There’s been a lot of talk recently about Open Standards; Blackboard announced support at the end of 2010.  Eight months ago this was a new and challenging topic for me and, admittedly, it took a while to fully understand the positive impact this will have on our clients and the industry.

As a newbie in the open standards space, I started tapping into some local experts to try and wrap my head around all of this.  Fancy names aside, it’s important to know that Basic LTI and Common Cartridge are open education standards.  These standards support the interoperability of learning technologies and content, or the integration, reuse and sharing of educational content and tools.  In other words, by supporting these standards within Blackboard Learn, we are providing institutions and educators with more options when it comes to the technologies they use together.

To help unpack this, I’ve written a three –part blog post, followed by an interview with some of our resident open standards experts.  I hope you will take some time to read and comment.

Part 1: Plug and Play with Open Standards

Before getting into what Basic LTI and Common Cartridge mean, it’s helpful to understand that there are groups dedicated to developing industry standards that support interoperability across the vast number of educational technologies out there.  To ship support for these two standards we partnered with the IMS Global Learning Consortium, an organization that supports “opening up educational application and resource sharing across a wide variety of learning platforms, portals and ERP systems.”

As I was getting up to speed on the importance of supporting these industry standards, Annie Chechitelli from our Blackboard Collaborate team explained their value in a way that I could really rally behind.  Simply stated:  It’s all about your tools.  It’s about eliminating barriers to using preferred tools and enabling learning technologies to seamlessly interact with course management systems.

What does this means for schools and educators?

  • It increases choice when it comes to choosing education technologies
  • It reduces support costs for institutions
  • It enables extensibility at low risk
  • It opens doors for collaboration and innovation

At Blackboard, we don’t want to prevent institutions or educators from using their preferred technology tools, we want to help you use them more effectively and efficiently.

So, how do Basic LTI and Common Cartridge help make this happen?  Annie’s blog post from a few years back, “Standards the Sooner the Better” inspired me to take my own pass at some analogies…through the lens of my childhood in the 80s.

To read the next installment in this series, check out: Open Standards for Newbies Part 2: From BetaMax to Common Cartridge

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