A Coalition for Social Learning Across Content

By dwhly | 21 June, 2021

Today we’re announcing a coalition, Social Learning Across Content, of educational content creators, technology platforms, service providers, and stakeholder groups that are coming together in support of cross-platform social learning. Moving forward, this coalition will work together to establish user-friendly, interoperable best practices and solutions to bring social learning to all content.

Who are the members?

Participating in the launch of the coalition are The DAISY Consortium, EBSCO, The Free Ebook Foundation, Gallaudet University, HathiTrust, Hypothesis, Internet Archive, JSTOR, LibreTexts, W. W. Norton, PowerNotes, Pressbooks, University of California Davis, Unizin, and VitalSource.

What problem is it trying to solve?

More and more, students and instructors work across diverse digital platforms — a shift that’s obviously accelerated with the COVID pandemic. Those platforms should enable powerful collaborative experiences, to augment and reinforce in person and remote classrooms, but thus far social tools are limited in availability and uneven in capability. What is needed are effective solutions that are available over any course content no matter where that content resides.

Certainly there are many educational tools that can add extra capabilities or content to the learning management systems (LMS) used at every school. But tools can only operate on the texts that are inside the LMS or available as stored PDFs (Google Drive, MS Teams, Box, etc). And, as it stands now, texts that are delivered via external platforms (e.g. VitalSource, EBSCO, ProQuest, JSTOR, HathiTrust, etc) cannot easily benefit from the features of tools integrated into each LMS.

What will it do?

What is needed is a roadmap for interoperability such that content platforms and tools can work together seamlessly to support high quality social experiences, in situ, wherever students and teachers happen to be.

Coalition members will work together to identify the technical challenges standing in the way of interoperability, and to propose and prototype solutions for those challenges. They’ll also work to ensure that solutions are accessible and remain so as different technologies are brought into contact with different contact platforms. A set of technical recommendations that characterize the solution set will be published, including any recommendations for how existing standards like Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) could be extended if need be.

The members of the coalition each agree:

  1. That cross-platform social learning over educational content is a goal they share.
  2. To work collaboratively to identify technical recommendations that can inform solutions.
  3. To work towards implementations of those solutions within their own platforms as appropriate.
  4. To be public with their participation.

Who can join

The coalition is open to any organization that wants to enable powerful, social educational experiences across content platforms, and that understands the importance of user experience and interoperability.

Interested organizations should contact: join@slac-coalition.org

Connect with SLAC at I Annotate 2021

A panel of SLAC coalition members will convene on 25 June during the I Annotate 2021 conference to discuss our vision, talk about next steps, share resources, and answer questions. I Annotate 2021 is all-virtual, free, and all about open annotation. Register if you can join us or if you just want to be notified when session recordings and materials are available to view at your convenience. We’d love to connect with you at the conference.

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