Thesis

Learning management systems for distance education over the Internet

The Information Age has created an unprecedented demand for learning. In order to stay competitive in the workplace, workers find it necessary to continually reeducate themselves. The demand to learn and learn quickly is driven by a paradigm shift in the business world. The business atmosphere has changed from one where the big acquire the small to one where the fast acquire the slow. Seeking education from institutions offering traditional classroom courses on fixed timelines is inadequate in this environment. Today's learner needs an educational delivery methodology where they determine the time and place ofthe delivery.
 To meet these demands, institutions of higher education are quickly migrating courses to the Internet. With the adoption of the Web as a popular standard, this delivery methodology shows great promise of being able to deliver educational content to students anywhere at anytime. As learners rapidly accept this delivery method, institutions are under great pressure to develop and deliver educational content with the same high standards as traditional instruction. As a result, specialized software systems to support Internet based education have rapidly emerged to help fill this need. These Internet based Learning Management Systems (LMS) provide an environment where educators can assemble and deliver high quality educational content in a virtual classroom.
 With Web based content quickly being created at institutions throughout the world, principles, such as content discovery, interface standards, and searchable libraries, need to be adapted to make the next generation of LMS more robust. EDUCAUSE recognized this need and initiated the Instructional Management Systems (IMS) project in 1997. The IMS project is defining interoperability specifications for the next generation LMS.
 As LMS become increasingly integrated into the learning environment, they may duplicate administrative information found in an institution's enterprise system, which are comprised of systems such as Student Information, Training Administration, Human Resource Management, Financial Management, and Library Management. These systems, representing a major investment for an institution, are part of large infrastructures for managing access to electronic resources and are considered to be the official source for administrative information.
 Duplication of the same information across different systems is not a desirable administrative architecture since it raises costs and the potential for inaccurate data increases. It would be desirable to share common data elements as needed through an interoperability architecture. This thesis presents an architecture that will allow such interoperability and is based on the Enterprise Interoperability Specification of the IMS project.

The Information Age has created an unprecedented demand for learning. In order to stay competitive in the workplace, workers find it necessary to continually reeducate themselves. The demand to learn and learn quickly is driven by a paradigm shift in the business world. The business atmosphere has changed from one where the big acquire the small to one where the fast acquire the slow. Seeking education from institutions offering traditional classroom courses on fixed timelines is inadequate in this environment. Today's learner needs an educational delivery methodology where they determine the time and place ofthe delivery. To meet these demands, institutions of higher education are quickly migrating courses to the Internet. With the adoption of the Web as a popular standard, this delivery methodology shows great promise of being able to deliver educational content to students anywhere at anytime. As learners rapidly accept this delivery method, institutions are under great pressure to develop and deliver educational content with the same high standards as traditional instruction. As a result, specialized software systems to support Internet based education have rapidly emerged to help fill this need. These Internet based Learning Management Systems (LMS) provide an environment where educators can assemble and deliver high quality educational content in a virtual classroom. With Web based content quickly being created at institutions throughout the world, principles, such as content discovery, interface standards, and searchable libraries, need to be adapted to make the next generation of LMS more robust. EDUCAUSE recognized this need and initiated the Instructional Management Systems (IMS) project in 1997. The IMS project is defining interoperability specifications for the next generation LMS. As LMS become increasingly integrated into the learning environment, they may duplicate administrative information found in an institution's enterprise system, which are comprised of systems such as Student Information, Training Administration, Human Resource Management, Financial Management, and Library Management. These systems, representing a major investment for an institution, are part of large infrastructures for managing access to electronic resources and are considered to be the official source for administrative information. Duplication of the same information across different systems is not a desirable administrative architecture since it raises costs and the potential for inaccurate data increases. It would be desirable to share common data elements as needed through an interoperability architecture. This thesis presents an architecture that will allow such interoperability and is based on the Enterprise Interoperability Specification of the IMS project.

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