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K-12Lead of the Week

Online Public Education is a Highway, Not a Turnkey Factory

From the September 17 issue of K-12Leads and Youth Service Markets Report.

Announcement: New Mexico Statewide eLearning System (NMSELS) Of The IDEAL-NM Project Due September 25 (Sep 14) New Mexico Higher Education Department

Their Description: The New Mexico Department of Higher Education (NMHED) or “Agency” seeks proposals from prospective offerors for the acquisition of software and services for a New Mexico Statewide eLearning System (NMSELS) to support the goals of the IDEAL-NM eLearning project. The NMSELS learning management system must be a Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) solution that can be procured as either a vendor-hosted or agency-hosted solution. It must support a range of applications that can supplement traditional classroom instruction, integrate online and face-to-face instruction, and deliver totally online courses and programs....

The Agency’s vision is to implement a statewide eLearning system to support the vision of IDEAL-NM (Innovative Digital Education and Learning in New Mexico).... a statewide eLearning support system for all learners served by PK-12, higher education, and state agencies through an advanced technology infrastructure. The statewide project will reduce geographic, schedule, and administrative barriers to educational opportunities for NM learners while increasing their technological literacy and enhancing their ability to participate in a digital information economy....

Learning Management System (LMS).... All proposals will offer core features specifically related to “course development” and the capability of interfacing with student records systems.... Successful solutions must provide the following core requirements:

• The solution must operate in both vendor-hosted and agency-hosted environments.
• ...include tools that support the learner, the teacher, and course designers
to enable the delivery of online learning.
• ...address the need to migrate existing online course content from a variety of
LMS platforms.
• ...accommodate a full range of content including, text, multimedia, and laboratory simulations.
• ...support a wide variety of pedagogical approaches and designs, accommodate diverse learning styles, and provide mechanisms that promote community among the learners.
• ...be web standards-based and comply with the most recent version of the guidelines of SCORM, IMS, QTI, IMS Enterprise, IMS LIP, IEEE, LOM, and other national and international specifications and standards organizations.
• ...be easy to integrate with other academic and administrative systems.
• ...have the capacity to function in a standalone environment or in single or multiple hosted environments.

Learning Object Repository (LOR)....based on industry standards for the storage and retrieval of digital or non-digital objects that may be used for learning, education, or training....

Hosting Services.... The NMSELS project may be implemented in a vendor-hosted and agency-hosted environment. Since hosted services may be required in some instances, the Agency seeks a vendor capable of providing hosted services. Vendor’s hosted service shall provide all required robust hardware, bandwidth, and interface tools necessary to provide quality services as requested.

Our Thoughts: This RFP is for the transportation infrastructure required to support a marketplace for online learning providers.

New Mexico’s vision of elearning consists of a technological trunk on which state education agencies can attach the education systems they need, rather than a turnkey factory with every activity laid out on the shop floor. To put it directly, the state wants only part of a firm like K-12 Inc’s offering, not “the whole enchilada.”

Interoperability is a requirement facing those who would build NMSELS - and those who would travel its information superhighway for public education. ••••

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