Educational standards are having a significant impact on e-Learning. They allow for better exchange of information among different organizations and institutions.
They simplify reusing and repurposing learning materials.
They give teachers the possibility of personalizing them according to the student’s background and learning speed.
Thanks to these standards, off-the-shelf content can be adapted to a particular student cohort’s context and learning needs.
The same course content can be presented in different languages. Overall, all the parties involved in the learning-teaching process (students, teachers and institutions) can benefit from these standards and so online education can be improved.
To materialize the benefits of standards, learning resources should be structured according to these standards.
Unfortunately, there is the problem that a large number of existing e-Learning materials lack the intrinsic logical structure required, and further, when they have the structure, they are not encoded as required.
These problems make it virtually impossible to share these materials.
This thesis addresses the following research question:
How to make the best use of existing open learning resources available on the Internet by taking advantage of educational standards
and specifications and thus improving content reusability?In order to answer this question, I combine different technologies, techniques and standards that make the sharing of publicly available learning resources possible in innovative ways.
I developed and implemented a three-stage tool to tackle the above problem. By applying information extraction techniques and open e-Learning standards to legacy learning resources the tool has proven to improve content reusability.
In so doing, it contributes to the understanding of how these technologies can be used in real scenarios and shows how online education can benefit from them.
In particular, three main components were created which enable the conversion process from unstructured educational content into a standard compliant form in a systematic and automatic way.
An increasing number of repositories with educational resources are available, including Wikiversity and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology OpenCourseware.
Wikivesity is an open repository containing over 6,000 learning resources in several disciplines and for all age groups .
I used the OpenCourseWare repository to evaluate the effectiveness of my software components and ideas. The results show that it is possible to create standard compliant learning objects from the publicly available web pages, improving their searchability, interoperability and reusability.