Monthly Archives: November 2006

SOAs and EDAs

Service-Oriented Architectures or SOAs have been around for a while and are reasonably well understood in the community by now. Universities aim to build and integrate their e-systems to satisfy the demand for service delivery to users. The concept here is one of availability on demand. It usually takes the shape of a server – client structure, where the client (user) calls a server (service) for a particular task. Note that the user in this case can also be another system.

Different to this approach are Event-Driven Architectures (EDAs) which follow a push concept. Something happens that triggers another event. A good example would be identity management in a single sign-on environment. Imagine a student getting married and changing name. The event of entering the new name into one of the available systems then triggers a push into all other systems. Another example are sequences of events on conditions being met: a student enrolls at the university, gets accepted – which triggers an account being created with e-mail, access to intranet and the whole range of services.

If my interpretation and expectations are right there is much to be expected from EDAs. Although they will not drive SOAs out of our minds and into the history books, the challenge will be to combine push and pull services. Intelligent formulation of conditions maybe the crucial issue for success.

PDF export

You no longer have to read my weblog on screen. Thanks to Contutto it is now possible to download and print the postings so you can read it on the bus or elsewhere. Just click on the link on the top right and a pdf file will be created for you.

Student authors

It has long been argued that students are more than consumers of university content – they are also authors, producers, editors (cf. e.g. this earlier post). A presentation by the University of Augsburg, Germany, at the ‘Learning Communities’ conference described a quality scenario of students authoring learning content.

Based on situated learning theory students went through a three layer life cycle starting from novices to advisors and finally to coordinators of the editorial and authoring process. At the advisors’ stage they would support and mentor the novices in productions of e.g. multi-media, podcasts, or text-based content. At the coordinator’s level they were keen to coordinate and manage content production. This happened over three semesters of their course. After that, their interest switched to other things such as their finals or job placements, and engagement in content development naturally declined.

If supported and harvested well by the institution, this experience could lead to more synergy in the production of learning materials between academics and students. After all they are all stakeholders in the HEI. However, it requires a sustainable support and motivation structure to keep it on the go and streamline it with core developments.

Virtual machines

VMware is a professional tool for IT people to emulate different machines on one computer. However, I just tested the free VMware player software, which is straight forward and simple to install and runs NAT (network address translation) so you can work on it like on the real thing.

Additionally, you can download various applications and operating systems from their site, such as Ubuntu, Knoppix, RedHat, Fedora or Suse. This allows me to run these desktops on my Windows computer at incredible ease!