Identity technologies: a new groundwork for Personal Learning Environments

José Alfonso Accino, Victoriano Giralt and Manuel Cebrián, University of Málaga, Spain

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) are commonplace nowadays in universities. However, its use has not meant too many changes in actual learning models. In most of the cases they have only signified the extension from a physical space -the classroom- to a kind of virtual annex -the e-learning platform- in which, nevertheless, the same teaching and learning practices are developed. Many factors are at the origin of this fact but the main one is the growing gap between user’s experience in these environments and their each day richer experience in its use of the net.

That’s because most common VLEs nowadays focus yet on a “tool-centred design”, becoming specific universes each with its own access rules, resources management and so on. This approach leads to an endless race or “kitchen sink syndrome” without any real innovation on learning and teaching practices, opening a deeper gap with the outside, real user’s world every day.

Our approach emphasises on moving from VLEs towards user centred, fuzzy limits platforms, or, true Personal Learning Environments. In order to achiveve this, one needs to require to find the most appropriate architectures for putting the user in the middle of its experiences, which, from a design point of view, leads to identity centred architectures.

This proposal builds upon a set of existing tools: interoperability is given by OSID-OKI (Open Service Interface Definitions) while for identity issues makes use of two well known technologies: PAPI (Point of Access to Providers of Information), developed by the Spanish NREN (RedIRIS), and SimpleSAMLphp, a clever library for SAML 2 SP and IdP, developed by the Norwegian NREN (Uninett).