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Nottingham LEAP2A e-Portfolio Interoperability (LEAP2A)

Lead Contact: Kirstie Coolin (Kirstie.Coolin@nottingham.ac.uk)

JISC Programme: JISC e-Learning Programme

Lead Institution and Partners: University of Nottingham

 

Project Dates: February 2010 - July 2010

 

Case study tags: online learninge-portfolios,university of nottinghame-portfolios considerations - interoperabilitye-portfolios considerations - technical support

 

Background & Context

 

What is the background to the e-portfolio initiative?

 

This LEAP2A ePortfolio Interoperability pilot chose to work with the Connexions Nottinghamshire system, Passportfolio, which is an e-portfolio being rolled out in Nottinghamshire schools.

 

The Centre for International ePortfolio Development (CIePD) already had a partnership with Connexions from previous JISC projects, as well as access to the development servers and knowledge of the Passportfolio system, both pedagogical and technical.

 

Visit the Passportfolio website for more information.

 

What were the aims and objectives of the initiative?

 

One of the main aims of the LEAP2A projects was to extend the range of e-portfolio systems piloting the standard to establish convergence with other systems in order to identify core e-portfolio data. Nottingham work determined what would be in scope for Passportfolio as well as contributing to development of the standard in general.

 

For the Passportfolio, and other 14-19 e-portfolio systems involved in the project, the transfer of the Individual Learning Plan was of particular interest.

 

Data such as personal information and qualification data had not been addressed in the initial LEAP2A pilots so a task for this project was to investigate how other standards could be used, or which parts should be core to the e-portfolio standard.

 

How was the initiative implemented?

 

The initial LEAP2A specification evolved throughout the project through collaborative work between the ePortfolio systems developers involved. This ensured a user-driven and vendor specific set of standards that worked with real systems.

 

LEAP2A development was completely open with anyone being able to see the detail through the CETIS wiki, this continues to be the case.

 

The project demonstrated that it is possible to import and export e-portfolio content between very different e-portfolio systems.

 

Technology Used

 

What technologies and/or e-tools were available to you or did you seek to develop?

 

There were no tools developed as such but code was developed for import and export of the e-portfolio data was written in VB.NET using XML class libraries. LEAP2A is based on the ATOM XML standard as a lightweight means of syndicating data on the web.

 

Success Factors

 

What are the key outcomes of the initiative?

 

Wider outcomes for the LEAP2A projects as a whole is a positive move towards a workable e-portfolio data standard. Outcomes for moving this standard forward will be significant in the lifelong learning sector and in supporting the use of flexible systems and processes.

 

For Passportfolio and Connexions Nottinghamshire, the potential for transition of learner data from school to FE has been demonstrated, and the CIePD will be using the LEAP2A standard within their current SAMSON project.

More generally, adoption of LEAP2A by the larger systems, such as PebblePAD and Mahara, will have an overall positive impact as they are so widely used.

 

The main LEAP2A outcome is the 2009-03/LEAP2A specification which can be found on the CETIS wiki.

 

What follow-up activity will be/has been carried out as a result of the project?

 

Since the completion of the LEAP2A project, partner institutions now include:

 

  • general e-portfolio or similar tools used for PDP, including PebblePad and Mahara
  • specific e-portfolio tools used in UK HE such as ePet
  • portfolio systems used in the UK schools sector such as Passportfolio
  • one European system with a foothold into business HR systems

 

The team will use the LEAP2A standard in the new SAMSON project to transport lightweight sets of user data between systems.

 

Lessons Learned

 

What are the lessons learned from the project?

 

Working directly with other e-portfolio systems developers worked well. From this project's perspective, it was beneficial to the whole project that such a wide range of systems were involved, thus proving that interoperability could be achieved within various different scenarios.

 

In terms of moving forward, for developers, clear examples of the standard as well as best practice would be helpful for easing the learning process in using a new standard.

 

When developing specifications it makes sense to work with systems developers as they will be the ones who implement it.

 

Using a wiki to enable open development works well but it can very easily become complex. At some stage, maybe at the end of the project, the wiki needs to be 'cleared out' and made into a clean and easy-to-use implementation area with supporting documentation easily reachable. See the LEAP2A specification pages on the CETIS website for an example of this.

 

Extremes of implementation need to be catered for, from large systems such as PebblePad or Mahara to statement-based Individual Learning Plans (ILP) such as myProgressFile. This saves valuable time for smaller adaptations while providing whole solutions for larger systems.

 

In parallel to developing a specification such as LEAP2A it is advisable to provide clear reasons as to why the standard should be used, together with examples of use for the benefits of learner or institution.

 

Further Resources

 

The LEAP2A Specification http://wiki.cetis.ac.uk/2009-03/LEAP2A_specification

Article in ALT Newsletter http://newsletter.alt.ac.uk/e_article001402921.cfm

Simon Grant's Blog http://blogs.cetis.ac.uk/asimong/