January 16, 2009

2009 Prediction – – LETSI will get off the ground

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Frank Polster @ 2:54 am

With the start of a new year, the learning and education blogosphere is full of 2009 forecasts. Predicting the future is tenuous at best, but talking about is a bit of fun especially when there is the prospect of looking back a year from now and seeing if you were even close. (Some famous bloggers even attempted to review their predictions from 1999, and surprisingly a couple of them fared well even 10 years later.) So her we go – LETSI will get off the ground and promulgate a set of open web services for the Learning, Education and Training community in 2009 is my prediction.

Blogging is a new thing for me so I am going to attempt to give it a bit of a go and hopefully, add to the dialogue of learning, education and training. For those of you that are first time readers please take a look at some of the other postings below that were part of the CCK08 course. I am a big fan of informal learning, Stephen Downes, George Siemens and Jay Cross. I am a recent CCK08 “grad” — I have drunk the “cool aid” and believe in Connectivism. I believe that 80% or more of what we learn occurs outside of formal institutions and the outcomes could be much better on the informal learning side.

I have spent the last ten plus years building automation systems to support Army training in their schoolhouses, and online learning delivery to include training development and training management systems. Throughout this time, I got involved with the standards business as a charter member of SCORM, with contacts to AICC, IEEE LTS, IMS and a bunch of others. At the end of the day standards are interesting but “working code trumps all theories” (Phil Dodd) and that bit of wisdom has grounded me, as well as helped me, to winnow through all of the chafe.

So my first New Years’ resolution is to blog with a focus on learning, education and training (LET) and something called SCORM 2.0. There was a fantastic amount of energy generated over the last summer with the 200 plus white papers and formal comments. I am sure that those of you who attended the SCORM 2.0 Workshop in Pensacola have seen the minutes from the session. Since Pensacola, a small group of folks have attempted to organize your inputs into four buckets – Teaching and Learning Strategies, Architecture, Sequencing and Business Requirements – in order to layout a baseline. All of this is soon to be exposed in the near future.

On the Negative – What not to Build

Now I know folks are a bit bummed out over the depressed economy and I hate to start on such a negative note, but Stephen Downes’s recent post on What Not To Build struck me as a worthwhile starting point as we begin the next phase of describing what SCORM 2.0 could be.

The short version of what Stephen says is – Don’t build a CMS, Don’t build a platform-specific app, Don’t build a Java application, Don’t build a framework, Don’t build an educational game, Don’t build a new standard… WHOA what is this about?

Stephen says, “People are still proposing to develop, or work on, new standards, be they metadata languages, vocabularies, application profiles, and the like. Back in the days when no standards existed, this may have been a good idea. But today, the standards landscape is full. There are standards for every domain under the sun. Things that probably should not have standards – like carrier pigeon messages – have standards. What’s worse, few of these standards projects made any effort to work with or cooperate with existing standards. So the standards landscape is a mish-mash of convoluted over-engineered and competing standards. Unless you absolutely have to, don’t add to this landscape. Work with what’s there and extend it (even if the rules say you can’t).”

As a point in case, I recently  began using a web app called TimeBridge to schedule and coordinate meetings with colleagues – which exemplifies this precise example. They did not attempt to create yet another online calendar program – they instead connected the various online calendars people already use, and let them interoperate (Google, iCal, Outlook, Yahoo etc). The end result is that people can work the way they choose, and still coordinate schedules ACROSS those varied platforms. That is an example of extension and coordination providing added value.

Working with what’s there and extending it needs a little thought on the part of all of us.

Given the diversity of the SCORM 2.0 community, the depth and breath of the participants, the white papers and the emerging notion that SCORM 2.0 will be built on “existing standardized frameworks and service architectures to potentially serve as base of new SCORM functionality”, this bit of advice of what not to build makes sense.

So if you got this far your asking so what is the 2009 prediction – LETSI will get off the ground and promulgate open web services for the Learning, Education and Training community. Maybe it could be along the lines of the e-Framework folks. Here is a sample format/template that also makes the point of extending other folks standards/work e.g. Personal competency profile information service using HR XML

What to you think we/LETSI ought to build in the near term – the next six to twelve months?

Thanks Frank



  1. >>What to you think we/LETSI ought to build in the near term – the next six to twelve months?

    Given the desire not to build / design a new standard, why not look to existing standards (JA-SIG for Education Portals, SIF for Student Info Systems) and develop the “bridge” to add LMS capabilities to those communities?

    Comment by nvrijn — January 20, 2009 @ 1:24 am

  2. Agree. Thanks Frank

    Comment by Frank Polster — January 20, 2009 @ 1:44 am

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