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Articles about IEEE


Portfolio reference models and interoperability
This meeting of the Portfolio SIG will discuss interoperability and related issues directly and in some detail. It will be informed by the discussions on Jiscmail's CETIS-PORTFOLIO and CETIS-PORTFOLIO-DEV.


New CETIS briefings available
The ever-popular series of CETIS briefings on e-learning standards just received two new additions, two major updates, and some tweaking on others.


It's a LOM binding, Jim, but not as we know it
For most people who have to describe digital learning resources, IMS Meta-Data is just the ticket. It provides almost everything: the model for the record, the method of encoding it and the means of checking the record. With the new IEEE LOM XML binding, that will change in some subtle ways.


Another test
with a description


Third CETIS/LIFE codebash goes public
To test the interoperability of educational content, metadata and services there's nothing like getting files into and out of as many different tools as possible. Better yet, get the developers of those tools into one room, and let them sort out any issues. CETIS codebashes do just that, but the third iteration had some differences: it was co-organised with the European LIFE (Learning Interoperability Framework for Europe) project and some of the files are now public.


LionShare releases personal repository milestone
Born of the recognition that the vast majority of learning and teaching material lives on peoples' PCs, the LionShare project aims to provide a simple and trusted way to share those materials with others. The open source application isn't quite done yet, but a useable beta has just been released.


IEEE LTSC face to face meeting
IEEE LTSC Working Groups will be holding face-to-face meetings the ADL Co-lab.


Educational Metadata FAQ launched
Everything you always wanted to know about data about educational data, maintained in a Wiki, with an initial kernel of answers by a roll-call of experts in the field.


Look ma, no metadata forms
It's long been recognised that adding meaningful descriptions is one of the more unpopular and error prone aspects of creating learning objects. One solution that has been touted for a pretty long time is to leave the chore to the machines, but practical solutions have been relatively rare. There is now an open source solution from one of the founders of the Learning Object Metadata standard (LOM): Ariadne.


CELEBRATE Evaluation Report
A hefty pdf (1.8 Mb, 202 pages) outlining the outcomes of the large, 30 month Context eLearning with Broadband Technologies (CELEBRATE) project. A fair few case studies and a firm focus on the practicalities of using learning objects in schools make it well worth a (skim) read. Inevitably, some of the lofty goals of the project at the start have not quite come out as intended. For example, the question whether interoperability standards make reuse of material any easier could not be addressed systematically. Still, the finding that interoperability was as much down to minimal standards of hard- and software infrastructure in schools as the format of the objects themselves is worth bearing in mind. Thanks to EdTechPost for the link.


The state of standards at Online Educa 2004
In amongst many, many other things, Berlin's Online Educa 2004 conference had almost a full day's worth of events on the topic of educational interoperability standards. Since the morning's session was mostly about content interoperability, and the afternoon session about collaborative technology, the panel discussion at the end made for some pretty clear contrasts about where different people think interoperability standards are.


Next EC SIG meeting
The next meeting of will be a joint meeting between the Metadata SIG and the EC SIG. The meeting will focus on two standards that are of interest to both communities - namely METS (the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard) and Topic maps.


Learning Object Metadata use survey: sticking the short and wide in the long and thin
The recently revamped CanCore initiative, with assistance from the Finnish delegation to ISO SC36, completed a survey of the widely used IEEE standard for Learning Object Metadata (LOM). The findings paint a picture of communities using relatively small parts of the long list of elements that the LOM provides, but do use their own vocabularies for the elements that are used.


Intrallect Developer’s Forum: Repository Interoperability
The purpose of this forum is to discuss potential ways in which other e-learning systems can interoperate with Intralibrary. The day will include demonstrations of intraLibrary’s current modes of interoperability and technical discussions on various system-to-system technologies.


Intrallect wins JORUM UK national repository contract
With the awarding of the 250.000 GBP contract, the JISC sponsored JORUM project will start the transition to a national repository of learning materials, to be made available to the UK Further and Higher Education by August 2005.


Alt-I-Lab results: mind the gap...
between user expectation of interoperability and reality. Or so the University of Waterloo's Tom Carey thought. And repeated it in at least four other varieties of English to make sure the message hit home. Because last week's was the second alt-i-lab, we can begin to look at whether the participants in the interoperability fest are actually closing that gap.


Matching content to learners
The one year old IMS Accessibility for Learner Information Profile (ACCLIP) specification allows you to store the accessibility preferences of learners in a flexible way. Which is handy, but a less than complete solution until the content a learner wants to look at can be matched to those preferences. With the new IMS Accessibility for Meta-Data (ACCMD) spec, that circle is now being closed.


UK Ministry of Defence contracts BT for e-learning system
As most large organisations have found at some point, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) found that a) its training requirements can't be met by face to face education alone, and b) its e-learning provision is patchy and disconnected. So a plan was drawn up, and British Telecom awarded about 25 million pounds to provide a system for up to 300.000 users. That's one single system...


IMS revs Meta-data spec
But hang on, wasn't IMS Meta-Data supposed to be succeeded by the IEEE LOM standard? Indeed it is, and that is exactly what the new revision of IMS Meta-Data is mostly about: how to get to IEEE LOM 1.0 from IMS Meta-data 1.1.2. More than that, it is a pretty comprehensive, up to date and accessible guide for anyone who wants to implement the LOM.


Metadata and Digital Repository SIG Meeting


RDN/LTSN Partnerships: Learning resource discovery based on the LOM and the OAI-PMH
Practical article in Ariadne about the design and implementation of the RDN/LTSN LOM Application Profile (RLLOMAP). Less technically: it is a very clear and comprehensive guide for a community to develop their own metadata standard, while preserving as much national and international interoperability as possible. Link via EdTechpost


New version of UK education metadata profile released
A new draft of the UK Learning Object Metadata Core (UK LOM Core) profile has just been made public. This version of the IEEE LOM standard is scheduled to become a full release in the summer, after a consultation period.


JISC sponsored assessment management software beta released
The TOIA (Technologies for Online Interoperable Assessment) project is a JISC sponsored software development collaboration with Freedom2Learn Ltd. Together, the two have developed a server based system that manages questions and tests from just display to a fully managed high stakes test. The service is free for UK institutions, and available to buy for everyone else.


Community and conformance
It's the quintessential paradox of technology standards: enforcing a technical standard, while supporting the peculiar demands of a specific community. Such an exercise in cake possession and consumption is now undertaken by the EU Framework Programme 6 (FP6) sponsored TELCERT project, who aim to give national and/or occupational communities the tools to define their own application profiles, and the means to test conformance to them.


Metadata Quality in e-Learning: Garbage In - Garbage Out?
One of the first things I ever learned as a schoolgirl about computers and computer programming was the acronym GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. As a grownup librarian working in e-learning, I was surprised to find a few years back that those who were thinking about metadata for learning objects appeared to have forgotten this truism.


eLearning Results 2004
This is the second of the standards focussed e-learning conference organised by VLE maker Giunti. This edition focusses on implementation and streamlining rather than new specs and practices. The conference will be preceded by workshops on IMS Learning Design, SCORM 2004, OKI, and SCORM and AICC Certification.


W3C releases major Semantic Web building blocks
The ambitious, five year old vision of the Semantic Web is a major step closer following the release of the Resource Description Framework (RDF) and the Ontology Web Language (OWL) as full World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommendations. We assess what it is and what it might mean for e-elearning.


SCORM and the art of specification maintenance
SCORM 1.3 is dead, long live SCORM 2004! It is pretty much the same thing, but the name change indicates some hectic manoeuvering to satisfy the conflicting demands of stability and predictability versus the need to fix issues. The new version is out now. Also, the first public indications of ADL's desire to hand the present SCORM 'to the community' have surfaced in last week's co-located CEN/ISSS and IEEE LTSC meeting.


Consultation about UK e-Government meta-data standard starts
The snazzily titled Office of the E-Envoy (the cabinet office bit responsible for online government stuff) has put out version 4 of its e-Government Metadata Standard (e-GMS) for public consultation. New features include a way of integrating e-GMS metadata in webpages.


IntraLibrary slots into Australian interoperability research project
The Collaborative Online and Information Services (COLIS) interoperability demonstrator project, now continued as the Interaction of IT Systems and Repositories (IISR) project, is to swap out its existing learning object repository with Intrallect's IntraLibrary.


IEEE approves the CMI / SCORM JavaScript API as a standard.
Though approved as a formal standard in August, the formal acceptance of the "Standard for Learning Technology, ECMAScript Application Programming Interface for Content to Runtime Services Communication," has just been formally announced. The wieldy title of the standard refers to what's affectionally known as the SCORM JavaScript API: a widely used way of letting content talk to a VLE.


Using SHAME to fill your SCAM
The deadly serious people at the Knowledge Management Research group at Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology just released their open source Standardized Hyper Adaptable Metadata Editor (SHAME). The editor is designed to be used in conjunction wih the equally open source, RDF-based Standardised Content Archive Management (SCAM) system. The pair are meant to kick start eLearning on the semantic web.


LOM/CanCore Open-Source Software Components released
Rather than building a complete metadata application that only meets one set of current needs, the CanCore people built a set of components that can be re-used in many digital library applications that suit your requirements. It's an approach to open source educational software development that we're going to hear much more about.


Reusable Competencies moves from IMS to IEEE
In a move that is meant to be the first more, IMS donated the Reusable Definition of Competency or Educational Objective (RDCEO) specification to the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC) for development as a standard. Apart from enabling wider adoption of RDCEO, the decision represents a streamlining of the specification-to-standard process that has been widely touted for many years.


IMS Vocabulary Definition EXchange (VDEX) is a public draft.
IMS have just released a rather handy, small and general purpose specification for the exchange of vocabularies. There are a good many potential uses for the spec, but one of the main ones is as a means to facilitate interoperability between different application profiles of existing IMS and other learning technology specifications.


UKCMF becomes the UK LOM Core
After some soul searching, the name of the Learning Object Meta-Data standard as applied to the UK has changed from UK Core Metadata Framework (UKCMF) to the UK LOM Core.


Have your say on your rights
The rumbling conflict over intellectual property rights in the digital age has reached e-learning. Whether you primarily produce learning content or consume it, ways of expressing your rights are going to be defined, most likely by the language that the IEEE LTSC Digitial Rights Expression Language (DREL) workgroup will be working on. Fortunately, they are gathering requirements now to make sure that language expresses what you need it to express.


QTI meets LOM
The COLA project, run by the Scottish Colleges Open Learning Exchange Group (COLEG), has developed one of the first applications of the IEEE Learing Object Metadata (LOM) standard to online assessment.


First draft of UK Common Metadata Framework released
CETIS has released the first draft of the UK Common Metadata Framework, providing practitioners in the UK with guidelines for using learning object metadata.


Three Objections to Learning Objects
A thoughtful and thorough critique of the learning object concept. Particularly notable about it is Norm Friesen's tracing of the learning object's provenance in the training and military world. i.e. context is demonstrated to be the problem at two levels: that of a learning object itself, as well as the concept of them. Also notable is his contrast between the specifity of the technical domain from which the 'object' concept came, and the inherent ambiguity and vagueness of 'learning' or 'pedagogy'. The paper does not outline an alternative to replace learning objects, however.


Learning objects: difficulties and opportunities
An eight page article by David Wiley that takes a pretty critical look at the whole learning object idea. Most damningly, it contends (with cited evidence) that the whole re-useability idea isn't really working in object oriented software- and that's where the whole object idea came from in the first place. Not just that, the article also argues that the commercial content domain shows that the learning object economy is unlikely to materialise either. So is there no hope for either re-useability or the learning object idea? "If we are to follow the software development model we claim to hold dear, learning objects should not contain content at all; rather, they should contain the educational equivalent of algorithms – instructional strategies (teaching techniques) for operating on separately available, structured content."


RELOAD releases beta of open source Metadata editor
One issue that keeps popping up in debates about learning objects is the metadata question; how are educators supposed to make an interoperable description of a learning object that will allow it to be found by others? The Reload elarning tool development project decided to attack that problem before any others, with the first results already appearing.


Use and Abuse of Reusable Learning Objects
Peer reviewed paper in the Journal of Digital information that takes stock of the never ending discussion about what a learning object is. As such, it provides a good overview, even if the proposed definition may not be that much more enlightening. Essentially, the author bases the definition on learning intention, operationalised as form (i.e. the context of a course), relation (to some kind of exposition) and re-useability.


IEEE LTSC and ISO SC36 seek to prevent LOM split
Standards are as much process as they are product, and that means they need to move from one organisation to another. Occassionally that goes wrong, with a split standard as the imminent danger. IEEE LTSC and ISO SC36 are now working hard to prevent that from happening to the LOM metadata standard.


Major SCORM stakeholders unify message
In a bid to clarify one part of the elearning content field, the IEEE LTSC that is now meeting in Paris will take the initiative to set up both an overarching SCORM / CMI advisory group and a one-stop website for everything you always wanted to know about SCORM and all the specifications and standards it profiles.


ISO SC36 'Metadata for Learning Resources' working group approved
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". But hang on, didn't we already have IEEE's LOM as a standard for data about learning objects? We do, and how IEEE's LOM and ISO's LRM will relate is going to be interesting.


IEEE to lift SCORM, IMS Content Packaging to standard status, clarifies LOM future.
Though proper standards bodies like IEEE are supposed to be more cautious and slow than specification bodies, IEEE's Learning and Teaching Sub Committee (LTSC) is anouncing a raft of new standards and initiatives for 2003. LOM will get new bindings, the Architecture and Reference Model and the gubbins that define SCORM are nearly standards, Competency Definitions and Digital Rights Expression Language are in various stages of completion and with a bit of luck, the ongoing copyright issue over IEEE standards might get resolved.


The one standard, LOM and the semantic web.
In a lengthy and characteristically thought provoking presentation, Stephen Downes challenges both the need and the demand for just one Learning Object Metadata (LOM) standard. That done, the very existence of such beasts as learning objects is called into question. We examine the argument.


Designing Instruction with Learning Objects
Checklist of dos and don'ts when developing learning objects. Though useful, it suffers from some contradictions: on the one hand, Principle 3 says that learning objects must be small to be reuseable, while Principle 1 says that Learning Objects Must Be Units of Instruction That Stand Alone. i.e."Create the content of a learning object to be similar in scope and nature to the content of a typical "lesson" so as to create instruction, not merely information (Downes, 2000)." Also, Principle 4 holds that A Sequence of Learning Objects Must Have a Context, but "instructional content designed as context-independent chunks in an object-oriented programming environment can be shared with other users, recombined with other objects, or redesigned by other instructional developers with reasonable expectations of cost savings"


Designing Courses: Learning Objects, IMS Standards, XML, SGML, etc.
Great link from the elearnspace blog: a pretty comprehensive resource list for anything to do with learning objects.


Where oh Where is Plug & Play?
Thought provoking and well argued rant about the lack of attention to basic interoperability in elearning standard implementation. Particular ire is reserved for student performance tracking. "...disgruntled customers like Buckman's Ellis don't want to listen to any more visionary talk about reusable content objects until they're satisfied that the basic plumbing works."


IEEE explores Digital Rights Expression Language Standards
The continued, global wrangling over intellectual property in the digital age does not just pass the elearning world by. Whichever position you take on the sort of policy that should dominate, there needs to be some means to assert policies over educational content and applications. Which is exactly what the IEEE is starting to explore in a new draft white paper.


EM2: An Environment for Editing and Management of Educational Metadata
A Educational Technology & Society article on an EU project about educational metadata- easily one of the trickiest areas of learning technology. This lengthy piece is pretty compulsory reading for anyone who needs to facilitate metadata searching and creation. It discusses both the practical problems, the most common tools and proposes the architecture of a comprehensive educational metadata management tool.


Preparing Teachers To Use Learning Objects
Not a ground breaking article, but a very useful collection for introducing post secondary teachers to learning objects. The value lies in being very precisely aimed at helping e-learning champions convince their colleagues why they may want to roll their own objects. "It would be foolish for every teacher to write his or her own textbooks. Similarly, it is not feasible for every teacher to create all of the learning objects for a course."


Open uPortal technology gains ground in the UK
Over a series of meetings, US representatives of the Java in Administration Special Interest Group (JA SIG) outlined their open source university portal technology to a diverse sample of UK HE representatives. Result: intriguing points of contact between UK educational software projects and uPortal have been identified, and a UK JA SIG has been set up.


Developers content to bash code at CETIS
In the interest of science, about twenty-five developers were happy to have their precious programs maltreated during the CETIS content package codebash. Under the good offices of Learning and Teaching Scotland's (LTScotland) Gerry Graham CETIS' Lorna Campbell, IMS content packages were freely swapped between systems. Conclusion: getting wrapped-up learning objects from one system to another is getting a lot smoother, but we're not quite there yet.


INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ADVANCES IN INFRASTRUCTURE FOR ELECTRONIC BUSINESS, EDUCATION, SCIENCE, MEDICINE, AND MOBILE TECHNOLOGIES ON THE INTERNET
This is the winter edition of a rather wide ranging conference that covers most topics that touch on electronic communication. The interest for learning technology professionals lies in the two opening keynotes: "The Semantic Web" by Erich Neuhold of Fraunhofer IPSI and University of Technology Darmstadt, and "The Future of Education" by Neville Holmes, School of Computing, University of Tasmania. The fee for the conference is € 600 (not applicable to those with accepted papers). Deadline for payment is December 10, 2002. Conference capacity is 200, so first come, first served.


IEEE LTSC Meeting
This meeting will be immediately followed by a CEN-ISSS LTW meeting. As a regular meeting, it will cover all ongoing LTSC concerns. These will include topics like the Learning Technology Systems Architecture Ballot report and a report on IMS Reusable Competency Definitions work.


Alternative Architectural Concept 2 - Federated Integration
This is the second in a series of articles discussing possible variations to the Learning Technology Systems Architecture (LTSA) model delineated by the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC) working group. In a previous article I covered one of the core structural issues / content object taxonomy. With the taxonomy I implied some deeper philosophical predispositions which I feel are vital to the success of any potential learning architecture.


Design Principles for a Distributed Learning Object Repository Network
Characteristically clear outline by Stephen Downes of the architecture of a learning object repository. "The model envisioned by these principles, a network model, may be contrasted with what may be called the silo model for the distribution of learning resources."


Building Educational Metadata Application Profiles
A research paper (in MS Word format) by the people who authored the acclaimed CanCore and EdNA metadata profiles, to be presented at DC-2002 conference in October. "Efforts are currently underway to bring these abstract models and theoretical constructs to concrete realization in the context of communities of practice. One of the primary challenges faced by these efforts has been to balance or reconcile local requirements with those presented by domain-specific and cross-domain interoperability."


Creating Environments for Learning: VLEs, MLEs, digital libraries and middleware


Learning content. Theirs, yours, mine and ours.
On the 30th of September, MIT's Open Course Ware (OCW) initiative will make the first batch of MIT learning resources available to the world. Free of charge. On the other side of the pond, the CELEBRATE project has just started to establish a digital repository to see, among many other things, what kind of model will generate a viable stock of learning objects for Europe's schools. Meanwhile, projects like the universal brokerage project and the UK's National Learning Network (NLN) are maturing nicely. The question that arises, then, is where all that learning content is going to come from, and, more importantly, who is going to make it.


Survey of Learning Object Metadata Implementations
Useful overview of the work that's in LOM implementations. The list is divided in application profiles, metadata creation tools and repositories.


Lancaster team present evaluation engine for e-learning resource brokerage platform.
A team from the Department of Communication systems at Lancaster University developed an evaluation engine that helps rank e-learning resources in the "Universal Brokerage Platform for Learning Resources".


SCORM 1.3 development update.
Following plugfest 6, Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL), the custodians of the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM), revealed a few more details of what will be included in the SCORM version 1.3 application profile.


New UK governmental e-learning standards body proposed.
An initiative to set up a new e-learning standards conformance authority for the UK has been launched. The authority's remit would consist of the drawing up of application profiles that are based on a core of international e-learning interoperability specifications and the testing of applications' conformance to these profiles.


CEN presentations now available
The presentations from the CEN open meeting last month have now been published on their website.


Fourth Meeting of the CETIS Metadata SIG


CanCore produce survey of learning object metadata implementations
CanCore, the producers of a profile of IMS Metadata for use in Canada, have released a survey of metadata implementations. The survey covers application profiles (like CanCore itself), metadata creation tools, and repositories.


Who said that? Metadata, trust, and the Semantic Web
A new paper from researchers in Stockholm looks to the future of metadata in eLearning, and in particular the next-generation Semantic Web proposed by Tim Berners-Lee and others. But to get there we need to past some of our preconceptions about metadata - like the idea that learning object metadata can ever be objective.


New IMS Content Package Editor update
The University of Edinburgh have released version 1.1 of their IMS Content Package Editor.


CEN/ISSS Issue 'eBrochure' on European standards activities
The CEN/ISSS Learning Technology Workshop has issued the first in a series of 'eBrochures' on the subject of learning technology standards.


Giunti announce new learning content management platform with strong emphasis on standards
Italian publisher Giunti Interactive Labs have announced a new learning content management system (LCMS) conforming to IMS, SCORM, and other specifications.


ADL release SCORM v1.2
The Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Co-Laboratory have released version 1.2 of SCORM, the reference specification for sharable content objects for learning. The new release incorporates IMS Content Packaging and IEEE Learning Object Metadata.


The semantic web: How RDF will change learning technology standards
The field of learning technology has entered a phase of intense work on standardization of learning technology descriptions of various kinds. Most of the work so far has focused on XML as the encoding language for such specifications (e.g. IMS, IEEE-LOM and SCORM).

However, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is putting their energy into another model for computerized descriptions, called Resource Description Framework, RDF, which is the foundation for the Semantic Web vision of Tim Berners-Lee.

This raises important question regarding the future of learning technologies: In what way might RDF be useful for learning technology specifications? In what sense does RDF represent the future of meta-data, and how does this affect learning technology?


The next wave: CETIS interviews Mikael Nilsson about the Edutella project
We are in the midst, it seems, of a quiet revolution in computing. The technologies that built the internet, with its giant server farms and gigabyte databases, are giving way to a new wave of distributed technologies. After the furore over music network Napster dies down, we are seeing a new generation of projects in the education field taking up the peer-to-peer challenge of building distributed, "democratic" learning technology. One of the most interesting new projects out there is Edutella, an attempt to create a distributed web for learning metadata making use of emerging standards. We talked to Mikael Nilsson about the project, and what the future holds.


IMS, DCMI, IEEE to work together on metadata issues
Organisations working on standards for educational metadata have issued a communique setting out how they plan to work together to solve issues affecting the education and training communities.


CETIS Workshop at ALT-C 2001
On Monday 10 September CETIS will be holding a one day pre-conference workshop at the ALT-C 2001 conference in Edinburgh.

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