|Application of SCORM standard for e-learning in the secondary school
Todorka Glushkova, Nevena Uzunova, Malina Trendafilova
Abstract: The report considers the possibilities for application of e-learning standard SCORM for studying in secondary school and the given advantages
Keywords: SCORM, e-learning, educational portal, CBR, infrastructure model, DeLC, CC/PP,DDL.
The realization of systems for computer based training in secondary schools demands high level integration of different models and services. The use of different standards increases multiple abilities for sharing, interrelations and usage of common learning materials and gives possibilities for future improvements and advances. The SCORM standard provides an environment for the creation, integration and use of e-learning content.
The report presents the priorities of standards-based e-learning content in comparison with the other ones as: personalization and individual approach in learning; interaction in the training process; creation of different variants of e-learning lessons and packages with identical educational content depending on the student group and concrete educational aims; give possibilities for complex teaching – in class, for self-preparation and in out-of-class work; possibilities for the use of various pedagogical technology like project-teaching, interdisciplinary lessons and etc.; dynamic interaction with the domain model and giving of appropriate services according to specific characteristics of educational subjects like the automatic generation of routes for virtual excursions (history, geography, ecology and etc.); training of different groups of students—disabled students, students with specific educational needs, etc.; flexible mechanisms for testing and reporting of individual students progress; possibilities for realization of long-term teaching; sharing and use of common educational resources, services and materials by clustering according to the infrastructure model of the educational net.
The authors desire to share ideas for the creation of an integrated standards-based system for distance and e-learning in secondary schools. [Stojanov05a].
SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model)  is part of ADL(Advanced Distributed Learning) investigations for creation of e-learning standards. The current standard version gives us priorities in fallowing directions:
Reusability – Content is independent of learning content. The reusability gives possibilities for using of learning materials many times, in numerous training situations, from different group of learners with any number of development tools or delivery platforms;
Durability – The content does not require modification to operate as software system and platforms are changed or upgraded;
Accessibility –The created learning content could be identified and located when it is needed;
Interpretability- Learning content will function in multiple applications, hardware and software configurations regardless of the tools used to create it and the platform on which it is delivered. It could be located and used according training aims. One content item could used on a different complicated level in different classes and student groups;
SCORM includes the next models:
SCORM CAM (Content Aggregation Model) for description of separate components and information’s items, manners of binding to bigger structures; how the created materials are shared between two or more LMS; the method for creation of packages and sending to LMS for execution;
SCORM RTE (Run-time Environment). The model decrypts the requirements to LMS for dynamic management of run-time environment – methods for publication, sharing and using of learning materials and resources.
SCORM SN (Sequencing and Navigation) – for descriptions of sequencing activities of LMS during personal training process, according to appearing events and student’s behaviors. The activities are depended from sequencing of rules, that LMS executes and delivers initiatives between separated learning objects.
SCOs (Sharable Content Object) contain fixed number learning content. They build structure of e-lessons. The connection between them is only by LMS. The standard doesn’t permit directly access from SCO to other SCO. A SCO is a collection of Assets that are electronic representation of media, text, images and sounds. One Asset could be used from different SCOs. One SCO could be part of different e-lessons. SCOs are independent defined piece of instructional materials. They are smallest logical unit of instruction you can deliver and track via a LMS. SCOs are main build-units of SCORM-based e-lessons, modules, courses and etc. They are independent from school subject’s domains and this is main reason for creation of many different learning materials for different classes and school subjects. For example the SCO “Thracian Orphism” could be used for structure of e-learning lesson “The religion and believes of Thracians”, that is part of e-learning course “Thracian culture and history” into domain “Bulgarian history”. This SCO could be part of e-lesson “History of the old Bulgarian Religions” from course “The Religion” into domain “Philosophy”
Фиг.1. SCO „Thracian Orphism” and its using for creation of different e-lessons
The creation of SCOs includes some steps – plan, structure and programming and after creation and testing they are stored into special on-line Content Repository for future using from different teachers. From these SCOs authors of e-content construct e-lessons, e-modules, e-courses, e-tests and etc.
The developing process and creation of e-lessons for regular students in the Bulgarian school requires keeping a lot of didactics and methodology rules, that are depend from traditional structure of lessons and defined educational and cognitive aims. This is a reason that the main step of the development process is structured of e-lesson according to cognitive levels of the Bloom taxonomy [Bloom56]. The good definite educational aims give us possibilities for appropriate selection, structure and connection between SCOs in the lessons. The lesson’s structure and sequencing of behaviors will be very different for different kinds of lessons – for new knowledge, exercise, test and etc.
Traditional computer based systems (CBT) allow students to pass linearly from one to other part of e-content into the lesson, between lessons or modules. The e-learning standard SCORM by the Sequencing Model, guarantees flexibly passing between the e-learning resources, based on set of rules, connected with didactics aims, the context, the knowledge and behaviors of the student. The LMS controls the process of training, according to sequencing of rules, staged from the author of e-content. The navigation into the SCO doesn’t control from LMS, but the Objectives mechanism of the standard could determine information for execution of didactics aims and student’s achievement. Depending of current values of the objectives variables LMS determines and starts the next steps of the training process. From technological point of view we accept the Objectives as global variables, which pass to LMS values between -1 to 1. For example the lesson “Pass continuous tense of the verb” includes three SCOs: SCO1 – for new information; SCO2 – for additional information and SCO3 – for testing. We define two global variables- OBJ 1 – for observation of test-questions with basic new information and OBJ2 – for answers, connected with old or additional information. If LMS receives low value of OBJ1, it returns student to SCO1 for reading definitions and making exercises; if the value of OBJ2 is low – the student must returned to SCO2 and after that makes the test again. (Fig. 2.).
Set OBJ Read OBJ
Fig.2. Content Structure Diagram of the e-lesson
There are different guides for creation of standard-based e-content. They descript the sequence of steps for development of new or transformation of e-lessons. Best Practice Guide for Content Developers of Carnegie Mellon University,  supports the last version of the SCORM standard. It suggests algorithms to next directions:
Transformation of SCOs from old non-SCORM based e-learning resources. The easiest way to do this is through a process of content “reverse engineering”. It includes the next steps:
Step 1. Evaluate the existing content. If the author’s aims are unrelated with existing e-content, he can remove, change or re-design the organization of the old content. The team creates plan of the future activities.
Step 2. Analyze of potential users. This is very important process, because one of main aims of SCORM is to create reusable content. Conduct a short brainstorm session with developers and teachers fro different school subjects; we could determine some types of users who will use these learning materials. We make list of potential users, that we will use for creation Metadata information of the information objects.
Step 3. Determine SCO’s content and structure according to the requirement for context independent.
Step 4. Description of created learning recourses into Metsdata. If we use some authoring system, it will give us mechanism for easier filling of this information. It is necessary every created SCO to be registered into metadata for its using and what information it contains. The fields Descriptions and Keywords will be use for resources searching from on-line Content Repositories.
Design of new SCOs : When we use existing learning content, we must only restructured it, but when we create new learning materials our first task will be to determine what type of instructional strategy we plan to implement before to design the SCOs. The creation process includes two main steps:
Step 1: Determine of main educational goals and tasks, according to Bloom taxonomy.
Step 2: Determine of theSCOs- how many, with what information and structure, the level of generalization of training information and etc.
Structuring tests in SCORM – the current version of SCORM does not address how to build, structure and share tests or how other specifications and standards as the IMS Question and Test Interpretability (QTI) could be used to represent test items and result in SCORM. But standard allow us to store and use on the LMS any combination of passed/failed states, time spend on each tasks for each SCO. The team must determine witch Objective-variables the SCO will report to the LMS and how the SCO will compute the values of those variables. Like the SCOs, tests could be structured in a variety of ways to achieve a number of different outcomes:
As single SCOs with multiple test items;
As many SCOs – one for every test-item. The SCOs must be structured to common Aggregation;
Creating a test as a single SCO is the easiest way to test in a SCORM - compliant system, because there are many authoring or testing software to design and develop the tests. The SCO, containing the test will be delivered directly to the student via the LMS. If we want to link individual test-items to learning objectives, we can use the Objectives mechanism of the SCORM. This variant limits the set of information that can be sent back to the LMS. As a result, ability of LMS to collect information about the student’s knowledge and skills is limited. The second variant allows us more flexible and powerful testing.
According to selected way to structure tests we can to give students possibilities to choose different test-parameters as difficulty, number of test-items, the time for test-making and etc., or give students hard determine test.
Models and interactions between them.
The realization of completely standard-based system for e-learning in the secondary school requires developing a learning portal , [Glushkova05], that allow integration and dynamic interaction between follow models:
Domain models of different school subjects, by develop of domain ontology [Hermelen00];
Model of using, and shearing of e-learning materials according to requirements of SCORM standard.
Pedagogical model that will be realized by creation of specific patterns and etalons. This model must guarantee reaching of pedagogical aims and tasks, according to Government educational requirements  and Bloom’s taxonomy ;
User model, by supply and manage of profile information – for users, devices, software and hardware platforms; user sessions and etc. According to CC/PP protocol . CC/PP determine whether user-agents (or WEB-browsers) are suitable for working in the net and allow intelligent agreements between WEB-server and clients in the informational process..
Model of e-learning services in the educational portal. [Stojanov03], [Glushkova04a,b], Infrastructure model of the educational net;
E-lesson, as main educational unit is projection and cross point for all of this models. For example lesson “The Solar system” uses concept structure of domain “Physics and Astronomy” and it is created by requirements of The Best Practice Guide for Content developers from ten informational SCOs, managed from SCORM LMS of the educational portal. According to didactics aims lesson will be used for independent training of students from eleven graduated class. The Content Structure Diagram determines the sequencing of steps for teaching of new knowledge and training test at the end of lesson. The user model includes profiles of the student (individual profile), user learning session, his WEB Browser(IE), Hardware platform (Home Desktop PC), Software platform (Windows XP, Jetspeed portal, SCORM RTE, WEB server…) and etc. The learning portal offer suitable services, according user-profile of the student as “Test system”, “Virtual excursion” into the cosmos, “Question game”, possibilities to get additional information of “Virtual School Library” and etc. [Glushkova05] (Fig. 3.)
Fig.3. Training services
Динамичното предоставяне на услуги от системата е от особено значение за ефективността на индивидуалния учебен процес. Услугата „Автоматично генериране на маршрути за виртуални екскурзии” цели подпомагане процеса на обучение като генерирането на маршрути става на базата на критерии, подадени към модул за търсене на подходящи решения CBR (Case Base Reasoning) [Lenz98], [Aamodt94], в голям обем бази данни. Информацията за обектите се разработва и поддържа в Лабораторията по електронна търговия към ПУ “Паисий Хилендарски” и съдържа повече от две хиляди обекта с фундаментално значение за нашето културно-историческо наследство. [Stojanov03b]Теоретично методът за търсене на решения по аналогия предполага, че съществува база със случаи (готови решения), които са били създадени в миналото по някакъв критерий. За тази цел една от предвидените възможности на услугата е по зададено минимално множество от изисквания на потребителя да се предоставят за използване стандартни виртуални екскурзии. Тази идея наподобява широко използваните атласи по география и история на хартиен носител в средните училища. На учениците се предоставят стандартни множества от обекти с техните характеристики, подпомагащи конкретния урок . На практика не се извършва търсене в базата данни. Стандартните ученически екскурзии могат да се съхраняват в XML формат или някакво негово подмножество (XML – базиран език). Наред със стандартните виртуални екскурзии потребителят може да стартира търсене в мрежата с обекти по зададени от него критерии. Новосъздадените нестандартни екскурзии ще се подават като XML файл с възможност за съхранение за бъдещо използване или обмен на информация между учебни заведения.
Проучваме възможностите за разработване на следваща агентно-ориентирана версия [Woodridge97] на каталога, базирана върху DAML-S протокола[Ankolekar02], . С това искаме, от една страна, да отговорим на съвременните тенденции в развитието на Web технологиите и електронните услуги – преход към семантични Web архитектури, използващи онтологии и интелигентни агенти. От друга страна, искаме да повишим гъвкавостта на архитектурата, ефективността на търсенето на информация и интуитивността на потребителския портал. Дава се възможност за динамично, интелигентно и автономно композиране на услуги. За комуникацията между агентите е добре да се използват стандартни протоколи, което ще доведе до лесна разширяемост на системата в бъдеще.
RAS (Routes Agent System) е система, за симулация на виртуални екскурии, предназначена за работа в мултиагентна среда, състояща се от няколко типа агенти:
TA (Tourist Agent) – представя клиент-турист със своите предпочитания за маршрут;
RA (Routes Agent) – комуникира с TA и подготвя подходящ маршрут за неговите предпочитания. За генерация на маршрут използва методи от Изкуствения интелект, за да допълни информацията, която е придобил от ECA във вид на каталожни обекти;
ECA (Electronic Catalog Agent) – контролира цялата система, наблюдава комуникацията между агентите, съхранява каталожни обекти, които предоставя на RA. RA трансформира каталожните обекти в маршрутни обекти. Всички RA се регистрират при ECA като услуги;
Целта на тази агентно-ориентирана архитектура (Fig.4. )е да даде възможност за динамично, интелигентно и автономно композиране на услуги за осъществяване на цялостни бизнес-задачи. За комуникация между агентите е добре да се използват стандартни протоколи, което ще доведе до лесна разширяемост на системата в бъдеще. Такива са например FIPA (Foundation for Intelligent Physical Agents) стандартите.
(Collecting Information for Routes)
Fig.4. Architecture of agent-based version of the service
E-learning aims at replacing old-fashioned time, place, and content predetermined learning with a just-in-time, at-work-place, customized, and on-demand process of learning. It builds on several pillars, namely management, culture and information technology (IT).
The Distributed e – Learning center (DeLC) aims to provide a distance e-Learning and
e-Teaching facility available at any place and at any time to individuals and groups of students/lecturers both in synchronous mode (off - line).
The main goal of DeLC is the creating of infrastructure, who will be part of build – up European area for e-learning and distance teaching. This will be possible by insurance of interoperativeness of different levels as:
Main organization forms in the center will be virtual lecturer's team – thereby will be overcome the geographic borders, as will be possible the work in team (virtual), and each member work on individual desktop;
In the center will be pay attention to e-learning and distance forms teaching;
Using ratification international standards for referent models and e-learning content (SCORM, IEEE LOM, IMS) - possibilitis for supporting of the necessary flexibility and interoperativeness of the center;
Using the best practices for organization of e-learning and distance teaching;
Using technological and development environments and tools with open architecture.
For insurance to this interoperativeness is necessary of possibilities for formal presentation and specification on base constructives elements of infrastructure and their mutual ties. This my realize by language with work name DDL(DeLC Design Language).
DeLC includes two basic parts – infrastructure and integration e-learning content. The infrastructure contains the following constructive units:
SQT nodes – the main function on the nodes is to deliver entirely environment for education of users of DeLC, which ensures share used the information resource of the center. The nodes can be two kinds:
Client Nodes – provides individual desktop of users, includes personal assistants (intelligent agents) for help using necessary e-services;
Server Nodes – thoroughly for supply of e-services for Client Nodes, includes server agents, shared DBs, knowledge bases, information repositoris, ontologies, gateways.
Clusters – virtual dynamic changed at time organizations, provided together using of e-services included in them nodes;
Edges – specify some collaborative and cooperative relationships between elements of the infrastructure. They can be bearers of the desired semantics, provided in the infrastructure.
The goal of DDL is to present this infrastructure part.
We can apply the conceptual infrastructure model of DeLC for realization of regional school educational net between separate e-learning portals. Sharing and collaborative using of common learning resources- SCOs, e-lessons, e-courses and etc. will gives us more effective and successful learning process in secondary school.
The advantages of SCORM
Based on different researches and experiments in SCORM based school content we can see many advantages faced on non-standard based learning recourses.
Application of the Individual method of teaching– this is one of the most important priority of nowadays in education – education accorded to individual characteristics, abilities, knowledge, likes and habits of one separate student. All of this is guaranteed SN Model of SCORM. The individual behavior of each one concrete student determines the way of the training process as LMS follows and stores individual achievements of each one student. Collaborating with the user model, the LMS describes the standard and specific values of the variables in the individual profile information.
Team work. Realization of project and team learning as new didactic technology in the schoolwork is very important for reaching of skills for teamwork and collaborative work. SCORM guarantees realization of this form of teaching by specific rules. According to this sequencing of rules LMS manages group and teamwork and observes activities of each team-member by Objectives mechanism. The different objectives variables receive their values according to current state of project work, the timetable and performance level of global aims and tasks. Collaborating with the user model the system manages tasks dynamically according to user profile information.
Multiple using of one and the some learning resources (SCOs) and creation of e-lessons for different users, classes, forms of teaching, school subjects and etc. All of this is guaranteed from Reusability of SCORM. The completed SCOs we can store into on-line Content Repository and share for using from many authors of e-content. The distributed structure of e-lessons and possibilities for easy and comfortable adaptation and variation is one of the most important advantages of SCORM.
Interaction of training process. The process of teaching is more effective when the students accomplish different kinds of activities as reading, writing, listening, painting, filling some words, testing, sharing the ideas, team and project-working and etc. All of these activities create more steady cognitive connections and skills. The authors of e-learning content are designed and included all of these activities; they included them to the sequencing from rules when they structured e-lessons. LMS starts, observes, evaluates and managed the execution process.
Creation of varies from e-lessons for one and the some learning content. Every e-lesson is created on base of determinate learning aims, for fixed group of students, concrete school subject, form of teaching and etc. In accordance with these characteristics of the learning environment the lesson’s structure could be very various. For example according to form of teaching (regular, independent) the lesson “The verb’s tenses in Bulgarian language” is designed from one and the some SCOs, but in different organization structures. Than we reach different didactic aims.[Sarafov05 ]
Complex learning. Creation of e- learning packages and e-lessons for classroom-training, independent self preparation at home and informal teaching gives the possibilities for complex teaching and completely acquire of learning information. For example the package “Bulgarian folklore” includes some lessons “National instruments and folklore songs” for regular classroom teaching in subject domain “Music”, information for architecture peculiarities of the renaissance houses for home self preparation in subject domain “Art and crafts” and lessons for peculiarities, style of living, the ethnography and national costumes from the seventh folklore regions in Bulgaria for informal learning in subject domain “Folklore”. (Fig.5. )
Fig.5. E-lessons for different kinds of teaching – e-package “Bulgarian Folklore”
Application of lessons from two or more educational subjects in classroom teaching. The organization of these lessons in traditional form of teaching is very difficult, because two or more teachers must to be together in one and same moment and classroom. The necessary training time always is any longer from forty five minutes. However, all of these organization problems aren’t obstacle for teachers, who want to experiment with this interesting and very effective form of teaching. [Sarafov04]. SCORM eliminate all of these problems as allows creation of common e-learning packages in two ore more educational subjects. The students consider one and the same events and concepts from different point of view. For example the students can consider the lesson “The life of the Bulgarian people in XIX century” from point of view from subject domain “Art” by pictures of Stojan Venev and “Literature” by Elin Pelin stories.
Application of SCORM to teaching of students with specific educational necessities and disabled students. The effective learning of these students is one of main tasks for Bulgarian educational system. SCORM gives us ideas for effective realization of this goal by the sequencing model and mechanism of interactive individual training with appropriate activities for every separate student.
Testing and individual observation of individual progress of the students. The individual advance of each one student is a basic task of the learning, but it is not easy and the teachers observe the collective class-development. SCORM supports the comparison of separate results and achievements of every student and store the all information for individual learning progress to data base. The teachers can receive this information and to choose more appropriate e-learning methods and materials. Than the learning process will be more effective.
Long life teaching. The contemporary informational society requires skills for self training, receiving and processing in enormous set of knowledge and information. The learning during the life is necessities for every of us. This learning is individual and its organization is very difficult for traditional educational system. SCORM suggests individual manner of learning to every separate learner.
Dynamic interaction with the domain model and giving of appropriate services according to specific characteristics of educational subjects. The distributed structure of the e-learning system guarantees these interactions like the automatic generation of routes for virtual excursions (history, geography, ecology and etc.), automatic test generations and etc. The services are realized by different technologies – the first by CBR model, the second by parameterization of the environment. SCORM RTE successful starts and manages each one of them.
Sharing and using of common training resources by clustering according to infrastructure model of the educational net. The infrastructure model of the Distributed e-learning centre ensures structuring of clusters between two or more educational portals and mechanism for sharing and using of common training materials. The access to common on-line content repositories is main principle of the standard.
The new Informational and communication technologies give us the possibilities for realization of more flexible, interactive and effective systems for the computer based training. There are many interesting and good structured multimedia lessons and appropriate training resources, but for a real using of these lessons it is necessary these lessons to be transformed to an e-learning standard. Our team from of e-commerce laboratory of Plovdiv University, made researches and experiments based on application of standard-based learning as using the prototype educational portal in Secondary school “Hristo Smirnensky”, Brezovo. We considered that e-learning standard SCORM is appropriate and could be applied in the school training process. It gives us more advantages and possibilities for realization of the main educational aims.
Computer-based learning is far away from the e-learning paradigm, which requires the e-learning education to be ensured for each one user, for each one place and at any time. The future will gives us new technologies and methods for effective realization of the learning process, but the use of the standards while creating, sharing and using of educational resources is one of the ways for realization of the main educational aims.
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 Best Practices Guide for Content Developers, LSAL, Carnegie Mellon University - www.lsal.cmu.edu/lsal/expertise/projects/developersguide/
 Държавни образователни изисквания - www.paideiafoundation.org/norma
 Архитектурен модел на образователен портал, http://www.delphigroup.com/research/articles.htm
 Joint US/EU ad hoc Agent Markup Language Committee. Reference description of the DAML+OIL (March 2001) ontology markup language
Todorka Glushkova, University of Plovdiv,
Nevena Uzunova, University of Plovdiv
Malina Trendafilova, University of Plovdiv,