IEEE Actionable Data Book for STEM Education (public)

IEEE Actionable Data Book for STEM Education (public)


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    Last edited by Avron Barr Dec 3, 2015 FrontPage
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    A key element of the revolution in education is the emphasis on interactive, exploratory, and collaborative learning activities. Many of these activities will be implemented using tablet devices that are connected, through the cloud, to the systems and devices used by other students, teachers, parents, content publishers, and educational institutions. During this period of rapid change in education and training, plug-and-play interoperability accelerates innovation and adoption by lowering the barrier to entry for new products: reducing costs and risks. Data sharing across products is essential: building new functionality on top of existing data is key to innovation on the web.



    The Actionable Data Book project is conducted under the auspices of the  Industry Connections Program of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE IC12-006). Industry Connections projects are not standards working groups. Their objective is to form a community of practitioners who see the need, determine what should be standardized, and outline an approach to how that might be done. The IEEE’s Learning Technology Standards Committee (LTSC) is a sponsor of the ADBook Project. Should any standards proposals emerge from the Project’s explorations, they could be developed in an LTSC Working Group.


    What is an Actionable Data Book?


    Just as has happened with publishing in general, the use of tablet computers as a major platform for the delivery of educational materials is an inevitability. Educational publishers, following the publishing industry trend, have embraced the idea of delivering textbooks and other educational materials digitally. But their vision of the ebook starts from the paper books they already create -- plus some nice, tablet-enabled features like portability, search for keywords, embedded video, and interactive graphics. The ADB Project started from the other direction -- if learners are going to have tablets in their hands, what kinds of educational products will publishers be publishing? How will authors and publishers make use of a hand-held, mobile, Internet-enabled computer with tons of embedded technology to advance the state of education and training?


    Why does the IEEE ADB Project think a standard is needed?


    The ADB Project is a small group of volunteers who have been meeting weekly for over a year. We include publishers, technologists, educators, and standards experts. Our vision is quite simple: enable content portability, as SCORM did, but in an elearning ecosystem that has become much more complex:


    • Product categories that include the traditional products, Learning Management Systems and content authoring tools, but also Learning Record Stores (LRS); analytics engines; teachers’ lesson planning apps and dashboards; student’s eportfolios and calendar apps; ebook readers; job aids; competency frameworks; and publishers’ content and data platforms.

    • New pedagogical contexts: flipped classrooms; experiential or activity-based learning; collaborative learning; just-in-time learning; ….

    • New kinds of elearning content and technologies: mobile; personalized (based on multiple cloud data sources); adaptive over time; immersive games and simulations; augmented reality for job support.

    • Published content that uses the functionality of the tablet (GPS, camera, mic, motion, orientation, touch, gesture, wifi, bluetooth) in a web-connected environment possibly surrounded by IoT devices. Also, the tools for creating such content.


    The interoperability standard we envision will allow all of these new kinds of published materials to securely exchange data with all of the new kinds of products. Our goal is a plug-and-play architecture that allows creative assembly of products into a myriad of solutions and avoids vendor lock-in: preserving investment in learning materials while allowing new, innovative products to enter the market.


    What is the Project’s technical approach?


    The ADB group has explored many technologies and related standards projects. We are committed to creating an open standard or a reference model based solely on open standards. Here’s where we’re at:


    • We have used the IDPF’s EPUB3 spec and the related EDUPUB specifications in our early explorations. We follow their evolution, and hope that they will eventually meet our requirements. At this point, given the available EPUB3 readers, we see shortcomings, particularly as regards access to tablet functionality. There may be “open standard” issues as well. HTML5 is what we use mostly now to create ADB publications.

    • The ADL’s xAPI spec for secure exchange of learning data is being used almost exclusively in our exploratory work.

    • We’ve also used the W3C’s Packaged Web Apps (Widgets)


    How is this approach being explored?


    The Project has explored these ideas in some early prototypes that:


    • Operate in a plug and play ecosystem

    • Incorporate commercial products from multiple vendors

    • Tie multiple learning activities together


    Our intention is to demonstrate how an Actionable Data Book can enable dramatic improvements or efficiencies in education and training? For instance, how can more data about learners, learning, and/or learning materials actually help teachers and students? How can publishing teams author materials that are instrumented to generate useful data or use a tablet’s advanced functionality to improve instruction? How will Actionable Data Books change the relationship between training and on-the-job performance?


    This 30-minute video demonstrates our most advanced prototype to date. This work was done in the xAPI ‘Data Trippers’ cohort, in cooperation with the US Department of Defense Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative.


    Our initial task is to explore use cases to identify the data sharing issues and understand the kinds of standards needed. Participation is free and open to interested individuals willing to follow the principles of the Open Stand initiative. For more information about our weekly meetings please contact:



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