Forum .LRN Q&A: Re: Request for Comment: Implementing Profiles in .LRN

Michael, whether you are actually saying this or not, I get the feeling that you are saying: "Curriculum is not so important that it is worth implementing right away; nevertheless it is so important that it demands several months of further research." This conclusion actually makes sense if we presuppose (1) that the users and promoters of dotLRN have displayed no interest in Curriculum's functionalities and (2) that the technical solution of these functionalities will affect the very foundation of the groupware, because it demands a dotLRN that is an LMS.

Both of these presuppositions, and thereby the conclusion derived from them, are wrong. In fact, there is a clearly confirmed interest in implementing branched sequencing of learning activities; and the implementation of this service, though not a piece of cake, will not affect any core service of OpenACS. Hence, I believe you're overestimating the technical influence of Curriculum on OpenACS and dotLRN, while underestimating its importance to the users. I'm quite sure that by claiming (following IMS terminology) that we are developing an LMS (alternatively LTS, learning technology system, in IMS talk), we have tricked you and others into this belief. If that is the case, it's our fault.

You're absolutely right when you say that IMS specifications are not likely to provide us with any sort of guidance to usability. Even IMS agree with that. As the IMS Simple Sequencing Specification makes perfectly clear: "The nature of the control and communication interfaces, and the mechanisms for mediating interactions between the a learner and a LTS, are not part of this Specification. In addition, issues such as look and feel, presentation style, and placement of navigation controls are not defined by this Specification." These are matters that the community and other vendors will be able to develop to their liking as soon as the basic structure is implemented. And I have great confidence that six or nine months down the road, you'll bring the implementation to new levels of perfection. You’re certainly the community’s expert in this field.

I'm kind of curious to know where your skepticism toward IMS comes from. I don't know what it is you expect IMS to solve for you, which they have failed to do, that has made you disappointed in them. Their Simple Sequencing Specification certainly provides us with the architectural blueprint we seek for our purposes. And as even NATO's ADL SCORM turn to IMS for standards, I can picture us doing the same. Whether or not IMS is a complete and satisfying authority for turning dotLRN into an LMS (as the industry defines the term) I have not the slightest idea, and will gladly leave that analysis to those who are actually working on such a task.

At any rate, the implementation of Curriculum does not affect the question of user profiles.