Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ The Centre for Educational Technology Interoperability Standards

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

May 01, 2002

This Journal Article published as The Centre for Educational Technology Interoperability Standards in The Technology Source May/June 2002 online May 01, 2002. [Link] [Info] [List all Publications]

This month we explore the services offered by Britain's e-Learning Centre, a one-stop resource base and help center for e-learning providers in Europe.

New visitors to the e-Learning Centre should click on the Centres link from the menu at the top of the home page. Follow this to the Newcomer's Centre to begin an exploration of the field (Note: if it's your first visit, you will be asked on this page to register for a free subscription in order to access certain features of the site; you will receive your login and password via e-mail). This page provides links to background resources describing e-learning and, equally importantly, links to resources that help you keep up with developments in e-learning.

Most of the content at the e-Learning Centre consists of lists of selected Web sites and resources. The presentation is attractive, with each resource accompanied with a logo and a short summary. The lists are a good representation of the best in the field. Most importantly, the reader does not feel swamped by the mass of data: only the best and most important items are presented.

Probably the most comprehensive and current site devoted to the subject, the Centre for Educational Technology Interoperability Standards (CETIS) Web site is an essential resource for anyone working in the fields of learning objects or learning content management systems.

CETIS provides two major services to its readership, and the home page design reflects this twofold emphasis. On the left, the CETIS Web site provides links to news items related to learning objects and metadata standards. The news items, brief summaries written by CETIS staff, provide a quick overview, a link to the site containing the news, and references to background information. Also in the news column is a set of links to upcoming conferences and events.

On the right side of the home page are listed feature articles. Also written by CETIS staff, these articles are intended to provide the necessary background for people who may be new in the field. For example, one CETIS staff member, Scott Wilson (2002), lists and describes some major tools for creating XML by hand. Another article introduces the reader to the CETIS reference library, which provides a quick guide to the major terms and acronyms in the field.

On the far left side of the home page is the site navigation area. Some of the more significant parts of the CETIS site are listed here. The product directory, for example, is an up-to-date list and evaluation of dozens of learning management systems and related software. The reader can follow the Forums link three clicks in and subscribe to the UK IMS (Instructional Management System) User-Group discussions on the IMS. CETIS also supports a number of special interest groups and events for educators in the UK.

Lower in the navigation area are links to introductory articles for beginners. For example, beginners may obtain an overview of learning technology standards. Other items list the major players in the field and describe who is doing what, a useful scorecard that won't be found on sites dedicated to a specific project.

Resources on CETIS may also be accessed through a small list of category classifications: Assessment, Content, Metadata, Profile, and Tools. Users will have to browse a bit to find the useful items (each category contains thirty or more articles), but the return is worth the effort.

It's important to note that what distinguishes CETIS is neither the volume of its materials nor the scope of its offerings. Rather, CETIS stands out because its coverage is current and authoritative. People looking for information on educational technology interoperability standards will get the information they need on this site without the platitudes and promises that sometimes accompany commercial or project-specific sites. CETIS is the straight goods.


Wilson, S. (2002, January). Tools for implementors. Retrieved March 15, 2001, from

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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