Control & Connect

Proof of concept of a middleware for cross-vendor license management for digital educational media

Oct. 01, 2022 to Sep. 30, 2023

In addition to traditional textbooks, digital educational media are increasingly being used in the classroom. The use of such digital educational media, which requires licensing, is complicated by media discontinuities and various logon procedures and user accounts. In addition, obtaining licenses and assigning or managing usage rights by multiple institutions is often time-consuming and involves a great deal of manual effort.

With the Control & Connect project, the project partners aim to promote seamless access to digital educational media for users, e.g., students and teachers, in line with the digitization strategies of the federal and state governments. This particularly applies to school-based learning and teaching processes with media from different sources or providers. Therefore, a middleware for license management is being developed in the project. It serves as a link to license management and enables the integration of diverse systems and applications and their simple and legally compliant use. With the middleware as the technical link in interoperable IT architectures, data can be communicated between users, applications, registration servers, and content and license providers via standardized interfaces. In addition to efficiently managing usage rights, this enables the seamless and uncomplicated use of digital educational media.

In addition, standardized exchange data formats are defined and implemented in the project. Modules are used to import licenses from connected vendor license management systems, synchronize user data and the underlying organizational structure with related registration services, and reconcile product metadata from publishers. The license management component builds on these modules and combines its data via another module for assigning licenses. The component builds on the concepts of Common Learning Middleware. It provides interfaces that enable applications, such as virtual learning spaces or learning management systems, to display the licensed digital learning content to their users seamlessly. Each time digital learning content is called up, the appropriate license for the user and content is checked via a corresponding interface on the middleware. Under certain circumstances, a license can be denied, and thus the learning content called up denied- but ideally, the content is not presented to the user in the first place. The use case that arises from this scenario is that licensees, based on a partnership relationship with publishers, want to register a need to adapt the license. The publishers or the vendor are informed of this to begin a licensing phase.

The project thus sees itself as an “enabler” for evolution and innovation in the use of digital educational media as well as self-sovereign data use by the users.

In addition to Fraunhofer FOKUS, the Verband Bildungsmedien Service GmbH (VBMS) as project coordinator and the state initiative n-21 e. V. - Schulen in Niedersachsen online e. V. are working together on the project.

Sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Funded by the European Union - NextGenerationEU.

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