The evolution of an Information Society has transformed many activities in our everyday lives, including how we work, communicate, entertain, teach and learn. More recently widespread Internet connectivity together with the development of new Web-based multimedia technologies, has strongly encouraged educational uses for Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
Key Terms in this Chapter
E-Learning Content Repository: A content repository is a storage system used to archive and manage learning content. Content repositories generally include search and retrieve features, metadata authoring and editing features, intellectual property controls, and often content authoring tools. Through a Web services interface, instructors and sometimes students are often able to search, retrieve, and edit content in the repository directly from within an LMS/LCMS.
Learning Management System (LMS): The term LMS generally refers to systems that support the management of learning activities as well as course related administrative activities. Common features include discussion or chat space, test creation and delivery tools, file sharing tools, student and course management features, and assignment and grade management utilities, among others. The term LMS is frequently confused with LCMS, the two are often difficult to distinguish as they have over time, come to include many of the same features.
Content Package: Content packages are collections of electronic learning materials assembled in a standard manner so they can be used across different e-learning systems. A common standard for assembling these learning units is the IMS content packaging specification. A content package will contain a manifest file that has in it a metadata section to semantically describe the content, an organizations section that describes the structure of the content, and a resources section that describes the location of files that make up the content package. Included with the manifest will be the resource files themselves. The pieces of a content package are usually distributed as a zip archive.
Learning Object (LO): IEEE defines a learning object as “any entity, digital or not-digital, which can be used, re-used, or referenced during technology supported learning.” Many other definitions have been published that generally consider a learning object as a unit of reusable learning content that may range from a single file, to a collection of files that make up a lesson, to the content of an entire course.
Virtual Learning Environment (VLE): Used synonymously with LMS and sometimes LCMS, a VLE is a system that provides learning content and course management services.
Learning Content Management System (LCMS): Initially an LCMS referred to a system for managing learning content, though current LCMS tools include many of the administrative and course management features that might be found in a standard LMS. The primary difference is the management of content in an LCMS, which often includes tools for authoring, versioning, and archiving content, features that are less commonly found in a traditional LMS. An LMS might be used in conjunction with an LCMS when the primary function of the LCMS is the authoring and archiving of content (e.g. when acting as a content repository).
Sharable Content Object (SCO): A SCO is similar to a content package, infact they will both include a manifest file that is much the same. The primary difference between a content package and a SCO is the interactivity found in a SCO. In addition to metadata, organizations, and resources found in the manifest of content packages, SCOs will also contain dependencies or sequencing rules. A SCO can then have multiple paths through the content based on the results of a quiz, or exercise for example. If a student fails a quiz, a dependency for advancing is not met, so they might be guided through a remedial section of the SCO before being allowed to continue on to the next level. A SCO is viewed or played in a SCORM Run Time Environment (RTE).