The scope of the project is confined to modelling interoperability between LMS systems (and other related school MLE components such SMS and Parent Portals) and MyPortfolio. It does not extend to interoperability between different ePortfolio systems, (that problem is being worked on elsewhere – see the JISC PIOP Projects), although the developments arising from this project may also support more general interoperability between Mahara and other systems.
There are five primary aspects of the technical interoperability under consideration. These are: 1. Content Transfer. This is the most obvious driver for interoperability – i.e. the ability for a student to transfer some digital artefact(s) or personal information from their LMS system into their eportfolio and vice versa. 2. Single Sign On. SSO (in some form) is a key aspect of interoperability both for increasing usability for the learner – to prevent them having separate log-ins, but also for secure data transfer between systems it is necessary for the remote system to be able to establish the credentials of the person initiating the transfer. The same mechanism may or may not be used to support both cases. 3. User Provisioning. Some level of automated provisioning of user accounts into MyPortfolio is important to prevent the need for manual account creation. This is closely tied to SSO. 4. Notfications. It is important, where the content of MyPortfolio may be accessed through an external participating system (e.g. a Parent Portal) to provide notifications of updates to content or views. Other forms of notification may also be required. 5. Theming. For some users it is important for the ePortfolio to be branded or themed in the same way as the other school systems. For others it is important to be able to distinguish the two. Whilst this is a consideration here, it sits apart from the other main aspects of interoperability and is of lower priority.
The diagram in figure 2 below shows the same systems as figure 1 with the scoped system-to-system interactions between MyPortfolio and school-owned systems included. Note that theming is not included here as it is not being considered as an automated system-to-system interaction. There are some other key points to note about this diagram: The Single Sign On (SSO) mechanism is depicted as uni-directional from the LMS environment to MyPortfolio. This already exists for schools using Moodle and MyPortfolio and for schools using the SAML-based IAM mechanism created for the MLE programme. Content Transfer between the students' space in the LMS and their MyPortfolio account is depicted as bi-directional. There needs to be a system-to-system authentication and authorisation method to support this which will differ from the human-to-system SSO mechanism Account Provisioning in MyPortfolio is uni-directional from the LMS (as a school-owned system) to MyPortfolio Notifications of updates to views in MyPortfolio may be be provided to the teacher's space in the LMS and to parents through the Parent Portal. This channel may also provide a mechanism for transfer of the content itself thus blending informal ePortfolio content (reflections etc) about an activity with formal institutional information about the activity in the LMS. This channel is depicted as uni-directional from MyPortfolio out, although some stakeholders have expressed the concern that notifications may also need to flow the other way.
Figure 2: Scoped System Interactions