I arrived in Amsterdam before the main conference started and had the pleasure of sitting in on a bit of the Resources tool working group. (I didn’t last too long, having flown in that morning on the redeye from Philadelphia.) At any rate, there were a couple of pieces of good discussion that managed to penetrate the haze of sleep deprivation and jet lag.
First, the group is interested in making it possible to organize the primary navigation within a course from being organized around tools (i.e., in a Blackboard-ish way) to being organized around curricular goals and content (i.e., in a Moodle-ish or Boddington-ish way). To me, this difference tells me more about an LMS and its design philosophy than probably any other single feature. It is the design philosophy litmus test for distinguishing between a developer-centric and a truly teacher-centric vision of an online class. (Like many, I’m not entirely confident that it gets us to a student-centric vision of an online class, but PLEs are another conversation entirely.) The Resources Tool group is not the only Sakai group working on this; I believe that Melete wants to be able to provide the same functionality. I don’t know enough about the different options to have an opinion about the best way to reach this goal; I’m just glad that people are working on it.
The second bit is confirmation that Sakai is moving in the direction of adopting JSR-170, the Java standard for content repositories. One of the incentives for this move is apparently system performance, but I’m more excited about it because it gives us an opportunity to get student and teacher content out of course instance silos and into a persistent, easily accessible place where people can continue to make use of that content through a variety of enabling tools. I note with pleasure that Moodle also has plans to support a content repositories through JSR-170, including a PHP/Java bridge. So very soon, the two most influential open source LMSs will both connect to content repositories that sit directly under the course tools and support the same technical standards.