Secure Identity Management in a Service-Based E-Learning Environment

Secure Identity Management in a Service-Based E-Learning Environment

Gottfried Vossen (European Research Center for Information Systems, Germany) and Peter Westerkamp (European Research Center for Information Systems, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-943-4.ch040
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E-learning environments and their system functionalities resemble one another to a large extent. Recent standardization efforts in e-learning concentrate on the reuse of learning material, but not on the reuse of application or system functionalities. The LearnServe system under development at the University of Muenster builds on the assumption that a typical learning system is a collection of activities or processes that interact with learners and suitably chosen content, the latter in the form of Learning Objects. This enables us to divide the main functionality of an e-learning system into a number of stand-alone applications or services. The realization of these applications based on the emerging technical paradigm of Web services then renders a wide reuse of functionality possible, thereby giving learners a higher flexibility of choosing content and functionalities to be included in their learning environment. In such a scenario, it must, however, be possible to maintain user identity and data across service and server boundaries. This paper presents an architecture for implementing user authentication and the manipulation of user data across several Web services. In particular, it demonstrates how to exploit the SPML and SAML standards so that cross-domain single sign-on can be offered to the users of a service-based learning environment. The paper also discusses how this is being integrated into LearnServe.

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