Presentations available from 2005 Alt-i-Lab sessions

June has been a busy month in the post-secondary elearning world; along with the release of Sakai 2.0, another major milestone happened this month at the Alt-i-lab sessions in Sheffield, England. The page above links to many of the presentations and demonstrations that took place there, possibly most notable of which was the first practical demonstration of the Tool Interoperability across multiple CMS. A summary of the demonstration by Chris Vento is available, which seems to be cause for cautious optimism; unfortunately, the only ‘independant’ report I’ve been able to find (not having attended myself) is this one from the Learning Technology Standards Observatory. One can only hope that Wilbert Kraan and the folks at CETIS will come to the rescue with another of their lucid and helpful write-ups to explain what this really all means.

But I would be remiss in not pointing to some other sessions of note; for me the one that jumped off the page as I read further was the working session on “A Common Cartridge for Robust Content Delivery.” This group basically proposed to tackle the problem of content interoperability once more in light of the current situation:

“It’s five years later. The major elearning providers have implemented IMS specifications; many customers mandate compliance with some form of them. However, software vendors and suppliers, consumers, and maintainers of content have not worked together to create a detailed de facto understanding of what implementation means. So while elearning firms market ‘compliance’ with IMS specifications, and some have been certified as compliant with a specific version of the specifications; the lack of practical interoperability has left us in a place not sufficiently different than where we were prior to the IMS specification effort began.”

It’s nice to see the problem being owned up to (no real news to folks in the trenchs who have become increasingly dismayed as the variety of implementations of IMS Content Packaging failed to bring them the content portability and freedom from vendor lock-in they had hoped for). Too early yet to say if the proposed idea of “Content Cartridges” can have any better effect, but the idea of compliance testing and publisher involvement in the standards both seem improvements. – SWL