Generally, the current e-learning systems concentrate on individual learning tasks rather than on a learning process. However, learning situations as we observed them in practice are generally process-oriented and are very dynamic entities. Thus, support for such process-oriented learning situations can be seen as one of the most important requirements for the next generation of elearning systems. Fulfilling such a requirement raises a number of technical issues such as management of learning processes including their modelling, design and execution as well as the automation of such processes.
Obviously, because of such a dynamic nature of a learning process we can describe it as learning process lifecycle. From our experience, this lifecycle consists from the following three phases:
- Modelling phase, where a particular learning process is modelled with all of its components.
- Learning phase, where a learning process is executed.
- Observation and improvement phase, where a learning process is monitored, analysed and subsequently improved to optimally fit a particular learning situation.
Since the current e-learning systems do not deal with learning processes per se, the learning process lifecycle can be supported by those systems only partially. For example, teachers design learning courses but cannot define the pedagogical rules that will govern the learning process. Moreover, it is very difficult to improve such a process for subsequent executions since modifications can be only made at the level of the learning courses but not at the level of the process itself.
In this project partners from Jozef Stefan Institute (Slovenia) and University of Niš (Serbia), who have a very rich experiences from previous European projects in the area of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), will work on deployment and integration of Business Process Management (BPM) technology into e-learning systems (i.e. open source LMS Moodle or Sakai) to support management of learning processes including their modelling, design and execution as well as the automation of such processes in an e-learning environment. The automation will be achieved through a so-called workflow management system that manages and executes workflows represented in a machine-understandable way. Participants of a workflow can be either humans or software systems that execute tasks defined in the workflow in order to achieve a particular business goal.
The integration of BPM into e-learning system will contain three main implementation areas:
- Development of the specific-pedagogical vocabulary and a number of templates based on that vocabulary. These templates will support users in modelling of learning processes.
- Development of mapping strategy between the pedagogical vocabulary and E-Learning system functionality.
- Integration of worklists into the user interface of e-learning system.
The main result of this project will be enriched e-learning system which should presents one possible way to tackle the technical issues of management and automation of learning processes in e-learning systems by reusing the technological solutions, experiences and principles for managing of business processes from Business Process Management. Since there is a strong similarity between a learning process and a business process in both user aspects as well as technical aspects we believe that applying BPM to management of learning processes can prove efficient, easy to develop and maintain, as well as powerful enough to support a wide range of common learning situations in e-learning systems.
Project results will be presented at one of the scientific conferences from the field of technology enhanced learning and publish one joint publication in scientific journal. We are also intending to organize at least one joint workshop in Slovenia or Serbia on process oriented learning in elearning environments.