Content Management in Web Based Education

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1 Content Management in Web Based Education Thomas Kleinberger tecmath AG Sauerwiesen Kaiserslautern Germany Paul Müller University of Kaiserslautern Department of Computer Science Erwin Schrödinger Strasse Kaiserslautern Germany Abstract: Based on the newest information and communication technology all the needs of modern educational systems can be met for the first time in one tool and one medium: the computer and the internet. Computer based solutions provide the technological support necessary for the whole teaching and learning process. The greatest advantage is the possible combination of all usable instruments, their flexibility and configurability. With new technologies and new media types it will be possible to support all kinds of training, self-study and continuing education in local or global networks over the web. It is clear that these new methods and technologies require new methods and solutions for the tasks content creation, delivery and archiving in education. Especially the use of new media sets high requirements on these tasks. This article describes how content management systems, a technology already used in other kinds of business, can support these tasks in web based education. After an introduction a definition of content management is given and refined for the area of web based education. Next the main building blocks and features of content management systems are described and the improvements for web based education are highlighted. Finally content management is embedded in the learning workflow. Introduction New media in education is becoming increasingly necessary in making the change to an information society. However, education is expensive and has to be performed efficiently. Educational institutions therefore have to implement new and more efficient teaching and learning environments. More powerful learning systems are required. Learning in the next decade will become a distributed process, not only restricted to classrooms and lecture halls. The use of learning proposals offered over the internet and the world wide web will increase, because the internet and the world wide web offer a standard technological basis for transferring information. This technological basis is affordable and accessible for everyone. Modern web based teaching and learning systems not only present knowledge and information in words and pictures. They include simulations and animations and offer individually designed and interactive learning. New multimedia technology in conjunction with the use of the world wide web are an ideal basis for reforming and modernizing education. As web based education offers become increasingly available, the amount of online learning material will increase consequently more and more. New learning material will be build up more and more of multimedia and hypermedia content for easier illustration and imparting knowledge (see [1] and [2]). With the focus on multimedia and hypermedia, the growing amount of learning content therefore has to be managed to reach the following basic goals:

2 To manage a large amount of interactive multimedia and hypermedia learning material To keep the overview about the whole content used in learning programs To store and archive learning content with a centralized access To preserve physical quality of the learning content To make the learning content reusable for further processing in new learning content creation To provide functions for searching, content browsing at the site of the learner over the world wide web To allow retrieval and delivery directly to the learner over the world wide web These main goals are grouped by IBM into the following categories (see IRT Seminar [19]), where efficiency and effectiveness of current solutions can be improved: Storage of digital media Access to stored media Management of media assets Production process Especially the last two basic goals have to be realized by functionalities directly accessible by learners and therefore have to be realized in a user friendly and time and location independent way, e.g. by WWW interfaces. The reuse of learning content for the creation of new learning material will normally be a feature for the authors of new learning lesson who additionally are interested in searching, browsing and retrieval functions for research and lookup. The other goals are typically reached by implementing backend server applications like storage management systems, fulltext retrieval engines or database systems with appropriate data models, data and essence management and user interfaces for system administrators. This article describes in the following sections how Content Management Systems, a technology already used in other kinds of business like television broadcasting (see [3] and [4]), can support important tasks in web based education to reach the goals described above. An informal definition of Content Management is given and refined for the area of web based education. The main building blocks and features of Content Management Systems are described and the improvements for web based education are highlighted. Finally Content Management is embedded in the learning workflow. What is Content Management Ever since images and sound are available in digital format and thus as data it has become common use to distinguish between media data image and sound data and metadata describing the actual media. Metadata are for example information about the title of a learning theme, its length and its content. According to a standardization suggestion by the Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers [5], image and sound data are called Essence, while all descriptive data is being called Metadata. Meta in this context means as much as about indicating that Metadata contains information about media data. How Metadata can look like, is described for example in [6]. Essence and metadata together are summarized under the collective term of Content. How does this content look like in web based education? Here we deal with texts, pictures and graphics, with hypertexts, multimedia and hypermedia but also with active objects like applets, servlets and scripts because learning mostly is still an interactive process. These active objects can be summarized as Active Learning Media Objects. All these objects, media types and their combination can be summarized in the term Essence, while all descriptive and administrative data about essence and it s sequencing accordingly are the Metadata. Typically the metadata is carried together with the essence to provide easier searching and access to the essence objects. Especially in the case of Active Learning Media Objects or multimedia objects, these objects are coded in a way which is not indexable or searchable in an easy way. Often there are logical connections between the essence and the metadata. For example, an abstract may relate to a particular time span in a video material, and a usage restriction will usually also apply to a particular time span in a video material.

3 Content Management Systems The basic features of Content Management in web based education can be grouped into the following building blocks: Creation: The complete process of authoring and production of Content. This includes typing, drawing, painting, recording, digitization, encoding and storage of essence and metadata. Registration: Importing content in a web based learning system. This can be an automatic or manual import. By registering, content gets known to the Content Management system, unique identifiers will be associated and automatic processes for classification and indexing of the content get started. Classification: All kinds of intellectual or automatic analysis and classification of imported content. The intellectual analysis and classification can be supported by appropriate representation forms and documentation tools. The automatic analysis and classification can be supported by methods of cut recognition, key frame extraction, audio classification, speech recognition, face recognition and other kinds of analysis methods suitable for metadata creation. Classification can also be performed manually by adequate tools for documentation and arrangement. Search: Searching for content either by metadata, which is linked to the essence, or directly by the essence. Typically full text search or similarity search are the commonly used methods. Content based search can be enhanced by filtering, personification, interpretation or methods of case based reasoning. Retrieval: Retrieval of found content by transfer, play, browsing, streaming, display, distribution, download, export or connection. Modification: Changing of essence or metadata with modification and documentation tools. These tools are typically the same tools as used for classification. Storage Management: Content preserving and archiving in file systems, HSM systems or archives, repositories and databases, automatic or manual format conversion for retrieval through different connections, i.e. different bandwidths in networks. Workflow management: Methods for combining and sequencing the basic functional and management features in a learning workflow. Additional blocks for special usage areas: Additional functions in some usage areas like rights management, e-commerce and billing & accounting which affect all building blocks above. This can also be the connection of external devices for audio and video or the connection of legacy systems. Thus the term Content Management System can be defined as a software system which provides functions and tools for the tasks and functions on essence and metadata as described above. In web based learning the essence consists of the learning material in different variations, i.e. hypertext, multimedia, hypermedia, text, graphics, pictures but also active components, the Active Learning Media Objects. The metadata is the associated descriptive data related to the essence. How can Content Management improve Learning As we can see in the listing of the tasks and functions for Content Management above, the tasks and functions represent important, but not all parts in learning workflow. As a consequence the main goal for an integrated Content Management in learning will be the support of all these tasks and functions in combination and sequence for an appropriate representation of learning workflows. According to a summary generated from the Bertelsmann Foundation [7], this leads to an improvement of learning in the following areas: Technological ergonomics: Active Learning Media Objects allow for practicing by simulating. They additionally realize active objects within the learning workflow, which can interact with the learner and show a certain kind of behavior/intelligence if they follow the agent paradigm.

4 Quick referencing, backtracking, easy lookup in referenced material is possible by an integrated storage management with a central repository, in which all learning objects are located. Preparation of learning material: The usage of new media types, i.e. hypertext, multimedia or hypermedia, permits for the building of complex knowledge constructs, in which the learner can navigate guided by a predefined learning strategy in the workflow management. The learning material can be enhanced by cooperative learning tools with team oriented groupwork and integrated communication facilities. Learning material can additionally be enhanced by active or interactive coaching tools. Use of new media: A greater variety of content representation is possible by the use of hypertext, multimedia, hypermedia or streaming technologies, such as: Audio, Speech, Video, Animation, Simulation, Business-TV, Broadcasting Pictures, Graphics, Photographic Images, Figures, Texts, Hypertexts Combination of all types listed above in multimedia or hypermedia objects Communication and interactivity: Interactivity between participants and interactivity with the learning material is supported Synchronous and asynchronous communication forms are supported Interactive media types and interactive evaluation types are supported Embedding of Content Management in the learning workflow Which enhancements do Content Management Systems offer for web based learning? First of all, the heavy use of multimedia and hypermedia material in learning demands for better retrieval and browsing techniques to select the right material out of a vast amount. Content Management Systems provide experienced techniques in dealing with new media types embedded in web structures. They offer browsing features with streaming techniques for multimedia/hypermedia objects (MPEG-1 [8], MPEG-4 [9] or RealAudio/RealVideo [10]) together with the connection to extended learning objects, in which additional information about these multimedia/hypermedia object is stored. This additional information can be the same multimedia/hypermedia objects in other resolutions and bandwidths for different networking connections, streaming or download. Content descriptions can be stored together with the multimedia/hypermedia objects (MPEG-7 [11], Learning Objects Metadata [12]) and be helpful in search and retrieval. Furthermore Content Management Systems provide techniques for modeling different learning workflows if they include workflow management support. Different learning workflows result in different design perspectives, which end in different workflow implementations. The different workflow implementations could lead probably to different implementations of the tasks and functions or the use of different components of the Content Management System. A large amount of different design perspectives, called stakeholder perspectives, is listed and mapped to the general framework of the Learning Technology Systems Architecture (LTSA [12]), developed by the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC). As is stated in LTSA, the differing and sometimes conflicting design priorities can make standards setting difficult. Architectures like LTSA can help resolve that conflict. By embedding a LTSA compliant Content Management System for the realization of a certain group of stakeholder perspectives, the step from abstraction to implementation can be made by providing a common platform for the design and implementation.

5 However, some questions arise, when trying to go this step: The support variety of new media types, especially Active Learning Media Objects, is a non trivial question, especially when designed for web based use. Standards for learning material and essence description are missing up to now. Some efforts for parts of learning material are made in MPEG-4, MPEG-7 and Learning Objects Metadata. The MPEG-4 standard concentrates on an object based representation of the essence of multimedia by identifying media objects and defining their composition, multiplex and synchronization, while the MPEG-7 standard concentrates on descriptions for multimedia content. Learning Object Metadata concentrates on relevant properties of learning objects by the definition of a metadata structure for management, location and evaluation. All of these standards deal with important aspects of a coming standard for web based multimedia and hypermedia learning material. Complete standards for teaching and learning environments are missing up to now. LTSA tries to make an descriptive proposal for such a reference architecture, on which concrete system definitions or architectures can base on or be compared with. Conclusion Content Management can be the center of a complete educational environment in the WWW, which provides basic functional and management features together with workflow support in web based learning. As we have seen above, the tasks and functions of Content Management Systems can improve the access to multimedia and hypermedia content in learning as well as support new learning media types, the Active Media Learning Objects. Currently there a no Content Management Systems commercially available on the market, which provide a complete integrated web based learning environment. Different systems, which all call themselves Content Management Systems, provide either parts only of the main building blocks required or are designed for the use in special lines of business other than learning. Examples for this are document management systems or database systems, which mainly provide the technological basis in storage and archiving together with query and access functions. For web based learning, additional features for the implementation of learning strategies and human interactions in learning have to be provided on the basis of Content Management by higher layers like Knowledge Management or Information Management (see [14], [15] and [16]). A complete integrated web based learning environment has to provide functions and features on all layers, Content Management and Knowledge Management and Information Management. A discussion of major issues for workflow and end user quality of service in web based education can be found in [17]. The Content Management system media archive [18], developed by the tecmath AG for the television broadcasting industry, currently supports all tasks and functions described above for the workflow of audio and video in broadcasting. media archive is under further development for the employment in web based learning (see L3 [20]). Many features of Content Management, which deal with the tasks of the building blocks described above, can clearly be mapped to computer based education. Especially when using new media types like audio, video or broadcasting, the developments already made in modern digital broadcasting promise good results for the support of educational environments. References [1] R. Steinmetz (1993): Multimedia Technologie, Einführung und Grundlagen, Springer-Verlag [2] R. Kuhlen (1991): Hypertext, Ein nicht-lineares Medium zwischen Buch und Wissensbank, Springer-Verlag [3] Hilfe für Archivar und Redakteur: Content Management Systeme, in Film & TV Kameramann, issue 4/1999, pages 164pp. [4] Der digitale Sender, Hörfunk und Fernsehen aus dem Computer, in c t issue 4/1999, [5] EBU/SMTPE Task Force for Harmonized Standards for the Exchange of Programme Material as Bitstreams, Final Report August 1998

6 [6] K. Curtis, P. W. Foster, F. Stentiford (1999): Metadata The Key to Content Management Services, BT Laboratories [7] University development through new media: Conference of the Bertelsmann Foundation Gütersloh, Germany, October 1999 [8] The MPEG-1 Standard, [9] The MPEG-4 Standard, [10] RealNetworks, [11] The MPEG-7 Standard, [12] IEEE 1484 Learning Technology Standards Committee LTSC, [13] J. Heitmann (1998): Content Management Systems for Television Production, Rundfunktechnische Mitteilungen (Radio engineering Messages), issue 4/98 by Mensing GmbH & Co. KG [14] Excalibur Technologies Corporation: Getting Started with Knowledge Management, [15] U. Kampffmeyer, S. Werther (1999): Wissen ist Macht, aber nur wenn es weitergegeben wird, nfd Information - Wissenschaft und Praxis, Volume 50 Issue 3/1999 [16] A.J. Godbout: Information vs. Knowledge, GCM Sherpa Inc., [17] M. A. Vouk, D. L. Bitzer, R. L. Klevans (1999): Workflow and End-User Quality of Service Issues in Web- Based Education, IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering Vol. 11 No. 4 July/August 1999, pp [18] P. Thomas (1999): media archive White Paper, Internal Report tecmath AG [19] IRT Seminar on Asset-Management at IRT (1999), Munich, Germany from 19. to [20] L3: Lifelong Learning Education as a basic need, in Projektvorschlag für den Ideenwettbewerb für Leitprojekte des Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung zum Themenfeld Nutzung des weltweit verfügbaren Wissens für Aus- und Weiterbildungsprozesse vom ,

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