background image
8
DigiCULT
S
PECIFICATIONS
, S
TANDARDS AND
A
R
EFERENCE
M
ODEL
T
he newcomer to the educational technology
field will be confronted by a veritable `alphabet
soup' of acronyms and initialisms. For the purpose of
this position paper, we need only consider three:
IMS, IEEE LOM, and SCORM.
IMS takes its acronym from the phrase `instruc-
tional management system', but this is no longer spelt
out, since IMS has come to be involved in a range of
learning contexts from Computer Based Training to
integrated Learning Environments.With an initial
base in Higher Education, it also now has active
stakeholders in corporate and government training,
schooling, and continuing education.The IMS Global
Learning Consortium includes all the major techno-
logy suppliers and educational publishers. Its purpose
is to define a range of specifications, which will allow
suppliers to develop learning products and services
that are interoperable. Although widely influential in
the educational technology community, IMS is not
in itself a standards-making body.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronic
Engineers has the status to develop and establish
international standards, and has taken the role of
publishing standards in this field.The first standard
to be published is the Learning Object Metadata
standard, IEEE LOM, which is in effect a standard
for the location of materials.
Another key body in this field is the Advanced
Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, sponsored by
the US military, which has a vested interest in
establishing ways to `use advanced communications
and learning technologies to transform how we will
educate, train and provide performance support to
the U.S. Military Services'.The underpinning of the
ADL Initiative is `a collaborative effort between the
public and private sectors to develop the common
standards, tools and learning content that are central
to the future learning environment'.The chief
vehicle for this is the definition of a reference model,
known as the Sharable Content Object Reference
Model (SCORM). SCORM indicates which of the
emerging standards and which of the specifications
could work together to enable this idea of delivering
learning in a managed environment, by enabling
learning objects to be identified and retrieved and
packaged in various ways.
W
HY
L
EARNING
O
BJECTS FOR THE
H
ERITAGE
S
ECTOR
?
The case for the heritage sector adopting Learning
Objects is threefold: a progressive, a technological
and a business case.
The March of Convergence
Although the heritage sector has not so far been
directly involved in the development of the standards
for Learning Objects, it is not accidental that those
involved in LOM have chosen to base their work on
an extended version of the Dublin Core. Just as the
original Dublin Core initiative had its origins in a
desire for seamless interoperability between archive,
library and museum domains in the service of the
end-user, so the Dublin Core set of metadata
elements turned out to provide a sound basis for
interoperability work within the educational
technology sector. It is likely that this trend towards
convergence of historically disparate sectors, at least at
the level of resource description, will continue into
the future, particularly in the context of national and
international eGovernment interoperability frame-
works.The cultural heritage sector, once the initiator
of such convergence, needs to remain in the forefront
Digicult_THI4_backup_13_10_03 24.10.2003 11:54 Uhr Seite 8