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Database Functionality for Learning Objects
Olivier D. T. Sessink, Hendrikus H. Beeftink and Rob J. M. Hartog

The development of student-activating digital learning material in six research projects revealed several shortcomings in the current learning management systems. Once the SCORM 2004 and the IMS Sharable State Persistence specifications are implemented in learning management systems, some of these shortcomings will be obsolete. We have, however, identified six functionality clusters with significant added value for learning materials that are neither addressed by SCORM 2004 nor by IMS Sharable State Persistence. These clusters are: 1) support for adaptivity, 2) support for retrieval of current and previous states, 3) support for comparison of results, 4) support for student tracking for pedagogical research, 5) shared reference database functionality, and 6) problem scenario database functionality. The significance of each of these functionality clusters is discussed, and illustrated with examples from digital learning material. This article, furthermore, describes the workarounds needed to deploy these examples in the current learning management systems. A general solution that will support all six functionality clusters is presented: database functionality for learning objects. This is essentially an interface to database functionality with support for complex data models, data integrity, and concurrent access, in which authors can define the data model, and both learning objects and authors can query the database.

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