Design and development of a LO -editor for the virtual medical campus Graz
ISSN der Zeitschrift
Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V.
At the medical faculty of Graz University a new curriculum has been developed for the studies of human medicine. This totally new approach is based on a Module-/Track-model and follows the basic principles of interdisciplinary, topic centered and patient oriented instruction. The Virtual Medical Campus general objective is the realization of an Information System to make the curriculum digitally accessible. The learning objects (LO) used within this campus are developed on the basis of Learning Object Metadata (LOM) for “trans-national education” as a basis for international networking. For easy-to-use manipulation of the metadata, a LOM-Editor is a necessity. Although there are some LOM-Editors available at present, we decided to develop an own Editor, due to two reasons: On the one hand we defined an LO as only being complete if pre-knowledge questions and self-evaluation questions are also included; thus we no longer handle only metadata with our editor but the whole LO. On the other hand, due to the fact that our users are medical teachers and students with low computing experience, we committed ourselves to the method of User Centered Design (UCD). Therefore we developed a totally new editor and speak of an LO-Editor instead of a LOM- Editor. This paper describes the successful development of our LO-Editor from scratch under some external constraints and time restrictions. The development implies some interesting approaches. The LO-Editor is based on the new Microsoft .NET technology but it is not implemented as a web service. It is a server based application split up into two parts, the front end and the middleware. To achieve the most possible platform independence, the front end consists of simple active server pages (ASP) using dynamic HTML (DHTML) and handles the user interaction. The metadata standard is implemented into the middleware by mapping the standard into a class hierarchy. Using the built-in de-serialization and serialization functions of .NET a metadata description (XML-file) can be depicted as an object tree and the object tree may again be saved as a metadata description file. Thus a database is not needed to handle the metadata standard which induces a faster application.