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Interoperability: Why and how

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  1. Interoperability: Why and how By Scott Wilson, CETIS

  2. The Managed Learning Environment

  3. The Vision • Joined-up applications in service of policy • Supporting improved teaching • Supporting effective management • Supporting better use of information resources

  4. The Objectives • Allow flexibility and real choice in design and implementation of technology architecture • Connect technology to policy and objectives • Support a mixed economy of commercial, homegrown, and open-source software • Keep down consultancy and integration costs

  5. The MLE Parts Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Management Information System (MIS) Library Management System (LibMS)

  6. Issue: The Institutional View • Applications sit in the three stakeholder “fiefdoms” of L&T (VLE), information resources (LibMS), and business information (MIS) • Each believes itself to be the centre of the institutional universe - and everything else connects to it and talks its language

  7. Learner-centric View Joins classes Takes part in discussions Views learning materials Communicates with tutor & peers Submits assignments Enrols Seeks information Borrows resources Pays fines Registers Enrols Gets certificates Pays fees Management Information System (MIS) Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Library Management System (LibMS)

  8. Problems of duplication Management Information System (MIS) Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Library Management System (LibMS) Course Course Course For access to class group, materials etc For resource access, appropriate copy etc For fees, certification etc

  9. Problems of consistency Management Information System (MIS) Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Library Management System (LibMS) Course Course Course

  10. Joining Up Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Enrolment information Resources Results Management Information System (MIS) Library Management System (LibMS) Enrolment information

  11. Integrating the MLE parts

  12. Option 1: Ad-hoc manual integration • Students inform you when data is inconsistent • Staff inform you when their classes don’t have right students in them • Staff inform you when they can’t get the latest content from NLN to work properly

  13. Problems… • Scalability: As more students and staff use systems, the more issues have to be dealt with • Loss of trust in systems (duplication of functions, alternative systems) • Inconsistent, error-ridden data means no clear picture to inform strategy

  14. Option 2: Manual Integration • Clerical staff manually enter new and changed enrolments from the MIS into the VLE and LibMS • Teaching staff enter the results of students’ assignments into the VLE and then enter them into the MIS

  15. Problems… • Scalability (cost, time) • Errors • Timeliness (Every semester? Term? Whenever anything changes?)

  16. Option 3: Bespoke automation • Write scripts to move data between existing systems • Get vendor to supply a link with other existing systems

  17. Problems… • Maintenance and support • Add to cost of upgrades (lock-down) • Add to cost of switching components (lock-in) • May not scale

  18. Option 4: Use standards/specifications • Get products that support referenced standards or specifications for interoperability

  19. Problems…

  20. Specifications alone don’t provide interoperability Interoperable Flexible

  21. Specifications… • Are made by compromise • Are designed to be flexible (optionality, redundancy) • Are global in intended scope (lack local knowledge) • But … still reduce cost of integration by doing some of the work for you

  22. Application Profiles Interoperable Flexible

  23. Application Profiles… • Tailor a specification to community use • Restrict optionality • Extend to include local knowledge • Clarify use

  24. The Last Mile: Local solutions Interoperable Flexible

  25. Local Solutions • Local security policy/infrastructure • Local business rules/partnerships • Specialized data • Misinterpretation

  26. Question time…

  27. User Agents Application Services Common Services Institutional Infrastructures (TCP/IP etc)

  28. VLE Component Library Component MIS Component Collaboration Content Mgt Content Mgt Search Activity Mgt Authentication Packaging Authentication Enrolment Authentication Messaging Messaging Messaging Assessment Learner Info Reporting Packaging Search Cataloguing TODAY: LAND OF THE GIANT COMPONENTS VLE GUI LIBRARY GUI MIS GUI

  29. Authentication Component Learning Delivery Component Authorization Component Enrolment Component Messaging Component Learner Info Component Assessment Component Cataloguing Component Search Component CM Component Messaging Activity Mgt Learner Info Enrolment Content Management Cataloguing Search Collaboration Assessment Authentication Authorization REVOLUTION - OKI-STYLE Learning workflow GUI Admin workflow GUI System mgt GUI

  30. Directory Server Component VLE Component MIS Component Message Server Component Library Component Activity Mgt Enrolment Messaging Content Management Assessment Collaboration Learner Info Reporting Authentication Search Authorization Cataloguing NEAR FUTURE? Learning workflow GUI Admin workflow GUI System mgt GUI