Universitat Pompeu Fabra (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 3077-3086
ISBN: 978-84-614-2439-9
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
IMS Learning Design (IMS LD) is an educational technology standard which has been the subject of much attention within research and development since its inception in 2003. It uses a specific vocabulary informed by a theatre metaphor which purportedly any user can understand, and it proposes a way of planning within which existing designs can be formally expressed. The end result of designing a lesson is a so-called Units of Learning (UoL), which takes the form of a zip package that can be interpreted by players and authoring tools compliant with the standard. By focusing on the process it facilitates sharing of teaching methods rather than purely on content. Making the process explicit also affords further potential advantages, such as encouraging reflection and enabling the individual teacher to take a more analytical approach to his or her own teaching. While other tools allow for sharing remotely and asynchronously, IMS LD is unique in that it offers a standard which is not restricted to a particular setup, such as a specific learning management system.

Yet, only limited work has been done testing the concepts and application of the standard in genuine contexts and with real users, because no end-user ready tooling exists. However, tooling is becoming more mature, increasing the feasibility of such research. This paper details one study that was conducted with 19 participants using the IMS LD authoring tool ReCourse. The participants were asked to bring an example of their own planning before attending a tutorial on the standard and the tool. Then they were required to answer two questionnaires regarding their understanding and opinion of two existing UoLs. To test how real users would apply the concepts, participants were asked to create their own UoL, using the ReCourse. Finally, participants were required to answer an exit questionnaire pertaining to their opinion and understanding of the overall concepts of IMS LD. These sources of data were then analyzed using mixed methods, in particular contrasting data from the questionnaires with an analysis of the outcome of the participants work. To further add substance to the findings, six participants were asked to attend a focus group which took the form of a structured discussion.

The findings resulting from this study were that participants understood and implemented the fundamental concepts well, and the lesson plans created by the users demonstrated some encouraging aspects of the standard. More problematic were the findings that users appeared to struggle with some of the overall functionality and usefulness of the standard, expressing certain misgivings and misconceptions. In particular, participants were concerned with the amount of work required to create a satisfactory UoL, and they tended to view the standard as somewhat restrictive. Despite the controlled and short-term setting, these findings warrant closer scrutiny as it provides valuable insight in how real users perceive the standard and the tool at the current state, contributing to the discussion around the development of the standard and its tooling.
IMS Learning Design, teaching practice, ReCourse, usage, planning.