At least since the introduction of the constructivist perspective, human learning is considered to be an act which is typically actively performed or experienced in the perceived world (’Lebenswelt’) of a learner, effortlessly crossing technical and organisational system boundaries. With respect to technology support, however, this agility is far from being mastered in technology enhanced learning. Here, monolithic e-learning systems are typical for today’s situation, although stakeholders are certified to show an in-creased awareness and usage of standards and standard software. A wide variety of applications ensures heterogeneity within and across institutions. If at all, application integration is primarily realised through point-to-point connections. As a result, enterprises as well as institutions have to cope with a co-existing, but not interoperable heterogeneous system landscape.
Studies show, that already today 30% of the time in software development projects is spent on interface design and -implementation (Schwinn & Winter, 2005). Moreover, 35% to 60% of IT budgets are spent on development and maintenance of interfaces (Ruh et al., 2001).
During the last years, the educational sector has been flooded by multitude of isolated applications, many of them aligned to limited features, thereby forming a barrier to workflows and collaboration.
For several reasons, this is not likely to change (cf. Light, 2001; Neumann, 2005). ‘Best-of-breed’ solutions offer competitive advantages. Often, a patch-work of systems is the only solution to support an entire institution with IT. Desktop PCs have significantly increased their performance in the recent years, network connections have become better and cheaper. More and more open communication standards and standard applications reduce the demand for customized, ‘tailored-to-the-needs’ systems. Additionally, continuously changing organisational structures (esp. with increased study flexibility due to the bologna process) also ensure an increasing demand for interoperability of otherwise isolated applications. In accordance with this, analytical studies (cf. Klesse, 2005) predict an even increased heterogeneity and integration demand for the future.
The solution to react to this actual and predicted increase in heterogeneity is to create interoperability between different systems in varying places.
– Fridolin Wild, Stefan Sobernig