Project_ng In the coming weeks we’ll be sharing here our vision for Project NG and Web 2.0.  This is a broad topic covering user interfaces, technologies and information theory.  We’ve spent a lot of time sharing our ideas of the new user interface we are working on under Project NG.  The Web 2.0 underpinnings of Project NG go well beyond the new AJAX-based interface.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll discuss how this project, our multi-year, multi-release vision, aligns with other areas of Web 2.0.

Today, I’m writing about two technologies that pave the way for freedom and flexibility for learning tools and information.

One principle of Web 2.0 is that software should be simple for ordinary users, but open to extraordinary innovation.  It is our hope that these two technologies working together will support this vision for our Project NG through a set of web services and APIs.  The Learning Environment Connector (LEC) and Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) work in tandem to showcase how Project NG fits into the Web 2.0 vision of flexibility and empowerment through openness.

The first technology is the Learning Environment Connector (LEC), which I wrote about several weeks ago.  This isn’t just a portal.  While there are portal-like features to it, most notably, information aggregation, the Learning Environment Connector is bi-directional, allowing information to be published and consumed within both Blackboard software and remote learning environments.

This bi-directional framework enables a truly flexible system wherein instructors could create highly customized learning environments; yet they can retain the ability to collaborate, share and reuse information with colleagues.

The second technology is our extension of the Blackboard Building Blocks framework to support the IMS Learning Tools Interoperability Standard (LTI) version 2.0.  This is a web services-based framework we’re developing with partners and other CMS vendors.  The technology could enable custom tools to be connected at the course level through standard web services interfaces.

We’re working to make this a standard so that tools can be shared across multiple course management systems.  We hope to use this technology in the future inside a few Blackboard tools.  Of course, as we’re still working on all this, it’s too early for me to share specifics.

LEC and LTI technologies combine to provide a future solution for content and tool flexibility.  The LEC will provide the mechanism for information flow between learning environments.  LTI will provide the mechanism for tool reuse between learning environments.  This creates a world wherein proven and reliable tools can be remixed and added to innovative features at the faculty and department level, to create highly tailored environments that meet specific instructional needs.

I think the interface resulting from Project NG will be a source of great delight for the majority of Blackboard users who want a flexible, easy-to-use course management system that meets essential needs for teaching and learning.  At the same time, we hope that these new technologies will lead us to new levels of innovation.

If you’re as excited about this vision as I am, I invite you to join us at our developer community,
EduGarage.  Over the coming months we’ll be sharing further information about these new technologies.

(We may make statements regarding our product development and service offering initiatives, including the content of future product upgrades, updates or functionality in development.  While such statements represent our current intentions, they may be modified, delayed or abandoned without prior notice and there is no assurance that such offering, upgrades, updates or functionality will become available unless and until they have been made generally available to our customers.)

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