Friday, June 28, 2013

Standards for e-Learning Modules

The Australian Government has issued "VET specifications for packaging and sharing content and courses".  The report looks at standards for allowing e-learning content to be easily installed in Lean ring Management Systems.Standards considered include:
  1. IMS Common Cartridge (IMS CC)
  2. Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM 2004)
  3. Experience/Tin Can API (Tin Can)
  4. IMS Content Packaging (IMS CP)
  5. IMS Learning Tools Interoperability (IMS LTI)
One limitation I have found with the implementation of such package formats is the assumption that the central LMS will always be accessible to the student. Many people in the world have only intermittent Internet access and so are excluded from on-line education. This includes some people in developing nations, military personnel on deployment and even some in rural and remote Australia.

The packages are relatively compact zipped files of web based documents.  But to be used, the package is imported into a LMS and unzipped, where it becomes much larger and can only be used by the student while they are connected to the LMS via the Internet. Even though the student may be doing synchronous e-learning, they are forced to use a synchronous connection to do it.

It should be possible to use the same packaged formats off-line. That is, the student would bicycle to their local cyber-cafe, connect to the LMS, choose the package they wanted and then download it, still in its compact zipped format. They would then disconnect from the LMS, cycle home, and install the package on their, PC, laptop, tablet or smart phone. They could then interact with the package off-line. Occasionally they would need to connect to the Internet to upload a progress report, but that would only need a slow, brief connection, perhaps via a smart phone (or SMS).

ps: I will be speaking on "MOOCs with Books" in the CSIRO Seminar Room at ANU, 4pm, 8 July 2013.

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