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Creating an eLearning content sharing community

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There are two main levels in the content: learning objects and aggregations that can be made from the learning objects. The initial decisions were made in the first workshop (WS 1); the outcomes were evaluated in the interim seminar (WS 2), and the final analysis and the decisions of the.

Figure 1. The SELEAC project utilised action research as its methodological approach.
Figure 1. The SELEAC project utilised action research as its methodological approach.

Introduction to communities

When participants see that they are getting more out of the virtual community than what they give to it, the community begins to expand rapidly. There must be a real individual and organizational need and desire to do work for the community to get the work going, and there must be benefits at both levels.

Key SELEAC principles

If such material is used, the members must check with the copyright owner that the community can be considered non-commercial use. Aggregations made from learning objects in the portal are an important part of the community resources.

SELEAC community during the SELEAC project

The number of registered users at the SELEAC portal at the end of the project. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the SELEAC community based on the experiences during the project.

Community after the project

Lack of external funding can slow down activities, especially if not many new members will join the community. It was agreed that, in addition to the membership fee, all members contribute to the community in additional ways. The community has room for many levels of activity, which can also be used as an entrance to the system.

The SCO titles and their authors are also listed on the public website to provide visibility outside the community. Already the most basic use: creating aggregations from the available material adds value to the community like all other users.

Figure 3. The re-enforcing cycles that create the success of a community like SELEAC.
Figure 3. The re-enforcing cycles that create the success of a community like SELEAC.

Main principles and architecture

Main ideas

The DTD provides a framework or template for the content creation: SCOs are given a fairly similar structure that supports combining them with each other. Another advantage of XML authoring is that the XML format supports utilization of the content in multiple output channels. The metadata vocabulary is based on Learning Objects Metadata [6], but some changes were made mostly to describe what the content is about.

The purpose of the metadata is to describe the content so that other users can find learning material that meets their needs, if such exists in the database. Some of the metadata is provided explicitly and some, such as the lifecycle information, is saved automatically when the content or its metadata is changed.

Figure 5. The SELEAC portal eLearning library consists of four resource types:
Figure 5. The SELEAC portal eLearning library consists of four resource types:

SELEAC architecture

There is also lifecycle information, such as creator and contributor information, and a list of events in the resource's lifecycle. All system components are integrated into the portal and are responsible for providing the user with various services, such as special output formats. For example for output, content is retrieved from the database via an API and then transformed, packaged and delivered to the client.

To achieve better response times, some of the functions needed to retrieve content from the database were implemented as standalone modules that run on the VTT server for faster database access. When you log into the portal, the user chooses which language will be used throughout the system during that session.

Figure 7.  The SELEAC architecture. Components in grey boxes run on the server side. If needed, they can be distributed in different computers
Figure 7. The SELEAC architecture. Components in grey boxes run on the server side. If needed, they can be distributed in different computers

Quality workflow and user groups

The validation form shows when and who did the validation, and the validator can indicate if and what needs to be corrected. On the other hand, there is now no immediate pressure to control SCOs, which may be one of the reasons for the somewhat slow start of validation work. Any content creator can find his or her SCOs via the My SCOs page, where they can quickly see if there are any comments on the SCOs and if, for example, something.

Validators check whether learning subjects meet quality requirements: facts, pedagogical approach and language. His or her responsibility is to coordinate content creation within a subject area, encourage people to create content for that particular subject area, and oversee the quality workflow.

Figure 10. The validation form shows when and who has done the validation and the validator can indicate if and what should be corrected.
Figure 10. The validation form shows when and who has done the validation and the validator can indicate if and what should be corrected.

Finding content

Active students have the option to search for content and also enter their own content into the system (shareable resources). Resources can be searched in the SELEAC portal by performing explicit searches of the metadata or by browsing the content within the different resource types.

Output system

  • Single source - multiple output principle
  • Integrated learning environment
  • PDF production
  • Exporting eLearning material
  • Using SELEAC material in external learning environments

The navigation frame on the left shows the course structure, indicating the position of the current learning object. This format allows efficient description of the final layout of the document and the inclusion of related resources such as images. A special feature of the SELEAC PDF production system is the possibility of creating individualized material; that is

HTML as today's standard for web pages, which can also be imported into most of the current learning environments. This means that the system is aware of the content and can therefore provide the necessary functions and features for navigation and use of the course.

Figure 13: User interface of the integrated learning environment
Figure 13: User interface of the integrated learning environment

Feedback on the system

When you import SCORM courses, the learning environment receives additional information about the structure, dependencies, navigation, and other existing metadata for the streamed learning resource.

Starting point and aims

Analysis of the structure and the design of the SCOs

Structure of learning objects

The SELEAC project used the results of the previous CustomDP project, so the first task was to analyze how well the existing SCOs included important didactic features, such as informative headings and short paragraphs, and whether updates to the DTD were needed. It prepares him for the content, familiarizes him with the topic, what he can expect from SCO and also what is expected of him as a student. As a result of the didactic evaluation of SCO, a new structural markup element was introduced in the DTD (Document Type Definition) to fill this gap.

In the presentation of the content, both on the screen and as a PDF printout, the INTRO element stands out from the rest of the content (heading “Introduction”, a different background color and an icon with the letter . “ i"). The same applies to two other elements that have a special meaning in the content: the.

Multimedia elements

Means for testing

The technical and didactic considerations of SELEAC learning objects have all been taken into account in a thorough evaluation process and are now reflected in a collection of around 10 guidelines and checklists that have been created to help writers write well-structured, high-quality content while taking take into account didactic considerations, and to provide validators with a set of criteria to evaluate and maintain high quality standards. The vast majority of content creators, validators and editors-in-chief use these documents in their work (see the following chapter), and this is again reflected in the number of high-quality learning content in the SELEAC database.

Guidelines for content creators

This large number of documents aimed at ensuring high quality learning content reflects the wide range of professional expertise involved in the project. This knowledge is now available to all project members in these guidelines, tools and the processes implemented in the SELEAC portal. The most important pedagogical guideline the SELEAC guideline for authors (1) and its main parts are briefly described below.

In the future, it may be necessary to select the most important data from the existing documentation and make it more concise. In addition to the documentation on the portal, virtual and personal training sessions were organized for project partners.

Organising content creation

Several SCOs have already been created on copyrighted content for SELEAC; these SCOs include self-assessment exercises that users can use to check their understanding of the most important questions. Comment: All content creation approaches reflect the normal way of working in the respective institutions. On the other side of the spectrum, a teacher's independent approach to AEL requires extensive knowledge and high motivation.

In both cases, the material was also translated into English (from Dutch or Finnish), which adds to the value of these contributions.

Results of content creation

Chief editors and validation

To facilitate the creation and validation of content, the content area "Graphic and Media Communication Technology" was divided into seven different areas, and an editor-in-chief was appointed for each of the areas. The editors-in-chief were also asked to manage the evaluation of the CustomDP content, improve the relevant parts and import it into the SELEAC system with new metadata. Most editors-in-chief covered only part of the assigned responsibilities during the project (see 4.5 for the number of SCOs created and validated in each subject area), and there are large differences in the number of SCOs in different subject areas.

In theory, a pedagogical expert, a linguist and a technical expert should each validate her/his part of the SCO. All content creators who participated in the final survey were aware of the validation process.

Use of content

This shows that the emphasis during the project was on creating the content - validation comes later. An additional aspect is the level and target group of the content: a validator with a university background may not be the right person to validate content for vocational education. Comment: One of the strengths of the SELEAC system is the possibility for users to review and comment on the content.

The comment will be stored in the system along with the name of the reviewer. The editor-in-chief content creator should remember to review the content periodically to see if there is new feedback and respond to it.

Conclusions relating to content creation

The SELEAC project had partners with versatile skills and knowledge, and this provided a good starting point for community building. At the beginning of the project it was decided that the community would be membership based - organizations apply for membership and can also pay a membership fee. The idea with the membership fee was to make organizations more committed to the community.

Also in the future, a membership fee will probably exist to cover the running costs of the community. The role and activity of editors-in-chief is very critical for the future development of the community.

Kuvio

Figure 1. The SELEAC project utilised action research as its methodological approach.
Table 1. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the SELEAC community based on the experiences during the project.
Figure 2. The number of registered users at the SELEAC portal at the end of the project.
Figure 3. The re-enforcing cycles that create the success of a community like SELEAC.
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