Posts Tagged ‘VET’
Late last year Link Affiliates carried out some research for the Australian Flexible Learning Framework’s E-Standards for Training business activity to
identify and document the potential applications of a trust federation approach in the Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector
We were asked to create use cases (scenarios) that clarify the benefits of a VET trust federation, and to identify appropriate technologies for each scenario (the research brief recognised that different technologies might be appropriate for different scenarios).
The resulting analysis identified a number of VET services that could benefit from a trust federation, but also uncovered a complex trust environment with overlapping identity and service providers, and found that no single technology was appropriate for all of the use cases. This post summarises of our findings. Check out the report on the E-standards for Training website for full details … Read the rest of this entry »
In 2003, the Framework began developing structures and standards for managing access to quality electronic learning resources across Australia’s VET sector. In 2004 the Framework established LORN to facilitate exchange of learning objects between states and territories, based on a model of trust, cooperation and interoperability. LORN currently enables the sharing and sale of learning resources that support flexible delivery across the VET sector.” (from LORN website)
Much of what LORN has developed has leveraged another VET infrastructure service, AEShareNet , not least the standards based licensing approach.
So what is LORN?
The Learning Object Repository Network (LORN) is an easy to use portal that allows teachers and trainers to access quality resources for the VET sector.
LORN consists of:
- repository owner organisations that hold learning resources they are willing to share across the VET sector, and
- consumer access providers (CAPs) that use the LORN search to display results within their organisation’s website.
So basically anyone can access and download learning objects; but in order to “advertise” that you have objects available to share, you must conform to some standards and specification both technical and non technical.
Repository owners who participate in LORN have agreed to the following principles:
- Commitment to working with other members—in a spirit of cooperation—to advance the interests of the whole sector especially in relation to gaining efficiencies from sharing teaching and learning resources.
- Commitment to exposing a reasonable amount of content so that using OAI harvesting in the federation of repositories is a rewarding experience for the consumer.
- Agreement to adhere to a minimum set of business and technical specifications.
- Agreement to licence learning objects to users to be reusable within the terms of the associated digital rights. Learning objects in the repositories should correspond with the AEShareNet‑U (unrestricted), AEShareNet-S (share and return), AEShareNet –P (Preserve Content) and AEShareNet‑FfE (Free for Education purposes) licences.
Technical specifications include:
- Maintaining a repository of learning objects relevant to the VET sector
- Providing a harvest file that includes descriptions of all learning objects and other resources using Vetadata (agreed VET specific metadata)
- Using the AEShareNet instant licences (FfE, U, S & P) and the immediate C licences
- Providing a pricing file in the approved format as required for the purpose of transacting immediate C licences.
I have been a member of various LORN references groups since its inception in 2003 as part of different roles and contracts I have held. It has been fascinating to be involved in its slow (sometimes frustratingly slow) and steady progress.
So what are the upsides and where are the issues and where is it going?
The approach is basically driven by a bottom up agreement to cooperate and share. There is a small amount of national infrastructure funding that has enabled the development so far. But really the commitment put in by the repository owners has been the key to its growth and sustainability. And it is amazing that there has been so much agreement albeit hard won. The end result is a whole heap of learning objects accessible by teachers and trainers across the VET sector, which might otherwise have remained hidden within one institution or one jurisdiction. At the same time there has been a strenuous effort to keep it simple for the teachers or learning object seekers. The repositories do the hard yards behind the scenes to keep it simple and consistent for those looking to access learning resources.
But with any such service there are issues.
One fundamental challenge has been the need to allow repositories to charge for learning objects. Basically only a relatively small number of objects would be released across the VET sector if only “free to access and use” resources were allowed. Models do not really exist across the VET sector for freely sharing resources across public and private training organisations, especially when there is both stiff competition between training providers, and fully commercial exploitation of resources in terms of both course provision and publishing. So a simple thing like charging for a resource sets up a huge challenge for LORN, in terms of providing simple and immediate access via micro payments.
Other emerging issues include:
- The desire from repository owners to make non-downloadable learning resources accessible via LORN
- The need to develop a sustainable business model in terms of who pays for the ongoing maintenance and further development of the LORN infrastructure (at present it is project funded)
- The need to provide access to a larger variety of repositories including commercial publishers
- The need to cater for (smaller) repository owners who might struggle to meet the technical specifications entry requirements
So does the LORN model have any relevance to other sectors?
Well first of all in order to develop and deliver the service, LORN has had to tackle key challenges that any resource sharing approach would need to tackle, including:
- Agreed metadata standards
- Agreed and consistent licensing
- Agreed federated harvesting/search protocols
- Persistent identifiers for materials
- Authentication for users
- Also it provides a model for collaborative governance, especially across the public VET jurisdictions.
In designing a pay-per-access option LORN has provided a methodology for ensuring that learning resources can be “shared”, albeit with money changing hands sometime. This sharing can occur across public and private and between private institutions. Mind you this is not non-contestable. There is a school of thought that says the teachers accessing learning resources should not be faced with barriers of “pay before access” . This should be sorted at the macro rather than the micro level. In other words, jurisdiction or institutions or repository publishers provide access to any individual teacher based on a bulk arrangement, either pre or post facto for particular institutions or jurisdictions. (A simple Trust Federation may help in this regard.)
For 2010 LORN has a few key tasks to drive things forward including: finalising the implementation of persistent identifiers, moving towards a smoother authentication approach, and incorporating non-downloadable learning resources into the network.
At the same time AEEYSOC (Australian Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs Senior Officials Committee) is apparently grappling with the importance of a national eLearning architecture plan for digital resource discovery, development, storage and sharing in the school sector. LORN might just have paved the way for such an approach with its hard won successes over the last six years. If nothing else it demonstrates that sharing learning resources was not meant to be easy.