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Portal Architectures

This Chapter on Portals Architectures was published in Portals: People, Processes, Technology, Editor Andrew Cox, Facet Publishing. The chapter discusses what a portal is and what this means for the architectures and then looks at what is needed in an architecture for building portals, using examples from some of the most important architectural models. It discusses some of the key architectural decisions relating to issues such as single sign-on and the use of enterprise service buses to control the flow of information between services.

Designing Spaces for personalising learning: Spaces for personalising learning or personalising spaces for learning?  

This Chapter, by Tom Franklin and Jill Armstrong, is published in Personalizing Learning in the 21st Century, Ed Sara De Freitas and Chris Yapp, Network Educational Press, 2005

This paper argues that there are two potential purposes for personalising learning spaces, and that they have different implications for the both the student's learning and the technology. The purposes can be understood as a space in which to personalise learning or personalising of a space for learning.  Note that the former is primarily pedagogic, and the latter technical.  If personalised learning is conceived as a problem of creating owned personalised space for learning, then customisation of that space through the learner making choices leads to lack of potential interoperability and learning collaboration and maintaining or integrating any system over time.  If personalised learning is conceived as a problem of creating owned personalised learning goals, then the system can be built around the pedagogic needs and does not need to lead to loss of interoperability or potential collaboration.  Any customisation here is at the margins because the choice and personalisation is in the learning goals not the learning space.  We outline a conceptual approach to both forms of personalising, comment on  learner motivation and then give focus to some issues involved in designing spaces for personalising learning.

Portals in Higher Education: concepts & models

A report for the Observatory for Borderless Higher Education

Portals are the latest in a long line of technologies that universities have been told will solve all their  problems. Portals are designed to enhance work and learning processes by making work flows  simpler and information more readily available in a form in which it can be processed. However, like  many other technologies portals will not live up to all the hype currently surrounding their  promotion. The report describes the main features of portals in higher education, and explores how  an institutional portal might affect the work of a typical academic. The author sets portal  development in the context of ‘web services’, an attempt to move away from a ‘monolithic’ approach  to computing applications (entailing duplication of function, excessive complexity and user  knowledge of multiple interfaces) to a integrated model, where smaller, discrete ‘services’ are  combined for specific users and purposes. This improves customisation and productivity. The range  of portal ‘types’ are reviewed (proprietary higher education specialist, corporate generic and open  source), and the implications for institutional adoption considered.

The full report can be found on the Observatory for Borderless Higher Education at  http://www.obhe.ac.uk/documents/view_details?id=54