A couple of days ago the Programmable Web wrote an article about the work BYU is doing to give students more control over their data. The idea undergirding this is the concept of a personal API, what exactly that means remains in a certain amount of flux, but Tim Klapdor does a pretty phenomenal job capturing some of the core principles, and I quote:
- a way to claim sovereignty over our own identity online
- a first step towards independence
- a way to create distributed systems
- it provides a system for choice
- it could create an enhanced form filler
- improves transactional behaviours online
- allows users to assign a death to data
- backend for creating of my own operating system
- fix the problems of the web
- mechanism for us to make decisions about the web
- it will be foundational to the “next web”
- it needs to be accessible
What’s more, BYU’s CIO, Kelly Flanagan, frames the Personal API (PAPI) as part of their institutional approach to managing personal data at BYU in this epic post on Indie Ed”-“Tech.
…giving people a personal API and letting them control their data, doesn’t mean that they get to control the university’s data. A PAPI lets people control the data that is theirs. For example, their phone number is their data. Their grades, on the other hand belong to the University. In addition, if students exercise their right to not authorize university access to needed personal information, the university is not obligated to fulfill the desired student request. University policy and process must still be followed.
Fact is, the personal API becomes a means of re-thinking the ways in which we empower our communities to manage, maintain, and control their personal data as part of the life-long learning process. It is a truly radical way of re-thinking the foundations of centralized IT, and I’m really excited the work BYU’s IT department is doing in this regard is gaining some traction. It is remarkable. And the institutional vision is reinforced by at least one student’s vision, Andrew Rikard, of what the personal API could mean for him:
At the core of the personal API is the radical mission to put control over data (and its access) in the hands of students. This is both a pedagogical act and a creative opportunity, informing students that they can access their own information as well as create interfaces to do with that data what they please. It gives them a seat at the tables where the edtech powers sit, moving them one step closer to a status of equality rather than that of a passive consumer.
I love the way in which APIs become one way to try and understand and empower literacy and fluency around data in higher ed and beyond.
Add to this a recent post by George Kroner, the LMS fan fiction god, who was post about “A Flexible and Personal Learning Environment” turned me onto this study from the Netherlands about what this digital learning environment might look like. What’s so cool about all of this is that the time might be right to explore what these new learning environments might look like, and while I totally heed the great D’Arcy Norman’s words of caution…
@jimgroom even a distributed API driven LMS is still an LMS. More important to keep pushing for individual small pieces loosely joined.
— D’Arcy Norman (@dlnorman) March 29, 2016
I do think any API architecture worth its salt would ultimately disassemble the LMS once and for all 🙂