Sunday, April 27, 2014

Australian Technical Standards for Online Course Materials

The E-standards Expert Group has issued updated standards for online course materials for the vocational education and training sector in Australia: "VET E-standards for Training" (Department of Industry, 10 April 2014). While aimed at TAFEs and non-government Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), these standards are equally applicable for schools and universities. The standards recommended are not controversial, being commonly used on the web.

What might be less familiar are the formats for packaging educational material, such as IMS Content Packaging (Version 1.1.4) and SCORM 1.2. There will still be difficult decisions to be made, for example, if you have some content, should you package it as an EPUB ebook, IMS or SCORM?

In many cases these standards will not be so important to individual course designers and teachers, as they will have to use what the software provided by their institution supports. However, educators should keep the standards in mind so that their content can be ported more easily from system to system.

In practice I try to use simply formatted web pages for course content. I use HTML in preference to PDF, Powerpoint and DOCX files. This way the content can be converted to other formats as required and can be assembled into e-books and modules, using whichever packaging standard is appropriate.

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