As a whole, the content creation part of SELEAC can be considered fairly successful. The factors justifying this conclusion are the amount and quality of content created, the quality control guidelines established and the feedback from project partners and content users.
The experience helps us to establish priorities for 2006.
• Streamlining the guidelines and quality resources, translating relevant parts into project languages and increasing the community members’ awareness about these guidelines;
• Continuing and expanding content creation according to members’ needs and available resources, including creation of new content (by one member or several members together), translation to English and from English into other community languages, and improving the existing content according to validation and review feedback;
• Reviewing and developing the tasks of chief editors in relation to content creation and validation processes;
• Strengthening the validation work by engaging active and competent persons;
• Assessing the educational quality of content and the experiences of users, content creators and validators in order to develop the content into the right direction.
5 Conclusions and recommendations
The SELEAC project had partners with versatile skills and knowledge, and this gave a good starting point for building the community. It was decided at the beginning of the project that the community is based on membership - organisations apply for the membership and also possibly pay a membership fee. Also during the project, new members were required to pay a small entry fee. The idea with the membership fee was to make the organisations more committed to the community. Also in the future some membership fee is likely to exist to cover the running costs of the community.
The rules for content sharing were defined. The main idea is to let all members utilise all content in the database in their normal training operations. It is also allowed to modify each other's content, also the learning objects. An existing learning object may be taken as a starting point and modified in any way that improves its usability for some user group.
The only requirement is that the modified learning object is imported back into the database with a reference to the original one. Also translations can freely be made as needed. These rules are expected to encourage continuous development and improvement of the content. So far, members have not really utilised this opportunity, but they should be encouraged to do so in the future.
The community managed to attract three new member organisations. The number of new members was small, but their feedback was very positive: the community provided valuable content and contacts that support the organisations in increasing their knowledge and use of eLearning. The lack of suitable eLearning content is a common problem, and the community addresses this.
The project partners and the new members decided to continue their co-operation as a community after the project. The challenge is now to increase the number of member organisations and maintain and increase the activity within existing member organisations. The community must also look for additional ways it can effectively help teachers in carrying out their jobs and exploring new ways of teaching with the help of eLearning. Co-operation with relevant networks, particularly EGIN (European Graphic/Media Industry Network) and PROLEARN will be continued, and new project opportunities sought.
Increasing the number of members is vital for several reasons: the financial burden of maintaining the technology platform gets smaller per organisation and there will be more people who can contribute with content. Sponsors and advertiser are also more interested in the community, the higher coverage it has among the educators in the graphic and media technology field.
During the SELEAC project, a considerable amount of learning objects were created.
This is a good basis for further development. There are already now some good material packages that meet the requirements of real-life courses, but more is needed. In future, the community must remain well aware of partners' needs, interests and opportunities and co- ordinate the community related work so that a high impact will be possible. Experiences of utilising the materials in different learning situations must also be gathered in order to be able to improve the usability of the learning resources.
The technical platform supports utilising the resources both directly via the integrated learning environment and by exporting to external learning environments. The members may utilise each other's aggregations as such or modified, so it is possible to build on what other members have contributed.
The project addressed the quality of eLearning content in several ways: the DTD structure to be used in the creating eLearning content was updated to support creating pedagogically valuable learning objects, guidelines were created to support creation and evaluation of learning objects and a validation workflow was defined and implemented in the technology platform to support peer-review of learning objects. An important decision was to focus the quality work on learning objects, and not to include aggregations that may be created out of the learning objects.
In future, the community may consider streamlining the quality guidelines. This could also be done by developing the key parts into learning objects that allow interactive learning and self-testing.
There are three user roles in the content creation and quality evaluation workflow: content creator, validator and chief editor. One chief editor is nominated for each subject area to oversee its content development and he or she can
The role and activity of chief editors is very critical for the future development of the community. It is necessary to find persons who are interested in developing content for their specific area and whose organisation also gives them time to do so. Organisational commitment is important, but motivated persons are the vital. Also, when new members join the community, it is important to find out about their special skills and interests so that the community may renew itself and extend its capabilities.
The validation process did not get going as quickly as expected. One reason for that may be the small number of potential validators, particularly for content in other languages than English. More practical examples may be needed to help validators in making the decisions as to where the acceptable level for SCOs should be: if the criticisms is too harsh, content creators get frustrated and stop producing content, on the other hand, too low criteria make the validation process useless.
Virtual collaboration gives huge opportunities for quicker development and learning in any field, and SELEAC brings this opportunity to the graphic and media communications sector. To really benefit from such a collaboration, teachers must be ready to give something of their own and also take something from what others have produced. These kinds of changes do not happen overnight. Media in general is developing more and more to collaborative direction where readers and viewers take the role of the producer and participate in creating the final product, and this shift becomes visible in the educational sector as well.