We had a nice visit at the Piazza offices the other day with Phil Hill, who spoke to us about trends in the higher education market. We contacted Phil because he’s written a fair amount on both tools interoperability and about online classes — two subjects near and dear to our hearts.
What do we mean by tools interoperability? At one level, we mean standards that enable different educational tools to work together more or less harmoniously. Piazza has implemented the LTI (Learning Tools Interoperability) standard as a producer, meaning that learning management systems or other tools can consume Piazza as a service. This helps a lot with things like authentication and registration management, so people don’t need to log into multiple different sites if you’re using Piazza with an LMS.
But at a larger level, interoperability is about being able to democratize choice: instructors, students, and administrators ought to be able to choose the learning tools that are right for their needs, rather than being bound by technology decisions that were made centrally, sometimes when the current freshmen were still in diapers.
In the bad old days, institutions issued monumental RFPs for systems, and in return deployed (after a fashion) monolithic systems that didn’t work that well for most people, but which satisfied the greatest number of check boxes. Phil confirmed to us with some undisguised glee that such days were ending, and he mentioned that he was hosting a webinar on that very topic in a few weeks — May 22 at 11 AM PDT, to be exact.
Phil will be joined on the webinar by Patrick Masson, CTO of UMassOnline. It should be interesting, so check it out.