Current practice in developing courseware for online learning, differs little from traditional means. When implementing online learning, institutes look for practitioners who can create content. However, the lack of adaptable, computer parseable information exchanges leads to a duplication of effort.
The solution is twofold, properly describe the ontology of learning objects, expose metadata and content in a service-oriented approach.
Learning management can take many leaves from web standards bodies that aid in machine readable content structures.
This is more an investigation of relevant ISO, RFC, W3C, Oasis and IEEE standards that could offer an integrated solution. Then we look at tools that could engage those standards in an educational framework. The paper starts at the end, by describing the ultimate goal, and finishes by intimating how far away we are from it.
Lets first look at three common laws applying to IT technology for three decades now:
1. Ever since the invention of the microprocessor, the performance of a microprocessor has been doubling every eighteen months.
2. The value of a technology scales as 2n, where n is the number of persons.
3. bandwidth of communication on optical fibres is increasing exponentially just as is the power of the microprocessor. 
Point in time arguments over speed, storage space or network bandwidth are made irrelevant over time. But rule two is the most interesting to this paper. It relates to standards. In short the “Winner takes Most Rule” defines that the dominant technology excludes competing technologies from the game. 
Some technologies in this paper are clear winners and others are yet to compete. When considering technology standards, the best is not always the lasting artefact.
Multi-tier or n-Tier architecture represents many advantages in corporate environments, such that their implementation is commonplace. King among them is the flexibility to make alterations on parts without paralysing the whole.
Below is a suggested architecture for Educational Institutional control over knowledge:
Student Management System
Scenario – Students are exposed to administration interfaces to manage their enrolment toward an accreditation. Being the first point of contact with the institution, all student identity management is housed here along with archives of activities.
These systems are for business and financials with the management over learning contracts and billing. This may be the source location of data relating to students, staff, courses and references to infrastructure like classrooms.
General exposure of these systems are limited. The student may be empowered with administrative functions behind an authenticated directory service. Otherwise the focus of these systems is for the administration of core business activity.
Learning Management System
Scenario – At any point in time there are students at teachers collaborating in learning. The learning may take place with content, challenge, communication, or coordination. The LMS ensures that it happens in a recognised, central user space, over a specified period of time.
The LMS has dependency on Student Management Systems to define the framework (students, teachers, classes, times). Plus aid in access privilege, i.e. to identify teachers/tutors from students and the faculty(ies) they may reside in.
This is a library of independent learning experiences that may contain cross-disciplinary, cross-institutional experiences that are made available in a generic open-plan environment.
Scenario – Content publishers will store learning experiences here, and the framework would describe content, including how, when and maybe the cost to engage material. Service providers in the learning repository will allow the content to be presented inside the LMS. Delivery staff would query the repository directly just like a library catalogue, searching for material relevant to their classes in a just in time manner.
The trick is to agree upon a framework for content that will seamlessly facilitate dissemination in whatever institutional setting it is presented.
Univ of Toronto presents content using ATutor LMS connecting to an online exchange called TILE. Repository access are standards compliant using IMS (a component of SCORM) or a Canadian ratified standard called Cancore.
Standards ensure that institutional systems operate cohesively together weather components are housed within the institute or parts are externally managed/owned by other authorities.
Correctly annotate a learning experience
Metadata is the homepage for a learning object that is made available for query over the Internet. Information like content discipline, methods of access and cost of access should be defined for human or software agent to directly access.
Dublin Core is almost as old as the web itself, it is a fifteen element standard for describing a wide range of networked resources. Its initial intention was a method web publishers could draw upon to describe HTML publications. The meta tag used in the head of a web page, can contain any subset up to fifteen key value pairs. The specification does not state how the data is to be presented. Thus DC data can also be structured inside any parent format, not just HTML. e.g. XML or RDF.
IEEE LTSC LOM (Learning Object Metadata) Based on IMS & ARIADNE’s meta-data models they use a tree-like structure of namespaces to describe data content and structure. It is better suited to be laid into an XML structure. Commercial interests like Microsoft (LRN)  have had much say in the standard and ensure their product implementations comply with the IEEE specification.
ADL/SCORM is a clear winner in LMS circles with many commercial vendors and open source developers implementing it to varying degrees.  The IEEE LTSC standard has been incorporated into SCORM as at version 1.2.  SCORM describes a suite of standards and continually evolves with significant revisions. The no turning back philosophy of ADL in managing the SCORM standard has software vendors describing their compliance against either version 1.1 or 1.2. SCORM 2004 extends the specification further, and adds aspects of learning sequence and navigation.
RDF is a foundation tenant in the architecture of web services. RDF is a meta-data structure that has application without discipline specific meaning. This is a special form of XML with language specific semantics defining predicate logic structures. The model describes a “triple” of Predicate, Object and Statement, designed to annotate the context of knowledge,  Unlike DC, the RDF structure is not designed for human readability, tools package and decompose the metadata and meaning is presented in the shelter of the application space.
An effort is underway to develop an RDF binding for LOM (IEEE 1484.12.4) & DC to kick start e-learning on the semantic web. The idea to transform dedicated e-learning meta-data formats to RDF which places content into a form that is digestible to a wider client-base outside that of e-learning circles. Operating e-learning in web services framework aids the commercial aspect of sharing learning content in the well understood B2B framework of web services.
The Learning Object
SCORM is a multi-dimensional reference model for learning content, designed to allow portability across learning environments. It is a convergence point for a number of predecessor standards that solves distinctly individual problems.
The SCORM standard accomplishes two roles: Content Aggregation and a Run-Time environment.
Broadly speaking the Aggregation model is a packaging standard. It allows courses to be imported and exported between LMS environment. This is an important consideration for content publishers to enable in learning content that is loaded into LMS environments.
A SCORM package may contain any number of learning assets (or references to external resources) grouped together as Sharable Content Objects (SCOs). SCOs are handled directly by an LMS runtime environment.
The aggregation process includes packaging all SCOs into a single compressed archive. Sections, are annotated into a manifest (imsmanifest.xml) which tells the importing LMS the detail of how the author intended the content to be used.
Run-Time environment – The process of presenting the content to the learner with methods for student tracking . Student logging is done within parameters defined inside the SCOs.
2004 (v1.3) – Reflects annotations to IEEE & IMS white paper standards and includes rigidity in the definition of content sequencing and navigation. Migration tools are necessary to update previous version of SCORM packages in order to include extensions necessary to manifest data.
The future SCORM roadmap includes the inheritance of the ideals of the Symantec Web and web services.
Many commercial and Open Source LMS profess SCORM compliance, but it pays to identify exactly which version and how much of the SCORM spec an LMS inherits.
Most LMS systems partition learning along administrative lines (with enrolled students, classes and courses). This structure does not easily lead itself to cross discipline interoperability (unless SCORM content aggregation is possible). This does not make the structure invalid, there are activities that use online learning in a way that may be devoid of content or only have only point in time relevance. MIT’s dspace is the realisation that pure research and courseware exist on different pathways, but have strategic crossover. 
A learning repository is seen as the long-term storage space for reusable learning experiences that can be imported into learning spaces as needed. Like a library catalogue, the repository should allow introspection of the learning object by learning facilitators needing to find relevant content.
Provide the peering environment
Cross Institutional sharing requires standards for interoperability. Two technologies reaching into educational environments come from two distinct corners of technological innovation
Web Services has impetus beyond educational environments and is a suite of standards that allow for secure, reliable electronic commerce transactions between trusted peers. A technology of e-business, it has industry pundits of the likes of IBM, Sun and Microsoft. At its core is an enabling mechanism for dissimilar enterprise systems achieve new business processes in an efficient and timely manner.
Peer to Peer is considered a disruptive technology, because file sharing is causing a change the way we consume media content. The self-discovery and distributed download mechanisms that these systems inherit allow for a more dynamic way of content acquirement. Two projects that use JXTA P2P technology are Splash and Edutella, they allow access to learning object metadata and enable its acquirement in a way that is devoid of the checks and balances that web services would require.
Many pieces of the standards jigsaw have yet reach critical mass and thus mature as reliable mechanisms for sharing electronic learning. It may be some time before a majority of LMS will be able to seamlessly interoperate with generically designed content.
New efficiencies in e-learning will come when standards-based interoperability is commonplace. Without it, it cannot be claimed that e-learning is a more efficient and thus a cheaper mechanism for delivering learning to students.
 eBusiness: The Hope, the Hype, the Power, the Pain
© Jack M. Wilson, 1999, 2000, 2003
 After the Internet : Alien Intelligence - James Martin
 ADL certified SCORM compliant
 The Semantic Web : A Guide to the Future of XML, Web Services, and Knowledge Management by Michael C. Daconta, Leo J. Obrst, Kevin T. Smith pp 87-89
 SHAME (http://kmr.nada.kth.se/shame/)
 Következő előadás Scorm 1.2 http://www.adlnet.org
Randall House Associates, Inc.
LMS Coordinator The Bremer Institute of TAFE