ASPECT - Overview
ASPECT is a new, 30-month Best Practice Network supported by the European Commission's eContentplus Programme that involves 22 partners from 15 countries, including 9 Ministries of Education (MoE), four commercial content developers and leading technology providers. For the first time, experts from all international standardisation bodies and consortia active in e-learning (CEN/ISSS, IEEE, ISO, IMS, ADL) will work together in order to improve the adoption of learning technology standards and specifications.
Adopting Standards for European Educational Content
Initially, 14 content providers add additional content (both professionally produced and user-generated by teachers/pupils) to a critical mass of educational resources in an existing Learning Resource Exchange (LRE) for schools. This is a federated network of 20 learning content repositories that has been developed by European Schoolnet and its supporting MoEs together with other partners that include the ARIADNE Foundation.
Technology providers and standards’ experts in the project work with ASPECT content providers to develop best practice approaches to implementing standards for both educational content discovery and use. Content providers apply these best practice approaches to a critical mass of resources in the expanded LRE. These resources are then validated with up to 40 schools in four countries in order to determine how the implementation of standards and specifications in the project leads to greater usability of LRE content. Based on this practical implementation of standards, which will be independently evaluated, ASPECT partners will feed the project’s experience into pre-standardisation activities and run an extensive set of dissemination actions that include international workshops, plugfests, regional events and an award. The aim is to involve a wider group of organisations in ASPECT BPN activities and to develop a unique co-operation framework for all stakeholders who will also benefit from a set of new support services that include: a LOR registry; Vocabulary Bank for Education; Application Profile registry; automatic translation service for LOM and content packaging formats; compliance testing; transformer services; and access to known interoperability issues.
As a result of its work, the ASPECT project will have a strategic impact on pre-standardisation activities and the ability of partners to submit and support proposals to European and international standardisation bodies. Together with the CALIBRATE and MELT projects, ASPECT will also help European Schoolnet and its supporting 28 MoE and partners to implement its strategic development plan for the LRE and provide standards’ based, high quality learning resources both to schools in Europe and globally.ASPECT Web Site
The three overriding aims in the ASPECT Best Practice Network are to:
- Analyse how a range of standards and specifications compare in terms of how well they apply to a diverse range of learning resources from both commercial and public sector providers (including content generated by teachers).
- See how the implementation of standards and specifications will enhance the pan-European interoperability of educational resources and the systems that are used to develop, discover, transfer, and use that content.
- Establish best practices for combining existing specifications into complete solutions that address the needs of the school community in Europe in terms of discovery, exchange, and reuse of learning resources.
Specific objectives of the ASPECT Best Practice Network are then to:
- Leverage existing consensus building and awareness-raising initiatives related to standards for educational content, including those of the main standards’ bodies and the new EdReNe Thematic Network supported by the eContentplus programme;
- Enhance further an existing Learning Resource Exchange for schools with a critical mass of high quality educational resources that includes user-generated and professionally generated content from both Ministries of Education and private sector developers;
- Move beyond existing consensus building and awareness raising by focusing on practical implementations of a range of content standards and specifications (including standards and specifications to support the discovery and exchange of this interoperable content) that both Ministries of Education and commercial developers regard as being of strategic importance for the school sector;
- Analyse how a range of standards and specifications have been combined in order to be applied to ASPECT content and propose a strategy for how these implementation approaches can be taken to scale and adopted by a wider community of stakeholders, including MoEs, regional education authorities, large commercial publishers, SMEs and individual teachers;
- Implement a dissemination strategy and engage in new forms of targeted and widespread awareness raising and consensus raising actions involving stakeholders in all 27 member states, with the aim of combating a perceived ‘disconnect’ between standards initiatives and end-users;
- Validate with up to 40 schools in four countries to what extent the implementation of standards/specifications in the project leads to greater usability of ASPECT content and improvements in the ability of these resources to support the learning process in real-life contexts;
- Evaluate to what extent work in ASPECT has a strategic impact on pre-standardisation activities and the ability of partners to submit and support proposals to European and international standardisation bodies.
- EUN Partnership a.i.s.b.l. (EUN); BE; Coordinator/content provider/technology provider
- Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL); BE; Technology provider
- Siveco Romania SA (SIVECO); RO; Content provider/school pilot
- Cambridge University Press (Holdings) Ltd. (CUP); UK; Content provider
- Universität Koblenz-Landau (KOB); DE; Technology provider
- Instituto Nazionale di Documentazione per L'Innovazione e la Ricerca Educativa (INDIRE); IT; Content provider
- RWCS Limited (RWCS); UK; Technology provider
- Vocabulary Management Group (VMG); UK; Technology provider
- Association EIfEL, European Institute for E-Learning (EIfEL); FR; Dissemination
- Universidad Vigo (VIGO); ES; Dissemination
- Icodeon; UK; Technology provider
- Young Digital Planet S.A. (YDP); PL; Content provider
- Svietimo Informaciniu Technologiju Centras Valstybes Biudzetine Istaiga (ITC); LT; Content provider/school pilot
- EduCentrum (EduC); BE; Content provider/school pilot
- UNI·C Danmarks EDB-Center for Uddan (UNI·C); DK; Dissemination
- FWU Institut fur Film und Bild in Wissenschaft und Unterricht GmbH. (FWU); DE; Content provider
- DG Innovation and curriculum development - Ministry of Education (DGIDC); PT; Content provider/school pilot
- University of Ljubljana (UL); SI; Content provider
- Educatio Public Utility Company (EDUCATIO); HU; Content provider
- The Open University (OU); UK; Content provider
- Jyvaskylan Yliopisto, University of Jyvaskylan (JYU); FI; Evaluation
- Centre National de Documentation Pedagogique (CNDP); FR; Content provider
|Ministries of Education
ASPECT partners include nine Ministries of Education or national agencies nominated by Ministries to act on their behalf in the project.
- MoE Denmark – UNI·C
- MoE Belgium (Flemish community) - EduC
- MoE France - CNDP
- MoE Germany - FWU
- MoE Hungary - EDUCATIO
- MoE Italy - INDIRE
- MoE Lithuania - ITC
- MoE Portugal - DGIDC
- MoE Slovenia – UL
Make content standards work for you by becoming an ASPECT Associate Partner and:
- Have the support of an international community
- Participate in workshops using state-of-the-art technologies for developing, testing and playing digital content
- Exploit the benefits of current standards (SCORM, Common Cartridge, LOM etc.) and tools
- Contribute to standard’s definition, adoption and improvement
- Participate in pilot projects
ASPECT is working with a wide group of stakeholders. Organizations that have already joined ASPECT as an Associate Partner, attended ASPECT events or subscribed to the ASPECT newsletter include:
- policy makers and technical staff in national Ministries of Education and
- regional/municipal educational authorities
- members of the standards' community
- organisations building educational content repositories
- commercial educational publishers
- developers of both commercial content and open educational resources
- tools' and learning platform developers and vendors
|In 2010, the ASPECT dissemination activities will also be particularly seeking to engage with:
Download the ASPECT Charter for Associate Partners here
- computer and ICT advisers in schools
- libraries, museums, science centres and other organisations providing digital
- resources to schools
- educational broadcasters
|Joint ASPECT as an Associate Partners
Organisations and individuals can participate in ASPECT Best Practice Network events by becoming an ASPECT Associate Partner. Membership of ASPECT is open to any organisation or individual that is able to contribute to its primary mission of helping stakeholders to define and adopt best practice related to the application of standards and specifications for digital content used in schools.
There is no fee involved in order to join ASPECT or to participate in its online community but organisations and individuals are required to meet all their own costs involved in attending ASPECT events.
ASPECT is particularly interested in working with organisations and individuals that can take an active part in both ASPECT events and the ASPECT online community. It is hoped that as many Associate Partners as possible will be able to participate in the practical implementation of standards and specifications being explored in the project (using their own content) and, based on this experience, contribute to the development of best practice related to this activity.
In order to register as an Associate Partner and be able to attend ASPECT events, organisations and individuals are asked to complete a short application form indicating why they are interested in joining the network and any particular skills or expertise they can offer to the network and other ASPECT members.Register and become an ASPECT Associate Partner here
|The following standards and specifications are being addressed in the project:
- IEEE LOM. Dublin Core IEEE LOM and DC are well adopted. DC is for content in general while LOM is designed for educational content. The major need is to be able to transform metadata instances from one format into another. While solutions for mapping the default specifications exist, good solutions are lacking for specific application profiles of IEEE LOM and DC.
ASPECT partners will make all their content available through the LOM.
- XVD, VDEX, ZTHES, SKOS. ZThes has a wide adoption and the latest version has improved features for internationalisation. VDEX has a wide adoption as well. XVD is the most advanced specification supporting mappings between vocabularies and alternative structures but it has very little adoption at this stage. SKOS has currently the best approach to the mapping of vocabularies. Hence transformers between the formats should be offered to the wider audience of vocabulary developers. However, this is not sufficient. All too often it is the case that Application Profile developers invent vocabularies again and again. Apart from being inefficient, it harms the semantic interoperability of different application profiles. Given this situation, adoption can be best supported by providing a registry for vocabularies and mappings between vocabularies that allows for uploading and downloading in different formats.
ASPECT will evaluate all specifications and adopt one or more as an input and/or output format of the European Vocabulary Bank (part of the ASPECT service centre). In addition the ASPECT will investigate to what extent mappings between these different specifications are possible.
- SQI, SPI, SRU/SRW, OAI-PMH. SRU/SRW are well adopted in the library world. SQI has a good adoption in the European Learning Technology world and many MoEs have adopted it for exchanging LOM instances in the LRE. SQI has been developed in order to support more advanced features such as asynchronous communication and different query languages in federated LOR networks. It is our conclusion that SQI could be profiled to support SRU/SRW such that both specifications could be used in a federated search scenario. OAI-PMH is well adopted also in the European LT world. As it is dealing with a different scenario (harvesting), it can co-exist with the other specifications. SPI is at the specification stage. It is work planned under CEN/ISSS contract.
ASPECT will evaluate all specifications and adopt one or more as for exchanging metadata and content. As a minimum all content providers will adopt SQI and/or OAI-PMH. In addition it will be investigated to what extend these specifications can be made interoperable through for example profiling or a run-time gateway. Finally ASPECT will co-operate with CEN/ISSS in order to test the new SPI specification.
- CQL, PLQL, LRE-QL. These are all abstract query languages that operate on a conceptual model instead of, for instance, relational tables. They have been developed by different parties involved in federating LO repositories and are used to interrogate metadata following the IEEE LOM. In the end it would be better to have a single well thought through query language.
ASPECT will thus first investigate this route and, if this is not possible, try to establish translation mechanisms. LRE-QL is already an application profile of PLQL.
- SCORM, IMS Common Cartridge, IMS Content packaging. In Europe SCORM has been well adopted in training military personnel and to a large extent by commercial publishers, also especially for training purposes. However, the adoption in the school sector is limited. Cited barriers include the limited pedagogical models (primarily instructional design) that SCORM supports, as well as the steep learning curve demanded if one wishes to repurpose a SCO, a situation that occurs much more frequently in the school sector. IMS Common Cartridge is a specification under development that encompasses Content Packaging, Question &Test Interoperability (QTI), IEEE LOM and SCORM. Icodeon, an ASPECT partner and a member of IMS, is making available a Common Cartridge RESTful Web Services Platform that will be used by project partners. Other organisations currently implementing Common Cartridge may introduce their own implementation and present this more as a CC “Player”. As Common Cartridge is still, therefore, at the beginning of the adoption life cycle and project adoption support measures will primarily be in terms of awareness raising, and demonstrators.
ASPECT will not address the barriers to SCORM take-up, as this will involve a long-term effort within the Learning Technology research and pedagogical communities. However, ASPECT will help content providers to use SCORM as well as apply Common Cartridge to content. As part of establishing best practice, the project will investigate what barriers exist for content providers in using these two specifications.
- IMS-QTI. IMS-QTI is reasonably well adopted and works well for what it is supposed to do. While the consortium recognizes that the educational world needs more advanced specifications to fully support assessment, this is not retained as an objective.
ASPECT will help content providers to use IMS-QTI as part of the new IMS Common Cartridge specification.
- CORDRA. CORDRA is a model that is not really adopted in Europe. One of the barriers is the confusion between the general model and its specific implementation and deployment within the US Department of Defense in the ADL-Registry. Nevertheless, it is an important specification. Specific elements, such as the Handle System for identifiers, is of particular interest.
ASPECT will analyse and compare the technological options offered and set-up a demonstrator implementation to be used by content and metadata providers.
- Creative Commons. The Creative Commons licensing scheme is by now well adopted. There are, however, some problems that hamper its adoption. First, as content providers are creating variants, interoperability of those variants becomes a problem. In addition, there is a usability problem. EUN’s experience is that, although Creative Commons is very simple, end-users such as teachers and learners make regular mistakes (about 30%) when uploading material.
ASPECT will investigate these usability issues in order to improve the adoption and practice of Creative Commons.
- ISO/IEC 19796-x. This quality standard, based on European pre-work in the CEN/ISSS workshop learning technologies will be adapted to the project’s needs. By nature, the process-oriented standard ISO/IEC 19796-1 is adaptable to different organizational contexts. The other parts of the standards series will also be used: ISO/IEC 19796-3 (reference methods and metrics) will be used to derive quality measures, ISO/IEC 19796-4 (good practice guide) will be input for the guidelines.
ASPECT will implement those standards and provide feedback on the further development of those standards. This work will be performed as part of WP5 with the help of WP7.
|ASPECT is taking steps to address the potentially damaging ‘disconnect’ between standards bodies and experts on the one hand and educational policy makers, ICT advisers and practitioners on the other. It will ensure that best practice with regard to the implementation of standards and specifications for learning technologies (SSLT) will no longer be derived primarily via technical experts working on pilots and demonstrators and meeting together in workshops and plugfests.
By the end of the project, ASPECT will be actively working with at least 200 leading European experts, professionals and policy makers in Ministries of Education who can make a real impact on SSLT take-up. From the perspective of Ministries of Education taking part in project, a key result will be that teachers’ views as well as those of technical experts will have been considered during the pre-standardisation process.
In addition ASPECT partners will continue to be active contributors to all international standardisation bodies and consortia active in e-learning (CEN/ISSS, IEEE, ISO, IMS, ADL). The project will also specifically:
- Help create at least two CEN Workshop Agreements (subject to approval by CEN/ISSS WSLT), one IMS specification (subject to approval by the IMS Global Learning Consortium) and two ENs created in TC353.
- Make proposals and recommendations concerning how a number of standards can be combined in order to ensure more transparent forms of interoperability between learning content repositories and the wide variety of learning platforms in schools.
- Enable stakeholders to better understand the merits of a range of different standards and specifications and how these can be applied to both professionally generated content and the growing volume of user-generated content from teachers and pupils.
- Provide a new set of support services that will facilitate the interoperability of learning content. Implemented within a LRE Service Centre. These will start to become available in September 2009 and will be sustained beyond the end of the project. The LRE Service Centre will include a:
- LOR registry
- Vocabulary Bank for Education
- Application Profile registry
- Automatic Translation service for Learning Object Metadata and content packaging formats
- Compliance testing
- Transformer service, transforming metadata and vocabularies into another format
- Access to known interoperability issues
- Consolidation and further extend work that has already commenced related to the building of a pan-European Learning Resource Exchange service for schools.
- Carry out a wide range of dissemination activities (including both international and country-specific public events, publication of five newsletters and an ASPECT Award) in order to create a sustainable framework within which stakeholders (at least 300 participants) can work together.
|Next it is the list of deliverables to be produced:
- D1.1: Charter for ASPECT Associate Partners (month 3)
- D1.3.1: Intermediate Public Report (month 15)
- D1.3.2: Final Public Report (month 30)
- D2.1: ASPECT approach to federated search and harvesting (month 6)
- D2.2: Design of data model and architecture for a registry of LO repositories and app. profiles (month 6)
- D2.3: ASPECT approach to multilingual vocabularies, including automated translation services (month 6)
- D2.4: Moodle course or wiki with material from repository to support training and dissemination (month 6)
- D2.5: Infrastructure and services v1.0 (month 9)
- D2.6: Infrastructure and services v2.0 (month 18)
- D2.7: Infrastructure and services v3.0 (month 27)
- D3.1: Best practice report for content use (month 6)
- D3.2.1: Conformance Testing Tools version 1 (month 9)
- D3.2.2: Conformance Testing Tools version 2 (month 18)
- D3.3: IMS CC & SCORM Demonstrator v1.0 (month 12)
- D3.4: Intermediate Evaluation Report for content use (month 15)
- D3.5: Best practice report for content use v2.0 (month 18)
- D3.6: IMS CC & SCORM Demonstrator v2.0 (month 24)
- D4.1: Dissemination Plan & Communication Handbook (month 6)
- D4.2: ASPECT web site and community (month 2)
- D4.3.1: PowerPoint presentations on project (initial) (month 3)
- D4.3.2: PowerPoint presentation on project (final) (month 30)
- D4.4.2: Report on ASPECT workshops, plugfests and conferences n 2 & 3 (month 30)
- D4.5: ASPECT Network of Practitioners (month 6)
- D4.5: Exploitation and Sustainability Plan (month 28)
- D4.5.1: Report on ASPECT workshops, plugfests and conferences n 1 (month 15)
- D4.6: ASPECT Award (month 18)
- D4.7: LRE Service Centre (month 3)
- D5.1: A critical mass of metadata that can be searched for and discovered seamlessly (month 18)
- D5.2: A critical mass of content to which a set of preferred standards and specifications have been applied (month 18)
- D5.3: Release 1 of the integrated system (month 15)
- D5.4: Release 2 of the integrated system (month 24)
- D5.5: Report on the advantages/issues associated with the large-scale implementation of selected standards (month 28)
- D6.1: Customised version of LRE portal (month 6)
- D6.2: Protocol of experimentation with national adaptations (month 8)
- D6.3: Report on summer school (month 13)
- D6.4: National Validation reports (month 27)
- D6.5: Final Report on the Experimentation (month 28)
- D7.1: Evaluation Plan (month 7)
- D7.2: Quality Assurance Plan (month 12)
- D7.3.1: Evaluation Report v1 (month 15)
- D7.3.2: Final Evaluation Report (month 28)