That’s not a VLE it’s a repository. That’s not a repository it’s a content management system. That’s not a CMS it’s a VLE. [Discuss …]
Ever since VLEs first appeared there there have been questions about whether they differed from content management systems. Similarly, there have been questions about whether repositories differ from content management systems. And of course, many resources are stored in VLE systems: does that mean that VLEs are repositories? Often these questions are loaded–they come with an implication that the other system would be better for the job. For example, the implication was that VLEs were poor content management systems. But of course each type of system has its pros and cons for different jobs in different contexts. I’m organizing a session for this year’s JISC CETIS conference in which I hope we will explore what these jobs and contexts are, and how they might change.
I’ve been really lucky with people agreeing to do short presentations for me. Stephen Vickers, of Information Services at Edinburgh University, has perhaps the hardest job since he is talking about how the VLE at Edinburgh is used. There’s very little to say about VLEs that hasn’t already been said, but I think it is important to start with a marker for the technology that is most widely installed in institutions at the moment, and ask “what is it used for and why?”. Richard Kirby of CAPDM will be talking about the CAPDM approach to single source publishing, and how they use a versioning repository to aid the change management workflow in content maintenance. I’ve asked Sarah Currier of Intrallect (the company behind the Intralibrary repository solution) to talk about the what repositories are good for and how they fit in with other systems (technical and human), especially in the area of resource sharing and dissemination (I’m trying to make sure that Sarah and Richard cover different ground). Mark Stiles, head of eLearning Development at Staffordshire University has agreed to talk about VLEs, repositories and eLearning content from the perspective of one with an interest in institutional strategy. Finally Tony Hirst of the Open University will talk about potential Web 2.0 approaches to the learning environment. I was particularly taken with his piece about the role of blogs and blogging in the learning environment, which he posted just as we were first planning this session.
The second part of the session will be discussion, which I hope will help us understand what factors influence the success of different approaches to content creation, management, sharing, dissemination and delivery, and how these might change over the next few years. Some examples of the changes I think will be relevant include large initiatives to make educational content used in universities available to anyone for online learning, the use of services “out there” on the web–web 2.0 services, cloud computing and software as a service–and service oriented approaches and other approaches to breaking down interoperability barriers between components of different systems.
The conference is invitation only. However, there are still some places available so if you are interested in this or other sessions get in touch with me or one of the other session organizers and we’ll see if we can get an invite to you.