’ve started to use it more widely across the JISC elearning programme, we’ve used it not just to record what projects are building, but the what, how and when of technologies projects are actually using. In the not so development focused projects such as DDL this is central. I think that this is starting to give us some real evidence of the diversity and commonality of approaches within and across programmes, and give us greater understanding of how actual use of technologies is being enabled and embedded both from the bottom up and top down.

As they move into the next phase of the programme it will be fascinating to see how the projects start to use the findings from their baselining and how that will impact on their next phase of development.