Standards for Learning Objects and Learning Designs

Standards for Learning Objects and Learning Designs

Morag Munro (Dublin City University, Ireland) and Claire Kenny (Dublin City University, Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-861-1.ch041
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E-learning standards are a contentious topic amongst educators, designers, and researchers engaged in the development of learning objects and learning designs. There is disagreement regarding the relative benefits and limitations of standards, while the relevance of standards to some education and training contexts has been questioned. It may be difficult for designers and educators to be sure that they need to implement standards, let alone to choose the most appropriate one from the plethora available. This chapter aims to provide individuals involved in the design and development of learning objects and learning designs with a wide-ranging critical overview of e-learning standards. It first traces the evolution of standards, and then examines their application in the present day. Finally, the chapter considers some of the limitations and criticisms of current standards, and suggests some possible directions for future development.
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Opinions vary regarding the importance and relevance of e-learning standards for learning objects and learning designs. Some view standards as nothing more than buzz words, and have difficulty seeing the relevance to K-12 and tertiary education of standards that have, so far, been used to support a limited range of pedagogical models in commercial and military training contexts. Others consider standards to be pivotal in facilitating sharing, reuse, and interoperability of resources across all training and education sectors. Whatever your opinion, it is clear that standards are difficult to avoid.

So, what are the most commonly used e-learning standards and why have standards become so important? How do standards benefit instructors, education providers and students? Should “standards compliant” e-learning be the “Holy Grail” for the e-learning developer? How should one select the “correct” standard(s) from the plethora available? How much time and effort does the designer or educator need to invest in order to apply e-learning standards correctly? This chapter examines standards related issues relevant to current and future development of learning objects and learning designs. It aims to provide both the novice and more experienced standards implementer with a wide-ranging overview of e-learning standards by:

  • Outlining the history and evolution of standards, in which we consider the rationale for the development and application of standards, provide definitions of the most prevailing standards, and outline the evolutionary process behind each one. Standards are categorised as part of this process.

  • Detailing, with the aid of case studies, the present use of standards in a variety of education and training contexts.

  • Explaining how the various standards are applied by offering practical advice for practitioners involved in selecting and deploying standards.

  • Outlining recommendations for the future directions of standards. In particular, we examine some of the limitations and criticisms of current standards and discuss the applicability of today’s standards in future e-learning contexts in which a wider range of technologies and pedagogical approaches are likely to be employed.


Evolution Of Standards

E-learning standards originated in the military and commercial training domains in the early 1990s, in order to allow learning objects produced by different vendors to operate on different technical platforms. More recently there has been interest in the possibilities offered by e-learning standards for enabling the sharing and reuse of learning objects and designs in K-12 and tertiary education contexts.

Today’s e-learning standards typically strive towards achieving economies of scale, by facilitating the reuse of e-learning content and activities in different education and training domains, subject areas, and geographical regions. The allure of cost savings and efficiency gains has resulted in a number of countries investing in organisations responsible for the promotion of e-learning standards, for example the UK’s Centre for Educational Technology Interoperability Standards (CETIS) and Canada’s EduSpec initiative.

Standards apply not only to learning objects and designs, but also to learning management systems (LMSs) or Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs). Compatibility must be present such that content and designs conformant to a particular specification or standard can interoperate with an LMS that also conforms to the standard. This interoperability is of great importance for the sharing of resources and materials, allowing, for example, an organisation to “mix and match” content developed by a range of vendors with resources developed in-house and deliver these via a common LMS. A standard may also describe how units of learning material should be compiled as single file. Such file formats allow content to be easily migrated from one LMS to another.

Key Terms in this Chapter

xIMS SS (Simple Sequencing): This specification outlines the route a learner can take through a particular unit of instruction, based on previous actions and behaviour within a unit.y

AICC CMI (Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee computer managed instruction): The CMI specification details the communication between a lesson and the learning environment, the storage of the data communicated, and the movement of a course between multiple CMI learning environments.

IMS LD (Learning Design): IMS LD aims to enable the sharing and support of a range of pedagogical approaches, including collaborative approaches to learning.

ADL SCORM (Advanced Distributed Learning Sharable Content Object Reference Model): SCORM is a suite of specifications, combining IMS Content Packaging, AICC Computer Managed Instruction, Metadata, and, in the most recent version, IMS Simple Sequencing.

ARIADNE (Association of Remote Instructional Authoring and Distribution Networks for Europe): Concerned with the development and use of metadata, a specification submitted by the association to the IEEE was harmonised with a similar specification submitted by the IMS to form the basis of the IEEE LOM standard

DCMI (Dublin Core Metadata Initiative): DCMI develops interoperable metadata standards primarily for an online environment.

IEEE LTSC LOM (Learning Technology Standards Committee Learning Object Metadata): This standard focuses specifically on the syntax and semantics of digital or non digital learning objects.

IMS CP (Content Packaging): This specification outlines the manner in which learning content can be combined and organised, and how this larger unit of instruction can be moved from one learning environment to another.

IMS QTI (Question and Test Interoperability): This specification seeks to define a generic means of defining tests, thus allowing the exchange of tests and results between learning environments.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Tom Carey
Lori Lockyer, Sue Bennett, Shirley Agostinho, Barry Harper
Lori Lockyer, Sue Bennett, Shirley Agostinho, Barry Harper
Chapter 1
Shirley Agostinho
The term “learning design” is gaining momentum in the e-learning literature as a concept for supporting academics to model and share teaching... Sample PDF
Learning Design Representations to Document, Model, and Share Teaching Practice
Chapter 2
Isobel Falconer, Allison Littlejohn
Practice models are generic approaches to the structuring and orchestration of learning activities for pedagogic purposes, intended to promote... Sample PDF
Representing Models of Practice
Chapter 3
Rob Koper, Yongwu Miao
IMS learning design (IMSLD) is an open standard that can be used to specify a wide range of pedagogical strategies in computer-interpretable models.... Sample PDF
Using the IMS LD Standard to Describe Learning Designs
Chapter 4
David Griffiths, Oleg Liber
The IMS LD specification is internally complex and has been used in a number of different ways. As a result users who have a basic understanding of... Sample PDF
Opportunities, Achievements, and Prospects for Use of IMS LD
Chapter 5
Franca Garzotto, Symeon Retalis
“A design pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that... Sample PDF
A Critical Perspective on Design Patterns for E-Learning
Chapter 6
Sherri S. Frizell, Roland Hübscher
Design patterns have received considerable attention for their potential as a means of capturing and sharing design knowledge. This chapter provides... Sample PDF
Using Design Patterns to Support E-Learning Design
Chapter 7
Peter Goodyear, Dai Fei Yang
This chapter provides an overview of recent research and development (R&D) activity in the area of educational design patterns and pattern... Sample PDF
Patterns and Pattern Languages in Educational Design
Chapter 8
Gráinne Conole
The chapter provides a theoretical framework for understanding learning activities, centering on two key aspects: (1) the capture and representation... Sample PDF
The Role of Mediating Artefacts in Learning Design
Chapter 9
Elizabeth Masterman
This chapter uses activity theory to construct a framework for the design and deployment of pedagogic planning tools. It starts by noting the impact... Sample PDF
Activity Theory and the Design of Pedagogic Planning Tools
Chapter 10
Barry Harper, Ron Oliver
This chapter describes the development of a taxonomy of learning designs based on a survey of 52 innovative ICT-using projects that formed the basis... Sample PDF
Developing a Taxonomy for Learning Designs
Chapter 11
Carmel McNaught, Paul Lam, Kin-Fai Cheng
The chapter will describe an expert review process used at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. The mechanism used involves a carefully developed... Sample PDF
Using Expert Reviews to Enhance Learning Designs
Chapter 12
Matthew Kearney, Anne Prescott, Kirsty Young
This chapter reports on findings from a recent project situated in the area of preservice teacher education. The project investigated prospective... Sample PDF
Investigating Prospective Teachers as Learning Design Authors
Chapter 13
Paul Hazlewood, Amanda Oddie, Mark Barrett-Baxendale
IMS Learning Design (IMS LD) is a specification for describing a range of pedagogic approaches. It allows the linking of pedagogical structure... Sample PDF
Using IMS Learning Design in Educational Situations
Chapter 14
Robert McLaughlan, Denise Kirkpatrick
Decision-making processes in relation to complex natural resources require recognition and accommodation of diverse and competing perspectives in a... Sample PDF
Online Role-Based Learning Designs for Teaching Complex Decision Making
Chapter 15
Garry Hoban
Digital animations are complex to create and are usually made by experts for novices to download from Web sites or copy from DVDs and CDs to use as... Sample PDF
Facilitating Learner-Generated Animations with Slowmation
Chapter 16
Yongwu Miao, Daniel Burgos, David Griffiths, Rob Koper
Group interaction has to be meticulously designed to foster effective and efficient collaborative learning. The IMS Learning Design specification... Sample PDF
Representation of Coordination Mechanisms in IMS LD
Chapter 17
Johannes Strobel, Gretchen Lowerison, Roger Côté, Philip C. Abrami, Edward C. Bethel
In this chapter, we describe the process of modeling different theory-, research-, and best-practicebased learning designs into IMS-LD, a... Sample PDF
Modeling Learning Units by Capturing Context with IMS LD
Chapter 18
Daniel Burgos, Hans G.K. Hummel, Colin Tattersall, Francis Brouns, Rob Koper
This chapter presents some design guidelines for collaboration and participation in blended learning networks. As an exemplary network, we describe... Sample PDF
Design Guidelines for Collaboration and Participation with Examples from the LN4LD (Learning Network for Learning Design)
Chapter 19
Tom Boyle
This chapter argues that good design has to be at the heart of developing effective learning objects. It briefly outlines the “knowledge... Sample PDF
The Design of Learning Objects for Pedagogical Impact
Chapter 20
Margaret Turner
This chapter introduces an approach to writing content for online learning over networked media. It argues that few resources currently utilise the... Sample PDF
Visual Meaning Management for Networked Learning
Chapter 21
Christina Gitsaki
Due to the increasingly diverse student population in multicultural nations such as Australia, the U.S., Canada, and the UK, educators are faced... Sample PDF
Modification of Learning Objects for NESB Students
Chapter 22
Daniel Churchill, John Gordon Hedberg
The main idea behind learning objects is that they are to exist as digital resources separated from the learning task in which they are used. This... Sample PDF
Learning Objects, Learning Tasks, and Handhelds
Chapter 23
Peter Freebody, Sandy Muspratt, David McRae
The question addressed in this chapter is: What is the evidence for the effects of online programs of learning objects on motivation and learning?... Sample PDF
Technology, Curriculum, and Pedagogy in the Evaluation of an Online Content Program in Australasia
Chapter 24
David Lake, Kate Lowe, Rob Phillips, Rick Cummings, Renato Schibeci
This chapter provides a model to analyse the effectiveness and efficiency of Learning Objects being used in primary and secondary schools by... Sample PDF
Effective Use of Learning Objects in Class Environments
Chapter 25
Robert McCormick, Tomi Jaakkola, Sami Nurmi
Most studies on reusable digital learning materials, Learning Objects (LOs), relate to their use in universities. Few empirical studies exist to... Sample PDF
A European Evaluation of the Promises of LOs
Chapter 26
Tomi Jaakkola, Sami Nurmi
There has been a clear lack of rigorous empirical evidence on the effectiveness of learning objects (LOs) in education. This chapter reports the... Sample PDF
Instructional Effectiveness of Learning Objects
Chapter 27
Robert McCormick
This chapter will examine the approach taken in the evaluation of a large-scale feasibility trial of the production, distribution, and use of... Sample PDF
Evaluating Large-Scale European LO Production, Distribution, and Use
Chapter 28
John C Nesbit, Tracey L. Leacock
The Learning Object Review Instrument (LORI) is an evaluation framework designed to support collaborative critique of multimedia learning resources.... Sample PDF
Collaborative Argumentation in Learning Resource Evaluation
Chapter 29
Philippe Martin, Michel Eboueya
This chapter first argues that current approaches for sharing and retrieving learning objects or any other kinds of information are not efficient or... Sample PDF
For the Ultimate Accessibility and Reusability
Chapter 30
Sue Bennett, Dominique Parrish, Geraldine Lefoe, Meg O’Reilly, Mike Keppell, Robyn Philip
As the notion of learning objects has grown in popularity, so too has interest in how they should be stored to promote access and reusability. A key... Sample PDF
A Needs Analysis Framework for the Design of Digital Repositories in Higher Education
Chapter 31
William Bramble, Mariya Pachman
Reusable learning objects (LOs) constitute a promising approach to the development of easily accessible, technologically sound, and curriculum... Sample PDF
Costs and Sustainability of Learning Object Repositories
Chapter 32
Kristine Elliott, Kevin Sweeney, Helen Irving
This chapter reports the authors’ experiences of developing a learning design to teach scientific inquiry, of integrating the learning design with... Sample PDF
A Learning Design to Teach Scientific Inquiry
Chapter 33
Lisa Lobry de Bruyn
This chapter explores through a case study approach of a tertiary-level unit on Land Assessment for Sustainable Use, the connections between three... Sample PDF
Adapting Problem-Based Learning to an Online Learning Environment
Chapter 34
Tan Wee Chuen, Baharuddin Aris, Mohd Salleh Abu
This chapter aims to guide the readers through the design and development of a prototype Web-based learning system based on the integration of... Sample PDF
Learning Objects and Generative Learning for Higher Order Thinking
Chapter 35
Sebastian Foti
The author describes the work of Dr. Mary Budd Rowe and the establishment of an early learning object databases. Extensive training with K-12... Sample PDF
Applying Learning Object Libraries in K-12 Settings
Chapter 36
L. K. Curda, Melissa A. Kelly
We present guidelines for designing and developing a repository for the storage and exchange of instructional resources, as well as considerations... Sample PDF
Guidelines for Developing Learning Object Repositories
Chapter 37
Sandra Wills, Anne McDougall
This study tracks the uptake of online role play in Australia from 1990 to 2006 and the affordances to its uptake. It examines reusability, as one... Sample PDF
Reusability of Online Role Play as Learning Objects or Learning Designs
Chapter 38
Lori Lockyer, Lisa Kosta, Sue Bennett
Health professional education is changing to meet the demands of a limited workforce and a focus on community-based clinical training. The change... Sample PDF
An Analysis of Learning Designs that Integrate Patient Cases in Health Professions Education
Chapter 39
Mohan Chinnappan
The shift in the way we visualise the nature of mathematics and mathematics learning has presented educational technologists with new challenges in... Sample PDF
Reconceptualisation of Learning Objects as Meta-Schemas
Chapter 40
Henk Huijser
This chapter provides an in depth discussion of the issues involved in integrating learning design and learning objects into generic Web sites. It... Sample PDF
Designing Learning Objects for Generic Web Sites
Chapter 41
Morag Munro, Claire Kenny
E-learning standards are a contentious topic amongst educators, designers, and researchers engaged in the development of learning objects and... Sample PDF
Standards for Learning Objects and Learning Designs
Chapter 42
Eddy Boot, Luca Botturi, Andrew S. Gibbons, Todd Stubbs
In developing modern instructional software, learning designs are used to formalize descriptions of roles, activities, constraints, and several... Sample PDF
Supporting Decision Making in Using Design Languages for Learning Designs and Learning Objects
Chapter 43
Gilbert Paquette, Olga Mariño, Karin Lundgren-Cayrol, Michel Léonard
This chapter summarizes the work on instructional engineering and educational modeling accomplished since 1992 at the LICEF Research Center of... Sample PDF
Principled Construction and Reuse of Learning Designs
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