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Learning Standards

If you're looking for information on XML and Web Standards, try the Workflow Learning Institute. This page addresses learning object metadata. Rather than reinvent the wheel, you can find descriptions galore in:

Making Sense of Learning Specifications & Standards : A Decision Maker's Guide to their Adoption (2nd edition)

Eighty-two pages of cogent explanations, history, processes, and reference sources. This is one of those reference works, like a good dictionary, that you need at your fingertips for answering questions about standards you may be a little fuzzy on.

Philosophically, standards for learning object make an awful lot of sense. They have the potential to bring to learning design the efficiency of using component assemblies to build houses or computers. Standardized objects are interchangeable parts that can be combined to create non-standard, personal learning. Perhaps they can be recycled.

In practice, several issues remain. How large is an object? To some it's a course, to others it's a paragraph. Wayne Hodgins foresees objects like grains of sand, taking the form of any mould they are poured into.If objects are the size of sentences, will we ever be able to string them together into something meaninful? Assemble all the film clips in your repository, and you still won't get Citizen Kane.

The Emerging Standards Effort in eLearning by Ed Cohen, eLearning Magazine, January 2002:

Torrents of tags Much of what SCORM has assembled is preoccupied with the tracking, tagging, and storing of content objects. The standards dwell at length upon "metadata," specifying the identifying tags that all learning objects in a course should carry-be they graphics, text, animations, or simulations (see "A Primer on Metdata for Learning Objects," e-learning, October, p.26). For those who envision a future in which users wander through vast content repositories filled with such objects-plucked from various courses, each of them immaculately categorized and easy to use-SCORM is a dream.

This focus on metadata labeling is understandable, given that we all believe reusing course content will be crucial in the near future. Oddly though, this standard may be both too demanding and not demanding enough. If SCORM is ultimately dominated by a giant catalog of tagging requirements, it would pose a daunting hurdle for companies with large amounts of legacy content for dubious gains. And it would ignore important principles of instructional design-which, if they were established as a uniform standard, would help trainers and teachers get the most out of their courseware.

Online Learning, November 2000:

"Web-based training standards entered a new era in June when the major developers agreed to make learning management systems (LMSs) and content from different vendors work together. The agreement between the Aviation Industry CBT Committee (AICC), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Instructional Management Systems (IMS) Global Learning Consortium is not an official partnership ? yet. And because it is informal in nature the responsibilities of the respective parties haven?t been clearly defined. But it was determined that the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative of the Department of Defense, which was the catalyst for the new spirit of cooperation, would act as a coordinating body."

Standards: The Vision and the Hype, Learning Circuits, by Tom Barron The drive to create industry-wide technology standards for e-learning is gaining momentum and adherents. But some see perils--and posturing--amid the promise.

All about Learning Technology Standards, LINEzine, Wayne Hodgins. Learnativity has the articles, presentations, and links of standards visionary Wayne Hodgins.

Achieving Interoperability in e-Learning, Learning Circuits, by Harvi Singh.

In today's Internet economy, achieving integration and interoperability in digital systems is increasingly important. Such integration is possible with open protocols, which allow an organization or system to exchange information with suppliers, partners, and customers in a format that accommodates each organization's system. The same approach is being applied in the e-learning arena, where a new breed of software application frameworks and approaches seek to enable true interoperability of separate systems. This article examines trends and enabling frameworks for making true interoperability a reality.

An Intro to Metadata Tagging, Learning Circuits, by Harvi Singh. Get ready for the Dewey Decimal Classification system of e-learning

The Instructional Use of Learning Objects, an online book on the topic

Standards Groups

Advanced Learning Infrastructure Consortium (JAPAN) -- Objective is to establish an active society by reasonably and effectively providing a learning environment which enables anyone to learn anytime, anywhere, according to the goals, pace, interests and understanding of individuals and groups. Also, to foster experts who will be the origin of global competitiveness. Targets: Advanced learning infrastructure that are from Primary and secondary institution to high school, company training, and tertiary school; Technology and Service; Learning system and contents that use information technology, such as network. Examples: e-learning, Web-based training, technology-based training, computer-based training, long distance learning.

World Wide Web Consortium -- Develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential, specifically XML.

Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC) of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) -- Formed in 1996. The mission is to develop technical standards, recommended practices, and guides for software components, tools, technologies and design methods that facilitate the development, deployment, maintenance, and interoperation of computer implementations of education and training components and systems.

Alliance of Remote Instructional Authoring and Distribution Networks for Europe (ARIADNE) -- Develops the results of the ARIADNE and ARIADNE II European Projects, which created tools and methodologies for producing, managing and reusing computer-based pedagogical elements and telematics supported training curricula.

IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc. (IMS) -- Developing and promoting open specifications for facilitating online distributed learning activities, such as locating and using educational content, tracking learner progress, reporting learner performance, and exchanging student records between administrative systems. IMS -- Meta Tags and Knowledge Bits

Advanced Distributed Learning Network -- Purpose is to ensure access to high-quality education and training materials that can be tailored to individual learner needs and made available whenever and wherever they are required. This initiative is designed to accelerate large-scale development of dynamic and cost-effective learning software and to stimulate an efficient market for these products in order to meet the education and training needs of the military and the nation's workforce of the future. It will do this through the development of a common technical framework for computer and net-based learning that will foster the creation of reusable learning content as "instructional objects." Check out Plugfest 5.

The Aviation Industry CBT (Computer-Based Training) Committee (AICC) -- An international association of technology-based training professionals. The AICC develops guidelines for the aviation industry in the development, delivery, and evaluation of CBT and related training technologies.

The Dublin Core Metadata Initiative -- An open forum engaged in the development of interoperable online metadata standards that support a broad range of purposes and business models. DCMI's activities include consensus-driven working groups, global workshops, conferences, standards liaison, and educational efforts to promote widespread acceptance of metadata standards and practices. (If you're invited, don't get out your passport. That's Dublin, Ohio.)


Judy Brown's home page

SCORM is mil-spec. It will probably work in military apps where standards can be rigidly enforced, and where performance outweighs price much more than in the commercial sector. SCORM comes from the same place as $1000 hammers and $10,000 toilet seats.

Corporations may find it easier to standardize learning as part of the Semantic Web. It's XML, interoperable, flexible, and will soon be the underpinning of business transactions. What better way to integrate learning and work? The Semantic Web would enable us to build performance support directly into the job (rather than as an add-on.)


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