Assembling the heterogeneous elements for digital learning

Software as a Service (SaaS) and elearning

The last couple of days has seen a bit of discussion in the blogosphere about Software as a Service (SaaS) and the where it is going in terms of adoption. This post summarises some of the discussion and makes a number of points. Wikipedia has an entry for SaaS.

Applying SaaS to elearning in universities might bring you the ASP based idea for course management systems. That is, Blackboard sets up servers that host courses for universities that pay for that service. elgg spaces is based on this idea – but supports software much more appropriate for education.

This model, however, is still based on the “one ring to rule them all” model. A single piece of software. I’m more interested in an approach that is more a best of breed, Web 2.0 concept, i.e. “Web 2.0 course sites”.

Use of RSS, open APIs etc to create a course website consisting of a combination of services provided by the various “free” online services such as Google Video, You Tube, Writely, de.lic.io.us etc.

The model is goes something like

  • Glue scripts and open APIs are used to connect University infrastructure (e.g. creation of videos etc) with the services
  • Other scripts create a course site that integrates the services into a single place. RSS feeds used to update the course site due to changes on the services.
  • Also used to create an OMPL/RSS feed that students/staff can use to track changes

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