"Healthy Eating" as an OpenGLM model

The Open Graphical Learning Modeller (OpenGLM) is a learning design authoring toolkit that supports the authoring of IMS Learning Design (LD) (IMS Global Learning Consortium, 2003) units of learning at levels A and B. The main goal of developing OpenGLM was to provide comprehensive and intuitive IMS LD modelling software, which reduces the complexity of the IMS LD specification to a degree where teaching practitioners are enabled to build IMS LD conformant units of learning. A subsidiary goal thus was to create translation mechanisms that interpret a graphical representation of a learning design and convert it to the required XML format as specified in the IMS LD information model. These goals were achieved by viewing the activities of learners and instructors as the modelling core around which to build other aspects covered by the IMS LD specification. The activities are graphically displayed and may be freely defined and arranged by the learning designer.

Using OpenGLM, teaching practitioners are enabled to intuitively create units of learning to be played in IMS LD enabled learning management systems. A new educational opportunity is created as the barrier for access is lowered, and thus the number of learning designers that produce IMS LD conformant units of learning may be increased; more units of learning may then be produced, exchanged, and evaluated as was one of the original goals of the IMS LD specification
(Koper & Olivier, 2004).

The scenario we are modelling using OpenGLM is taking place primarily in a face-to-face setting. IMS LD was primarily conceived to facilitate the deployment of computer-managed learning opportunities
(Derntl, Neumann, Griffiths, & Oberhuemer, 2012) , the resulting IMS LD package is a still valuable artefact for sharing the underlying learning design and thus enabling its reuse.

There are different ways of approaching the modelling of lesson 2 of the healthy eating scenario. The core concepts to be modelled in OpenGLM are the teaching and learning activities as well as the roles which enact those activities. These activities can then be connected with each other to create a sequence. Learning material and other resources (e.g. discussion forum) can be linked to the activities and will be available to the students during these activities.

There is no prescribed sequence of identifying roles and activities, and there is room for creativity in naming roles and activities. Before modelling in the tool we prepare a simple list of tentative activity labels and roles involved in those activities below. Note that some teacher activities are part of student activities, e.g. when the teacher instructs the students what to do. We will encode this in the activity descriptions and not explicitly create activities for that.

  • Watch introductory short video (students)
  • Ask questions (students)
  • Suggest an inquiry method (students)
  • Discuss and agree on a method (students, teacher)
  • Supervise video viewing and discussion (teacher)
  • Split up the class (teacher)
  • Propose a question to ask (groups)
  • Moderate discussion (teacher)
  • Mail questions to expert (unclear who does that; probably the teacher)
  • Record observations as home activity (unclear role; either individual students or groups; probably groups)
  • Discuss and suggest how to collect observation data (students)
  • Demonstrate pictures of food (teacher)
  • Annotate and select pictures (groups)
  • Present and compare selections (teacher)
  • Discuss pictures (teacher, students)
  • Food healthiness debate (teacher, students)
  • Provide guidelines for recording observations (teacher)
  • Home activity: Record food (groups)
  • Wrap-up and reflect on the lesson (students, teacher)

Some of these activities are actually content presentation or sharing activities which, in IMS LD, are typically integrated into learning activities. For instance, in a discussion of shared pictures, the shared pictures would be represented a resource in the discussion activity, instead of having an additional teacher activity for distributing the pictures. Therefore, the above activity list was not directly translated to IMS LD activities in OpenGLM, since some teacher/student activities were merged. The resulting activity sequence is given in the screenshot in Figure 1. There are three roles: student, group and teacher. Each role has a distinct colour (see the inset in the top-right corner). In the sequence, the roles were aligned in swimlanes, although this visual arrangement has no effect on the resulting executable IMS LD package.

Figure 1: The learning design sequence.
Note: the symbols containing the green joining arrows indicate synchronisation points in the scenario. All previous activities need to be finished before the outgoing flows may continue. The two small circle symbols indicate the start (top) and end (bottom) points of the sequence, respectively.

Finally, resources and tools were added to the learning design. These are specified in the activity definition windows and displayed in iconic form in the lower-left corner of the activity symbols. For example, if we take the first teacher activity ("Supervise video viewing and discussion"). The first icon says that there is 1 activity description (instructing the teacher what to do), the second icon says that there is one add-on (that is, the teacher viewing the questions asked by students during the video viewing), the third icon says that there are three tools/resources attached to this activity (the video, the discussion board for the students discussing the inquiry methods, and the list of inquiry methods provided by the teacher). The fourth icon is specific to support activities (i.e. those with a dashed outline), saying there is one supported role during this activity (i.e. the students who are viewing the video, asking questions and pondering the inquiry methods). Learning activities, in contrast, have no supported roles and their activity symbol has a solid outline.

  • The "device" cannot be modelled in IMS LD since there is no concept to represent it. However, an environment of services and learning objects can be used to represent the device.
  • It is difficult to model real physical artefacts (pictures on a whiteboard) used in a face-to-face setting, because these will have no definition in or interface with an IMS LD runtime environment; for this lesson, we attached the virtual pendant (e.g. a digital picture pool) to these activities.
  • Some "learning services" are difficult to model with IMS LD, e.g. a face-to-face discussion. In the virtual world a discussion board will be used, but in the face-to-face environment there is no "tool" that represents a discussion.
  • Some responsibilities are not fully clear, e.g. the term "they" in the scenario description may refer to individual students or groups of students.

Derntl, M., Neumann, S., Griffiths, D., & Oberhuemer, P. (2012). The Conceptual Structure of IMS Learning Design Does Not Impede Its Use for Authoring. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, 5(1), 74–86.

IMS Global Learning Consortium. (2003). Learning Design Specification. Retrieved from http://www.imsglobal.org/learningdesign/ 

Koper, R., & Olivier, B. (2004). Representing the Learning Design of Units of Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 7(3), 97–111.