Mark Stiles, Professor of Technology Supported Learning and Head of Learning Development and Innovation at Staffordshire University in the UK, was kind enough to respond to my email interview questions. He requests that I note: that these are his personal responses and should NOT be seen as representing the official views of either Staffordshire University, JISC or IMS.
Please give the group and introduction about yourself and background in Education Technology Standards?
A bit about myself – originally I was trained as a Computer Scientist (I have a UK Degree in Computing that dares back to 1971!) and I also have a record of being a teacher and academic manager in UK Further Education. Some 20 or so years OK I moved into the UK Higher Education sector as a Deputy IT Director with responsibility for developing the use of IT in support of learning and teaching. In the mid 90’s, I developed (using funding from JISC) one of the first VLEs (called COSE). Also around that time I became the person in charge of learning development and innovation at Staffordshire University. In 2000, I was awarded one of the first Professorial Chairs in “eLearning” in the UK.
I have carried out numerous projects on behalf of JISC ranging from the original development of COSE, through work on interoperability standards (eg early work on IMS Enterprise and Content Packaging specifications), work on content reuse and repurposing, technology for the support of work-based learning etc. I’m currently running a project looking at transforming the management and sustainability of innovation across my University using Enterprise Architecture approaches, and another project piloting Open Educational Resources. (I should add we use Blackboard as our VLE and Guiti Harvest Road Hive as our learning content repository – our SIS is Oracle-based).
Can you tell us about the role JISC is taking in developing global technology standards?
I’m Deputy Chair of the JISC Learning and Teaching Committee, Chair of JISC CETIS, and a Director (on behalf of JISC) of the IMS GLC.
JISC’s role in standards would be best found from the JISC strategy document on its website, but JISC is solidly behind the development and use of open standards, and sees standards as a critical factor for enabling both effectiveness and efficiency for the UK Higher Education sector. JISC works with a range of international organisations with either interests or activities in the standards area. JISC CETIS is the organsation which focusses education technology work in the UK for JISC and employs a number of staff who support JISC funded work across the country and beyond.
What lessons have you learned from the standards development process which should be used by future standards groups / initiatives?
I see standards in terms of enabling Universities to meet the challenges of a changing global environment. Clearly standards which enable reuse/repurposing and open exposure of learning content are vital, as are those which enable the sharing of content, learner information, and other data across partner institutions. The market for HE is Europe is increasingly demand led and standards which will support employer engagement, the management of work-based learning, and the efficient creation of new product (including negotitiated and highly personalised courses – both in terms of organisation and delivery)will be critical. The harmonisation of wider “de facto” standards from the Web 2.0 and widget world with more specifically educational standards work will also be critical as will accomodating the whole “bring your own tools” philosophy and accomodating these developments within an institutional and partnership corporate environment.
Standards work needs to be inclusive and as open as possible – it needs to involve as many vendors and the communities concerned as possible – from both development and consumption perspectives – and MUST be truly international.