Guest Editorial - “Successes and Challenges of E-learning Standards and Specifications”

Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology

Volume 30(3) Fall / automne 2004

Guest Editorial - “Successes and Challenges of E-learning Standards and Specifications”

Elizabeth Childs, Ph.D.
Open School British Columbia

Solvig Norman
Open School British Columbia

Welcome to the special issue of the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, titled “Beyond Learning Objects.” The title of this special issue was chosen to go beyond the discussions around defining learning objects, which have dominated the educational landscape for the past five years, to examining the implementation and impact of learning objects and related e-learning standards and specifications. From our own experience working with standards and specifications development as well as on implementation projects, we appreciate the complexity of the challenge being faced by institutions and organizations that are entering into this venue. Part of our work with Industry Canada’s EduSpecs Technical Liaison Office was to assist those who were faced with the task of implementing e-learning standards and specifications in a variety of settings and sectors, as they moved from developing an understanding of standards to the application of standards at the implementation level. We hope this special issue will shed some light on the challenges and provide you with some ‘lessons learned’ that may be applicable to your own situation.

We had an overwhelming response to our call for papers for this special issue – not only from within Canada, but from other parts of the world. We would like to thank the Editorial Board for providing quality and timely reviews and their invaluable input which helped guide our selection of the final papers. We would also like to thank other members of the Canadian educational community for helping with additional reviews. These individuals include: Norm Friesen, Rory McGreal, Tim Winkelmans, David Porter, and Michelle Lamberson. Finally, we could not have embarked on this process without the support and sheer dedication of the Editor, Rick Kenny, and specifically, the Associate Editor, Mary Kennedy, who kindly mentored us through this journey at weekly tea meetings.

We have selected six very interesting and diverse articles for this special issue, which we feel embrace some of the successes and challenges of implementing e-learning standards and specifications – from both a technical and an educational viewpoint. The first article, Building an Online Course Based on the E-Learning Standards: Guidelines, Issues, and Challen ges, by Permanand Mohan from Trinidad and Tobago, provides a very thorough insight to the application of various e-learning standards and specifications - including a set of guidelines for building an online course. Most importantly, the author provides readers with a critical look at the issues and challenges of implementing e-learning standards and specifications.

The second article is a case study of Athabasca University’s experience in implementing e-learning standards and a learning object based model. Authors Anita Petrinjak and Rodger Graham, in their article titled, Creating Learning Objects from Pre-Authored Course Materials: Learning Object Semantic Structure Design, Technology and Related Issues, describe their semantic structure for learning objects coupled with the use of XML technology.

The third article comes from United Kingdom where authors Brian Kelly, Lawrie Phipps, and Elaine Swift explore issues related to e-learning accessibility and argue for a model that takes into an account the usability of e-learning, pedagogic issues, student learning styles in addition to technical and resource issues. In Magee’s article, entitled E-learning Lifecycles: How Communities and Contexts can Affect E-learning Specifications and Tool Design, a discussion of the CAREO, ALOHA and ALOHA 2 projects examines the issues around the actual usage of e-learning specifications.

These issues are further discussed and elaborated on by authors Buzza, Bean, Harrigan and Carey in their article titled, Learning Design Repositories: Adapting Learning Design Specifications for Shared Instructional Knowledge. Their paper describes a project conducted to develop and test a prototype search model for learning design repositories in order to facilitate use. The final paper is a summary of discussions among leading educators from around the world who are members of the Valkenburg Group and are involved in implementing the IMS Learning Design specification. Their conversation captures comments on the impact and use of the IMS Learning Design specification, including future directions.

In his introduction, Norm does an excellent job of providing a context for each paper as well as a connection to issues being wrestled with in this evolving field. We hope you enjoy this Special Edition and continue to explore and examine the implementation and impact of learning objects and related e-learning standards and specifications.

Many thanks,

Elizabeth and Solvig

ISSN: 1499-6685

Copyright (c) 2004 Elizabeth Childs, Solvig Norman

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