I've mentioned Pachyderm a few times, and hinted at it more than that. So, what is Pachyderm, and why is it interesting?
Pachyderm is a project started by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, out of a need to create some kick-ass interactive pieces from their collection of assets (images mostly, but also audio and video). They built a tool that took what are now called learning objects, and with some input from a curator, generated a highly interactive Flash piece that was way more than just a bunch of images.
The main goal of the Pachyderm 2.0 project, as I see it (and I'm just a minor participant, mind you) is to provide some tools and techniques for teachers and students to create high-impact, interactive learning objects from a collection of "lesser learning objects" or assets.
Imagine a comparative invertebrate zoology professor who sits down to create an interactive lesson. She may have some photographs, video clips, animations, etc... as well as some additional text. This tool (Pachyderm 2.0) will let the professor collect the assets to form an interactive narrative, so the students can work through the various bits of content at their own pace, and explore and inquire as they move through it.
Or, our old friend Lora may have some photographs from a field trip, as well as some some slides and rock samples, and she can create an interactive field trip out of these assets.
The resulting interactive pieces are, in turn, learning objects that can be shared, reused, and potentially broken down and rebuilt in other contexts (or, failing that, the assets used to build Piece A could be used in a different manner to build Pieces B through Z).
We're looking at integrating Pachyderm 2.0 into the software that runs CAREO, so that learning objects and standards-based repository technologies will help drive the process.
In the end, we'll be able to take small learning objects in CAREO (or any other source tied into the system, such as Corbis, or any other installation of the repository software) and create rich, engaging, and inquiry-based resources which will, in turn, be fed back into the system for use by other people.