Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Challenges in Educational Modelling: Expressiveness of IMS Learning Design

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Challenges in Educational Modelling: Expressiveness of IMS Learning Design

Article excerpt

Introduction

The adoption of models and modelling languages has brought important benefits in many areas. For example, in software engineering UML (Fowler & Scott, 1999) has been established as the "lingua franca" for modelling static and dynamic aspects of software systems. It provides a graphical language that facilitates the visualization, specification, construction and documentation of object systems. In general, models contribute to three main purposes (Derntl et al., 2006): design, communication and realization. During design, models can be used to represent, think, evaluate and manage the possible solutions to problems. During communication, models enable the interchange of ideas and solutions, mainly when they have a graphical representation. Models can also be used as guidance during the realization of the entities they represent. In addition, nowadays (computational) models can also be used to control the execution of appropriate computer systems that support these three purposes to a long extent.

Educational Modelling Languages (EMLs) have been proposed as a step ahead of the Learning Object (LO) movement (IEEE, 2002) (Dodds, 2001). The main distinguishing feature of EMLs is they are devoted to enable the modelling of learning units in accordance with different pedagogical approaches (Koper & Manderveld, 2004). Therefore, using an EML, it should be possible to model learning units based on the conventional idea of content transmission, but also based on collaboration, based on projects, etc. Eventually, in a computational context, these models should enable to control the execution of appropriate applications, namely Learning Management Systems (LMSs), which support and manage the development of the corresponding learning units. In this way, such LMSs would be able to support learning units in accordance with different pedagogical approaches. As a result, computational EMLs offer a very promising view for the development of e-learning technologies, as current LMSs support just one or very few pedagogical approaches in a suitable way.

During the last years, there has been an intense research effort in EMLs to achieve the aforementioned goals (Koper, 2001) (Rawlings et al., 2002) (Koper et al., 2003) (Hernandez-Leo et al., 2005) (Koper, 2006) (Burgos, 2006) (Botturi & Stubbs, 2007) (Wilson et al., 2007) (Neumann et al., 2009). Up to date, the most relevant computational EML is the IMS Learning Design (IMS LD) specification (Koper, Olivier, & Anderson, 2003) (Koper, 2006). IMS LD has been adopted as the computational EML reference. It has been used to develop a large set of models of learning units. In addition, it has promoted a number of research projects and applications (Koper et al., 2005) (de Vries et al., 2006), some of them involving well-known LMSs such as Moodle (Burgos et al., 2007) and .LRN (Escobedo del Cid et al., 2007). These systems have approached the adoption of IMS LD to provide a better support to other kinds of pedagogical approaches, especially collaborative learning. In this way, they recognize the demands for this kind of pedagogical approaches and the interest on IMS LD.

The EML community recognizes IMS LD as a powerful concept (de Vries et al., 2006), but it is not considered as the definitive EML. Since its conception, it has been generally accepted that IMS LD would need to be extended to solve some limitations, particularly to enhance its expressiveness. In relation with this issue some authors consider that the expressiveness of IMS LD is good enough (Koper & Olivier, 2004)(Van Es & Koper, 2006). Meanwhile, other authors consider several limitations, mainly in the context of collaborative learning approaches (Caeiro-Rodriguez et al., 2005), (Peter & Vantroys, 2005) (Miao et al., 2005) (Wilson et al., 2007) (Dalziel, 2006) (Martel et al., 2006) (Palomino-Ramirez et al., 2007) (Koper & Miao, 2008) (Vignollet et al., 2009). …

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