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REN nyhetsbrev nr. 4, 2005

16. mars 2005
1: Using SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) to integrate learning systems
2: “Engaging Learning: Designing e-Learning Simulation Games”
3: “m”(Mobile)-Learning Project Interim Presentation
4: Nytt og nyttig
5: På kalenderen

Vårt neste medlemsmøte, som var berammet til 6. april er utsatt. Vi kommer ut med ny dato rett over påske. Det blir trolig siste uke i april, eller 1. uke i mai. Temaet på møtet vil bli som tidligere annonsert, Arbeidsplassen som Læringsarena. 

1:  Using SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) to integrate learning systems

I’ve previously mentioned Simple Object Access Protocol, SOAP as a tool for integrating different information technology services.  I believe it holds great promise for creating rich and flexible architectures.  Stephen Downes’ OLDaily pointed me to a summary of CETIS’ work on using SOAP to integrate learning systems ( The substantive message was that simple things could be done, but more complex projects had failed.  However, the simple things were still useful. 

I’m increasingly thinking we’re going to need more powerful and flexible systems, and that we aren’t going to be able to hard code the solution in the ways that traditional ERP systems have been built.  The new model for ERP is the business process modeling (BPM, e.g. systems, where your building of the model of the business builds the software.  A practical instantiation is the job-specific portal, with relevant information piped in from all appropriate applications. The connections ideally would be made through web services. 

The point is to avoid a rigid or brittle structure that requires complex reprogramming when organizational changes occur.  Instead, we’d like an architecture that uses sets of rules operating on models (context, user, task, see, and when you change the rules or models, the system performance adapts. The goal is a loose coupling of the system with aggregate performance and emergent properties.

This isn’t necessarily just data about customers or problems, but can also be job aids for performing specific tasks, or learning material at the point of need.  To date, most performance support systems have been hand-knit for specific applications.  Our goal is, now, to be able to write some rules and use tools to match rules to learning objects dynamically, custom-creating a performance support system that lets you update your terminology or business models and have the system adapt. A version focused on just a couple of relevant models demonstrates the underlying approach. This, to me, is the vision of the workflow learning that I’ve talked about before.

The reason I think this is important derives where I left off last time, talking about supporting informal learning.  As Tony O’Driscoll’s model suggests, there’s a transition from formal to informal as you increase in expertise.  However, as I indicated, I haven’t seen any tool that handles the transition well.  It would undoubtedly be a combination of dialog tools around the content, but would have to support collaborative content structuring as you move toward the informal dimension. 

Just brainstorming here (bear with me): you start with dialog around formal content (no fixed content will answer all questions, and maybe you take advantage of that deliberately). You introduce collaborative activities and associated tools as ways of negotiating understanding.  Then, using the associated tools (perhaps with an argumentation support/design rationale tool, e.g. an IBIS, or even a Wiki, the learners start creating their own definitions of their understanding, representing and discussing what they believe.  This transition is the tricky part, I reckon.  One organization I know is creating expert-facilitated sessions, and building community around it. Another way would be to build the expert network first, and then back-fill with what the community thinks is the necessary pre-requisite knowledge, which may be closer to the way Xerox worked it (  Worth some experimentation, I reckon.

Another thing we want to think about what sort of learning is suited by the event-based model (going away to a training session, even an online one, and leaving your context of work), and what sort of learning is more suited to so-called Just-In-Time use (‘in’ context). I’ve begun to think that event-based learning is critical when you need significant behavior change, and just-in-time works when someone needs just a little support.  However, I want to do something more. Yes, we can do so-called blended learning, but that’s just a mix of two different events. I want to figure out how to help people over time in context.  I’ve some thoughts, but that’s a story for another time.

2:  “Engaging Learning: Designing e-Learning Simulation Games”
coming in May from Pfeiffer!

Last time I mentioned standards, such as the ones that support a Services Oriented Architecture (SOA).  I’ve also previously mentioned the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM).  A legitimate complaint about how the standards bodies (IMS, IEEE’s LTSC,  and of course ADL) were going about their efforts was that they were not being done by people with a background in learning, and that the standards had more to do with content control than learning design. 

IMS actually created a separate committee on supporting instructional design, and they ended up extending the Education Modeling Language as developed at the Open University of the Netherlands.  The resulting design specification ( is an interesting exercise in trying to create “a framework that supports pedagogical diversity and innovation, while promoting the exchange and interoperability of e-learning materials”.  It doesn’t appear that it has led to much, but having the framework is conceptually interesting as a basis for automatically matching learning needs to resources.

A different attempt to find useful ways to characterize learning is an approach derived from the notion of pattern languages as initiated by Christopher Alexander in architecture. The notion is that we combine different design patterns in systematic ways to create products.  The approach has been adopted in software engineering, interface design, and even game design.

Naturally, someone has taken the pattern approach and begun applying it to learning (  Here we are looking for common patterns with particular properties for learning. They are somewhat like lesson plans, but abstracted from specific domains, The learning design specification is interesting in that it tries to give you a structured but flexible language to model different learning approaches, while pedagogical patterns are less formal but are actual attempts to create a library of such models. Naturally, it’s interesting to dream about using the one to build the other.

The reason I’m going here, however, is for another reason.  While there are problems with standards, and arguments around them (e.g., note, it’s a PDF), there are benefits to standardizing. The main one, as I have previously mentioned (, is that with standards you can add information to the point that systems can add value.  And by that, I mean everything from managing the learning all the way to intelligent tutoring systems (

Last time I mentioned some thoughts about how to blend formal and informal. I want to go further than that, however.  My concern is how to move beyond having the ‘event’ model of learning (where you attend a separate event and then return to the context of learning) to an intelligent coaching model, but ubiquitously (,,sid7_gci759337,00.html).  Ideally, this means bringing the necessary learning to the point of need. The original concept of performance support system was a good one, and workflow learning takes it further by moving towards generating the learning on the fly (though portals are still hand-configured, we want to go to auto-configuration of the learning), but it’s still about wrapping learning around computer-mediated tasks. 

My notion of what would be ideal is based upon thinking through what a pervasive mentorship might be.  So, for example, I’d like some preparation before any important event, some quick support during the event, and then some reflection afterward. The mechanism would have to be rules operating on rich models such as I talked about last time ( One question is what the optimal content would be.

Given that this assumes a long-term relationship between the learner (small bits of learning over a long period of time, instead of one extended engagement), we might want smaller bits of support. I think of John Carroll’s minimalist instruction, wrapped with some guidance for reflection would be appropriate.  Tying some self- (or other) assessment into the picture, along with support for moving up a curriculum, and you might actually have individuals perform better and improve over time.  To do this, I think there are some interesting research bits that aren’t yet dealt with adequately in existing instructional models.  Which is always a fun place to be. Ideally, an action research or design research approach would be used to develop and evaluate this approach.

Of course, another interesting area to explore in this model is when and where to bring people into the loop.  Maybe next time.

3: “m”(Mobile)-Learning Project Interim Presentation

In an effort to create new cultures of educations, Benesse group, an independent study group at University of Tokyo that has been linking the wireless telecommunication technologies to learning platforms, so-called “m-learning,” as an advanced, special seminar, recently held a workshop to demonstrate interim results of a project that its member researchers and faculty have been working on, “Wearable-device based material-oriented teaching platform” researched by Dr. Yuhei Yamanouchi, Associate Professor at University of Tokyo.
The idea of this project is to make the materials talk themselves directly to the students.  And this involves a wearable display system to make the things look like talking.  This way, the projects aims to inspire the students learn more.

Mobile Terminals as a tool
So far, the mobile phone has been being utilized in order for students to practice questions and answers on anywhere-basis, role-play simulation, and to keep enthusiastic about studying.
The anywhere-practicing is a long-standing usage of mobile phones in learning fields.  Mobile phones can be used during extra hours to practice questions, such as on the train or when walking. However, about this area, Professor Yamanouchi finds that this type of studying habit too discouraging to further research because the most learning platforms have more or less the same methods that presenting questions, colleting answers from students, and giving feedbacks, regardless of whether PC or mobile. 

The role-play simulation, on the other hand, is a method typically let the students participate in the subject matters by letting them play the role of related animals or materials, such as to play the part of lion to see the food chain or the ecosystem.  Although this well requires mobile devices to achieve the programs, this method is too enigmatic to make a research.
This is because it is extremely hard to achieve in the daily life as it requires holding a workshop style arena where multiple players get together.

Many researches have been made under an idea to use mobile device as a tool to motive students keep studying.  In the early days, educators typically used SMS or I-mode emails to send learning materials to the students. By frequently sending materials to students’ mobile phones or PDAs, educators could make the students feel like always connected to their classrooms wherever they might be located.

Yamanouchi considers mobile devices difficult to achieve covering the whole aspects of classroom educations as they are.  Our knowledge has been built not just on materials we have learned at schools, but also on our daily activities such as those what we witnessed, perceived, and heard. We rather have more of such experience-based knowledge. Assuming this way, we should not limit our focus on classroom educations when thinking about developing mobile-learning platforms.  It might be better off creating a completely new concept of studying that will involve various ways to interact with natural phenomena occurring in the daily life.  Yamanouchi proposes that we create a new learning environment where students can touch an old column to hear a history of important people associated with the architecture told directly by the column, or can touch the arm of a sculpture to hear what is important about the sculpture told by the sculpture itself.

Material-oriented system
As the first step, instead of using mobile device directly, Yamanouchi began by creating a prototype with a PC.  He first created a system that let the students interact with displayed items at a museum. 

This system has a new feature that tells different types of information depending on the way the student holds the material. To do this, he put an IC tag on the material so that it activates differently depending on whether it is held horizontally or vertically.

Because the student wears the display only on one eye, he or she keeps seeing the actual fossil by another eye during the images are show on the display.  This creates a special illusion that the trilobite fossil starts talking to the students with a semi-transparent image of reconstructed trilobite overlaid on an actual fossil background.

  Then, the system asks the student to hold the fossil at a different angle, so that the system goes on to the next items to talk related to the trilobite’s history that is associated with other once-living organisms’ important functions that were evolved from trilobite’s functions originally.

February 28, 2005
For more information, please visit: (Japanese language only).

4: Nytt og nyttig

Edvantage group signs 3-year deal as Hydro’s eLearning Solution Partner
Hydro expands eLearning into a strategic tool for competence development

During 2004, several successful eLearning projects have been implemented, spanning from Hydro’s Core Value program “The Hydro Way” for 20 000 employees to Language training and Leadership Communities. The eLearning solution company Edvantage group has been Hydro’s partner in this. The agreement with Edvantage group has now been renewed and includes content, services and a corporate license on Edvantage group’s Learning Gateway.
The eLearning portfolio outsourced to Edvantage group today includes leadership communities for leadership programs, soft skills courses from Skillsoft, health and safety from BBC, language courses from Auralog, a corporate social responsibility course from Amnesty International, internally developed courses on corporate directives such as HSE and Hydro Leadership Development Process, courses in “The Hydro Way” and several other tailored courses such as Documentum and Lotus Notes.

– The new contract is obviously very valuable to us, not least because we see Hydro as a client of strategic importance. We are proud to be part of this opportunity, exploiting the potential of eLearning within Hydro, concludes Berglund.

Edvantage group signerer 3 årig avtale med DNB om leveranse av elærings portal til hjemmePC prosjekt i DnB NOR

” Vi har lagt stor vekt på opplæring i forbindelse med hjemmePC prosjektet, sier Per Eide; konsernansvarlig for e-læring i DnB NOR. I stedet for å sende med opplæring på CD-rom valgte vi å etablere en læringsportal på nettet. Her får de ansatte tilgang på elæringskurs innenfor flere områder.”

Selskapet Edvantage group leverer læringsportalen og administrerer kursinnholdet for DnB NOR. Kurspakken består blant annet av IT-kurs fra DataPower Learning og språkkurs fra ARM Lingua. Dette innebærer at brukerne kan skaffe seg IT kunnskaper på DataKort – nivå, og lære seg fransk, spansk og engelsk. I tillegg finnes kurs utviklet spesielt for DnB NOR og kurs innenfor personlig utvikling.

5: På kalenderen

43rd Annual International Performance Improvement: Process, Practice & Productivity
April 10-15, Vancouver, Canada


Training Director’s Forum, May 22-25, 2005, Phoenix, AZ
Training Directors' Forum, the premier networking event for training, learning and knowledge executives, is your annual opportunity to rejuvenate, rethink and re-energize your work.

ASTD International Conference & Exposition
June 2-8, Orlando, FL

Chief Learning Officer Symposium Fall 2005
The Speed to Competency: Developing People, Building Capabilities
September 28-30 2005 at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, California
Workforce productivity has never been more critical. Join us in at the Hyatt Regency, Huntington Beach, CA to explore the most creative and compelling solutions for rapidly increasing employee potential.

Training Fall Conference and Expo, October 17-19, 2005, Long Beach, CA
At Training Fall Conference and Expo, you'll find more resources, more expertise and more opportunities for you to accelerate your professional development and online learning curve.

Chief Learning Officer Symposium EMEA 2005
November 2-4 2005 at the Hotel Arts Barcelona, Spain
Join us in Barcelona as Chief Learning Officer magazine extends its highly regarded Symposium series to the EMEA markets. CLO Symposium EMEA is the perfect forum for senior international learning executives to share their experiences and best practices with an ever-expanding Global community.

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