Learning Paths: developing a specification to facilitate way finding in lifelong learning
02 / 2006 - 02 / 2009
This project aims to contribute to the comparability and exchangeability of learning opportunities beyond the boundaries of institutions and nations by proposing a uniform computer interpretable language to describe learning paths. As lifelong learning opportunities are expanding and learners can choose from a greater variety offered by different institutions, traditional way finding support facilities like course catalogues or face-to-face study advice are no longer adequate to support learners in choosing those learning opportunities that best meet their needs and preferences (Yorke, 1999). Hitherto approaches to describe courses and curricula (learning paths) in a way that enhances comparability have been limited. To the extend that these efforts have been formalised in a technical specification to capture course as well as curriculum information, they are restricted in the sense that they are not connected to a uniform and meaningful way to describe competences and competence levels the courses and curricula are directed towards. Automated generation of learning paths requires that learning opportunities are described both in a uniform and meaningful way, so that for instance in navigational support those courses and programmes can be selected that fit learners needs and preferences regarding competence level, learning style, delivery mode, available time etc. This project will investigate initiatives so far to derive a common agreed upon set of necessary elements for course and curricula descriptions. These elements will be further compared to elements identified by literature concerning curriculum design as key elements. Based on these investigations a learning path specification will be developed that will draw on a competence description which is currently being developed. The ensuing learning path specification will be validated firstly by mapping a number of existing learning paths onto the specification. Secondly the specification will be applied in a tool developed to offer navigational support in a pilot of the European Integrated Project TENCompetence which focuses on building networks for lifelong competence development. Eventually (beyond the scope of this project) the specification will be submitted to standardisation bodies.