July 20, 2005
Interoperability with Open Source Community
A summary of WebCT's feature presentation on how WebCT can be extended with open source and commercial tools using the IMS Tools Interoperability standard. This gives the advantages of open source tool development but allows that to work within a well-established commercial framework.
WebCT has committed to using the IMS Tools Interoperability framework. This makes it very easy to integrate open source modules into WebCT. Once installed, these work as if they are built-in WebCT tools.
The IMS TI standard controls APIs for installation packages, launching the tools, authentication between WebCT and the tools, and reporting back from the tools. So we can build something using the IMS TI standard that in theory can be easily loaded into commercial and open source learning management systems, including WebCT.
For administrators, they get an XML file in the IMS TI framework that describes the tools, the customizations available, etc. Once loaded into WebCT, the tool now appears in the admin configuration menus, etc. Any required settings (server names for external access, etc.) can be configured.
For designers, the tool appears as another tool in their toolbox. They can add it to the courses, apply course-specific customizations, use with other WebCT capabilities like selective release, etc. Any student evaluation ends up in columns in the WEbCT gradebook, etc.
For students, they just click on the tool like anything else. There may be some customizations students can do. SSO is automatically provided if needed.
The key is it is seamless.
WebCT demoed this using products developed by commercial products, as well as open source initiatives such as modules developed for SAKAI.
This is not yet in the WebCT product, and probably won't be until the next major release next year, as the IMS TI standard is still under development. Once it is available, people will be able to use install packages that use this standard and use the tools in the base WebCT 6 product. However, we would have to purchase the powerlinks extension to do any of our own tool development.
Posted by kvl014 at July 20, 2005 11:01 AM