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.