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  • 1. ADAPTING SCORM TO M-LEARNING CONTEXT Ana María Fermoso GARCIA, Alberto Pedrero ESTEBAN Computer Sciences Faculty, Pontifical University of Salamanca, Compañía 5, Salamanca, Spain afermosoga@upsa.es, apedreoes@upsa.es Abstract: M-learning can be considered as an evolution of e-learning that allows users to advantage of the benefits of mobile technologies to support the learning process. SCORM model is a set of standards and specifications. Its main objective is to enable educational contents to be shared and reused among different systems. In this work we combine both SCORM and m-learning topics.The idea is to allow accessing and visualizing learning contents packaged in SCORM within mobile devices. Nowadays most of the contents in m-learning are specifically created for mobile devices only. This fact prevents the reutilization of learning resources that already exist in different repositories and LMS. We have designed an application to solve this problem. Our application for mobile devices can manage a learning content packaged in SCORM in a similar way to how any LMS handles a SCORM object. Besides, the application is being tested in a real environment for several e-learning companies. Keywords: Mobile learning (m-learning), SCORM, reusing educational contents. I. INTRODUCTION The m-learning can be considered as an evolution of e-learning that allows the user to use the advantages of mobile technologies to support the learning process. Mobile phone is today a very usual device, and it is not mandatory permanent Internet connection to work. For all this reasons it is an ideal tool for us to use it at any time, and also to learn and make better use of our time. An objective in the e-learning is to achieve a common methodology to ensure the accessibility, interoperability, durability and reuse of materials in digital format. The e-learning standards make it easy. In order to improve the reuse of educational resources in digital format appears the concept of learning object. A learning object includes not only educational content, but also metadata descriptions that describe the own object and make easier its use and location. Another resource to achieve the e-learning objectives is the Sharable Content Object Reference (SCORM) model. SCORM is a common model for learning objects. Its main advantage is to make easy the reuse of educational contents between different systems (learning object repositories and e-learning platforms, for example). Nowadays SCORM is a de facto standard supported by major manufacturers and consumers of e-learning and is supported by the leading learning platforms. In this paper it will be put on relation the SCORM model with mobile learning to promote the use and reuse of the educational contents also at mobile devices. Nowadays contents in m-learning are tailored and not reuse the educational resources that already exist. This paper tries to give a solution to this problem. In the first section it will be contextualized the problem studying on one hand the main trends in m-learning research. On the other hand the fundamentals of the SCORM model. In the third section it will be described the SCORMmobile project which uses the SCORM model in m-learning context. Finally the paper finishes with the conclusions and future work.
  • 2. II. RELATED WORK: RESEARCH TRENDS IN M-LEARNING The m-learning as a teaching platform is increasing their users and utilities. There are different lines of advanced research trends in this area. It will be discussed the most interesting. In one of them could frame the SCORMmobile project. One of the lines of research focuses on the analysis of issues involving education and teaching methods through mobile environments. A project which aims to develop innovative teaching methods using the mobile can be found in the [4] e-book. Another line is the adaptation of contents in order these contents are accessible from mobile devices due to the limitations and special features that have these devices. The idea is to use "converters" of multimedia content, images, web... to a format that can be viewed in the mobile device. In the market some applications already exist that allow different types of format conversion. Another trend is to integrate mobility systems in learning management systems (LMS). This line is mainly oriented to include mobility features in online learning platforms. One of the most extended platform of learning is Moodle. There are several studies of this type with Moodle but most of them are in process or are not released: MLE [5], mTouch of iPhone [6] as a native application for Moodle, or MOMO [7], developed specifically for Moodle but it requires download a client for mobile and does not work in version 2.0 of Moodle. However, these adaptations are always partial and specific of a particular learning platform. In addition they are not operating or are not accessible. Finally, another important line of research, that would fit the project of this paper, is oriented to allow viewing from a mobile device, learning content that follow e-learning standards. This line has a lot of development potential in the future. By the moment the most important initiative in this area is Pocket SCORM Runtime Environment [8] that allows tailored the SCORM contents to mobile. However the functionality of this project in reference to the SCORM standard has become somewhat outdated and limited, and does not supported sequencing and timing characteristic of the new version of the standard Other authors propose using an intermediate layer (framework) to adapt the SCORM object to use it in mobile devices like in [3]. This research is also going on this last line, which is the less explored. It aims to achieve display the contents of a SCORM in mobile phones. III. SHARABLE CONTENT OBJECT REFERENCE MODEL (SCORM) SCORM model is a de facto standard in e-learning. SCORM is a specification of the ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning) [1] [2]. The main objective is to share educational content between different systems to facilitate the reuse of this content. SCORM is composed by three models: - Aggregation model (CAM) which defines how the educational content may be packaged in a .zip file. In this way the content will be able to be transferred between different systems. - Run Time Environment which defines the communication between the e-learning platform (LMS - Learning Management Systems) and the host where is the educational content. - Sequencing and navigation model (SCORM SN): This model is very important in the new 2004 version [1]. It consist in a set of rules that specifies the order in which learner should acquire the content. In the project which is proposed in this paper it is necessary to study in detail the Aggregation model. From the point of view of this model the content is packaged in a .zip file. This file contains a special file. This file is a XML file which contains the information about the structure (organizations) of the object and their resources. Apart from this, the object and their items could also contain metadata about themselves. These metadata are described using another e-learning standard, LOM.
  • 3. LOM define nine categories to describe a Learning Object. These categories describe for example, general information about the object, technical requirements, copyrights, pedagogical characteristics to use it… The LMS who wants to use the SCORM object will have to interpret the content and structure of the XML file. Figure 1. Justification of SCORMmobile project IV. STUDY CASE: ACCESS SCORM OBJECTS FROM MOBILE DEVICES Nowadays most of the educational contents for m-learning are believed tailored. In this sense, on one hand it will not be reusable all the educational contents that already exist. On the other hand all the educational contents specially designed for m-learning will not be able to be used in others environments, may not be reused. There are many educational contents in different learning object repositories (LOR) or in Learning Management Systems (LMS). SCORM enables content sharing across platforms. If content is packaged using the SCORM model, this content could be interpreted an accessed from all the LMSs and LORs that support this model. Therefore, if from a mobile phone was possible to interpret a SCORM object, all the contents packaged with SCORM could be accessible from mobile and could be use as resources for m-learning. SCORMmobile [9] is the application which gives the answer to this question. The Figure 1 shows how SCORMmobile enables educational contents in digital format that could come from different platforms, could be accessed from the mobile. The objective of this project is to view and access from a mobile device to educational content in form of learning object packaged under the SCORM model. Given the advantages of the SCORM standard and the increasing amount of educational materials that follows this pattern, SCORMmobile would make it accessible from the phone a lot of materials already existing in digital format, which follows standard rules for ease of use and reuse. This would be very useful from the point of view of m-learning, where it is common that the materials created are very specific to a particular technology and unable to be reused in other environments than those for which they were created.
  • 4. SCORMmobile shows the content of a SCORM object in a mobile phone. To achieve it is it is necessary not only obtaining the resources of the educational content, but also finding out the structure and organization of these contents. The architecture of the application include a software component which one time the user has in his mobile the SCORM object that he wants to access, will show in the screen of the mobile the structure of the resources of this object. From this moment the user only will have to select the resources of the SCORM object which wishes to visualize in his mobile. To reach this objective internally the software component has to carry out several steps. The SCORM object appears as a packed file in zip format. Therefore the first activity will be unpacked the zip file. When the file is unpacked it is obtained, between others, a special XML file which contains all the information about the organization and resources of the object. Therefore it is necessary to explore this XML file in order to find the structure of the object. The content of the object can be organized in different ways from the pedagogical point of view. Therefore the same object could have many organizations to view its educational resources. Finally, to show the structure of the object to the user it is used a tree view. This is the same format in what is showed this type of information in an LMS. One time the users select in the tree a resource of the learning object, its content is showed in the screen of the mobile. SCORMmobile allowd to show different types of resources, office, web or pdf documents. Figure 2 shows the tree associated to a learning object packed in SCORM. In this example the objective of the SCORM object is a simple course of geometry to learn the basic foundations of polygons and their main types. The tree which presents the structure of the object shows that the object has two organizations. The learning content can be organized “by lessons” or “by content” Inside each organization appear the resources of the object. The user only has to select the resource who wants to open and its content will be shown. In our case the user has selected the content “Explanation of Polygon”. Figure 3 shows the content of the resource of the SCORM object selected in Figure 2, which is a presentation about some types of polygons. The interface implemented in SCORMmobile to process a SCORM object is similar to the opening of a SCORM object in a LMS as Moodle or any other. V. CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE WORK This paper described a case study which enables reused educational contents in mobile environments. In this sense it could be considered as smart. The implemented application allows visualizing any educational contents packaged in SCORM format. In this way any learning object packed in SCORM would be accessible from a mobile device. Learning platforms allows importing SCORM resources to visualize them. Learning repositories allows importing and exporting SCORM objects. Therefore, the resources in SCORM format stored in learning platforms or learning repositories will be accessible from mobile with the SCORMmobile application. In this way we can access from the mobile for multiple educational contents that already exist. Nowadays the application is being used in an organization whose main activity is e-learning. With SCORMmobile this organization will also teach using mobile devices. In the current version the application works in mobiles with Windows Mobile as operating system. The first line to research in the future will be to increase the number of mobile devices that can access the application. To this end the application will be developed also in others operating systems like Android or IPhone.
  • 5. Figure 2. Visualization of the structure of a SCORM object in a mobile phone Figure 3. Visualization of the content of a resource of a SCORM object References [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning). SCORM 2004 4th Edition. Overview. 2009 Accessible in http://www.adlnet.gov/Technologies/scorm/SCORMSDocuments/2004%204th%20Edition/Overview.aspx . Last access on 2011 March 14. ADL (Advanced Distributed Learning). SCORM. Accessible in http://www.adlnet.gov/Technologies/scorm/default.aspx . Last access on 2011 March 14. Drire, Pirelli, Laurossy, Derick, Benghezala. “What We Can fit in Mobile Learning Systems?” Proc. IMCL 2006. Amman, Jordan, 2006. Jan Herrington, Anthony Herrington, Jessica Mantei, Ian Olney and Brian Ferry New Technologies, new pedagogies: Mobile Learning in Higher Education. 2009. Accessible in http://ro.uow.edu.au/newtech/. Last access on 2011 March 14. Mobile Learning Engine (MLE). Accessible in http://mle.sourceforge.net. Last access on 2011 January 25. MoodleTouch (mTouch) of iPhone. Accessible in http://www.pragmasql.com/home/moodletouch.aspx. Last access on 2011 March 14. Mobile Moodle (MOMO). Accessible in http://www.mobilemoodle.org/momo18, Last access on 2011 March 14. Nigel H. Lin, Timothy K. Shih, Hui-huang Hsu, Hsuan-Pu Chang, Han-Bin Chang, Wen Chieh Ko,LJ Lin. "Pocket SCORM”, icdcsw, vol . 1, pp.274-279, Proc. 24th International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems Workshops - W1: NMSA (ICDCSW'04), 2004. SCORMmobile. Accesible in http:/www.upsa.es/clubinnovacion/proyectos/2010/scormmobile/index.html. Last access on 2011 March 14.