1 University of Teesside (UNITED KINGDOM)
2 University of Athens (GREECE)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 1515-1521
ISBN: 978-84-612-7578-6
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
An important component which is common across e-learning applications are learner profiles. Learner profiles are essential repositories of the achievements and other details of the learners which need to be shared across different applications in order for the new applications to utilize the knowledge about learners accumulated into previous e-learning experiences the learners have engaged in. Typically, learner profiles consist of a set of attributes which describe the personal data of learners (e.g. name, date of birth), their formal education (e.g. degrees), their working experiences, their goals (e.g. to prepare for a final exam), their preferences (e.g. to be presented with the questions of increased difficulty) and their evaluation data (e.g. activities performed during the test).

Sharing of learner profiles is an important service for building more intelligent and personalized learning applications. For this reason, organizations like IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - and IMS Global Learning Consortium (Instructional Management Systems project - developed XML standards for describing the data of learners. IEEE PAPI (Public and Private Information - and IMS LIP (Learner Information Package - are the standards for learner profiles developed from the respective organizations. These standardised structures can be then shared across different applications. IMS LIP utilizes and expands most of the features of IEEE PAPI since it contains a large number of attributes capable of coding various learner data.

As the e-learning standards become more complicated there is a need for developing generalized tools for effectively managing the complex XML structures of e-learning standards. In this paper we present the interoperable Learner Management tool (iLM); a graphical tool which manages learner profiles. iLM utilizes IMS LIP to encode its data. The high level XML attributes used to code the desired information are: <learnerinformation>, <qcl>, <competency>, <goal>, <accessibility>, <transcript> and <activity>. Using these data we code the personal details, knowledge, qualifications, achievements, goals and activities of the learners.

The tool is also evaluated using a short questionnaire based on the Unified Technology Acceptance Model. The tool was exhibited and used by 10 educators who were asked to create some sample profiles for their students. Then they had to respond to a short questionnaire aiming at measuring the usability and the services of iLM. The main conclusion of the evaluation is that the tool is useful and easy to use and could be used to describe various aspects of learner characteristics. The main contribution of our research is the construction of a multi-functional learner management kit which produces interoperable learner profiles. The paper also discusses some problems of creating tools abiding to e-learning standards.

The paper is structured as follows. Section 1 is the introductory section. Existing standards and tools abiding to the standards are reviewed in section 2. Next, in Section 3, the design and the features of iLM are presented. The results of a qualitative evaluation of iLM are presented in Section 4 and Section 5 presents the main conclusions of the paper and proposes future research directions on the areas of interoperability and e-learning standards.
e-learning standards, learner profile, learning technology, multimedia, re-usability, interoperability.