In early October, Polycom attended EDUCAUSE in Orlando, the largest education industry event in North America. Over 7,000 people from over 50 countries attended, with hopes to discover the latest technology trends in education, and exchange ideas and information with respected thought leaders in the community. At the Polycom booth, some of the hottest topics of conversation were new advances in video conferencing, lecture capture, and video content management (VCM) solutions, many of which have made it easier and more affordable for higher learning institutions to implement distance learning and flipped classroom initiatives. Also in the EDUCAUSE Expo, major Learning Management System (LMS) vendors were exhibiting their latest solutions for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of e-learning education courses or training programs.
Many universities have already implemented (or are considering) collaborative video technologies for distance learning programs, including live webcasts and teleconferences, captured video (the recording of an instructor’s lecture, for example, as well as all the slides and other material the instructor presented in class), and media management software (which allows education institutions to collect, transcode, organize, protect and analyze their live and recorded video assets). And many universities have implemented (or are considering) some form of LMS, which provides the framework to handle all aspects of the learning process – from instructional content management, to goals, grades, metrics, and reporting.
We’re seeing a growing demand to get these two different – but critical – applications to work together. As a result, a common theme was echoed in many conversations: How do we bring together video-based distance learning applications and learning management systems for a complete solution?
Polycom’s approach is to leverage and support Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) ®, a specification developed by IMS Global Learning Consortium. Roughly a year ago, the Polycom RealPresence Media Manager became LTI v1.0 Certified. This enabled bi-directional integrations with many popular LMS environments that support the LTI standard. Why is this integration so important? Well, in a lot of university environments students visit LMS sites to access essential course information on a regular basis. As more of that content takes the form of video and other rich media formats, it is useful for students to be able to view this content without having to seek another destination. Polycom delivers a secure, high-impact, easy to use video experience within a university’s LMS.
We chose this open-integration approach (rather than packaged integrations) for a few key reasons:
The LMS market is highly fragmented. While there are market share leaders, like Blackboard, Moodle, Desire2Learn, and Sakai, the space has new entrants and many niche players which need to be addressed, so an open-standards approach to integration is best. LTI provided the broadest interoperability. A long list of LTI certified products are available on the IMS Global website: http://www.imsglobal.org/cc/statuschart.cfm
LMS solutions are often implemented with high degree of customization. Therefore, LMS and VCM integrations need to be flexible enough to address a university’s specific requirements and workflows, which is more challenging with packaged integrations.
The LTI approach aligns with our longstanding philosophy for open standards. These open integration frameworks enable interoperability and best-of-breed solutions that solve challenges in higher education.