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eLearning at Hull Professor Chris Jesshope Dept of Computer Science Broad spectrum of interest… Corporate - Hull has an eLearning strategy and has made a significant investment in its “Digital University” project Pedagogical - wide use of different tools, e.g. Merlin a simple in-house VLE

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elearning at hull

eLearning at Hull

Professor Chris Jesshope

Dept of Computer Science

broad spectrum of interest
Broad spectrum of interest…
  • Corporate - Hull has an eLearning strategy and has made a significant investment in its “Digital University” project
  • Pedagogical- wide use of different tools, e.g.
    • Merlin a simple in-house VLE
    • AudioGraph an easy-to-use in-house multimedia authoring tool - now a commercial product http://www.nzedsoft.com/
    • Blackboard - Hull’s supported and widely used VLE chosen by the new Hull-York Medical School (HYMS) to support its cross-site activity

October 21, 03

  • Technical - there is ongoing development of tools and platforms in two areas
    • Academic services are implementing the Digital University platform - based on the open-source JASIG U-Portal http://port.hull.ac.uk/
    • Department of Computer Science which is interested in research-based solutions to some of the current eLearning systems problems

October 21, 03

the digital university @ port hull ac uk
The Digital University @ Port.Hull.ac.uk

A Portal designed to present all of the University’s business to all of its stakeholders from a single-point of access with a single sign-on

October 21, 03

  • Typically learning environments exist to allow non-technical staff to publish on the web
  • They are many and diverse and this leads to monolithic and inflexible systems, e.g.
    • Use Blackboard and you must use it for everything
    • We have standards but no inter-operation
    • There is inflexibility in the presentation, e.g.
      • Platform
      • Device
      • User’s level and preferences

October 21, 03

a practical example
A practical example
  • Use AudioGraph to design a multimedia presentation, Reload to annotate it with metadata and Blackboard to present this online to a class of students
  • How do I do this?
    • Create presentation in AudioGraph and publish as a folder containing a web site
    • Locate and annotate it with metadata using Reload and export an IMS content package
    • Upload IMS contant package to Blackboard and link into a course page

October 21, 03

problems in authoring publishing
Problems in authoring/publishing
  • Interaction between AudioGraph and Reload is via the published presentation
    • If I edit the AudioGraph presentation the Reload annotation must be performed again
    • Some exceptions if I understand the systems well enough to copy files around
  • Blackboard will upload the IMS package but ignores the manifest
    • So we lose the metadata anyway
    • We also lose any organisations on the content
    • Worse still Blackboard is very inflexible how its allows linking to the contents of an uploaded package

October 21, 03

problems at run time
Problems at run time
  • Blackboard does not support a single sign-in (at least not not out of the box)
    • A student going in through a portal like Port.Hull has to log in again to the course
    • This may occur for many courses
  • If I want to use the AudioGraph plug-in for presenting a test there is no way to administer and assign the marks

October 21, 03

pushing the boundaries
Pushing the boundaries
  • These problems are not found by simple or naïve use of learning environments
    • VLEs like Blackboard are good for first-time users as they provide a quick and easy route to a basic service
  • More advanced use, e.g.
    • To share or discover content
    • To use a mix of tools including audio, quizes etc
    • To Integrate into existing enterprise systems
  • Is not possible without significant programming effort

October 21, 03

solutions and directions
Solutions and directions
  • Our research aims to integrate a set of related and joined-up serviceswithin a standard environment, e.g.
    • Management systems, e.g. finance, registration and authentication*
    • Learning management systems e.g. content delivery, interaction and & feedback capture, etc.
    • Content management systems e.g. repositories, discovery & reuse, etc.
    • Communication tools e.g. email, group discussion boards, instant messaging, etc.*
    • Authoring tools, e.g. quizes, multimedia, vanilla web pages*
    • Presentation control, e.g. a portal*

* Non-learning specific

October 21, 03

digital university revisited
Digital University revisited

Portal - presentation layer

Common Services

User Management Service



Event Management Service

Reporting Service

Learning Services

Learning Content Management Service

Learning Management Service

Assessment Management Service

Learning Administration Service

Data Layer

Learning Content Metadata

Learning Object


Learning Interaction Data

Assessment Data

Administration Data

Courtesy of Stuart Sim Sun Inc.

October 21, 03

  • eLearning as a set of web services provides a solution to many problems
    • Separation of content from presentation
    • Integration of legacy systems with novel new learning applications
    • Interoperability between systems
      • Interfaces are specified using standards e.g. WSDL, SOAP etc.
      • eLearning tools may just become a collection of other web services (speech, graphics, IM etc).
  • There are still problems to be solved in terms of making interfaces conform to externally defined schemas (e.g. IEE LOM)

October 21, 03