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REN nyhetsbrev nr. 22, 2004

22. november 2004
1: ‘Standards’, and efforts to define, categorize, and understand elearning.
2: Interessert i gode europeiske eksempler på e-læring?
3: Discussion on University e-Learning Environments
4: Ny IDC rapport
5: Nytt og nyttig
6: På kalenderen
Vårt forrige medlemsmøte på Telenor ble et godt besøkt møte. Vi fikk høre mange gode presentasjoner av de fleste leverandørene innen e-læring i det norske markedet. Det kom mange gode tilbakemeldinger på dette møte, og også en del forslag til forbedringer. Takk til alle som stilte og gjorde dette møte til et godt møte.

Programmet for våren 2005 er nå så godt som klart og datoer og temaer blir som følgende.

9. februar, med tema “samarbeid mellom utdanning og næringsliv” 5. april med tema “arbeidsplassen som læringsarena”

I tillegg vil vi også i tradisjonens tro ha et lunch til lunch møte på Holmen i juni. Vi vil komme tilbake med datoer og tema for dette møtet senere.

1: ‘Standards’, and efforts to define, categorize, and understand elearning.

I’m grazing through my accumulated set of URL’s this week, and note an emerging trend that sets the tone for this edition of the column.  That trend is ‘standards’, and efforts to define, categorize, and understand elearning.  You know I’ve previously argued that elearning is probably a dated and too narrow characterization, but it’s also worthwhile to get a handle on what’s being done.
The most obvious movement in standards has been the efforts to define learning technology standards, using protocols to exchange information about learners, and to break down learning into so-called learning ‘objects’.  The early efforts came from several directions, including the Aviation Industry CBT Committee ( formed to provide interoperability for learning content developed around aviation.  Another effort was the Dublin Core ( meta-data initiative, data about data, typically accomplished by tagging content components in a standardized way to facilitate systematic retrieval).
The IMS project ( was a largely American initiative to generate more general standards, referencing the AICC and Dublin Core work.  It made great strides, connecting with European efforts like Ariadne (  It then managed to get the American major technology standards body interested, the IEEE, which created  Learning Technology Standards Committee ( These bodies had committees that created draft standards, debated and refined them, and worked a long way towards creating a unified version.  Of course, having academics and different industry partners with different agendas working together meant that this could take a long time.  The IMS Proposed, the IEEE evaluated, and so on.  So  The US government, particularly the Advanced Distributed Learning initiative (, took a broad and relatively cogent look at this, and decided to put a stake in the ground to serve as a catalyst for closure.
Their proposal, the Shareable Courseware Object Reference Model (SCORM;, has evolved since then into a fairly well established specification with associated compliance testing.
These efforts, well intentioned as they are, are not without detractors. One common complaint is that the tools only represent low-level learning activities such as presenting content or responding to a question, without supporting the broader context of learning or supporting the underlying instructional design. A visionary attempt to go beyond this is the Educational Modelling Language (; NB this URL is not working for me, but I’m suspecting it’s something political and hoping that you have no trouble).  IMS also took it upon themselves to look into this problem and have created their own approach (
I think understanding these standards is important.  They support several goals, some more feasible than others. The notion of ‘learning objects’, derived from the positive properties of object-oriented programming, was that these objects could be customized and repurposed for use in different contexts.  That hasn’t panned out as well as hoped, due to the contextualized nature of learning.  However, the benefit of interoperability has been realized (to some extent, claims of compliance exceed actual capabilities), to the extent that some content now can be run on different Learning Management Systems (LMS), and the same LMS can run content from different providers or authoring tools.
Of course, the barriers are not always technical, and the ability to create ‘markets’ where such content objects can be exchanged have lagged the technology capabilities, due to the issues of politics, creating viable business models, and organizational inertia.  The ADL is now looking into standards for repositories.
This approach is not the only efforts going on to understand and categorize learning technology.  For instance, the eLearning Framework ( is a joint effort at creating a conceptual framework to support learning technology. Their hope is that this will support creating Service Oriented Architecture implementations ( of learning systems.
George Siemens has a different tack, attempting to concept-map elearning into categories (  I like concept maps as a tool (I use it as a note-taking tool during presentations when I have my laptop).  However, some of the possible overlaps can get lost (e.g. note the reoccurrence of blogs and wikis).
A tangential link, but of interest, is this list of facts and figures around elearning (  Not quite in the same category, but it would be hard to fit elsewhere either…
I think some other standards efforts are also going to be important, going forward, for learning technology, particularly when we start broadening out to consider the richer picture.  SOAP as an implementation of Service Oriented Architectures will be interesting (  eXtensible Markup Language (XML; , as a separation of content from display in a standardized way, is a concept you should already be familiar with.  The Semantic Web initiative ( adds further capabilities.  It provides a mechanism for adding machine-interpretable meaning onto internet content, allowing intelligent agents to act on our behalf, including learning goals.  It requires support for controlled vocabulary, ontologies that constrain descriptive terms to agreed upon sets, implemented through things like Resource Description Framework (RDF;  and extensions like (Ontology Web Language (OWL; Some of this will be relevant to elearning, but I think it goes further than that. I believe that ‘content models’, customized structures that define how we should structure content in organizational or other group settings, tagged appropriately and described semantically, combined with models of context, user, task, etc, will give us a powerful tool to meet Wayne Hodgin’s ( ideal of “the right content, to the right person, at the right time, in the right way…”.  It’s clearly into performance support and knowledge management, but that’s what we really should be about, anyway.  Standards won’t meet all our needs, but they give us a powerful tool for allowing technology to assist us.
Wrapping up some details from the last column, and yet still on the issue of standards, here’s another source for information on business modeling with rules (  And I note that James Sharpe’s Workflow Learning Symposium is now for certain available at the Workflow Institute site (


2: Interessert i gode europeiske eksempler på e-læring?

Europas topp-100 e-læringsprosjekter blant dem som ble nominert til "The Learning Awards 2004" har nettopp blitt offentliggjort. Her finner man, kanskje noe skuffende i antall, to norske prosjekter. Det er likevel verd å merke seg at totalt 1021 prosjekter fra 38 forskjellige land nominert, deriblant  5 norske prosjekter. "The eLearning Awards 2004" er den fjerde i rekken og har fokus på europeiske og nasjonale satsningsområder innenfor utdanning. Vinnerne av forskjellige kategorier vil bli utpekt på en seremoni i Praha senere i November. For mer informasjon se følgende linker:


3: Discussion on University e-Learning Environments

An e-Learning technology symposium was held earlier this month at Sanno Institute of Management (  in Tokyo on the topic “What is ideal environment for university e-learning systems.”  Mr. Kiyoshi Nakahara from National Institute of Multimedia Education (NIME) made an opening speech, titled “Creation of sustainable e-learning systems,” and reported the status of e-Learning situations in Europe, Asia and the U.S. in comparison with that in Japan.

In China, ever since the country introduced market economy, the higher educations have been being diffused to the citizens rapidly.  However, the rate of increase in the number of students has been greater than that of establishing the infrastructure for the higher educations.  In order to fill this gap, China has adopted e-learning.  Though China plans to increase the number of e-learning students to 5 million during 2005, the country is always subject to issues of delayed infrastructures and inconsistent qualities in the education.

United Kingdom, on the other hand, has been exporting e-Learning courses and programs since long time ago.  The UK government has funded on Uk-e-Universities program in which twenty universities have joined so far and have been offering courses in management, health education, language, and other training areas.  There are lots of degree programs that can be achieved while you are staying at home in another country.

In Korea, the Korean government took an initiative on IT-standardization throughout the country’s educational institutes. “In 2000, they established ‘Cyber University’.”  Currently, there are 6 such cyber universities registered by some 24,000 students.  Of these students, 84 percent are high-school graduates.  Also in 2000, ten cyber MBA business schools were opened.  “However,” Mr. Nakahara pointed out, “the prognosis in the future in this field is still unsure.  In Korea, more elementary or middle level of educations have been growing rather than higher educations.”

In the world’s largest e-learning nation, the United States, a total of 2,320 universities, or 56 percent of all the universities in the nation, have adopted e-Learning so far.  In 2000, there counted 3.08 million e-learning-based university graduates.  One reason that the US e-leaning market is advanced is because of the competitions among the universities over acquiring more students.  To achieve this, every school tries to offer more popular (profitable for school) courses, and many US universities are playing this in business-like manner.  At the same time, more of the private industries also operate schools.  It is also noted that many students from all over the world tend to destine for universities in United States, which greatly contributes to the growth of US education market as a whole.

When it comes to Japanese e-learning market, while IT systems are steadily diffusing into educational programs, it is clear that e-leaning courses are fewer than in the US.  “Universities in Japan should create human resources sections within themselves.  They are most expected to train employees first,” Mr Nakahara remarked by comparing with New York University which has an e-Learning promotion division.

(News source: Mainichi Intenractive on November 8, 2004


4: Ny IDC rapport

Workforce Performance Management: An IDC assessment of DDI’s capabilities.

As the global economy sustains growth and the war for talent intesifies, organizations are increasingly focusing of change initiatives that will improve operational best practices. The benefits realized by investing in workforce performance management (WPM) solutions are becoming ever more appealing to business across industries and geographies, and they include improvements in goal setting, stronger employee engagements in work, compensation that better reflects performance, and more efficient talent management. One company that IDC believes business decision makers and HR executives should consider when evalueting WPM providers is Development Dimensions International (DDI). DDI is a financially stable company with a global footprint and is well positioned in the emerging WPM market. Last ned hele rapporten fra våre medlemssider:


5: Nytt og nyttig

Photron Seminar: The essence of education is not necessarily to create sophisticated contents – Stanford U. e-Learning cases

Photron (, a visual educational material provider, held an eLearning seminar in Tokyo last week.  Mr. Shin Yasunobu, Chief Director at Stanford University ( – Japanese students center gave a lecture on “Applications in the new network era – examples from Stanford U. distant education cases.”

Even a superficial look of broadband market in Japan, prices are reasonable or further going down, its penetration is growing.  Adding to this, mobiles phones, car-navigation systems, game terminals, televisions, etc – a lot of electronic devices are connected to the Internet and are readily used throughout Japan.  With this highly diversified infrastructure, Japan has a competitive advantage in distributing a lot of various digital information and services.

Stanford University has many e-learning programs offered as part of its business school programs in the areas of social sciences.  Mr. Yasunobu took up a case study from the university’s Stanford Professional Development Center (SCPD).  SCPD offers roughly 250 courses in a single year, currently enrolled by more than 5,000 students worldwide.  A total hours offered through e-learning exceed 10,000 hours in a year.  The courses are priced at $1125 per unit, so taking the full courses for one year will cost you about $10,000.  "Because our e-learning courses are regarded as the same as the regular, classroom-based courses offered for full-time students, we should keep the price for the e-learning classes reasonably close to regular courses.  But still, we are currently not profiting from e-learning businesses, but making losses."

"Our e-learning technological platforms are definitely not advanced.  We just offer either 28Kbps or 56K.  And so, for those materials difficult to distribute via Internet are currently being distributed by printing or on videos.  The reason why we stick to narrow band Internet is that it is our policy that Stanford’s e-learning materials can be reached from any countries where connections speeds are not necessarily fast.  We believe that the quality of e-learning is not always connected to high-definition, fine multimedia images."

Mr. Yasunobu bitterly criticized about Japan’s e-learning market, “The vendors or those companies who want to widely brag off dramatically advanced technologies may have misled the country’s e-learning industry which today shows a significant stagnation of e-learner growth.  I mean to say that the infrastructures do not grow the market.”  But on the other hand, Mr. Yasunobu also commented that Japan’s digital education market should have a size of $10 billion, and, “Japan obviously has a technical advantage with its dramatic broadband penetration and diverse Internet infrastructure.”

(News source: Mainichi Interactive November 10, 2004

Potential for Mobile(“m”)-Learning

The future potential to apply mobile phones capable of high-speed Internet connections to the learning activities (m-learning) is discussed by Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, University of Tokyo and Benesse Corporation, a general e-learning-based solution provider (, who jointly held a symposium for m-learning development at University of Tokyo campus earlier this month.

In the beginning of the session, Katsuaki Suzuki, professor at Iwate Prefecture University widely acclaimed of his position in the instructional design (ID), made a key-note speech.  “ID is a systematic approach towards the enhancement of effectiveness and efficiency of the training activities. We attempt every effort to practice and evaluate methodologies that might work most effectively under certain conditions by clearly visualizing the goals to achieve from the training activities.” Then, he pointed out five steps to be followed in the order: analysis, design, develop, implement, and evaluate. (ADDIE model) He also spoke out a bit about “…you should know the learner’s sentiment,” “attract learner’s attention,” “…let them get a goal.

Kiyoshi Nakahara, professor of Information Studies at University of Tokyo, argued on Professor Suzuki’s idea of ID, “Today, we are concerned with a mobile-phone-based educations.  As you know, mobile phone is used quite personally by its user in various occasions, on the train, walking on the street, or in one’s own room.  How does an instructional design help ‘m-learning’ platforms?” Then, he continued, “You have shown us a lot of interesting thoughts, but could you tell us when and in what occasions we should apply those whole bunch of different ideas?  Any rule of thumb?”

Reacting this question, Professor Suzuki answered, “For many different occasions, you should prepare different scenarios and pick the one that fits what you are situated.  And also try all what you might guess would work.” Professor Suzuki clarified, “There must be multiple ways to get to the same goals.  If the goals are clearly defined, instructions can be designed appropriately.”  Then, he strongly stated, “Regardless of whether a one-hour material for one person or a ten-year-program for millions of learners, I can design if the goals are clearly established.”

Meanwhile, Mr Yasuo Moriyasu, Vice President at Benesse Corporation, said, “It’s a matter of technologies if you only want to create the sophisticated, quite impressive educational contents for mobile-learning.  But still, if you want to better design instructions, you should significantly consider what the learners might gain from the materials.  A material must guarantee certain level of effectiveness from learning the contents from this material.  Thus, the contents must, by all means, be good.  But more importantly, you should really think about how to keep motivating the learner to continue studying with it.  Therefore, we have so far focused on making the ‘game’-touch materials.”  Mr. Moriyasu continued, “For the next stage, we will probably add a new value to the ideas so far we have been sticking to.  Maybe, it’s a good time to consider making the leaner feel like studying with fellows.”

(News source: Mainichi Interactive – November 9, 2004)


6: På kalenderen

10th International Conference on Technology and Supported
Learning & Training. 

For mere informasjon ta kontakt med:

Veslemøy Barnes
Research and Educational Network (REN)
Innovation Norway
20 California Street 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111-4833
Tel: +1 415 986 0770
Fax: +1 415 986 7875