background image
and University of British Columbia Office of
Learning Technology Project Coordinator Brian
Lamb's amusing Oh no! Yet another learning objects
presentation and review of a UBC Distance Edu-
cation & Technology Workshop on Reusable
Learning Objects can be as small as a `chunk' of
information designed to achieve a narrow learning
objective or as large as a chapter in a textbook, a
case study, or an interactive study course. Each object
should allow re-use and repackaging to suit all users,
teachers, learners or publishers, and may contain an
assessment mechanism to determine its success. It
needs to conform to metadata standards to assist
access and interoperability.
Much technical work has been done developing
standards and procedures on the subject but, as the
DigiCULT Forum briefing paper briskly declared:
`The cultural heritage sector has not yet been in-
volved.' It wouldn't be very difficult to get up to
speed, the paper said, because the virtual cultural
environment was not too different from the virtual
learning environment. Now the need was for:
| CH metadata compliant and convergent with
the virtual learning environment; and
| CH digital objects built with the standards of
learning environments.
This was the challenge, but what was the answer?
The Hague group, 13 men and one woman from
universities, software developers and the heritage
sector in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy
and France, began with a teach-in from industry.
Italian technologist Fabrizio Cardinali is CEO
of Genoa's Giunti Interactive Labs,
one of Europe's
leading e-learning research and development
companies. It specialises in standardisation services,
content brokerage and management, and Web
services.The DigiCULT 14, sitting in the spacious
conference suite of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, heard
the dapper chief executive describe the three `funda-
mental jump-shifts' in media and publishing
technologies, bringing new levels of interactivity,
collaboration and personalisation to education and
communications since the 1970s.
The first was the introduction of the personal
computer into households, then the booming
Internet technologies and, finally, the availability of
`distributed Web services, standard digital content
and mobile, ambient intelligence'.
He spoke of the multi-level efforts needed for
establishing an e-learning standard, starting with
a perceived need of the sector, and first tentative
solutions suggested by independent research and
development centres and associations like the
Belgians' Ariadne Foundation.
Then came the secondary level where bodies such
as the IMS Global Learning Consortium
detailed documentation to test and pilot the
specification.This was done, for example, in plug-
fests or co-labs of the US Department of Defense's
Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) programme
before inclusion of the specification in their SCORM
(Sharable Content Objects Reusable Model).
Finally, standardisation institutions like the US
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
the European CEN/ISSS,
or the Inter-
national Standards Organisation (ISO)
needed to
review the specification and take it through an open,
consensus-based process to produce a working draft
that may in due course become an accredited
Today, after much specification effort had been
spent over some seven years, a new generation of e-
learning was `chunking up' platforms of set parts and
services with standardised interfaces shifting standard
data, Cardinali said. It was creating what he called
`ambient learning spaces' and services such as user
profiling, content brokerage, and personalisation. It
was giving birth to what publishers had always asked
for, RAID content `Re-usable, Accessible, Inter-
operable, Durable'.
He went on: `Which means that you can actually
publish one book for multiple devices and multiple
delivery means and multiple personalisation issues. So,
we can de-chunk your content and personalise it on-
the-fly, with different indices and different learning
paths or just publish the paths relating to the user
t was all exciting stuff. Cardinali recommended
adoption of the `second level' of available standards
to create what he called the first CHAPTER (Cult-
ural Heritage Application Profile for Technologies in
Educational Re-usability). Chapter One was about
convergence and consensus building. Chapter Two
would be about extending into Web services, which
he said was `a much more tricky issue to address'.
With more than 25 active research and development
projects on e-learning, Cardinali knows a tricky issue
when he comes across one.
That was not the only tricky question, by a long
DigiCULT 15
Lamb, Brian: Oh no! Yet
another learning objects
presentation, University of
British Columbia Office of
Learning Technology,
Giunti Interactive Labs,
Ariadne Foundation,
IMS, http://www.
ADL's SCORM programme,
CEN/ISSS, http://www.
International Standards
Organisation (ISO),
Digicult_THI4_backup_13_10_03 24.10.2003 11:54 Uhr Seite 15