|Last modified: March 03, 2003|
|XML and Educational Technologies|
- Alliance of Remote Instructional and Distribution Networks for Europe (ARIADNE)
- CEN/ISSS Learning Technologies Workshop
- Center for Educational Technology Interoperability Standards (CETIS)
- Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM)
- IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC)
- IMS Global Learning Consortium Learning Specifications
- ISO SC36 Metadata for Learning Resources Working Group
- Learning Material Markup Language Framework (LMML)
- OASIS Education XML Technical Committee
- PostSecondary Electronic Standards Council XML Forum for Education
- Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF)
- Shareable Content Object Reference Model Initiative (SCORM)
- Universal Learning Format (ULF)
- Other Projects and Specifications
- General: Articles, Papers, News
"The ARIADNE Foundation was created to exploit and further develop 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... endorses key societal objectives, e.g., (1) to foster cooperation between educational bodies through the set-up and exploitation of a truely European Knowledge Pool; (2) to keep social and citizenship aspects dominating Education, combat an evolution towards making it a mere marketable item; (3) to uphold and protect multilinguality and the use of national/regional languages in education; (4) to define by international consensus what aspects of ICT-based formation should be standardized and what should be left local... ARIADNE is also active in the standardization activities initiated by the European Commission, taking place under the auspices of the CEN/LTWS (Learning Technologies Workshop). Work in this forum is now concentrating on the 'localization' of the mainly English language results obtained so far at the IEEE..."
The Learning Technologies Workshop is organized under the CEN (European Committee for Standardization) Information Society Standardization System (ISSS). Its work projects include the internationalisation of the IEEE LTSC Learning Object Metadata (LOM) specification; development of a repository of taxonomies/vocabularies for a European Learning Society (collect and organize a register of taxonomies and repositories relevant to a European learning society, via an on-line repository; benefit interoperability between European learning technology systems and services as metadata implementations will be able to rely on standardized taxonomies and vocabularies); study of educational modelling languages; handling of Learner Profiles in IT (development of data models, protocols and bindings that are capable of expressing specific European requirements and concerns for learner information, for example an acceptable model for expressing competency that at the same time guarantees the secure handling of personal information in open and distributed learning environments); etc.
"CETIS represents UK higher-education and further-education institutions on international learning technology standards intiatives... CETIS advises Universities and Colleges on the strategic, technical and pedagogic implications of educational technology standards, including the Further Education Managed Learning Environment Programme. CETIS manages UK Implementation groups examining IMS specifications, including: metadata, content management, question and test, enterprise, and learner information. CETIS disseminates information on learning technology standards via workshops, conferences, publications, and forums..."
The Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM) is a consortium effort to provide 'one-stop, any-stop' access to the substantial, but uncataloged, collections of Internet-based educational materials available on various federal, state, university, non-profit, and commercial Internet sites. The consortium [consists] of 400 + organizations and individuals who support the goals and mission of the GEM Project. GEM is a set of metadata standards and technical mechanisms that provides efficient, simple access to educational materials. The Gateway provides a searchable, browseable catalog of metadata records for resources from GEM Consortium members Internet sites. GEM is a project of the U.S. Department of Education, located at the Information Institute of Syracuse at Syracuse University... the Gateway to Educational Materials expands educators' capability to access Internet-based lesson plans, curriculum units and other educational materials. GEM's goal is to improve the organization and accessibility of the substantial, but uncataloged, collections of materials that are already available on various federal, state, university, non-profit, and commercial Internet sites..."
GEM 2.0, the second version of the GEM element set, was previewed at the 2001 GEM Consortium Meeting, and was formally adopted by the GEM Governance Board in January 2002. See the GEM 2.0 documentation: (1) GEM 2.0 Elements and Semantics; (2) GEM 2.0 Controlled Vocabularies and Other Value Qualifiers.
"The Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC) is chartered by the IEEE Computer Society Standards Activity Board to develop accredited technical standards, recommended practices and guides for learning technology.
The IEEE P1484.12 Learning Object Metadata Working Group is developing a standard to "specify the syntax and semantics of Learning Object Metadata, defined as the attributes required to fully/adequately describe a Learning Object. Learning Objects are defined here as any entity, digital or non-digital, which can be used, re-used or referenced during technology supported learning. Examples of technology supported learning include computer-based training systems, interactive learning environments, intelligent computer-aided instruction systems, distance learning systems, and collaborative learning environments. Examples of Learning Objects include multimedia content,instructional content, learning objectives, instructional software and software tools, and persons, organizations, or events referenced during technology supported learning. The Learning Object Metadata standards will focus on the minimal set of attributes needed to allow these Learning Objects to be managed, located, and evaluated. The standards will accommodate the ability for locally extending the basic fields and entity types, and the fields can have a status of obligatory (must be present) or optional (maybe absent). Relevant attributes of Learning Objects to be described include type of object, author, owner, terms of distribution, and format. Where applicable, Learning Object Metadata may also include pedagogical attributes such as; teaching or interaction style, grade level, mastery level, and prerequisites. It is possible for any given Learning Object to have more than one set of Learning Object Metadata."
See references in IEEE LTSC XML Ad Hoc Group.
"The IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc. (IMS) is 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 has two key goals: (1) Defining the technical specifications for interoperability of applications and services in distributed learning, and (2) supporting the incorporation of the IMS specifications into products and services worldwide. IMS endeavors to promote the widespread adoption of specifications that will allow distributed learning environments and content from multiple authors to work together ('interoperate)." IMS was begin under the name 'Instructional Management Systems Project'.
See references in "IMS Metadata Specification."
[According to an article by Wilbert Kraan of CETIS,] a new working group 'Metadata for Learning Resources' has been formed under ISO/IEC JTC1 SC36: Information Technology for Learning, Education, and Training. "Following a ballot of its national members, the ISO JTC1 SC36 educational standards body will set up a working group for 'Metadata for Learning Resources'... it might result in two slightly different versions of basically the same thing. This could be bad, as both the existing LTSC LOM standard and the proposed ISO SC36 LRM standard are essentially about semantic interoperability. That is, they both define a hierarchy of elements which describe a learning object. If the terms don't mean the same thing, or if different concepts are used, searching and categorising learning objects will be difficult across both standards. If, for example, a repository is built for LOM derived metadata like those used in IMS content packages, then it might not handle any elements or attributes that ISO SC36 put in. I doesn't need to turn out that way, of course. As noted in our report on IEEE LTSC plans, they are quite anxious to cooperate with ISO SC36, and ISO SC36 says that it 'Expect[s] contributions and coordination with IEEE LTSC, CEN/ISSS/WS-LT, and DCMI'. It is, therefore, conceivable that both organisations would work on a single future revision of the LOM that would leave LOM 1.0 largely untouched..." See details in: (1) "New Work Item Proposal (NP) for Metadata for Learning Resources"; (2) "ISO SC36 'Metadata for Learning Resources' Working Group Approved."
The Learning Material Markup Language Framework is a flexibly adaptable and extensible family of XML markup languages for learning and teaching material (teachware). LMML provides sub-languages for various educational fields. LMML is used in university education, further education as well as company training... The Learning Material Markup Language Framework focuses the conceptual and modular structuring of eLearning contents. To facilitate the efficient on-line learning, it is necessary to introduce a further level of abstraction which models and describes the didactical structuring of eLearning contents. LMML can be combined with different pedagogical models. To facilitate the learning of complex eLearning contents as they are to be found particularly in higher education, a reference model was developed based on Instructional Design..."
See references in Learning Material Markup Language (LMML).
- Announcement 2003-02-17: Proposal and Call for Participation
- Education XML TC website
- "OASIS Discussion List for a Proposed edXML Technical Committee." From the initial discussion phase.
- OASIS Discussion List announcement
- Archives of the TC discussion list
- Archives of the public 'education-comment' list
OpenVES is a non-profit educational organization serving as a gateway/repository for e-learning standards and host to range of public-private development initiatives. The mission of OpenVES "is to help create standards, to provide a reference implementation of an open architecture, public, standards based PK12 eLearning platform, and to use those standards, and that platform to help teachers and students transform PK12 education, one classroom at a time. We will work with others engaged in this work who are developing technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) that help create a forum for information exchange, a new digital marketspace for edcommerce, inspiration, independent thought, and collective understanding."
According to its mission statement, OpenVES "supports open, public, eLearning Platform Access -- embracing a goal to help make the educational value of these things available to all people, whatever their hardware, software, network infrastructure, native language, culture, geographical location, or physical or mental ability. It supports a Semantic Learning Web: The OpenVES Architecture, the XML Topic Map Ontologies and Taxonomies, and the edXML Implementation Specifications and Best Practices are the building blocks of a Semantic Learning Web. OpenVES works in the OASIS Education XML TC to provide leadership in support of standards development for the PK12 community of practice." [adapted from "About OpenVES]
On July 26, 2002 an OpenVES.org Status Report and Update from Tom S. Vreeland (Architect and Chief Technologist, OpenVES.org) announced that "EdXML.org would "be the flagship site for our [OpenVES.org] PK12 Standards initiatives. In addition to news and other documentation we will be providing a public pk12 requirements portal, an XML schema repository and registry for DTDs, controlled vocabularies and markup languages, and a taxonomy, RDF, and Topic Map registry for collection, aggregation, and publication of pk12 relevant materials from around the world." Other websites announced: (1) XLINKS.net "will be the demonstration and information site for the content repository, and the distributed metadata and persistent URL technology to be deployed in the OpenVES environment. The site will also provide a resource management web services pilot application." (2) EdUDDI.org "will be a full service UDDI registry and test bed for an initial set of OpenVES web services to be deployed in conjunction with the eLearning Platform. Vendors, Content Publishers and other Education Providers are invited to participate in pilots and beta tests when the registry is active in September. Interested parties should contact us now to make plans." (3) pk12.com "will be a non-profit edCommerce site and will pilot alliance, syndication programs, and a virtual e-Mall. It is our plan to extend this functionality to schools that wish to put student enterprise programs and stores online. We are seeking alliances with distributors of educational products for participation in pk12.com..."
- OpenVES website
- OpenVES Archival Listings for PK12 eLearning
- edXML - Giving Voice to PK12 Requirements
- OpenVES Requirements Portal. Designed "as a place to post requirements documention and to comment on requirements documents regarding eLearning infrastructure, and tools and applications." [To be made active before the first scheduled meeting of the OASIS Education XML Technical Committee on 25-March-2003.]
- OpenVES Education Registry. Designed to "contain references to existing registries of taxonomies, ontologies, schema, controlled vocabularies, published subject indexes and DTD's related to PK12 education. It will also provide an online registry for new postings and a place to comment on postings."
- OpenVES Document Repository. Designed as a "place to post documention and to comment on documents regarding eLearning infrastructure, and tools and applications."
The XML Forum for Education serves as an industry group focused on XML standards in the education space. In addition to monitoring global XML specification initiatives and developing standards appropriate to education, the Forum provides the community with information on XML applications and their potential.
See references in XML Forum for Education.
Prometeus [PROmoting Multimedia in Education and Training in EUropean Society] is a European partnership for a common approach to the production of e-learning technologies and content. The main goal is to support effective use, take-up, research and development in the field of technology enabled learning. It goes on to state that this will be achieved by creating a European forum and a global knowledge resource dedicated to identifying, sharing and disseminating knowledge and best practices relating to all significant activities in this field, and to identifying any gaps in knowledge, experience, capability and tools across Europe... The PROMETEUS members are education and training authorities and establishments, associations and companies of endusers, consumers, operators, content providers and producers of learning material and their systems, software and applications, and any other individuals or organisations interested in multimedia access to education."
"The Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF) is an industry initiative to develop an open specification for ensuring that K-12 instructional and administrative software applications work together more effectively. SIF is not a product, but rather an industry-supported technical blueprint for K-12 software that will enable diverse applications to interact and share data seamlessly; now and in the future. The Schools Interoperability Framework [is provising a specification to]: (1) define standard formats for shared data [e.g., student demographics information)], (2) define standard naming conventions for this shared data; and (3) define the rules of interaction among software applications..."
See references in Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF).
The Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), is a collaborative effort between government, industry and academia to establish a new distributed learning environment that permits the interoperability of learning tools and course content on a global scale. ADL's vision is to provide access to the highest quality education and training, tailored to individual needs, delivered cost-effectively anywhere and anytime... The ADL Initiative is evolving the development and implementation of ADL specifications and guidelines such as the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM). The SCORM is a reference model that defines the interrelationship of course components, data models and protocols so that learning content objects are sharable across systems that conform with the same model. SCORM defines a Web-based learning 'Content Aggregation Model' and 'Run-Time Environment' for learning objects. The SCORM contains a collection of specifications adapted from global specification bodies and consortia to provide a comprehensive suite of e-learning capabilities enabling interoperability, accessibility and reusability of Web-based learning content... SCORM is built upon the work of the AICC, IMS, IEEE, ARIADNE and others to create one unified reference model of interrelated technical specifications and guidelines designed to meet DoD's high-level requirements for Web-based learning content..."
See references in Shareable Content Object Reference Model Initiative (SCORM).
The Universal Learning Format (ULF) is a modular set of XML-based formats developed by Saba for capturing and exchanging various types of e-learning data, including online learning content, catalogs of learning resources, certification libraries, competency libraries, and learner profile information. ULF borrows from a wide spectrum of industry standards for exchanging learning data in a web environment (including ADL, IMS, LRN, IEEE LTSC, Dublin Core, and vCard) and brings together the key elements of these standards into a comprehensive and fully integrated solution. ULF is fully compatible with its constituent standards and provides a two-way path for conversion and reconversion. This ensures that data described in ULF is universally portable across all systems and taxonomies that are designed to support virtually any recognized industry standard. It also means that the ULF will shadow new developments in its constituent standards, thus providing a direct path for future extensibility..."
See references in Universal Learning Format Technical Specification.
[March 03, 2003] "The Standard Bearers Close Ranks." By Frank Tansey (Project Administrator, CaliforniaColleges.edu). In Syllabus Volume 16, Number 8 (March 2003), pages 12-14, 36-37. With sidebar: 'Alphabet Soup: eLearning Standards Organizations.' "Collaboration is bringing the education community closer to long-held dreams of content portability and access to next-generation tools. For most educators, the various eLearning specifications and standards organizations seem far removed from the classroom. Certainly, many have heard of IMS, OKI, and ADL SCORM. However, most would have difficulty explaining how any of these key specifications might affect their online teaching. The reality is that several groups are producing specifications that will affect the way technology is used in online education. Behind the scenes, there is a revolution going on in the way eLearning specifications and standards are being developed. This is not a newly discovered way to provide features for online education. Instead, it is the result of the increasing collaboration and cooperation between key organizations to share the workload and build on the accomplishments of others. Among the five key organizations developing specifications and standards for eLearning are: the IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS), the Open Knowledge Initiative (OKI), the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Co-Labs, the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF), and the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee (IEEE LTSC). These five organizations represent the collaboration occurring across the entire eLearning spectrum. Each is structured as a vertical or a horizontal organization depending on its mission and constituency. Vertical organizations are generally designed to represent one online learning constituency. For example, OKI focuses on higher education, ADL focuses on training, and SIF focuses mainly on K-12. The horizontal organizations serve many constituencies and thus cut across the verticals. For instance, IMS and the IEEE LTSC attempt to provide specifications and standards that meet the needs of many vertical efforts. When these vertical and horizontal organizations cooperate with each other, they do so in many different configurations that ideally lead to more robust, general specifications... There are three main ways that collaborative efforts can be used in specification development, says Ed Walker, chief executive officer of IMS. The first is for an organization to find an existing specification to adopt. The second option is to influence or modify an existing specification. And the final alternative is for an organization to create its own specification with the help of other groups. In all cases, collaboration is the key to a successful plan..."
[February 14, 2003] "Exposing Information Resources for E-Learning. Harvesting and Searching IMS Metadata Using the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting and Z39.50." By Andy Powell (UKOLN, University of Bath) and Steven Richardson (UMIST). In Ariadne Issue 34 (January 14, 2003). "IMS is a global consortium that develops open specifications to support the delivery of e-learning through Learning Management Systems (LMS) -- or 'Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)' as used in the UK. IMS activities cover a broad range of areas including accessibility, competency definitions, content packaging, digital repositories, integration with 'enterprise' systems, learner information, metadata, question & test and simple sequencing. Of particular relevance to this article is the work of the IMS Digital Repositories Working Group (DRWG). The DRWG is working to define a set of interfaces to repositories (databases) of learning objects and/or information resources in order to support resource discovery from within an LMS. In particular, the specifications currently define mechanisms that support distributed searching of remote repositories, harvesting metadata from repositories, depositing content with repositories and delivery of content from the repository to remote systems. Future versions of the specifications will also consider alerting mechanisms, for discovering new resources that have been added to repositories. Note that, at the time of writing, the DRWG specifications are in draft form. Two broad classes of repository are considered: (1) Native learning object repositories containing learning objects; (2) Information repositories containing information resources (documents, images, videos, sounds, datasets, etc.). In the former, it is assumed that, typically, the learning objects are described using the IMS metadata specification and packaged using the IMS content packaging specification. The latter includes many existing sources of information including library OPACs, bibliographic databases and museum catalogues where metadata schemas other than IMS are in use. In both cases it is assumed that the repository may hold both assets and metadata or just metadata only. Both the example implementations described below fall into the second category of repository. The DRWG specifications describe the use of XQuery over SOAP to query 'native' repositories of learning objects. This usage is not discussed any further in this article. The specifications also describe how to search and harvest IMS metadata from 'information' repositories using the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) and Z39.50..." See: (1) "IMS Metadata Specification"; (2) "Open Archives Metadata Set (OAMS)."
[January 23, 2003] "XML Technical Specification for Higher Education." Edited by Mike Rawlins. With contributions from IMS Global Learning Consortium, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Miami-Dade Community College, Brown University, and the US Department of Education. For the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council [Washington, DC, USA]. Working Draft Version 2.1. August 2002. 54 pages. "The purpose of this document is to provide guidance in the development and maintenance of a data dictionary and XML sschemas. The scope of this specification includes the data which institutions and their partner's exchange in support of the existing business processes within Higher Education like administrative applications for student financial aid, admissions, and registrar functions. The internal audience of this document is the members of the XML Forum for Education as well as the technical members of the education community at large wishing to use XML in their data exchanges... This specification is an ongoing output of the Technology Work Group of the XML Forum for Education. First organized in August 2000 on the recommendation of a PESC study group, the XML Forum has as its mission the establishment of Extensible Markup Language (XML) standards for the education community through collaboration. The Technology Work Group was charged with performing research on existing XML specifications and best practices and providing technical guidance to XML developers in the education space. This document is the result of its efforts over the past eighteen months. It will be updated periodically as national and international XML standards are established.." [About: "The XML Forum for Education serves as an industry group focused on XML standards in the education space. In addition to monitoring global XML specification initiatives and developing standards appropriate to education, the Forum provides the community with information on XML applications and their potential."] See: (1) Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council XML Forum website; (2) XML Schemas, incluuding the PESC XML Forum College Transcript Schema Version 0.01 [diagram]; (3) "PostSecondary Electronic Standards Council XML Forum for Education." [source .DOC, cache]
[January 22, 2003] "New Work Item Proposal (NP) for Metadata for Learning Resources". From ISO/IEC JTC1 SC36: Information Technology for Learning, Education, and Training. Issued 2002-10-22, ballot closed 2003-01-22. "The purpose of this Standard is to facilitate search, evaluation, acquisition, and use of learning objects, for instance by learners or instructors or automated software processes. The purpose is also to facilitate the sharing and exchange of learning objects, by enabling the development of catalogs and inventories while taking into account the diversity of cultural and lingual contexts in which the learning objects and their metadata will be exploited. By specifying a common set of conceptual data schemata, this Standard ensures that bindings of Metadata for Learning Resources will likely have a high degree of semantic interoperability. As a result, transformations between bindings will be straightforward. The intent of this Standard is to specify a base schema, which can be used to build on as practice develops, for instance in order to facilitate automatic, adaptive scheduling of learning resources by software agents... For this Standard, a metadata instance for a learning resource describes relevant characteristics of the learning resource to which it applies. Such characteristics can be grouped in specific categories that are reflected by the multiple parts of this Standard, such as general, lifecycle, meta-metadata, technical, educational, rights, relation, annotation, classification. The conceptual data schemata specified in this Standard will allow for linguistic diversity of both learning objects and the metadata instances that describe them. The conceptual data schemata defined in this Standard specify the data elements of which a metadata instance for a learning object may be composed... The text will adopt, correct, amend, and/or improve upon the technical work in a related IEEE standard called "Learning Object Metadata". [The WG] Expects contributions and coordination with IEEE LTSC, CEN/ISSS/WS-LT, and DCMI..." [cache]
[December 23, 2002] "E-Learning Lessons Learned. Standards Reduce Compatibility Problems." By Gail Repsher Emery. In Government Computer News Volume 21, Number 34 (December 16, 2002), pages 29-31. "... The Defense Department-inspired SCORM e-learning specification seems to be taking off... Federal requests for proposals increasingly ask whether electronic-learning products and services comply with the Sharable Content Object Reference Model, which lets content be shared and reused on multiple learning management systems, [IBM's David] Grebow said. 'With SCORM you can input content once and publish it in print, digitally, to a handheld device, to audio, he said. Content becomes usable by many people in many ways and places. That's when e-learning really takes off. SCORM's specifications were adapted from many sources. The first version of SCORM came out in 2000, and Version 1.3 is in development by the DOD-funded Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative. Version 1.3 will permit reordering of material based on factors such as student performance. DOD established the ADL Initiative in 1997 to standardize government, industry and academic e-learning specs. There are now three ADL Co-Laboratories for cooperative research, development and assessment of new learning technology. The labs are funded for fiscal 2003 with $14 million from DOD, said Bob Wisher, director of the initiative... Most proprietary e-learning systems can't talk to each other. But SCORM buyers needn't worry that their investments in courseware and learning management systems will be incompatible, said Wisher, who works at the ADL Co-Lab in Alexandria, Va. Also, vendors that conform to the spec can reach a larger market, he said. SCORM has increased government business for VCampus Corp. of Reston, Va., company officials said. 'SCORM lets us find other standardized content and grow our library. We've gone from a couple hundred courses to thousands,' said Tamer Ali, director of product management for the e-learning application service provider. The company has contracts with the General Services and Social Security administrations and the Veterans Affairs Department. About 25 percent of VCampus' business now is federal, compared with less than 3 percent two years ago, said Ron Freedman, vice president of government and security solutions. Corporate buyers are following the government's lead in requiring SCORM-compliant e-learning technology, others said. 'You may be out of business' if you don't follow SCORM, said Michael Parmentier, a principal of Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. consultants in McLean, Va. Parmentier, former director of readiness and training at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, is a founder of the ADL Initiative... Many agencies want to share content, said Mike Fitzgerald, e-training project manager at the Office of Personnel Management. OPM manages a cross-agency training initiative, the Gov Online Learning Center. Since its July launch, about 40 agencies have signed up to train their employees via www.golearn.gov. More than 30 free courses are available on topics ranging from project management to government ethics. In January, the center will make more courses available on a fee-for-service basis, Fitzgerald said. OPM requires commercial content to conform to SCORM and asks agencies that want to share custom content to do the same, he said'..." See the reference following and "Shareable Content Object Reference Model Initiative (SCORM)."
[December 23, 2002] "Advanced Distributed Learning Emerging and Enabling Technologies for the Design of Learning Object Repositories Report." Version 1.0. By Dr. Thelma Looms (Principal Learning Technologies Architect, ADL) and Clark Christensen (Lead Software Engineer, ADL). Technical Repository Investigation Report. Released 2002-12-23. Completed November 26, 2002. 66 pages. "The ADL Initiative is preparing for a world where communications networks and personal delivery devices are pervasive and inexpensive, as well as transparent to the users in terms of ease of use, bandwidth and portability. ADL development envisions the creation of learning 'knowledge' libraries, or repositories where learning objects may be accumulated and cataloged for broad distribution and use. These objects must be readily accessible across the World Wide Web or whatever forms our global information network takes in the future. This report focuses on major standards for networked repository architectures and other important infrastructure technologies that may be useful for managing SCORM conformant content. It does not provide an authoritative view, but rather focuses on those elements most likely to be of interest in future development of a SCORM Repository Application Profile..." See especially section 4.2 on IMS Digital Repository Interoperability: "The IMS Global Learning Consortium is a specification authoring organization with headquarters in Burlington, Massachusetts. The IMS Digital Repository Interoperability (IMS DRI) model is the product of the IMS Digital Repository Working Group. The goal of the IMS DRI is to provide repository technology to support the 'presentation, configuration and delivery of learning objects.' The IMS DRI Version 1.0 Public Draft Specification was approved in August of 2002. The specification is comprised of three documents, the IMS Digital Repositories Interoperability Information Model which defines the information model, describes the core functions, IMS Digital Repositories Interoperability Best Practice and Implementation Guide and the IMS Digital Repositories Interoperability XML Binding..." Learning Objects Network IMS DRI Reference Implementation: "The Learning Objects Network (LON) has developed a reference implementation of the IMS DRI core functions. The LON proof-of-concept implementation was evaluated as part of the ARTI in the summer of 2002... the proposed architecture was developed in Python and Java and uses a Native XML database to store SCORM Meta-data. The architecture was designed for the following components: (1) a learning object registry, (2) a learning object repository, (3) an XML meta-data search engine, (4) a Client message broker... All the components interact with other components using a set of SOAP web services. The learning objects in the repository are identified using a unique identifier implemented using the IDF's Digital Object Identifier (DOI). The LON Message Manifest Specification [LONM02] describes a messaging API that supports the basic functions for a LON repository. The Message Manifest describes the structure and format of the messages exchanged by services within the repository and registry. Messages are defined for all the functions provided by the client and server components of the system..." See: (1) ADL source .DOC; (2) "Shareable Content Object Reference Model Initiative (SCORM)."
[September 19, 2002] "Survey of Educational Modelling Languages (EMLs)." By Adrian Rawlings, Peter van Rosmalen, and Rob Koper (OUNL); Miguel Rodríguez-Artacho (UNED); Paul Lefrere (UKOU). From the CEN/ISSS WS/LT Learning Technologies Workshop. September 19, 2002. Version 1. 79 pages. "This survey and analysis of EMLs is a project of the CEN/ISSS Workshop on Learning Technologies (WS-LT). The purpose is to arrive at a CEN/ISSS Workshop Agreement (CWA) for EML that could eventually be passed on for consideration as part of the regular standardization work... Six potential EMLs were found for inclusion in the survey. Inclusion or exclusion was decided on the basis of whether the available published data promised to comply with the definition of an EML. The working definition of an EML that is used throughout this project is: An EML is a semantic information model and binding, describing the content and process within a unit of learning' from a pedagogical perspective in order to support reuse and interoperability To state it differently: an EML is a semantic notation for units of learning to be used in elearning to support the reuse of pedagogical entities like learning designs, learning objectives, learning activities, etc. The six EML systems: (1) CDF Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL). A completed CDF, an XML text file, can easily be used by an LMS (Learning Management System) to generate the actual online course, if the LMS is provided with operational access to the electronic pedagogical contents needed for the course, and referenced in the CDF. (2) EML Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL). OUNL-EML has been developed by the Open University of the Netherlands for use in elearning. The version 1.0 information model and XML binding has been released in December 2000. Version 1.1 is in beta. OUNL-EML has been selected as the base for the IMS Learning Design specification, where it is integrated with IMS Content Packaging and IMS Simple Sequencing. (3) LMML University of Passau, Germany (UP). The Learning Material Markup Language (LMML) is based on a meta modelling architecture for knowledge management. It is an implementation of the XML binding of the teachware-specific meta-model of that architecture. (4) PALO UNED University, Spain. 1998. PALO defines a cognitive approach of an EML that describe courses structured in modules. Each module includes a declaration of the structure, the activities students and tutors undertake, and the scheduling of activities and content. (5) Targeteam Universität der Bundeswehr, München (UB). Targeteam is a system for supporting the preparation, use, and reuse of teaching materials. It is centred around the XML based language TeachML. It supports representing, structuring, and managing content used in all kinds of learning situations. It also supports the production of these materials, their flexible reuse, and the generation of different delivery formats which are used in the learning process. (6) TML / Netquest ILRT, University of Bristol, UK (ILRT) NetQuest is a project building upon the TML language to explore the creation of searchable question banks for online delivery of tutorials and assessment. TML is an interchange framework designed to separate the semantic content of a question from its screen layout or formatting..."
[June 18, 2002] "Understanding Educational Technology Interoperability Standards: An Annotated Resource List." By Raymond Yee (IST -- Interactive University). In Berkeley Computing and Communications Volume 12, Number 3 (Summer 2002). "There has been much recent activity on campus surrounding course management systems, also known as learning management systems (LMS). Purchased solutions, such as Blackboard and WebCT, have been in use for several years. A third system, CourseWeb, is currently being developed by the campus. ETS (Educational Technology Services) and IST are planning the future of learning management systems on campus. Any 'new product will be a confluence of existing University systems, best practices at Berkeley, and developments from other universities and commercial courseware companies'. In many discussions surrounding LMS, the issue of educational technology interoperability standards (hereafter referred to as interoperability standards) arises. One encounters phrases such as 'conforms to all relevant IMS standards' and 'led the pack with first AICC certified product in the authoring tool category and continue to be a frontrunner in SCORM compliance as well as other learning standards'. Interoperability standards are generally portrayed as being beneficial and desirable. But what exactly are these standards about? To help readers unravel the mysteries of interoperability standards, I present the following list of articles, websites, and resources that I have found particularly helpful in this regard..." See the news item of 2002-06-18: "OASIS Discussion List for a Proposed edXML Technical Committee."
[June 17, 2002] "OpenVES Gateway Clearinghouse." By Tom Vreeland. White Paper from OpenVES.org. 17-June-2002. Multiple states will be coming together next Fall to pilot, prototype and collaborate in the development and implementation of Open Virtual Education Spaces (OpenVES), to support teachers, students, and parents in implementing standards based eLearning infrastructure. In order to create and maintain a national standards database, and to provide common services in support of OpenVES efforts, a national non-profit PK12 Gateway Clearinghouse is a necessity. In this White Paper a high level set of requirements for a national gateway clearinghouse to support state efforts to implement their Virtual Education Spaces are presented. Such a gateway will implement the following seven functions: (1) National and State Standards Database, Index, and Ontologies; (2) National Non-profit edUDDI Registry; (3) Content and Resource Indexing Tools and Search Repository; (4) edCommerce support for premium content and resource purchases; (5) Multi-Media Content Distribution, Caching and Streaming Capability; (6) xLINKS Persistent URL Registry; (7) Digital Rights Management Capability."
[June 01, 2002] "OpenVES Assessment Architecture." From OpenVES.org. Version 1.0. June 01, 2002. 54 pages. "This document serves to bring together in one place an exposition of the relationship between Assessment objects in the OpenVES Architecture. It provides a reference model for PK12 Assessment based upon the IEEE 1484.1 Learning Technology Systems Architecture and the Educational Modeling Language (EML). The Assessment Architecture defines the Class and Object Model for an XML Assessment Markup Language based on the IMS Global Learning Alliance Specifications, the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI), and the SIIA Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF). The document is written as a technical document for those who are responsible for implementing Assessment Authoring, Delivery, and Exchange systems. It should also be accessible for PK12 educators wishing to understand the OpenVES eLearning Platform. To that end it contains an extensive glossary and a set of controlled vocabularies for use in the edXML AssessmentML and in understanding these documents. This architecture, together with the Question and Test Exchange (QTE) specification will enable the exchange of this test, assessment and results data between PK12 eLearning Platforms, as well as content authors and, content libraries and collections. That specification is defined in XML to promote the widest possible adoption. XML is a powerful, flexible, industry standard markup language used to encode data models for Internet-enabled and distributed applications..." See related materials in the OpenVES Archival Listings for PK12 eLearning.
[April 29, 2002] "International PK12 Standards Landscape." From OpenVES.org. Draft. April 2002. "This document is an attempt to provide an international roadmap to standards activity which has impact on PK12 technology and requirements. One purpose of this document is to encourage more participation by PK12 organizations and by others on their behalf. This document is marked draft because we are earnestly seeking your input to complete it and make it more useful, especially in relevant standards activity outside the United States."
[April 25, 2002] "Challenges for Service Providers When Importing Metadata in Digital Libraries." By Marilyn McClelland, David McArthur, Sarah Giersch (CollegisEduprise, Morrisville); and Gary Geisler (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). In D-Lib Magazine Volume 8 Number 4 (April 2002). ISSN: 1082-9873. "Much of the usefulness of digital libraries lies in their ability to provide services for data from distributed repositories, and many research projects are investigating frameworks for interoperability. In this paper, we report on the experiences and lessons learned by iLumina after importing IMS metadata. iLumina utilizes the IMS metadata specification, which allows for a rich set of metadata (Dublin Core has a simpler metadata scheme that can be mapped onto a subset of the IMS metadata). Our experiences identify questions regarding intellectual property rights for metadata, protocols for enriched metadata, and tips for designing metadata services... Much work has been done in the digital library community to facilitate the exchange of metadata between digital libraries. Specifications like Dublin Core, IEEE Learning Object Metadata (LOM), or IMS have been developed for tagging metadata in a standard XML format (IMS Specification). Frameworks are being developed to provide interoperability for digital libraries with many using the protocol for metadata harvesting developed by the Open Archives Initiative (OAI). For the discussion here, we consider a simple, high-level view of the interaction of metadata entities which illustrates the logical separation of data providers and service providers to distinguish the different roles in handling metadata... The iLumina database schema was developed using an entity relationship diagram for the first version of the IMS metadata specification. After mapping the fields in the XML instance of the imported data to the database schema, shortfalls in the database schema came to light. The original design of the iLumina database overlooked datatypes defined in the LOM specification, like langstring and vocabulary. This did not cause problems while all metadata was being created by iLumina catalogers, as the iLumina cataloging is done in English and the iLumina vocabularies are known. The import of others' data highlighted the omission of the datatypes in the schema for persistence of the metadata and the limitations of the current design for future use. Another problem is that we had not made provisions for storing non-IMS metadata. For example, Dublin Core can be mapped into IMS, so iLumina could store DC metadata, but with our current model, the XML generated for export would be in IMS format. One solution is to store the intact XML document in a single field in the database. This appears to be the policy that the National Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Digital Library (NSDL) is evolving for sharing and transacting metadata across its collections, since it now plans to retain native metadata and to map it into the common NSDL schema, based on Dublin Core. Storing the XML instance insures our ability to roundtrip the original document and eliminates the challenge of mapping various XML schemas into the iLumina database schema. Lesson 4: 'Maintain the original XML instance of imported data to preserve all mappings and to be able to roundtrip the original.'..." See: (1) See "IMS Metadata Specification"; (2) "Open Archives Metadata Set (OAMS)."
[April 25, 2002] "Metadata Principles and Practicalities." By Erik Duval (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium), Wayne Hodgins (Strategic Futurist, Autodesk), Stuart Sutton (Associate Professor, The Information School, University of Washington), and Stuart L. Weibel (Executive Director, Dublin Core Metadata Initiative). In D-Lib Magazine Volume 8 Number 4 (April 2002). ISSN: 1082-9873. "The rapid changes in the means of information access occasioned by the emergence of the World Wide Web have spawned an upheaval in the means of describing and managing information resources. Metadata is a primary tool in this work, and an important link in the value chain of knowledge economies. Yet there is much confusion about how metadata should be integrated into information systems. How is it to be created or extended? Who will manage it? How can it be used and exchanged? Whence comes its authority? Can different metadata standards be used together in a given environment? These and related questions motivate this paper. The authors hope to make explicit the strong foundations of agreement shared by two prominent metadata Initiatives: the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) and the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Learning Object Metadata (LOM) Working Group. This agreement emerged from a joint metadata taskforce meeting in Ottawa in August, 2001. By elucidating shared principles and practicalities of metadata, we hope to raise the level of understanding among our respective (and shared) constituents, so that all stakeholders can move forward more decisively to address their respective problems. The ideas in this paper are divided into two categories. Principles are those concepts judged to be common to all domains of metadata and which might inform the design of any metadata schema or application. Practicalities are the rules of thumb, constraints, and infrastructure issues that emerge from bringing theory into practice in the form of useful and sustainable systems... XML markup, while still a small part of the total markup on the Web, is the idiom of choice for the encoding and exchange of structured data. The XML namespace facility provides structural capabilities that HTML lacks, making it easier to achieve the principles of modularity and extensibility. The XML Schema specification defines a schema language that allows for the specification of application profiles that will increase the prospects for interoperability. The Resource Description Framework (RDF) promises an architecture for Web metadata and has been advanced as the primary enabling infrastructure of the Semantic Web activity in the W3C. Designed to support the reuse and exchange of vocabularies, RDF is an additional layer on top of XML that is intended to simplify the reuse of vocabulary terms across namespaces. Most RDF deployment to date has been experimental, though there are significant applications emerging in the world of commerce (Adobe's deployment of their XMP standard which is based on RDF). The IEEE Learning Object Metadata standard provides an example of how this critical need for independence between the semantics of metadata and their syntactical representation can be addressed. LOM will be what is known as a 'multi-part standard' where the semantic data model is an independent standard and then each syntactical representation is an independent standard developed as a specific 'binding' of the LOM Data Model standard. DCMI also provides recommendations on encoding of Dublin Core metadata in alternative encoding idioms..." See: (1) "Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI)"; (2) "IEEE LTSC XML Ad Hoc Group [Learning Object Metadata Working Group]."
[April 04, 2002] "ADL and SCORM: Creating a Standard Model For Publishing Courseware. [SCORM Sets a Standard For Publishing Courseware.]" By Mike Letts. In Seybold Report: Analyzing Publishing Technology [ISSN: 1533-9211] Volume 2, Number 1 (April 8, 2002). ['Founded by the U.S. Dept. of Defense in 1997, the Advanced Distributed Learning initiative is a public-private partnership working to create the globally distributed learning environment of the future. Where do higher-education, medical and IT publishers fit in?'] "The U.S. Defense Department buys a lot of instructional materials. Working with academic institutions, standards bodies, private corporations and military suppliers, it is developing a Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) for reusable modules of learning content that it can use anywhere in the world. Far from playing the role of 800-pound gorilla, the DoD has adopted existing standards wherever possible. But it can't wait for the marketplace to perfect distance-learning technology, and publishers can't afford to ignore its purchasing power... Version 1.2 of the SCORM standard was released in October of last year, and version 1.3 will be released this month. One of the main reasons SCORM has been so readily adopted is that nearly all of the guidelines have been adopted from the various industry segments it serves. As John Purcell put it, 'SCORM is really nothing different from regular XML markup. The ADL cherry-picked the best pieces from these various organizations and wrapped it up. Taking popular and proven XML elements from various industries has been critical to SCORM's success.' In contrast with the way that most computer-based instruction is written today, SCORM demands that content be authored to stay independent from any larger contexts. A lesson on how to apply gauze bandages, for example, must be written in a way that does not depend on it following instructions for disinfecting a wound. By breaking instructional materials down into discrete, self-contained chunks, the DoD hopes to make it possible for its own staff to build customized curricula at a very detailed level... SCORM also requires content to stay independent from the software used to render it. This formal separation of content from software is consistent with the decades-old move toward SGML and XML in high-end documentation. But it is very different from most computer-based instruction materials, which are typically authored in a particular software environment. As a result, SCORM can be expected to spur development of XML-based authoring tools and e-learning systems. The uptake in the civilian economy will not be as explosive as it will be within the defense industry, but the safe bet is that SCORM will see widespread adoption among education publishers. The DoD isn't the only customer interested in SCORM, and publishers are already paying attention. Some publishers have already moved beyond the research phase to trial implementations. AAP and ADL now count approximately 20 SCORM-compliant pilot networks, which are allowing major education publishers to explore the potential ROI of learning objects. The Academic ADL Co-Lab at the University of Wisconsin is helping nearly 40 higher-education institutions evaluate SCORM-compliant tools and technologies. Despite potential roadblocks to SCORM adoption in the private sector, publishers need to take note of SCORM and the DoD's ADL initiative if they don't want to miss the boat..." See: "Shareable Content Object Reference Model Initiative (SCORM)."
[May 08, 2001] "Enabling Access to Online Digital Services: IMS Digital Repositories Technical Specifications Group." By Kevin Riley. In Syllabus Magazine Volume 14, Number 10 (May 2001), pages 16-18. ['A look at the process of setting standards and specifications to support interoperability of digital repositories.'] The author surveys the goals of the IMS Digital Repositories Group, discusses the IMS specification process, and summarizes the key IMS specifications. The IMS Digital Repositories Work Group was established in February 2001, and scheduled its first meeting for May 7-9 in Lund, Switzerland. The article provides a table listing the seven (7) IMS specifications already published and three (3) specifications under development. "The group spans user communities, server-side technology providers, publishers, and middleware infrastructure vendors. Group members include EdNA (representing DETYA in Australia), Fretwell-Downing, GIUNTI (Italy), IOS Press (Netherlands), Oracle, Sun, TEMASEK (Singapore), UKOLN (participants in the UK Distributed Network of Electronic Resources Program), and the University of California at Berkeley and University of Wisconsin from the NSDL program. Others are coming on board as the group gets under way. The work of the group falls into two categories: (1) Integration of e-learning with existing online digital services; (2) Development of novel repository technology to support the configuration, presentation, and delivery of learning objects required for learner-centric learning to become a reality. The diversity of offerings under the umbrella of online digital services reflects a wide range of content formats, existing implemented systems, technologies, and established practice. However, given the investment made in their development,it is impractical even to consider a solution that requires their re-implementation on a short-to-medium-term timeframe. Rather, the group will focus on common functions, which can be used across services to enable them to present a common interface. These common functions encompass desirable and necessary features such as authentication, authorization, enrollment, search, location and retrieval, IPR management, user preferences, and profiling, payment, and search gateways across services. Learning Object Repositories share all of the above (either directly or via the LMS they serve), but also have the added dimension of supporting contextualized sequencing and navigation -- and potentially, dynamic branding of objects to a service at runtime. The group intends to construct a generic functional architecture and then define specific application profiles through that architecture to meet the needs of each of the services identified above. The functions will then be prioritized to identify the order in which they will be put through the IMS specification process. In addition to the specification work, linked R&D projects are being set up across Australia, Europe, and the U.S. that will support pilot implementations of the technology adopted, both as initial proof of concept and testing of the robustness of the emerging specifications." ["IMS Global Learning Consortium, Inc. (IMS) is 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 has two key goals: (1) Defining the technical specifications for interoperability of applications and services in distributed learning, and (2) supporting the incorporation of the IMS specifications into products and services worldwide. IMS endeavors to promote the widespread adoption of specifications that will allow distributed learning environments and content from multiple authors to work together (in technical parlance, 'interoperate'). IMS uses XML as its current binding, and XML-Schema as its primary XML control document language. The IMS XML Bindings and the list of IMS specifications are available for download. Specifications materials include: IMS Content Packaging Specification, IMS Learning Resource Meta-data Specification, IMS Question and Test Specification, IMS Enterprise Specification, IMS Meta-data Specification, IMS Reusable Competencies Definition Information Model Specification, IMS Learner Information Package Specification, etc.] See: (1) "IMS Metadata Specification", and (2) the recent IMS announcement.
[May 08, 2001] "Pushing the SCORM Envelope. The Role of XML, Content Management Systems, And Dynamic Delivery in ADL-SCORM." By Jeff Larsen, Jeff Katzman, and Jeff Caton. Peer3 company white paper. December 12, 2000. 12 pages. "The Advanced Distributed Learning initiative (ADL) emerged this year as a focal point for eLearning standards. Its Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) 1.0 technical specifications gained widespread acceptance and implementation among government, commercial, and academic circles. SCORM represents the integration of all leading eLearning standards (AICC, IMS, IEEE, and soon Microsoft's LRN) to create a unified standard. SCORM seeks to enable reuse of Web-based content across multiple environments and products, as well as provide a means for individualized eLearning. The goals of ADL are laudable. By promoting a digital knowledge network based on reusable objects and individualized learning, ADL believes it can help reduce the cost of instruction by 30-60%; reduce the time of instruction by 20-40%; increase the effectiveness of instruction by 30%; increase student knowledge and performance by 10-30%; and improve organization efficiency and productivity. Further, the vision of ADL is consistent with that of many thought leaders in the eLearning and Knowledge Management industries - mainly, that true interchange of learning objects across disparate Learning Management Systems (LMS) will require adherence to accepted standards for describing learning taxonomies, course information, and course packaging. However, we believe that SCORM must address three fundamental issues before the goals of ADL can be fully realized. These issues can be posed as the following three questions: (1) Will XML be prescribed as the data format for learning content itself? (2) Will a standard methodology be specified for integrating Content Management Systems with Learning Management Systems? (3) Will dynamic delivery of content objects be supported? True reusability of learning objects requires a data format that separates content from its pre-sentation; this fundamental requirement is met by XML. Learning Management Systems (LMS) provide only part of the solution for eLearning; XML authoring, Content Management Systems (CMS), and dynamic delivery round out the technologies necessary to complete the ADL vision. As participants in the Technical Working Group for SCORM, Peer3 remains committed to supporting the ADL and the evolution of these important standards. Peer3 was the only vendor to present a commercially available eLearning solution for XML authoring, content management, and dynamic delivery at the first ADL PlugFest earlier this year. Now Peer3, in collaboration with other eLearning-oriented CMS vendors, is promoting the recognition of this distinct product category as well as changes to the SCORM that will result in open standards for XML-based eLearning content..." See (1) See: "Shareable Courseware Object Reference Model Initiative (SCORM)", and (2) Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative. [cache]
[January 22, 2001] "XML: New formula for E-Learning." By Cheryl Gerber. In Federal Computer Week (January 22, 2001). "As the electronic-learning market matures, a growing number of vendors and federal agencies are embracing XML -- Extensible Markup Language -- to streamline the way e-learning software is built and handles information. XML provides a standard way to tag or mark up information, such as student data and course material, so that it is easy to read and exchange. Among its many uses, XML helps e-learning ven-dors develop applications faster, reuse course content more easily, and smooth data exchange between the Web-based courseware, or content, and the learning management system, which is the student administration system. It also allows agencies to make their e-learning systems more useful through tighter integration with other software, such as human resources management systems and e-commerce Web sites. Although surely gaining in popularity, the use of XML is still not universal in the e-learning market. And when it is used, it is not always done so in a consistent manner. For now, the lesson for agencies interested in using XML-enabled e-learning products is to understand clearly the benefits they want to obtain and choose products carefully to make sure they can deliver those benefits. Interior is waiting to buy a learning management system until it finds one that will work with the enterprise resource planning software from SAP Public Sector and Education Inc., which the department is in the midst of deploying. 'We want to use XML to link e-learning to employee records, to link training management to HR management,' said Ross Allan, a computer specialist at DOI University, Washington, D.C. Allan said he is also hoping to use XML to tie the department's bureaus together. Learnframe uses XML in three areas of software development, Gavin said. First, it is used to communicate a mapping of user requests to server-side requests. Second, it defines reporting queries, and third, XML is used as a data input and export mechanism. E-learning content provider SkillSoft, Nashua, N.H., began using XML in the past year. 'When we moved from our first-generation to our second-generation tool development, we changed the design to use XML internally instead of using old database formats,' said Mark Townsend, SkillSoft's vice president of product development. Sun Educational Services also embraced XML last year. 'We decided in the last six months to move from a proprietary format to XML to store user profile and personal preference information,' said Chuck Young, data architect for Sun Educational Services, Broomfield, Colo., and the Sun technical representative on the Instructional Management Systems standards board. The IMS Global Learning Consortium, run by Eduprise in Boston, originally developed the IMS standard from the academic community. It has been using XML for two years. Although most learning management system providers use the oldest e-learning specification, created by the Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee (AICC), the standard gaining the most traction today is the Shareable Courseware Object Reference Model (SCORM), which is based mostly on XML. To encourage the widespread use of e-learning, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy developed SCORM three years ago. 'AICC has made it possible to use XML files, although it's a retrofit,' said Bryan Chapman, an e-learning analyst at brandon-hall.com, a research firm in Sunnyvale, Calif. The AICC standard 'doesn't take advantage of how XML is structured to show relationships and subrelationships in groupings. The standard existed long before XML was available. On the other hand, SCORM is centered around how XML is structured.' The SCORM standards group hopes its basis in XML will encourage not only cross-application but also cross-industry data interchange. 'We are trying to adopt in the e-learning world some of the successes we have seen with XML in the e-business world. It's a user-friendly, easy language for e-business transactions between suppliers and their customers,' said Jerry West, technical director at the Advanced Distributed Learning Co- Laboratory, the organization leading SCORM development."
[January 15, 2001] "ADL and SCORM." By Kevin Cox. In Web Tools Newsletter. July 10, 2000. "In 1997 the Department of Defense in the USA initiated the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative. A major part of the initiative has become the development of a Shareable Course Object Reference Model. (SCORM). SCORM addresses the following problems:  Moving a course (including student information) from one learning platform to another (e.g., from WebCT to LearningSpace)  Creating reusable chunks of course material for use in other courses  Searching for course material The techniques used to overcome these problems are the same as other areas. It is the same idea as behind Microsoft's .NET. SCORM defines a standard way for defining and accessing information about learning 'objects'. Once you have a common language (standard) then systems that are built using the language can 'talk' to each other. How does it do it? It does it by defining the data and its meaning using XML. So far SCORM has defined:  an XML-based specification for representing course structures (so courses can be moved from one server/LMS to another);  a set of specifications relating to the run-time environment, including an (Application Programming Interface) API, content-to-LMS (Learning Management System) data model, and a content launch specification;  and a specification for creating metadata records for courses, content, and raw media elements. Conceptually XML is not too hard to understand. XML is an extension of HTML so that users can define their own tags for their own purposes. SCORM XML definitions are a set of Tags that define things about courses. If you have a choice of Learning Management Systems consider SCORM compliance in your selection criteria..."
[January 13, 2001] "An Introduction to Metadata Tagging." By Harvi Singh (MindLever). December, 2000. From American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), and LearningCircuits. ['Get ready for the Dewey Decimal Classification system of e-learning.'] "Standards and specifications are becoming increasingly important for all aspects of e-learning, including metadata tagging. Leading the way is the IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS), a nonprofit organization that includes more than 200 educational institutions, commercial entities, and government agencies. Its purpose is to develop and promote standards that define an open architecture for networking learning systems. In August 1999, the IMS announced a specification for metadata tagging that includes 19 core fields used to describe learning resources, ranging from author and cost to language. The IMS also identified XML (Extensible Markup Language) as the principal tool for creating metadata tags. It's not an official standard, but XML is quickly becoming the predominant tool for describing learning resources. Furthering the importance of the IMS specification, the Department of Defense has incorporated it into the SCORM (Shareable Courseware Object Reference Model) initiative. SCORM consists of DoD specifications that focus on the ability to deliver and track content from multiple sources... There's a core set of 19 recommended metadata fields, but metadata tags can be used to describe broad or specific types of information (the IMS has identified 89 fields). The scope depends entirely on each organization... Most organizations probably won't use all 19 core fields recommended by the IMS. A select few fields will curry the most favor within the instructional design community, including title, author, name, and language. Furthermore, individual markets -- such as information technology, trade associations, and so forth -- will develop unique metadata fields to better meet their e-learning needs. The availability of metadata tags is far from ubiquitous in e-learning products. As the industry continues its drive toward standards and specifications, the technology will be integrated into offerings from leading e-learning suppliers. As the volume of learning resources increases, the ability to search tags from a learning management system (LMS) will become standard. Repositories will emerge to store and manage learning content and metadata tags. Rather than "dumb" learning management systems that simply render content when requested, these repositories will facilitate two of the most important benefits of metadata tags: reusing learning objects and personalizing learning tracks. Standards-based metadata tagging will be the linchpin that enables interoperability between e-learning and knowledge management products. The technology is essential because it provides a consistent way to search for knowledge and learning objects in either type of system and add that content to a learning track..."
[December 04, 2000] "A Comprehensive Architecture for Learning. Universal Learning Format, Version 1.0." From Saba Software Inc. Revised: October 23, 2000. "This document introduces the Universal Learning Format, a modular set of XML-based formats developed by Saba for capturing various types of e-learning data, including online learning content, catalogs of learning resources, certification libraries, competency libraries, and learner information. It includes the following sections: (1) E-learning Marketplace. (2) Universal Learning Format. The Universal Learning Format is a framework for enabling the cross-industry exchange of learning content such as education catalogs, course content, competency libraries, certification tracks, and learner profiles. It includes a set of XML-based formats for creating robust, reusable XML-based documents. Using this framework, learning providers can seamlessly exchange a variety of learning content as well as make their learning content universally available for search and discovery. The Universal Learning Format is based on the work done by standards bodies such as Instructional Management System (IMS), Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). It embraces and extends the existing online learning standards advanced by these organizations and is architected to take advantage of new standards as they emerge." See the ULF web site at http://www.saba.com/standards/ulf.
[August 2000] "XML: Green Light, Go." By Brian Maschhoff (AdvanceOnline). In [ASTD] Learning Circuits (August 2000). "The drive to create interoperability standards among digital learning products has people singing future praises of Extensible Markup Language. Here's why you should include XML in your e-learning strategy now..."
[July 16, 2000] "Searching for the perfect ... SCORM?" By Herb Bethoney In eWEEK (July 16, 2000). "Heeding Teddy Roosevelt's advice to speak softly and carry a big stick, the Department of Defense is stepping gently into the arena of e-learning while carrying its big contract-spending stick. According to market researcher IDC, over the next few years IT e-learning will become even bigger than the estimated $1.7 billion business it already is, based on sales of content and authoring tools and creation of customized courses and learning management systems. Recognizing the need for a cost-effective distributed learning management system that is consistent across an organization -- and even beyond its walls -- the DOD more than a year ago launched an initiative for an advanced distributed learning specification to improve employee performance and cut training costs. With diplomatic skill worthy of Kissinger, the DOD's Advanced Distributed Learning group gathered e-learning vendors, standards-setting groups, government and military trainers, and academics from around the country and formed the ADL specification group, with outstanding results. In fairly quick order, the group released Version 1.0 of its Shareable Courseware Object Reference Model, or SCORM, to enable learning management systems to reuse content and save the cost of creating the same material over and over again. The SCORM specification was designed to address the DOD's frustration with not being able to share distance learning courses among the different learning management systems deployed throughout the department. Last month, the DOD's ADL team conducted a successful test of the first version of the SCORM specification in Alexandria, VA., at the Institute for Defense Analyses' ADL Co-Laboratory Plugfest. Nothing motivates vendors like a lot of DOD cash, and we were pleasantly surprised that more than 90 organizations, including learning software developers and content providers from industry, government and academia, pledged support for SCORM. We saw numerous demonstrations of interoperability, and I can tell you this stuff really works... For the first time, content from different vendors' learning management systems was passed to other vendors' systems without a hitch. In fact, many of the vendors at the Plugfest said that they'll have SCORM-tested products ready in the next few months. The Plugfest also gave the DOD's ADL organization and the AICC, IEEE and IMS standards-setting groups the opportunity to discuss a unified e-learning specification that incorporates the four groups' work. The ADL Co-Lab also outlined its timetable for the availability of conformance test software and its plans for testing e-learning applications over the next few months."
[October 01, 1999] "The IMS, Metadata, and Web-Based Learning Resources." By Dick Vacca. In The Gilbane Report - News and Analysis of E-Content Technology and Trends Volume 7, Number 7 (July/August 1999), pages 1-8. "Since the emergence of XML the number of metadata specifications being developed for vertical and horizontal applications has soared. Soon we will have many more than we need and competition will prune the number of offerings. Metadata specifications that are designed with application and information integration in mind are much stronger candidates for utility and success. IT strategists are increasingly aware of this integration requirement, yet one area that still seems to escape attention is corporate training. The overlap in IT requirements for corporate training applications and other areas involving information management and delivery, such as technical documentation, is significant, and the lack of attention surprising. In this issue, Dick Vacca reports on an effort to develop a metadata specification for educational and training applications. While still a work in progress, this activity looks like it could be important and should be tracked by anyone responsible for implementing corporate training technology. In fact, because this project is paying careful attention to the need to integrate with other corporate systems, including e-commerce systems, anyone involved in corporate IT strategy should be aware of it... IMS [== 'Instructional Management Systems project'] has an ambitious goal: to enable an open architecture for online learning, and to develop specifications for the commercial systems that make it possible. IMS is not in the software or content business; rather, it is defining technical specifications for products to follow to enable application and content interoperability. This covers not only educational content and web delivery, but also the financial and administrative systems behind instruction. IMS touches all the right bases: systems interoperability and convergence, content management, XML, e-commerce, and rights management. And it all starts with the metadata specification for web-based learning resources... XML figures heavily in the IMS plan. IMS created a specimen DTD as an XML binding of its metadata, and the released specification was accompanied by an array of sample DTDs, XML bindings, and example instances. Like other projects with similar goals, such as RosettaNet and BizTalk, IMS developers are using XML heavily..." See: "Educom Instructional Management Systems Project (IMS) Metadata Specification."