Simplifying Learning Design – my response

Scott Wilson has posted his views on the proposed Simple IMS Learning Design 2.0 from Guillaume Durand so I thought I’d just add my tuppence worth.

Like Scott and Durand I’m all in favour of anything that can simplify the current IMS LD spec. However before we go ahead with the technical ins and outs I would really like to ensure that any development is based on real needs – what teachers and learners actually need and what we can really expect our systems to do effectively and efficiently.

So, before we start debating what we keep in/out of scope, I’d really like to see the development of a robust and real set of use-cases. Let’s use those to engage teachers and vendors alike and build tools that do what teachers really need them too. Let’s be realistic about who is actually going to take the time to create a fully fledged UoL to use IMS speak. Not every teacher/ learning designer will or necessarily needs to. Let’s look at what people really want to do and where there is a real gap. We have a wealth of designs now that we can draw on now. What are the key things people need to do but can’t just now, or could be done more effectively by some automatic processes for example grouping, populating classes? And instead of showing the XML, let’s start with what the user wants to do and work backwards from there.

Previewing of LAMS sequences without login

Hurrah! You can now preview LAMS sequences without having to log-in to a LAMS server. One of the most frustrating things when looking for any teaching and learning resources is not being able to preview the resource. This is particularly so when you are searching through more detailed resources such as a course designed in LAMS or a similar learning design system. It’s difficult to get a feel of the course, without actually seeing as the student would.

Previewing sequences was a one of the discussion points at last year’s Design Bash, so it’s great to see that this has been taken forward by James, Ernie and all the team at LAMS.

To see for yourself, the why not have a look a this sequence “Chinese Language – Celebrating Spring Festival“, (author Christine McDonald). As pointed out by the LAMS team in their newsletter this sequence also makes use of the new video recording functionality in LAMS too.

Platform Open days

For those of you interested in finding out more about approaches to working with linked data sets, SPARQL and “all that stuff”, Talis are running a series of platform open days. The first of these will be held on 14 May in Manchester, and the Talis team are keen to get some input from the educational sector.

The day will give an overview of Linked Data including what it means to make Data into “Linked Data”, an overview of RDF, and a tutorial of SPARQL. There will also be a “Linked Data in Action” talk, giving many examples and live demonstrations of apps, mashups and visualisations built on Linked Data. The idea is to give anyone who is curious about the Semantic Web and Linked Data a firm basis on which to build. Also, if you are already working/just starting to work in this area and have any specific problems then the Talis team will be on hand to help solve your problem.

So, if you are interested in having learning more about Linked Data, SPARQL and working with datasets from the BBC, UK Government, and maybe even sharing your own data sets, then sign up here. The event is free to attend but there are only 30 places.

The Manchester event also coincides with the FutureEverything festival in Manchester that week.

Modelling for the real world

I had a really interesting discussion with Oliver Jenkins of the T-Sparc project at BCU. It was sparked by my response a tweet saying “I dont feel that UML business process modelling quite encompasses everything we’re trying to communicate. So Im developing another language.”

Reading that, two thoughts almost simultaneously passed through my mind. One of the them being “what, develop another modelling language, are you mad?” and the other, perhaps slightly more considered “oh, I wonder what that will look like?”. Anyway after a chat with Oliver yesterday, I now have a much better understanding of the chain of events that led to that tweet.

Oliver is grappling with a number of issues in creating models and workflows around course approval process which meet all stakeholder needs. They need to create workflows which their IT team can use to implement in Sharepoint. Oliver has decided to create his own UML hybrid, which uses elements of UML but he is adapting it in order that his stakeholders (particularly in registry and IT ) can come to a common understanding and ultimately develop an improved, usable course documentation and approval system.

Across the current JISC Curriculum Design Programme there are many different approaches being taken to process modelling from full blown BPMN to some lighter weight approaches like BCU. Some projects are fortunate in that they can draw on institutionally based business analysts. However I think the BCU situation is probably more commonplace for most HE institutions. I do think that flexibility around modelling and modelling languages is key. The one size doesn’t fit all adage if you like – particularly when working with some of the more chaotic shall we say, processes within HE institutions. As the programme develops it is producing rich picture of a number of approaches to modeling, use of modelling languages, creation and implementation of workflows around the curriculum delivery process.

Oliver’s most recent blog post gives a good overview of where they’re at and why. And this post is really more a re-direct to the T-Spark blog – it’s well worth a read if you are interested in this area.