So I was reading the SCORM 2.0 White Paper Solicitation and I came to this section of items that would be valuable to have addressed by submitted white papers:
"Collaboration and Community. Learning takes place within a community and is a collaborative activity. How should SCORM 2.0 enable interoperability among learning systems and the technologies that support collaboration and community, including social networks, community learning, wikis, blogs, multiplayer games, and the emerging world of user generated content?"
Then I started seeing all the news about Google's new "Friend Connect" (and geez, if you watch the tech news at all, you'd have to live in an abandoned missile silo under a rock to have missed this breathless avalanche of stories (e.g. Tech Crunch, ZDNet Blogs, CNET News, NYTimes, PC World, actual Google Press Release).
I do like this explanation of the functionality from PC World:
"The way it works is any site that wants to can add Friend Connect functionality to their site can simply by adding a bit of HTML code to their site. The Friend Connect feature on a site acts as a small peephole on a Web page allowing content from a preselected social network (including Facebook, Google Talk, hi5, orkut, Plaxo, and others)to be viewed within the predefined window. In this way, Friend Connect seems to just be a way to pull information in from existing networks, almost like how it's possible to embed YouTube videos on your site with limited functionality. Similarly Friend Connect allows Web site visitors to see, invite, and interact with new friends, or… with existing friends from social sites on the Web."
Of course every story goes out of its way to say that this is just the latest in a growing body of efforts to link up the various parts of the social graph. Players in this arena (although not exactly all in the same role or capacity) include Facebook Connect, the Data Portability Project (of which MySpace is a member), and Google's Open Social. These also intersect in ways with projects like OAuth ("An open protocol to allow secure API authentication in a simple and standard method from desktop and web applications.") and Open ID ("OpenID is an open, decentralized, free framework for user-centric digital identity.").
All of this, the SCORM 2.0 piece and the work being done in all these other places really slammed it home for me how different our e-learning planet is now about a decade down the road. We aren't working in a vacuum or some isolated market vertical. We are running full tilt into other efforts in exploding market spaces that may well be already trying to solve problems that have thought were unique to us. If I was evaluating the white papers and I'm not, I would really look for one that included a process for investigating and evaluating how all of this other work might integrate with the search for SCORM 2.0. That white paper would be a prize itself.