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UK Learner Profile components to form core of European standard

With the official acceptance of the CEN/ISSS "Guidelines for the production of learner information standards and specifications" workshop agreement, the first steps have been taken to establish a European standard for the transfer of learner information. The agreement will make it easier for learners of all descriptions to present their educational credentials and achievements to employers and colleges both nationally and at the European level.

The acceptance of the guidelines is a rather significant step: as a CEN/ISSS workshop, the Learning Technology Workshop (WS-LT) is limited to defining specification-like workshop agreements. Many agreements neither need to or will go further than that. An agreement can be used as the basis for a full CEN standard, however, and that would mean that all national standards bodies throughout the European Union would be obliged to use it. Plans to take the learner information guidelines through that process exist, but are dependent on further funding. At any rate, the workshop agreement is to be used as input for standardisation work in the ISO/IEC JTC 1 SC 36- the elearning group within the International Standards Organisation.

The learner information guidelines are a series of recommendations about the major kinds of learner information, who owns them, and how they can be expressed in a structured fashion, and presented for a particular purpose. Technically, the workshop agreement provides all the data models, protocols and bindings that are needed for the identified functions.

Some of the major kinds of learner information that are identified in the agreement build on the work of the CEDEFOP (European Centre for the development of vocational training), and are combined with both the transcript and the Personal Development Record (PDR, here called the European CV) parts of the UK Learner Profile.

The CEDEFOP contribution is mostly in the structure of the conceptual parts that could make up a European Learner Profile: the European CV, the European Certificate Supplement, the Europass -a transnational work experience and training transcript- and the Diploma Supplement.

This is not the definitive structure of every implementation of the agreement, however. As the guidelines need to accommodate various national practices, the intention lies a little higher and more abstract than that: at the level of datamodels, protocols and bindings. The main conceptual constraint that would be common across all implementations is the distinction between a learner owned PDR, and the more formal, institutionally owned transcripts.

The CETIS LIPSIG's contribution lies mainly at this more technical level. Easily the most important of the guidelines is the fundamental choice for IMS Learner Information Profile (LIP) as the data format. The beef of the CEN/ISSS agreement, then, is the bindings of things like (human) language capabilities, the European diploma supplement and transparency specification to LIP. The whole of the UK HE transcript is included as an illustration of what an 'internationally compatible' national application within the diploma supplement looks like.

The wider significance of the acceptance of the CEN/ISSS agreement is twofold: it contributes pretty directly to the EU's fundamental freedom of movement of people, and, with the e-portfolio work in IMS, it signals a growing international consensus around the one learner profile data format.

The CEN/ISSS "Guidelines for the production of learner information
standards and specifications" workshop agreement can be downloaded as a pdf (122 kb) from the DIN website.

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