30 November 2004
JISC Circular 10/04
Circular for the Specification of e-Learning Framework Reference Models
To: Heads of Higher Education Institutions funded by the Higher Education
Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Heads of Further Education
Colleges in receipt of HEFCE Funds
Electronic Directors of Information Services
Copies: Learning Resource Managers
JISC Committee Members
JISC Executive Staff
JISC Regional Support Centres
New Technology Institutes
1 This circular, funded by the Distributed e-Learning Programme invites proposals to
specify reference models for the e-learning framework. Projects will start no later than
March 2005 and run until 31 March 2006. Further information about the programme
and the e-Learning Framework can be found at:
2Total funding of £750,000 is available for this work, with up to £150,000 available per
3Each project is expected to:
•Produce an e-learning framework (ELF) reference model in line with the domain
areas described in this circular:
i.define the scope of the application domain to be addressed;
ii.gather a portfolio describing current practices, processes and
systems that address this application domain of use cases and
scenarios of the domain;
iii.identify the shortcomings to be addressed and produce a gap
analysis of the domain area;
iv.map the application domain to the services defined in the ELF;
v.define a common solution pattern for the application domain;
vi.develop use cases describing the use of systems within this pattern;
vii.define which ELF service definitions are best to be used to support
the pattern, if necessary defining application profiles of existing
specifications, or new service definitions.
•Produce a reference model implementation(s) that support(s) the development
of the reference model and/or provides proof of concept.
•Provide supporting information and advice to related Distributed e-Learning
Programme Regional Pilot Projects
•Work closely with the relevant CETIS Special Interest Group(s) (SIG).
•Collaborate with other projects funded by this call.
4The deadline for receipt of proposals is 1300 hours on Monday 24 January 2005.
5This circular is supported by the following documents:
•Service Orientated Frameworks paper (S. Wilson, K. Blinco, D. Rehak,
ALTiLab, July 2004)
•A Technical Framework to Support e-Learning paper (S. Wilson, B. Olivier, S.
Jeyes, A. Powell, T. Franklin, Feb 2004)
•The Draft JISC Open Source Software Policy. Prospective bidders should be
aware that this document is not yet finalised and some aspects are liable to
change. Further information on the policy can be obtained from the Programme
•Other information relating to the ELF can be found at
6 This circular builds on the work of the e-Learning Framework and Tools strand
http://www.jisc.ac.uk/elearning_framework.html of the e-Learning Programme
7 The ELF is currently at a stage of development where it requires the development of
reference models for a number of e-Learning domain areas. This exercise will enhance
the degree of specificity of the ELF for JISC and provide support to a number of
Distributed e-Learning Regional Pilot projects that will be running in parallel with these
9 Developing reference models will help identify and understand where gaps currently
exist in the ELF and prioritise future work.
E-Learning Programme – Distributed e-Learning (DeL) Programme
10 JISC’s e-Learning Programme aims to identify how e-Learning can facilitate learning
and to advise on its implementation. It focuses on four areas: e-Learning and
pedagogy; technical frameworks for e-Learning; innovative use of technology for
learning and teaching; distributed e-Learning. The DeL Programme also supports the
growing regional aspect to HE.
11. DeL is the effective use of technology to assist learners to access, piece together and
manage the learning they do throughout their life, in a range of institutional, informal
and work-based settings.
12 The DeL strand of the e-Learning programme has been funded by the Higher Education
Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to facilitate lifelong learning and wider
participation in HE by providing learners with:
•a more seamless learning experience;
•better learning tools;
•easier access to personal learning information such as portfolios;
•access to greater quantities of quality-assured learning materials.
13 Teachers will also benefit from guidance on how to use e-Learning resources within
14 The aims of the Distributed e-Learning strand are:
•To develop models to show how local, regional and national systems will work
together to provide coherent access to e-Learning resources.
•To establish regional pilots to evaluate the integrated use of e-Learning
systems, tools, repositories and content to support widening participation and
•To extend the generic e-Learning technical framework for use at regional level,
and develop national services to support region use, eg repositories and
•To develop tools for teachers and learners to support lifelong learning, and to
develop content to populate the repositories and question banks.
•To develop practical guidelines for implementing e-Systems and sharing e-
Learning content to support widening participation and regional partnerships.
15 A strategic overview of the Distributed e-Learning strand is available on the JISC
website at: www.jisc.ac.uk/uploaded_documents/eDistributed-strategic-overview.doc
e-Learning Framework (ELF)
16The ELF is a factoring of the functionality and data that networked applications can either
provide or consume from elsewhere. The functionality and data are expressed in services,
most of which are likely to take the form of web services.
17The ultimate aim of the Framework is, for each identified service, to be able to reference
the open specifications or standards that can be used to implement the service, or, where
necessary, to develop new ones. The aim of the JISC e-Learning programme as a whole is to
provide open-source implementation toolkits such as Java and .Net code libraries to assist
institutions in the implementation of these services.
18The intention is not to provide a blueprint for an open-source solution, but rather to facilitate
the integration of commercial, home-grown and open source components and applications
within institutions and regional federations, by agreeing common service definitions. The
current state of the ELF and details of the service definitions can be found at
Service orientated architecture
19 A service-oriented architecture (soa)1 is a collection of services that communicate with
each other. The communication can involve either simple data passing or it could
Further information on service orientated architecture can be found at: http://www.service-
involve two or more services coordinating some activity. Some means of connecting
services to each other is needed.
20 A service is a function that is well-defined, self-contained, and does not depend on the
context or state of other services. soa defines a service using Web Services
Description Language (WSDL)2. A looser sense of web services would also include
those that do not make use of WSDL, for example REST based web services deployed
by Amazon and Google.
e-Learning Process Model
21 The e-Learning Process Model represents the relationship between activities required
to support the learning cycle and support the teacher, organisation and learner.
Sequence of Learning Activities (Learning Design)
Learning Learning Learning Learning
Activity Activity Activity Activity
e-Learning Process Model
22Proposals are invited to undertake a project that:
•Produces an ELF reference model in line with the domain areas described in
this circular. The Specification for Developing ELF Reference Models R1 (Oct 04)
is appended and provides guidance for the development and content of an ELF
reference model. Projects are expected to take an evolutionary approach to the
development of their ELF reference model. This process will involve iterating
cycles of reference model development that include:
i.outlining the required steps to develop an ELF reference model;
ii.overseeing the development of the reference model on behalf of the
development community with the relevant CETIS SIG;
iii.producing a reference model implementation(s) that support(s) the
development of the reference model and/or provides proof of concept;
iv.producing a gap analysis of the domain area in relation to the
•Disseminates and embeds the reference model into the ELF.
Further information on WSDL can be found at: http://www.service-architecture.com/web-
•Provides supporting information and advice to related Distributed e-Learning
Regional Pilot Projects3.
•Works closely with the relevant CETIS Special Interest Group(s) to validate the
reference model with the community.
•Collaborates with other projects funded by this call.
23The domain areas for the ELF reference models are aligned with the CETIS Special
Interest Groups (SIGs). Projects are expected to work closely with the relevant SIG in the
development of the ELF reference model and any reference model implementation. The
domain areas and relevant SIG are listed below:
Domain Scope e-Learning CETIS SIG Sample
Area Process Reference
Model Scope Projects
Assessment The creation, Assessment Assessment TOIA
execution and SIG
recording of Coordinator APIS
electronic Rowin Young
to the lifelong
Learning The design, Sequencing of Educational X4L
content construction and learning Content SIG
execution of content, Coordinator RELOAD
learning activity Learning Sheila
that can be used Activity MacNeill
and shared by management,
institutions and learning,
the lifelong content
Enterprise The sharing of Student Enterprise SWEET.net
data between Records, SIG toolkit
and within Management Coordinator
institutions and Information Vashti (Enterprise)
the lifelong Systems, Zarach
learner. Enterprise IMS Enterprise
Further information about the Regional Pilots can be found at:
Personal The creation, Portfolio Learner MLEs for
Development recording and Profile Information Lifelong
Planning sharing of PDP Packaging
and ePortfolio SIG Learning
information that Coordinator
supports the Peter Rees WS4RL toolkit
lifelong learner. Jones (PDP)
in the Context of
Personal The learning Whole e- Pedagogy DeL and Toolkit
Learning process from the Learning Forum Personal
Environments perspective of Process Model Coordinator Development
the lifelong Lisa Corley Projects
Resource This ELF reference models for this domain area are not funded under
repositories this call. A JISC Digital Repository programme is due to begin in 2005
and will fund projects that explore repositories from the teaching and
24Project proposals are expected to include iterative cycles of development/implementation
to support and provide proof of concept for the reference model. These activities may include:
• Identifying and documenting relevant use case or scenarios (eg UML use cases).
• Defining ELF service definitions:
•Behaviour (eg API, WSDL)
•Data representation (eg XML).
• Writing/defining/contributing to the specification/standardisation process of service
• Implementing the reference model (in part or whole) in order to further develop the
reference model or as proof of concept.
• Developing software to address gaps in the reference implementation model.
25Each iterative cycle of reference model development should be separately budgeted for the
purposes of the proposal. As the project progresses each cycle will be costed and specified in
detail prior to its initiation.
26 Each project is required to support the iterative cycles with a core supporting strand
which should be budgeted for separately. The supporting strand will be responsible for:
•Project Management and coordination of the reference model
•Planning, initiating and evaluating the iterative cycles of reference model
•Developing and validating the model with the wider community.
•Dissemination and embedding of the reference model into the ELF.
•Liaison with CETIS SIGs, JISC and other projects.
•Providing supporting information and advice to the DeL Regional Pilots.
27 The supporting strand should be separately budgeted to the iterative cycles (point 25)
for the purposes of the proposal.
Reference Reference Reference Reference Reference
Model Model Model Model Model
Development Development Development Development Development
Iteration 1 Iteration 2 Iteration 3 Iteration 4 Iteration n
Example Structure of a Reference Model Project
28 All projects will be expected to work in collaboration with other relevant JISC projects;
attend collaboration meetings to share their work and identify areas of mutual
development; provide supporting information, guidelines and tools to the regional pilots
and other development projects.
29 The key deliverables of the projects are:
•ELF reference model in the form specified by the Specification for Developing
ELF Reference Models R1.
• ELF reference model implementation(s). Any software developed by the
project must be open source and comply with JISCs draft Open Source
Policy and the draft Software Quality Assurance Policy and Guidance.
Terms and conditions of grant
30 As a general rule, JISC does not seek to retain intellectual property rights (IPR) in the
project deliverables created as part of its programmes. However, funding is always
made available on the condition that project outputs are made available, free at the
point of use, to the UK FE and HE community and Specialist Colleges (as defined by
the JISC) in perpetuity, and that these may be disseminated widely in partnership with
31 It is extremely desirable that any software components of the deliverables are released
under appropriate open-source licences to ensure that they can also be freely shared
with organisations and communities with which JISC has close working arrangements.
All software that is developed will be expected to be made available free of charge to
the education community in perpetuity and all code developed will be made available
through open-source models. Projects should license outputs under an Open Source
Agreement that promotes their reuse (eg LGPL for data libraries, GPL for applications).
For information on these licences, see: www.gnu.org/licenses/licenses.html
32 It is intended that the deliverables created as part of this programme will, as
appropriate, be deployed by JISC as part of a long-term strategy for providing access
to community resources and, where this is possible, arrangements for archiving
deliverables will be set in place. However, wherever possible, projects will be
encouraged to set in place mechanisms to ensure the continued availability and
currency of deliverables after funding has ended. In the majority of cases JISC will not
be able to commit to the long-term delivery or maintenance of project outputs after the
end of the programme, though guidance will be given about opportunities for
continuation funding and embedding within institutions.
33 JISC will undertake programme-level evaluation in partnership with the funded projects,
which will be required to cooperate with the programme evaluation. Each project will be
required to build in project-specific evaluation and (where appropriate, eg for software
deliverables) testing activities in its project planning. The scale and nature of this
evaluation and testing will naturally be dependent on the size and scale of project
activity, and should be appropriate to programme aims.
34 Institutions should note that staff may be required to spend limited amounts of time on
programme-related activities in the year following the end of the funding period. This
time might be needed for cooperation with the programme evaluation, or for writing
reports or providing input to JISC publications. It is expected that this staff time should
be provided as an institutional contribution to the project and will not be additionally
funded by JISC. This is typically 5–10 days of staff time.
35 JISC will draw up an overarching dissemination strategy in partnership with the projects
and other JISC initiatives. However, projects will be expected to engage in project-
specific dissemination to the post-16 education sector as appropriate (see paragraphs
38-39 on Public Relations).
36 JISC will look for phased outcomes as the projects progress. The nature of the project
outputs will be expected to:
•Provide a lasting benefit to the community.
•Have a scale and nature concomitant with the level of funding provided.
•Contribute to achieving JISC's strategic aims. The JISC Strategy can be viewed
37 Projects will be expected to adopt the JISC programme management guidelines
(available at www.jisc.ac.uk/proj_manguide.html). These include IPR and copyright
guidance, adherence to good project management practices, regular reporting and
participation of projects in steering committees. A Programme Manager based in the
JISC Development Team will provide management support to projects.
38 JISC endeavours to ensure that a coherent message is given to the community
covering the breadth and depth of its activities. Projects must adhere to JISC PR
Guidelines. These include advice on developing publicity materials and producing
press releases, and will be issued to funded projects.
39 Each project must create a web page or website to explain the project aims and
objectives and to disseminate information about project activities and results. The
Project Management Guidelines give guidance on the scope, content and design of
websites. Where appropriate, project deliverables and core project documents may be
posted on the website. As the project website is primarily a dissemination vehicle,
deliverables and documents posted are considered to be copies, and the masters will
be deposited in the appropriate JISC repository. The lead institution or one of its
partners must agree to host the website on their server for a minimum of 3 years after
the end of the project and to assist JISC in archiving it subsequently.
40 Proposals must be submitted by 1300 hours on Monday 24 January 2005. Projects
should start no later than March 2005 and run until 31 March 2006.
41 The key stages during the bidding process are as follows:
•Submit proposal by Monday 24 January 2005.
•Successful bidders will be notified by late January.
•Project start no later than 1 March 2005.
42 The funds for this programme have been made available by the HEFCE, and proposals
are invited from any HE institution funded by the HEFCE, any FE college in receipt of
HEFCE funding or a consortium/partnership, (which can include other HE institutions,
FE colleges or other learning organisations based in or outside the UK) led by an insti-
tution funded by the HEFCE.
43 Funding of up to £150,000 per project is available.
44 Queries concerning this circular are being handled on an individual basis via the
relevant CETIS SIG coordinator (see paragraph 23) or the programme contacts listed
in this circular (see paragraphs 50 and 51).
45 Proposals, of no more than 14 pages of A4, typeset in Arial or a similar font at 10 point
size in Word or Pdf format, should be submitted both as a single-sided, unbound
hardcopy, and as an electronic copy via email. Both copies must arrive by the
deadline. In addition to the 14 page maximum, proposals must include the completed
cover sheet at Appendix A to this circular, a letter of support from an authorised senior
manager from the lead institution (and each partner if appropriate) and the CVs of
46 Proposals must be received no later than 1300 hours on Monday 24 January 2005.
Faxed or late proposals will not be accepted. Both email and hardcopy proposals
should be sent to:
Ann Lloyd, JISC Executive, Northavon House, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16 1QD.
Tel: 0117 931 7111. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Structure of proposals
47 The content of the proposals should reflect the evaluation criteria set out below. To
assist in the assessment of all proposals against a common baseline, proposals should
be structured as follows:
Cover Sheet Proposal to be headed with the cover sheet included in this circular at
Project Outline (up to 4 sides of A4 text, excluding any diagrams):
•The application domain to be addressed.
•Summary of cost, start date and completion date.
•The need for and benefits of the proposed reference model.
•Approach of the project:
oWorking with partners (if any)
oWorking with the JISC
oWorking with CETIS
oWorking with domain bodies and the wider community.
•Outline of the proposed reference model.
oExisting specifications to be used
oAny specification profiles to be developed
oAny new specifications to be developed.
•Existing JISC or other developments (if any) to be included in a reference
implementation and any additional work needed on them.
•New developments (if any) to be undertaken in the creation of a reference
Project Plan The project plan should include:
•Initial breakdown of actives and timelines. This can be presented as a Gantt
chart or in work packages. Proposed number of reference model development
iterations with the first iteration specified in detail. (up to 3 sides of A4).
•Risk analysis (1 side of A4).
•Quality plan (1 side of A4).
•Project management approach (1 side of A4).
Budget (1 side of A4). A summary of the proposed budget which in broad outline
identifies how funds will be spent over the life of the project. Staff costs, equipment and
consumables, travel and subsistence (if applicable), dissemination, evaluation and
other costs should be itemised and an indication of any institutional contributions (eg
overheads, equipment, staff time) should also be provided. The budget should be
broken down separately, show costs associated with the supporting strand and every
iteration of reference model development.
Relevant Experience/Knowledge (1 side of A4). Demonstrate experience/knowledge
of the ELF, soa, software development, e-learning and project management.
Project Team (1 side of A4) – Names, roles and experience of staff expected to
contribute to the project. For each member of the project team list any other
projects/commitments they will be assigned to during the life of the project. Full CV
details to be include in the appendix.
Evaluation Criteria for Proposals
48 Proposals will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
Quality of proposal and project plan The depth to which the proposal addresses the
requirements outlined in the call, demonstrates an understanding of a service oriented
approach and the ELF and shows innovation as appropriate. The quality of the
proposal will be assessed on the basis of the deliverables identified and the evidence
provided of how these will be achieved. An assessment of the risks involved in the
successful completion of the project must be included. (30%)
Impact The extent to which the project outcomes will deliver a useful ELF reference
model and reference model implementation. (20%)
Sustainability The extent to which the proposal supports any outputs such as the
software component. (10%)
Partnership and dissemination The degree to which the proposal demonstrates an
openness and willingness to work in partnership with JISC in forward planning,
dissemination and evaluation, and the potential for extended partnership beyond the
funding period. (10%)
Value for money The value of the expected project outcomes vis-à-vis the level of
funding requested, taking into account the level of innovation, chance of success and
relevance to the target communities. (10%)
Experience/Knowledge Evidence of the project team's understanding of the technical
and/or management issues involved, and of its ability to manage and deliver a
successful project, for example through work done to date in the area or in related
49 Notwithstanding the weightings of the evaluation criteria, proposals that fail badly on
any one criterion may be rejected, and proposals showing exceptional strength in one
or more areas with serious weaknesses in others may be funded. In making awards
under this call, JISC will take into account the need for an appropriate, varied and
affordable portfolio of projects and partners. It is not, therefore, necessarily the case
that the projects with the highest raw scores will be those funded in all instances.
50 Enquiries about the Distributed e-Learning strand and this call for regional pilot projects
should be addressed to:
• Richard McKenna, Programme Manager, JISC Executive, University of
Bristol, Beacon House, Queens Road, Bristol, BS8 1QU. Tel: 0117 954 5076
or 07785 518564. Email: email@example.com.
51 General enquiries about the proposal submission process should be sent to:
•Ann Lloyd, JISC Executive, Northavon House, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16
1QD. Tel: 0117 931 7111. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover sheet for proposals (All sections ELF Reference Model Project
must be completed) Distributed e-Learning programme
Name of lead institution/organisation
Name of proposed project
Full contact details for primary contact
ELF Reference Model Domain Area
Achieving Sustainable Lifelong Learning
in the Context of Europe
PATHWAY 1 PATHWAY 2 PATHWAY 3
Application to Application to
Employment employment and
(pre-HE) Application to HE university (post
(1 cycle) 1st cycle)
Workpackage Application to
Lifelong Learning employment & 2 Cycle
Scenarios in work of HE scenarios of use
webservices use cases &
Cycle of HE scenarios of architecture for DS
Application to Webservices use Workpackage
employment cases & arch. for UK AP & pilots between
use cases 1 cycle UK HEIs
Locate use of PDP Assess Europass
toolsagainst for UK
Workpackage Workpackage Workpackage
Develop nested APs& Develop nested Aps& Pilots between HEIs in
pilots for application to pilots for application to st
1 different member
employment (pre-HE) cycle of HE states
Pilot between UK universities and
Resource pack to support
general UK implementations
Develop an AP of the a generic
e-portfolio for UK Lifelong Learning
Technology Enhanced Learning Conformance; European Requirements and Testing
Further information contact Peter Rees Jones LIP SIG Coordinator.