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While eLearning interoperability could be described as a local issue - how to make contents interoperate locally with a VLE or LMS - the issue of interoperability and ePortfolio could be described as a global issue - how to make a person's ePortfolio interoperate with a variety of information systems, organisations and services.

For example, a Welsh citizen who already benefits from the Careers Wales Online ePortfolio, might be registered for an award with OCR, attend a course at the university of Bangor and be a member of two professional bodies such as BCS (British Computer Society) and CIPD (Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development). In the current situation, that might mean 5 different ePortfolios - not to mention dozens of online services using personal information that need to be updated regularly.

ePortfolio interoperability is the way to ensure that one person can have one central location from which she/he will be able to control the different repositories and views that constitute her/his ePortfolio(s). It is the ePortfolio [TOUCH].

Our current vision of the [interoperability framework]? is based on different layers such as:

1) [Heterogeneous storage]: ePortfolio contents can be distributed on a variety of servers and devices

2) [Architecture] - P2P / Client-Server: ePortfolio contents can be accessed through different modalities, in particular in a peer-to-peer environment to facilitate the development of social networking

3) Security and privacy - Digital ID, SSO, Federation of services: this is a critical dimension that has been largely overlooked in current eLearning platforms and environments.

4) [Content Management] - blogs, eP views, eP archives, personal KM, etc.: this is the layer dealing with adding and managing eP contents -- cross-referencing, reflecting, etc.

5) [Services] - Job search, learning, assessment, community networking etc.: this relates to all the services that can be built to exploit the contents of an ePortfolio

In order to support this interoperability framework, we should also define a model for conformance to this framework. The current definition of this [ePortfolio conformance model] is currently based on 3 layers:

1) [conformance 1] - import/export whole or parts of ePortfolios (the ePortfolio as a document)

2) [conformance 2] - single sign-on (SSO), federation of services, digital identities, web services (the ePortfolio as a profile to access a series of services)

3) [conformance 3] - friend of a friend (FOAF) and semantic web specification support, peer to peer (the ePortfolio as a social interaction tool)

This conformance model does not intend to be an alternative to existing and future conformance models, such as the one developed by IMS Global or Liberty Alliance, but it is a framework that will integrate all existing conformance methods relevant to ePortfolios, including the work done in the TELCERT project.

This document is the result of a first series of iterations within the EPICC project and we invite the ePortfolio community to contribute to the definition of this framework.

This framework was also the basis for the ePplugfest at eP2005, the Third International ePortfolio Conference, 26-28 October 2005, Cambridge UK.

A second ePortfolio Plugfest will take place on October 11th 2006 during the Fourth International ePortfolio Conference

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