Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The first semester in this academic year has been concluded in January. My major work had been in the the Mobile Wireless Comms (MWC) MSc module: I have experimented with SCORM-compliant Sharable Content Objects (SCO), integrated in our Learning Management System (LMS) XSTREAM and accessible remotely through a web interface. SCORM enables such SCOs to provide feedback about the learning progress of the student, by having small assignments in the SCO which automatically are being fed back into the LMS. In principle this works fine, but there are a few issues:
- the connection between the SCO and the LMS times out, and then some error messages appear at the user's end. This is quite annoying, and it also may interrupt the data flow: sometimes the results from the SCORM quizzes were not reported back correctly to the LMS.
- new versions of an existing SCO will create a new column in XSTREAM gradebook. This makes the handling of the overall marking quite cumbersome, as all different versions of the SCO grades will have to be considered.
- in principle it is possible to have several questions/quizzes within one SCO. But this proves somewhat more prone to failures in reporting back the quiz results, which leads to missing and wrong grade entries on XSTREAM.

Overall, the concept of having these interactive learning objects in the form of SCOs was quite popular with students: they were engaging very well, and the assignments were designed in such a way that students could try out examples. At the core was here some additional JavaScript code, which allowed these SCOs to give each student a different set of problems to solve: the basic formulas and equations were the same, but the individual numbers and parameters were different for each student. This allowed the student to repeatedly try a particular problem, everytime with a different set of numbers.

The downside of using this SCORM-based approach is that it is very time-consuming for the teacher: the preparation of these SCORM-compatible SCOs takes longer than the traditional lecture/tutorial preparations, and fixing the technical issues regarding the incorrect grade feedback added an additional hassle. As a consequence, I am now preparing a set of "good practise" recommendations on how to best use SCORM in this context of XSTREAM.

Also, I will present this work at the CAL 2011 conference in Manchester, April 13-15.

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