IRON Sharepoint Contest Big Hit

The SharePoint Summit 2012 conference in May held its second annual IRON SharePoint Challenge. The event is modeled after the hit television series Iron Chef, consisting of four teams with five members each, battling it out through an intense, two-day development effort to create the best conference management system based on the SharePoint 2010 platform. The competition judges provided a business requirements document to evaluate the solutions. 

The teams were asked to build a five-course solution—in true Iron Chef form. The five courses were as follows: 

  • Standing Up SharePoint
  • Conference Management System Landing Area
  • Conference Landing Area
  • Attendee Signup Area
  • Decommissioning Area  

The solutions were evaluated based on: reusability, best practices, extensibility/configurability, and governance. 

The overall winner for the 2012 challenge was project G-Niuses from GSoft Group. According to Network World, “the GSoft team did something important that contributed to their win: they told a great story in the presentation of their solution. Their solution itself had a nice look and feel—and some pretty slick .NET code thanks to a rock star .NET developer. This was clearly one of their strengths, and they effectively balanced both of these skills.” 

Global performance improvement solutions provider GP Strategies earned runner-up. Network World deemed its project We are GP! As "technically elegant...deployment scripts rock solid and [it] clearly demonstrated the strong technical strengths of their team.” 

You can read the full story on Network World.  

IMS Global Learning Consortium Announces LTI v1.1


IMS Global Learning Consortium, a nonprofit organization that advances technology that can affordably scale and improve educational participation and attainment, recently announced conformance certification for the latest version of one of its most widely adopted technical standards: Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI). 

LTI provides a common way to plug applications into learning management software or other learning platforms. It replaces custom APIs (application programming interfaces) required for each such platform, thereby reducing the number of custom integrations required for application developers, learning platforms and IT (information Technology) support staff. LTI provides a rapid and safe way to integrate innovative learning applications and content for seamless access by students and teachers, handling launching, single sign-on authorization and passing of context information. 

LTI v1.1 enables interoperable passing of learning outcomes data. This means that the learning platform can provide a single place for teachers and students to see results information across a wide set of learning tools and content used within a course or across a degree program, making it easier to assess progress in an actionable way.

 A large number of suppliers have been shipping the outcomes feature for about 12 months now, but conformance certification for IMS supported by the IMS community has just recently been finalized.

"LTI has broken down the barriers to rapid, safe and seamless integration and is enabling very large deployments of innovative e-textbooks and learning tools in a fraction of the time and a fraction of the cost prior to LTI,” commented Dr. Rob Abel, chief executive of IMS "Now with outcomes support we are looking forward to breaking down the barriers to data that can help faculty, students and institutions achieve better results.” 

Statements of commitment to LTI v1.1:

  • Blackboard: “IMS has done a tremendous job leading the development of new standards that make education technology more powerful for users,” said Jessica Finnefrock, Senior Vice President of Product Development, Blackboard Learn. “We are pleased to partner with IMS in the definition and implementation of new standards such as IMS Basic LTI. Our Basic LTI certification creates a great opportunity for commercial and client developers to reduce the cost of development of new tools and, of course, increases the number of rich educational tools for faculty and students. We look forward to continuing our work to promote the adoption and use of the LTI standard and LTI tools across the industry.”
  • MoodleRooms: "Global IMS Common Cartridge and LTI compliance is crucial for the sustainability and future of open source Learning Management Systems,” says Lou Pugliese, Moodlerooms Chairman and CEO. “Moodlerooms is committed to making sure the 45 million user open source Moodle community is empowered with tools to facilitate flexible interoperability with content and technology applications critical in providing effective learning outcomes. Maintaining the interoperability ensured by IMS standards compliance continues to be central to our company vision.”
  • OSCELOT: Open source plug ins are available from OSCELOT to add LTI 1.1 support for Blackboard Learn 9.0+ and WebCT 8. These allow customers to take advantage of this functionality on platforms for which LTI is not supported by Blackboard, or before Blackboard makes it available for the release of the product they are currently using.
  • Plato Learning, Inc.: “As schools and districts become more sophisticated in implementing online learning programs, PLATO is committed to providing the technical flexibility they need by allowing them to integrate PLATO’s content and data into their existing Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Student information Systems (SIS).” - Andy Frost, Vice President of Product Management
  • Questionmark: "At Questionmark, we are committed to the adoption of technical standards through our Open Assessment Platform initiative. The LTI v1.1 specification will help us provide a seamless user experience to customers delivering assessments through their LMS or portal and significantly speed up the deployment of new applications." - Steve Lay, Integration Product Owner 

More  on LT1 v1.1 and additional statements of commitment can be found on the IMS website.  

University Research Studies Impact of Cloud, SaaS, and Mobile Learning on Purchasing LMSs 

A brand-new University Research study focuses on learning management system (LMS) adoption criteria and 2012 E-Learning trends. 

The Bicocca University published a new research study "Adoption Of E-Learning Solution: Selection Criteria and Recent Trends," which aims to elicit the criteria used by companies when selecting a LMS solution.

This research brings to a point both "why" companies choose to adopt e-learning, and how they select a specific solution to deliver online training. More than 130 global corporations who are already using e-learning widely, offered to be interviewed to support this research. 

Learning and development managers from these organizations were requested to state which were the key factors to take into account when selecting an e-learning platform. The answers showed common patterns, in the following areas of interest:  

  • proven expertise of the vendor (82%)
  • customer support quality (63%)
  • compelling references (58%)
  • competitive pricing model (66%). 

The complimentary whitepaper is available to download. Unveils Top 20 Content Development Companies recently released its 2012 Top 20 Content Development Companies list. This list recognizes the top content development companies in our industry and is designed to help buy-side organizations in their search for the right training partner. 

Selection to this year's Top 20 Content Development Companies was based on the following criteria: 

  • industry visibility, innovation and impact
  • capability to develop and deliver multiple types of content
  • company size and growth potential
  • depth and breadth of subject matter expertise
  • quality of clients
  • geographic reach. 

“The pool of applicants was the largest we’ve ever received, showing us that the Content Development market is as innovative and competitive as ever.” said Doug Harward, chief executive officer, Training Industry, Inc.

The top 20 companies: 

  1. Accenture
  2. Allen Communication
  3. Allen Interactions
  5. Aparta
  6. Cegos
  7. Cognitive Arts
  8. Cognizant
  9. DuPont Sustainable Solutions
  10. Forum
  11. GP Strategies
  12. IBM
  13. Infopro
  14. Intrepid
  15. Pearson
  16. Raytheon Professional Services
  17. Skillsoft
  18. Tata Interactive Systems
  19. Vangent
  20. Xerox 

“Top Content Development companies not only provide great custom content services, but they do so for a variety of subject areas catering to multiple industries. Customization was a big factor for us in determining who the top companies were; these companies definitely offer some of the best bespoke work in the space.” said Ken Taylor, chief operating officer, Training Industry, Inc.