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Specifications

ADL / SCORM - A high-level framework from the US Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative (ADL). It is used for content packaging and is endorsed by the US government as a means to verify educational content and services. Various VLEs and toolkits such as Microsoft LRN support SCORM. Both IMS Content Packaging and Meta-Data are core elements, and are utilised in various context ('application profiles') within SCORM.

IMS Meta-data - provides a structure of defined elements that describe, or catalogue, the learning resource, along with requirements about how the elements are to be used and represented.

IMS Content Packaging - provides the functionality to describe and package learning materials, such as an individual course or a collection of courses, into interoperable, distributable packages. Content Packaging addresses the description, structure, and location of online learning materials and the definition of some particular content types.

IMS Simple Sequencing - The forthcoming release of SCORM (version 1.3) will integrate the IMS Simple Sequencing Specification which describes the intended runtime behaviour of learning activities in a learning environment. This includes the order in which learning resources are delivered, and the rules for selecting and navigating learning activities. Simple sequencing is suitable for the delivery of learning resources in single-user environment, for example, learners working separately with interactive digital content.

IMS Learning Design - This specification integrates the EML with the existing IMS specifications, notably Content Packaging, Meta-data and Simple Sequencing. It can be considered as an integrative upper-layer to these specifications. The main rationale of the specification is to provide a framework that supports a wide range of pedagogical approaches while promoting the exchange and interoperability of e-learning materials. It therefore supports mixed mode delivery, combining traditional approaches such as face-to-face teaching and ICT-enabled learning in single-user and multiple-users environments. With the specification, multiple pedagogical approaches can be expressed within a single 'Unit of Learning' where different approaches may be appropriate to different learning tasks. This allow the development of a single engine, instead of multiple engines, each tied to a specific approach.

IMS Digital Repository Interoperability - The specification is being developed by IMS in several phases (Phase 1 currently) to address various interoperability problems relevant to the common functions of distributed repositories. It has a diverse scope spanning standard communicative approaches for content querying/retrieval, e-commerce (payment) to digital rights (security and copyright) management. Phase 1 of the development focuses on four core functions related to content querying and retrieval. The specification recommends and utilises technologies and protocols that are already exist within the field of digital repositories.

EML - Educational Modelling Language (EML). Developed by the Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL), the aim of EML is to make explicit the intrinsic values of pedagogy and instructional designs. EML is a result of extensive examination and analysis of a wide range of pedagogical approaches, and allows users to encapsulate the pedagogic values of learning objects as 'units of study', by putting them in the context of single and multi-user learning activities, which in turn can be specified with 'learning objectives', 'prerequisites' etc. Each of the above specifications is developed for diverse use contexts or 'use cases' within their domains. The project seeks to review and prioritise the use cases that are of direct relevance to the UK HE/FE sector. This will be accomplished through a consultative process during the early stages of the project. The consultation is likely to be based on refining an initial scope shown in the following figure. For instance, the proposed 'resource discovery' facility in the package editor will implement part of the 'Search and Expose' use case from the IMS Digital Repository Interoperability Specification. It will enable users to locate and identify resources from distributed databases (pre-configured and plug-in) which implement the specification and are based on Z39.50 (which is supported by the specification). The tool will focus on client-side functions and 'exposing existing resources'; it will not cover repository development, access management or content retrieval.