Microsoft’s Grava

Microsoft had a launch of their new Silverlink product this week at Bletchley Park, which a few people from the OU went to. Will Woods has done a useful overview about it. They also talked about Microsoft’s new authoring environment Grava, another learning design tool to add into the mix! I think the fact that Microsoft are investing in this area is yet more evidence of the increasing recognition of the need for support structures to facilitate the design process and hence tools to help teachers make choices about creating learning activities. It will be very interesting to see how this product develops over time and how the general mix of current learning design tools pan out. Sheila MacNeill, reflecting on the recent JISC review of the pedagogical planners they have funded (I’ve blogged about this herehere and here), concludes with the following:

While both prototypes offer a different (but complementary) approach to planning, they are both very much at the prototype stage. A key question that keeps arising is what is it that they actually produce? XML output allows a level of interoperability between the two just now but this needs to be extended much further so that there is a useful output which can relate to other institutional systems such as VLEs, CMS etc – “where’s the export to moodle” button was heard a few times during the day:-) During the feedback sessions it was clear exporting and importing data between systems will be crucial if such tools are to have any chance of having take up in institutions.     

As Sheila says its important to remember these are just prototypes, we have a long way to go in terms of really  being able to provide flexible and creative support systems which will actually make a difference to how teachers design – that truly is one of the holy grails of our time to my mind!