E-learning standards lag

As the e-learning market takes off, so does the need to build standards

that will integrate products in blended technology environments.

There is no standard for integrating World Wide Web-based, asynchronous

e-learning programs with live, synchronous virtual classrooms. Within the

asynchronous realm, however, there are a number of specifications to link

learning management systems with courseware, though none of them work together.

Those Web-based specifications have emerged from the aviation industry,

academia, the Defense Department and, more recently, from Microsoft Corp.

The Aviation Industry Computer-based Training Committee (AICC) specification

doesn't work with the Instructional Management System, originally from

academia. And neither works with DOD's Advanced Distributed Learning Sharable

Courseware Object Reference Model (SCORM) specification or Microsoft's Learning

Resource iNterchange.

Those behind Microsoft's LRN and DOD's SCORM are attempting to build

a bridge between the two other specifications — IMS and AICC. However, many

distance-learning content vendors want to make sure resulting specifications

aren't so restrictive that they prevent features innovations from moving

forward, according to Brian Rouwlett, vice president of engineering for

the National Education Training Group Inc., Naperville, Ill.

Even individual implementations of one specification do not guarantee

that distance-learning products will work together. "The standards are

broad enough so that two vendors could both say they were AICC-compliant

but not work together," Rouwlett said.

IBM Corp. resolved the problem by layering an implementation of one

specification on top of another in its LearningSpace 4.0 product (formerly

Pathware), released in May. "We built an [Advanced Distributed Learning]

implementation on top of an AICC implementation," said Dennis Careri, senior

director of product development for IBM Mindspan Solutions.

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