Web services

Two years ago, I heard Chris Thomas, chief e-strategist at Intel, give a presentation on Web Services at the Silicon Valley World Internet Center. The digerati nodded approvingly as Chris explained how Web Services were the coolest thing since rock and roll. Most of us had little idea what he was talking about.

Time flies. Web Services are going mainstream. They've become the key to interoperability across corporate applications. If you aren't familiar with XML, SOAP, and UDDI, you probably need to be. Check out our glossary. Ten years ago, only insiders talked about megahertz and gigabytes. Before long, taxi drivers will be talking about Web Services, so you might as well learn what's going on now.

Here's an overview of why Web Services are becoming important.

The Web Services Manifesto
By Sam S. Adkins

Why Web Services and XML matter.

"The intent is to leverage Web services to embed e-learning functionality into business applications such as CRM and ERP. With the foundation of an open architecture in place, the door is opening to Web services"and the related capability to surface e-learning as events within other applications. As e-learning platforms and content evolve toward open standards, the capability to surface learning seamlessly within the context of enterprise applications and business processes is almost within reach."

Finn Grønbæk, IBM
Presentation at FLUID, April 2003
The Danish Association of Flexible Learning

The advent of Web Services has altered the learning technology landscape completely, and there"s no turning back. As Web Services proliferate and forever alter the landscape of enterprise technology, they also alter the landscape of learning technology, content, and services.

As Mark Resmer, CTO of eCollege stated, "Web Services are probably the most important technological step forward since the advent of the Web." Kendall Grant Clark concurred in a May 2003 XML.com article, "Much of the value of web services will come from their ability to be combined in novel, complex ways."

It"s these so-called novel and complex combinations that have changed learning technology forever. The radical change is the migration away from an emphasis on learning objects that learners must access to learning services that are experienced as contextual events in the real-time workflow.

Indeed, Web Services and XML matter to learning technology because they

  • alter the very foundation of the way productivity tools are conceptualized, designed, and built
  • assemble specific (not general) contextualized workflow, simulation, workflow-based e-learning, and collaboration objects simultaneously
  • allow process and subject matter experts"as opposed to IT staff"to assemble the workflow in a bottom-up fashion
  • alter the end-user interface and the way a user interacts with technology
  • provide personalized functionality"as well as content"to a user based on job-role
  • create shared multi-user contextual collaboration workspaces
  • generate dynamic workflows that change in real-time as users collaborate in workflows
  • provide real-time performance analysis and metrics at three primary levels: workflow, workforce, and workspace
  • provide, for the first time in the history of learning technology, the ability to combine all three dimensions of human learning (cognitive, psychomotor, and affective) in a real-time simultaneous experience.

This new primary learning experience is deeply fused with the real-time work experience. Consequently, it captures and integrates the various forms of the contextual on-the-job informal learning that account for 90 percent of how people really learn in the enterprise. This fusion of work and contextual informal learning is the result of Web Services.

It"s cost-effective and efficient, and has begun to cannibalize the budgets previously spent on classroom and courseware-based products"whether online or not. Referring to Web Services, vice president of development at Element K Paul Krause said, "While it provides an elegant solution for system integration and system collaboration, what it really comes down to is a simple and more cost-effective way for our customers to accomplish their e-learning goals."

Posted by Jay Cross at August 7, 2003 10:25 PM | TrackBack

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