At this year’s Online Educa Berlin event, Fabrizio Cardinali, Chair of the European Learning Industry Group (ELIG) and Senior Vice President of Global Business Development at the online and mobile learning solutions provider, eXact learning solutions, will be announcing his company’s engagement in a new initiative from the Workshop Learning Technologies (CEN WS-LT) sub-group of CEN, Europe’s Committee for Standardisation. This new initiative defines open interoperability standards for the European digital textbooks marketplace.
The initiative, named eTernity (European Textbooks Reusability, Networking & Interoperability), aims to provide a common reference framework based on a selection of existing and newly developed interoperability specifications based on Europe’s educational needs and formats, to support European public policy makers, academic bodies, private publishers and technology developers. The initiative aims to reshape the digital educational content marketplace towards more open and interoperable architectures and formats – to increase access, affordability and the quality of learning in Europe.
Professor Jan M. Pawlowski of the University of Jyväskylä, Chair of the CEN WS-LT, commented: “The development of standards for digital educational content in Asia, especially in South Korea and China – with a corresponding weaker emphasis in Europe on digital educational content publishing – is putting pressure on European stakeholders to act. There’s a need to develop a European position on ‘eTextbooks for education’ and ‘digital learning content’ along with similar initiatives – and, potentially, agree a standard or a profile using European best practices in this field.”
Tore Hoel, Vice Chair of CEN’s WS-LT and Head Advisor at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, added: “The creation, inter-mediation – or ‘curation’, distribution and varied use of textbooks must be based on open architectural and technical standards which will make the marketplace more interoperable and scalable. The CEN WS-LT will work with other international standard bodies to achieve a global consensus about educational requirements for digital textbooks.”
Fabrizio Cardinali, announcing eXact learning solutions’ engagement in the initiative, explained: “We welcome any initiative that wants to move the European market from a world based on siloed and closed proprietary architecture to an ecosystem where smart, collaborative and innovative vendors can interoperate across different distribution channels and devices, delivering the right learning experience where and when the learner needs it. Europe needs new means for accelerating our kids’ education and our workforce re-skilling and up-skilling – and textbook distributers must adapt in a more global and ever-evolving market. First priority for any smart policy maker is to see new opportunities – do it first and do it right, before others do it better.”
Comment: The project’s technical activities will be formally inaugurated by the CEN WS-LT at its January meeting, scheduled for 17th January 2013 in Brussels. The day before, a full day workshop will explore all technical issues related to this project. Anyone who’s interested in the eTernity initiative may join by contacting the CEN WS-LT at http://etextbookseurope.eu/ or by contacting the WS-LT officers – via http://www.cen.eu/CEN/sectors/sectors/isss/activity/Pages/wslt.aspx