AICC Course Structure - Summary
In the AICC Terminology, the parts of the course that can be rearranged to define the order in which a student can experience a course are referred to as structure elements. These are the Assignable Units (AU, also referred to as a lesson) and the Blocks (a block is simply a grouping of lessons and other blocks). The order in which these appear in the course defines its structure.
Another building block, which may be required to define prerequisites for a course, is the Objective (this is mostly content information, that includes a title for each objective, and a narrative description if desired).
These three items (Assignable Unit, Block and Objetive) are referred to as course elements.
Example of a simple course structure
The AICC defines the format of seven files that can be used to describe a course's content and structure:
- COURSE (CRS). This file contains information about the course as a whole. It offers information that relates to more than just a single element in the course. It includes (among others) data elements like the course creator, the course title, the total number of blocks, the total number of lessons or a textual description of the course.
- ASSIGNABLE UNIT (AU). It contains a table with information relating to the assignable units (AU) in the course. Each AU has its own record (or row in the table) and includes fiels like: Type, File Name, Mastery Score, Max Time Allowed, etc.
- DESCRIPTOR (DES). This file contains a complete list of every course element in the course. It is used as the basic cross reference file showing the correspondence of system generated IDs with user defined IDs for every element. This file also contains any textual description created for an element in the course.
- COURSE STRUCTURE (CST). This file contains the basic data on the structure of the course. It includes all of the assignable units and blocks in the course. The order in which these appear in the file implies (but does not force) an order for presentation to the student. Even though the student may have the option of selecting any assignable unit or block, the CMI router will probably list them in the order in which they appear in this file. If a specific order is required by the developer, that order is specified in the prerequisites file.
- OBJECTIVES RELATIONSHIPS (ORT). Objectives have complex and variable relationships to other elements of a course. For instance, a lesson may cover several objectives. A single objective may require mastery of several lessons. Other objectives may require the mastery of many sub-objectives. The Objectives Relationship file is able to define all of these relationships. However, not all CMI systems depend upon objectives for routing decisions. Not all objectives are critical to the functioning of a CMI system. This file is optional for course descriptions that do not have objectives as prerequisites for assigning lessons. All objectives that are part of a prerequisite are required in this file.
- PREREQUISITES (PRE). Sometimes it may be desirable to prevent a student from entering a lesson until he has met certain prerequisites. This file allows that sort of constraint to be placed on each block or assignable unit (AU) in a course.
- COMPLETION REQUIREMENTS (CMP). The Completion Requirements file is designed to allow the explicit specification of when an assignable unit, block or objective should be assigned a specific status (Passed, Completed, Failed, Incomplete, Brosed, Not Attempted) when that status does not conform to the defaults. It is essentially an exception file.
|Levels of Complexity
The AICC guidelines define three levels of complexity in describing the course structure. Increasing the level of complexity from level 1 to 2 to 3 should result in: (a) Less effort to review and modify the CMI system after importing the data and (b) More complete description of the designer's intended usage of the course material.
The level of complexity determines the number of files required and the amount of information required in each file.
- LEVEL 1. This is the simplest level. It describes the contents of the course (the lessons or assignable units). It also defines the course structure in terms of assignable units and blocks. It allows the construction of a course hierarchy. The order in which the student may go through the course is only implied with the structure. This description cannot force any order on the student. (Required Files: CSR, AU, DES, CST).
- LEVEL 2.This level of complexity adds a possible single prerequisite for each structure element (an assignable unit or a block). The status of each prerequisite is simple: complete or incomplete. The order in which the student moves through the course can be forced by prerequisites. This level also introduces the ability to identify a structural element whose completion status can affect another element. This concept enables (among other things) the use of separate assignable units as pretests. Thus the completion of one assignable unit (such as a pre-test) can result in the "Pass" status of another unit (such as an instructional lesson). (Required Files: CSR, AU, DES, CST, CMP, PRE).
- LEVEL 3. Level 3 is divided into two parts. A level 3 conforming system may support features described as Level 3A or Level 3B or both feature sets. Level 3A adds the ability to define complex prerequisites and complex completion requirements. Logical expressions may be used to describe these requirements. Level 3B describes the relationship of objectives to the course structural elements. Supporting 3A and 3B allows the use of complex prerequisites and completions with objectives. (Required Files 3A: CSR, AU, DES, CST, CMP, PRE; Required Files 3B: CSR, AU, DES, CST, ORT, CMP, PRE).