CUC 2004 / New Frontiers / New Techhnologies for New Needs
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Designing e-learning materials with learning objects / H4
Authors: Maja Stracenski, Goran Hudec, Ivan Salopek, Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology, Zagreb, Croatia


E-learning is becoming more and more wide spreading. At the same time the e-learning materials have started to be more sophisticated. There is a choice of sometime contradicted requirements on e-learning materials. And there are limited recourses on author’s side.

E-learning materials are usually designed for some specific course. Even if a university course is considered, course curriculum is a representing only a selected part of general knowledge on particular field. So there is usually overleaping between a similar courses on different universities. As a mater of facts student mobility requires that a course on different universities with same course name give to a student basically the same knowledge. Final version of course will include author’s interpretation of a course materials as well as its personal experience in the field.

At CARNet's referal center for Educational Material Development we have presented different articles of e-learning material design such as: educational materials, lectures, technology and teaching and design of educational materials. Here are some topics considering e-learning material and its standardisation as well as practical appliance is discussed.

Freeware idea was very soon accepted on net as a way to the ease design of e-learning material. The course is crushed in smaller units, known as learning objects. Such smaller units are deposited in repositories where auditorium could give its contributions and of course, find and use some desired very good-presented element of knowledge. Once more, we shall give tribute to Merlot and its community.

As every good idea has backsides, the problem we are facing here is how to define "learning object" and how to build such repositories, which could feet in different course ambient, different and fast changing software and hardware environments.

Information communities have different experiences with standardization, sometimes good ideas are worldwide accepted at once and sometimes problems just induce never ending opinion exchanges. On e-learning materials case the IEEE with its Standards Committee took responsibility and starts to produce relevant standards.

First results such as IEEE-SA Learning Object Metadata Standard 1484.12.1 are produced and some more are under Learning Technology Standards Committee consideration. The accepted 1484.12.1 Standard is dealing with the learning objects and defines its description considering topics such as: general description, life cycle, metadata, technical description, educational description, rights, relations, annotation and classification.

IEEE is worldwide recognized as a leading technical organization and receives highest rates for its accomplishments. Its standards are obligatory for USA but are generally worldwide accepted between the producers and users of related equipment. So, there is bright future for IEEE learning technology standards as well.

From the small country point of view, we could only look for the most suitable standards and accept them. Closer look at 1484.12.1 shows that it is rather complicated, it goes into details and is more suitable for universities where course developers work in teams then our local situation, where only "lone ranger" approach have some results. Some EU recommendations mentioned that standard is too complicated and technically oriented. It sounds wisely and the practice will probably use the standards options and skip majority of its non obligatory fields. Here at our local level an initiative for "recommendation for 1484.12.1 implementation" should be considered. Such recommendation should list the minimum of obligatory fields.

Such approach have a chance to insure that learning objects developed in Croatia, especially those using Croatian language will be compatible and could be used as a building blocks for a
e-learning materials.

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