The University of Hull

Assis

The eLearning developments from the JISC (www.elearning.ac.uk) have considered the provision of a Service Oriented Architecture (www.elframework.ac.uk), with the vision of enabling the aggregation of discrete services in to a coherent whole for the end user. The Assis project, funded by the JISC and completed in March 2005, looked technically and pedagogically at how these goals could be realized as the first step in moving towards explorative and games-based learning. The development of these new learning experiences will include the extensive use of formative assessment tools and objects and the integration of assessment into adaptive sequences of content.

Because of the distributed nature of Assis, with four main development partners, the structuring of the workpackages and the project deliverables was critical to the success of the project. The project structure also reflects some of the intentions behind Service Oriented Architectures such as the ELF. Developers can independently create services conforming to standards that can subsequently be used by other tools, often being developed at the same time by other project partners.

Bill Olivier of the JISC commented about the contribution of the ASSIS Project to the eLearning Programme:

"People have been wrestling with the question of how to integrate QTI with CP, SCORM and more recently Simple Sequencing. ASSIS takes the innovative approach of wrapping QTI and SS engines as Web Services and integrating them through the newly emerging standard, WS-BPEL (Business Process Execution Language). The significance of the WS-BPEL approach is that it can potentially be used in a similar way to integrate other learning services and systems. If this proves to be the case, it provides a key that helps open the door to more flexible and capable eLearning. In particular, it will also be interesting to see how WS-BPEL compares and contrasts with IMS Learning Design, and whether the same approach can be used integrate an LD runtime engine with services requested by an LD Unit of Learning. WS-BPEL also goes beyond eLearning to the broader question of orchestrating Web services into flexible applications, which is a key goal of the wider JISC Framework of which the ELF is a part. Only experience with tools like this will tell us if the service oriented approach does indeed deliver on its promises. The ASSIS project thus helps move the whole programme on another step."

Major outputs

  • high level design paradigm and complementary tool prototype to enable teachers to understand both the structure and creation of rules for sequencing learning materials
  • user interface allowing teachers to search for questions from item banks held in two assessment systems
  • Player that orchestrates independent web services into a single interface for learners
  • recommendation to the standards bodies on how assessment and sequencing specifications can be integrated

Project outputs

Conclusions

  • Assis has provided a practical realisation of a Service Oriented Architecture with a flexible, generic model that suggests the first steps towards a potential reference implementation
  • Web Services standards, and the technologies to implement them, are now widely accepted and moving into the mainstream
  • new and innovative learning experiences can be generated now, using the tools and standards available for sequencing content

Final Report

Main Contact

Robert Sherratt
r.sherratt@hull.ac.uk

University of Hull
Brynmor Jones Library
Hull
HU6 7RX