I wouldn’t normally carry a news release like this but I have a bit of a personal connection with this story – the folks from UEN were partners in the recent project I did with WCET to research a number of learning object repository software packages, and based on their urging one of those packages ended up being NorthPlain’s Telescope product.
But I think the story is more generally significant because it adds a spin to the standard ‘repository’ players. NorthPlains is a Canadian company that has made its fortune selling ‘digital asset management’ software to large media companies, specifically ones like Sony Pictures. While it isn’t purpose built for higher ed learning objects per se, it offers quite impressive functionality for dealing with media assets in general. And given its flexibility to deal with multiple metadata schemas or any type of workflow and its smart integration with a host of 3rd party authoring tools, it’s actually not so hard to see how software like this (and there are a fair number of other packages in this space, all fairly mature when compared to some of the LOR stuff) can serve as the basis for a LOR play. In fact, in that WCET project (results of which will be published in the fall), of the 6 products we looked at, only one could be said to be a ‘learning object repository’ in the strictest sense – in addition to North Plains, the others were variously a ‘learning content management system,’ an ‘institutional repository,’ an ‘Education Institution Content Management System’ and finally a ‘digital content management’ originating from the library world. All of which, to varying degrees of success, could fulfil the role of learning object repository, proving yet again how slippery a beast those are. – SWL