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A Procedural Model for the Production of reusable and standard-compliant E-Learning Offerings

TL;DR: A practical and business-process oriented Procedural Model for the Production of reusable and standard-compliant E-Learning Offerings is introduced and developed and applied in a project that produces learning contents for a Master program of an international virtual university.
Abstract: Cost-efficient production of high-quality learning contents is an important success factor for a sustainable and economic realisation of E-Learning. This necessitates the design of sustainable production processes, which create reusable Learning Objects and require minimal resources. In such a context, this contribution introduces a practical and business-process oriented Procedural Model for the Production of reusable and standard-compliant E-Learning Offerings. It has been developed and applied in a project that produces learning contents for a Master program of an international virtual university. After the introduction of a reengineering method, a special analysis instrument for E-Learning has been designed to analyse the existing production processes and to improve them in terms of efficiency, costs, standard-compliance, and process automation. The method introduced is hence not focussing on individual technical solutions but on the efficiency of the whole E-Learning production and value chain. It gives an orienta-tion for establishing and maintaining sustainable and competitive E-Learning production processes with appropriate effort.

Summary (3 min read)

A Procedural Model for the Production of Reusable and Standard-Compliant E-Learning Offerings

  • Claudia Müller University of Potsdam Matthias Trier Technical University Berlin Abstract: Cost-efficient production of high-quality learning contents is an important success factor for a sustainable and economic realisation of E-Learning.
  • This necessitates the design of sustainable production processes, which create reusable Learning Objects and require minimal resources.
  • It has been developed and applied in a project that produces learning contents for a Master program of an international virtual university.
  • The method introduced is hence not focussing on individual technical solutions but on the efficiency of the whole E-Learning production and value chain.
  • E-Learning, Processes, Efficiency, Process Automation, XML, Content, Standardisation, also known as Keywords.

1 Motivation

  • In the years 2000 to 2004, the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research established a funding program called ‘New Media in Education’.
  • With a budget of about 200 million Euro, this initiative supported a multitude of projects within the German sector of higher education [Bmbf00].
  • This development also seems to have affected publicly financed E-Learning projects.
  • During this initiative, the practical experiences have continuously been documented and refined in order to create a generic procedural model for the Production of reusable and standard-compliant E-Learning Offerings (PELO-Model).
  • The last section illustrates the approaches of measuring the efficiency gains and cost savings of the reengineering project.

2 Analysis Criteria for Developing a Sustainable Production Process

  • The cost efficient production of high-quality learning contents is an important success factor for economic E-Learning offerings [Kra+03].
  • Together, these three segments constitute categories of requirements to evaluate the existing E-Learning production processes.
  • The last section with individual and process-specific success criteria finally lists items like reduction of complexity1, reduction of employed file formats for identical contents2, increased transparency about the process’s status, or standardised versioning.
  • Next to the establishment of new successful processes, the criteria catalogue enables a comprehensive evaluation and comparison of existing processes using specified categories.
  • To realise these main potentials in phase three and four of the reengineering project, an integrative procedural model, called PELO-Model has been specified, which ensures standard-compliant content production, process automation, and process standardisation.

3 Standard-compliant Learning Contents

  • The standardised production of Learning Objects is specified in content-specific standards4 (cf. [Hor01, pp.17]).
  • The model consists of a Content Model for the terminological description of Learning Objects, a Content Packaging definition to pack Learning Objects (to be exchanged between different Learning Management Systems), and the meta-data to describe all components.
  • Next to these structural properties, there are specifications of content-related issues.
  • SCORM contains meta-data specifications with definitions of description formats to support the reusability of contents and the interoperability with other systems.
  • The API-Adapter of the LMS invokes the SCO by sending a Javascript-based function LMSInitialize.

4 The Macro-Layer of the Procedural Model

  • Using the results of the process definition and the specifications of the SCORM initiative, in the project a procedural model has been developed to create a standard-compliant course consisting of reusable Learning Objects .
  • It is structured into the five Macro-Layer stages Analysis, Design, Conceptual Development, Technical Development, and Test (cf. [Bol+02, pp.1, Cis03, p.14]).
  • This two layer concept enables the adaptation of the procedural model to meet the individual requirements (compare section 2) of the different production processes employed.
  • The Author role is responsible for the stages Analysis, Design, and Conceptual Development of Learning Objects, whereas the Editor role is dealing with the Technical Development of the content.
  • The various steps of the Model for the Production of reusable and standard-compliant E-Learning Offerings are now being introduced in more detail.

4.1 Analysis

  • The main objective of the Analysis Phase is to prepare the contents, like for example of the topic Knowledge Management in a way, which allows for the subsequent design of the course elements and the succeeding stages of Conceptual and Technical Development.
  • The Analysis consists of the steps Analysis of the environment, Analysis of existing contents, Internal definition of content objects, Specification of the meta-data description, and the Specification of the content structure.
  • In the KM and PM offerings, contents like course Course Introduction, Task Pages, or Course Summaries have also been modelled as SCOs to allow their flexible application.
  • For the creation of SCORM-compliant contents, the next step of Meta-data specification is optional.
  • Below this level, there is a topic layer, containing Introduction, Definition, or Example elements.

4.2 Design

  • In the Design Stage, the specifications of the Analysis Stage are applied to the Assets, SCOs, and Aggregations.
  • The Author puts the defined content elements Asset, SCO, and Building Block into a structure, which shows the dependencies between the objects, e.g. first layer Aggregation (i.e. Content Package), second layer SCO or Building Blocks, third layer SCO or Assets, and fourth layer Assets.
  • In the model some few steps indicate the minimum procedure, recommended.
  • In the Conceptual Development stage of the procedural model, the author has the task of assembling the actual contents for every Learning Object in MS PowerPoint.

4.4 Technical Development

  • The Technical Development contains the areas Asset and SCO development, the creation of SCO-Aggregations, the definition of the course sequence, and the collection of all Learning Objects into a Content Package.
  • Using an XSLT transformation, a reduced and filtered XML file is generated to ease the subsequent automated processing.
  • This tool has been implemented in the scripting language PHP, because it is a language which can be embedded in the HTML source code (embedded code).
  • The last steps of the Technical Development are the Meta-data description of the artefacts, the Development of the Aggregations, the Implementation of the course sequence and the assembly of all material into a Content Package.
  • Among other applications, the RELOAD Editor Software [REL03] and the MS LRN Toolkit [LRN01] have been applied and examined in terms of usability and ergonomics.

4.5 Test

  • In the final Test Phase, the Content Package has to be assessed in the specific learning environment (i.e. LMS).
  • A Procedural Model for the Production of E-Learning Offerings 897.
  • Here, an interesting test was conducted in the reengineering project, which strongly affected the selection of the editing tool.
  • The objective was to check the messaging behaviour and transfer of variables (using the AICC CMI Datamodel) between the SCO and its environment (usually an LMS).
  • It has been identified, that only the Content Package produced with the LRN Toolkit could be integrated into the final Learning Environment, the VGU’s WebCT platform.

5 Evaluation of the Production Process

  • The last step of the reengineering project required to assess the increased efficiency of the new production process.
  • The part of comparing the amount of process segments (and the derived process activities) is now outlined to illustrate this stage of the reengineering.
  • To extend this comparison, the time needed by the various process steps has been measured.
  • The new process is taking 72 minutes less to execute as the original production process12.
  • Hence, if resources should need to be replaced (i.e. changing HTML-pages), the already existing course structure would automatically be imported.

6 Conclusion

  • In modern and competitive E-Learning offerings, issues like sustainability and efficiency are growing in their importance.
  • By examining a sub-initiative of the BMBF-project ‘MBI - International Master of Business Informatics’, this procedure has been illustrated.
  • Its segregation into a Macro- and a Micro-Layer ensures both, a generic procedural model, which on the Macro-Layer can easily be adapted for the individual scenario, and the specification of detailed procedures on the Micro-Layer.
  • The complete process for the production of the whole course is 600 minutes in the original structure versus 528 minutes with the new process.
  • A Procedural Model for the Production of E-Learning Offerings 899.

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In: Ferstl, Otto K, u.a. (Hg) 2005. Wirtschaftsinformatik 2005: eEconomy, eGovernment, eSociety;
7. Internationale Tagung Wirtschaftsinformatik 2005. Heidelberg: Physica-Verlag
ISBN: 3-7908-1574-8
© Physica-Verlag Heidelberg 2005

A Procedural Model for the Production of
Reusable and Standard-Compliant
E-Learning Offerings
Claudia Müller
University of Potsdam
Matthias Trier
Technical University Berlin
Abstract: Cost-efficient production of high-quality learning contents is an impor-
tant success factor for a sustainable and economic realisation of E-Learning. This
necessitates the design of sustainable production processes, which create reusable
Learning Objects and require minimal resources. In such a context, this contribu-
tion introduces a practical and business-process oriented Procedural Model for
the Production of reusable and standard-compliant E-Learning Offerings. It has
been developed and applied in a project that produces learning contents for a
Master program of an international virtual university. After the introduction of a
reengineering method, a special analysis instrument for E-Learning has been de-
signed to analyse the existing production processes and to improve them in terms
of efficiency, costs, standard-compliance, and process automation. The method
introduced is hence not focussing on individual technical solutions but on the effi-
ciency of the whole E-Learning production and value chain. It gives an orienta-
tion for establishing and maintaining sustainable and competitive E-Learning
production processes with appropriate effort.
Keywords: E-Learning, Processes, Efficiency, Process Automation, XML, Con-
tent, Standardisation
1 Motivation
In the years 2000 to 2004, the German Federal Ministry for Education and Re-
search established a funding program called ‘New Media in Education’. With a
budget of about 200 million Euro, this initiative supported a multitude of projects
within the German sector of higher education [Bmbf00]. The primary objective
was a continuous and wide integration of new media for teaching, learning, work-
ing, and communication in university education and improved media support for
education offerings.

882 C. Müller, M. Trier
The large amount of projects supported, reflects the optimistic perception of these
years. For example, a study of Berlecon Research in 2001 [Saut02] estimated, that
the education budget of German enterprises will increase by 600 percent from 330
million Euro in 2001 to 2 billion Euro in 2005. But already in the year 2004, this
euphoria was lost. In April 2004, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour
ordered a study called ‘Monitoring Information Society’ [Gra+04], which found
that experts have lost confidence in the expansion of E-Learning services in the
information economy.
This development also seems to have affected publicly financed E-Learning pro-
jects. Once the initial funding period ended, they often lacked concepts for ensur-
ing the appropriate revenues, which are necessary to compensate the high initial
investments and the costs of actually running the structures and processes
[HaHo04].
This implies that the sustainability of current, often very proprietary constructed
structures and processes of such E-Learning projects should be reassessed. Sus-
tainability is here defined as the succession and continuous development of pro-
jects together with their implemented processes, created learning units, existing
experiences of the authors and editors and the employed tools [Deg03, HaHo04].
Being one of the initiatives within this BMBF-Program, the project ‘MBI- Interna-
tional Master of Business Informatics’ also faced these challenges. One major ob-
jective was hence the establishment of a private and internationally oriented
E-Learning corporation until the end of the funding period. By now, the resulting
Virtual Global University (VGU) has affiliations in India, Taiwan, Nepal, Paki-
stan, Slovenia and other parts of Eastern Europe and Asia [VGU04].
The Department of Systems Analysis and IT of the Technical University Berlin is
participating in this virtual university since 2001. Next to 16 further German,
Swiss, and Austrian Chairs of Business Informatics, it develops and offers the
learning modules Knowledge Management (KM) and Process Modelling (PM).
To be able to offer professional products in the competitive E-Learning market, it
became necessary to fundamentally analyse and reengineer the existing course of-
ferings. The main objective was a sustainable production process, which is capa-
ble of producing reusable Learning Objects and simultaneously is requiring a
minimum of resources.
To achieve this objective, a comprehensive reengineering project for the modules’
production processes was launched in 2003 to assess and improve the existing
procedures. It has been segregated into the following five project phases:
1. Capturing and modelling all existing E-Learning production processes,
2. Evaluation of existing E-Learning production processes using a special analy-
sis instrument for E-Learning process evaluation,
3. Identification of the main potentials and development of a concept,

A Procedural Model for the Production of E-Learning Offerings 883
4. Realisation of the main improvements and documentation of the final
E-Learning process, and
5. Comparison and measurement of the old and the new processes to substantiate
and quantify the improvements in efficiency.
The execution of this reengineering project and the resulting challenges for the
development of a standard-compliant and partially automated E-Learning produc-
tion process are introduced in the next sections (see figure 1). During this initia-
tive, the practical experiences have continuously been documented and refined in
order to create a generic procedural model for the Production of reusable and
standard-compliant E-Learning Offerings (PELO-Model). This model is explained
in great detail in section 4. The last section illustrates the approaches of measuring
the efficiency gains and cost savings of the reengineering project.
PELO Model
Procedural Model for the Production of
resuable and standard-compliant E
-Learning Offerings
Macro-Layer
(Generic stages and steps for resuable and
standard-compliant content production
Micro-Layer
(Process Models and Descriptions for Production)
Analysis
Instrument
for the
Evaluation of
E-Learning
Production
Processes
Reengineering Project: Production of KM/PM modules
Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4 Phase 5
(Section 1)
(Section 2)
(Section 4)
(Section 4.4)
Figure 1: Overview about the article
2 Analysis Criteria for Developing a Sustainable
Production Process
The cost efficient production of high-quality learning contents is an important
success factor for economic E-Learning offerings [Kra
+
03]. With this perspective,
the existing processes for content-oriented and technical development of Learning
Objects for the course offerings Knowledge Management (KM) and Process Mod-
elling (PM) have been analysed. In phase one of the reengineering project, the ex-
isting procedures have been captured and modelled with Event-driven Process
Chains (EPC).
In the succeeding identification of potentials (phase two), a special analysis tool
has been developed, which assembles the most important efficiency criteria for
E-Learning production processes. It is based on the concept of Critical Success
Factors, which assumes, that a process’s success is largely attributable to only a
few factors [Oest95, pp. 108]. These specific factors consist of critical success
factors for the overall E-Learning offering, general success factors of processes,

Citations
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Book ChapterDOI
01 Jan 2005
TL;DR: This contribution proposes a generic procedural model for the production of reusable and standard-compliant E-Learning offerings, which has been derived from the practical experiences and can be adapted to meet the individual requirements of content developers.
Abstract: During the federal funding program ‘New Media in Education’, a project group was established, which produces learning contents for two E-Learning offerings of an international virtual university. The continuous improvement and development of the required production processes with the objective of creating professional and competitive learning units lead to process and efficiency-driven approaches for E-Learning production. After introducing the main elements from business process orientation and their application to the E-Learning domain, this contribution proposes a generic procedural model for the production of reusable and standard-compliant E-Learning offerings, which has been derived from the practical experiences. On a Micro-layer, this model can be adapted to meet the individual requirements of content developers. In the second part, the documented processes and their advantages are illustrated using two examples from practical project work: the production of video assets and XML-based SCO production.

6 citations

Journal Article
TL;DR: In diesem Artikel gezeigt, wie mit prozessorientierten Effizienzkriterien ein als offentlicher Onlineservice frei verfugbarer Rapid E-Learning Autorenprozess entwickelt wurde.
Abstract: Kurzfassung Die Produktion von Lerninhalten ist trotz Standardisierung und umfangreichen Softwaresystemen ein sehr aufwandiger Prozess. Daher gewann zuletzt Rapid E-Learning als eine Zeitund Kosten sparende Produktionsalternative an Bedeutung. Darauf aufbauend wird in diesem Artikel gezeigt, wie mit prozessorientierten Effizienzkriterien ein als offentlicher Onlineservice frei verfugbarer Rapid E-Learning Autorenprozess entwickelt wurde. Dieser nutzt das verbreitete Werkzeug Powerpoint zur einfachen Erzeugung SCORM-konformer Lerninhalte fur Learning Management Systeme. Durch ein neues Pre-Tagging Verfahren wird dabei die Voraberzeugung von Metadaten und Produktionsparametern bereits in Powerpoint vorgenommen. Abschliesend wird die Prozessverbesserung mit dem Ansatz an einem Praxisfall evaluiert und quantitativ aufgezeigt.

Cites background from "A Procedural Model for the Producti..."

  • ...Darin manifestieren sich die Bestrebungen, basierend auf dem in [5] begründeten Ansatz einen standardisierten und effizienten Produktionsprozess für E-Learning...

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  • ...[5] MÜLLER, C....

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  • ...Ausgangspunkt zur Inhaltserstellung [1] erfüllt, zweitens einen effizienten Prozess zur schnellen Entwicklung standardkonformer Inhalte [5] auch ohne technische Experten anbietet und drittens...

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  • ...Dieses definiert einen effizienten Erstellungsprozess für standardkonforme Content Packages [5]....

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  • ...Zur Gewährleistung des effizienten Produktionsprozesses lehnt sich der hier vorgestellte REL Ansatz an das in umfassenden Vorarbeiten [5] erarbeitete PELO Referenzprozessmodell an....

    [...]

References
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Sun acknowledges the pioneering efforts of Xerox in researching and developing the concept of visual or graphical user interfaces for the computer industry and holds a non-exclusive license from Xerox to the Xerox Graphical User Interface.
Abstract: This product or document is protected by copyright and distributed under licenses restricting its use, copying, distribution, and decompilation. No part of this product or document may be reproduced in any form by any means without prior written authorization of Sun and its licensors, if any. Third-party software, including font technology, is copyrighted and licensed from Sun suppliers. Parts of the product may be derived from Berkeley BSD systems, licensed from the University of California. UNIX is a registered trademark in the U.S. for its users and licensees. Sun acknowledges the pioneering efforts of Xerox in researching and developing the concept of visual or graphical user interfaces for the computer industry. Sun holds a non-exclusive license from Xerox to the Xerox Graphical User Interface, which license also covers Sun's licensees who implement OPEN LOOK GUIs and otherwise comply with Sun's written license agreements.

1,767 citations

01 Jan 2005
TL;DR: This section describes the model of description, to be applied to the standards included into the present document, and the selection of such aspects was mainly driven by the opportunity to provide a significant final comparison among the standards and allow for enhanced analysis.
Abstract: This project has been carried out with the support of the European Community. The content of this project does not necessarily reflect the position of the European Community, nor does it involve any responsibility on the part of the European Community. otherwise specifically agreed with TISIP, any reproduction or making available to the public is only allowed as far as it is permitted by law or authorized through an agreement with the Norwegian Reproduction Rights Organisation Kopinor, or similar organisations in other countries Utilization in violence of law or agreement may carry liability for damages and may incur prosecution resulting in fines or imprisonment. This section describes the model of description, to be applied to the standards included into the present document. Each standard is supposed to have a dedicated section, in which a number of aspects will be covered; the selection of such aspects was mainly driven by the opportunity to provide a significant final comparison among the standards and allow for enhanced analysis. Such a comparison is planned to appear in the final section of the document and might be supported by notes interspersed throughout the survey. The definition of the various aspect of interest, to be met for each standard, was devised also in accord to previous discussions about the categorizations to use, in view of the construction of a topic map based on this report. In particular, for each standard the following " aspects of interest " should be covered: 1) Organizations: a brief survey about the organizations proposing and supporting the standard (it is reasonable to expect links to such official sites); 2) Goals: the main goals pursued by the standard (this knowledge should allow to compare different standards basing on the users' goals); 3) Components: different components included in the standard, to manage different aspects of the learning material and processes (e.g. packaging, sequencing, assessment, etc.); a short description is expected, to support comparing the power of different standards; 4) Metadata: short survey about the categories of metainformation prescribed by the standard and used for the description of different aspects of the learning material; this information aims at supporting the comparison of the expressiveness of different standards; 5) Possible authoring tools available to create standard compliant resources; this is supposed to help comparing the availability of authoring support; 6) Learning Management Systems (LMSs) supporting the standard; by " supporting " we mean that such …

10 citations

Book ChapterDOI
TL;DR: In diesem Beitrag wird der Ansatz eines XML-basierten Content Managements beschrieben, der die Autoren bei der verteilten Erstellung didaktisch aufbereiteter Lerninhalte unterstutzt and gleichzeitig eine flexible Mehrfachverwendung fur verschiedene Einsatzszenarien, Zielgruppen and Learning
Abstract: Inhalte fur eLearning-Anwendungen werden haufig noch spezifisch fur eine Zielgruppe und zur Prasentation uber eine bestimmte Plattform erstellt. Aufgrund der hohen Entwicklungskosten fur multimedial aufbereitete Lerninhalte wird jedoch eine Wiederverwendung einmal erstellter Inhalte gefordert. Verschiedene Standardisierungsbemuhungen konnen dieses Problem jedoch nicht zufrieden stellend losen. In diesem Beitrag wird der Ansatz eines XML-basierten Content Managements beschrieben, der die Autoren bei der verteilten Erstellung didaktisch aufbereiteter Lerninhalte unterstutzt und gleichzeitig eine flexible Mehrfachverwendung fur verschiedene Einsatzszenarien, Zielgruppen und Learning Management Systemen ermoglicht.

4 citations

Frequently Asked Questions (2)
Q1. What are the contributions in "A procedural model for the production of reusable and standard-compliant e-learning offerings" ?

In such a context, this contribution introduces a practical and business-process oriented Procedural Model for the Production of reusable and standard-compliant E-Learning Offerings. The method introduced is hence not focussing on individual technical solutions but on the efficiency of the whole E-Learning production and value chain. 

Future research aims at adding further Micro-processes to complete the model for more variable applications and specific guidance in the field of E-Learning content production.