Development and adoption of unified descriptions and data models of learning opportunities based on learning outcomes is an enabler for delivery of outcome-based learning experience across universities and learning platforms. This requires development of standardized procedures, data models and building blocks for describing relevant artifacts such as learning needs, learning outcomes (knowledge, skills, and competences), achieved learning outcome profiles, context, levels and assessment (evidence) records. ICOPER developed an approach towards the analysis of personal learning needs. As a proof concept, pilot applications were developed that enable outcome-based online learning that use standardized data models and services.
Provided are recommendations, for different stakeholders, in regard to learning outcomes and learning opportunities specifications, functions and adoption. The recommendations have been prepared on the basis of identifying good practices and user feedback during the evaluations described in the previous section and during other surveys and SWOT analysis, for example among the educational experts. Here we summarize those recommendations.
- Learning opportunity providers should provide opportunities for learners to establish their overall life goals, values, and motivation, before being accepted onto a program, at the end and before moving on to employment or subsequent study.
- Using learning outcomes that are common and agreed upon by a domain/subject interest group, national/international framework or university. Program managers should decide whether teachers are allowed to define new learning outcomes that do not belong to the common set of learning outcomes stored in the central repository of their university/program. It is also important that descriptions of learning outcomes are provided in multiple languages when working in an international context.
- Providing a matrix that shows the linkage between learning outcomes and learning opportunities of a program. This will help teachers and program managers understand which learning opportunities contribute to the achievement of specific learning outcomes. Such matrix also enables program managers to identify gaps when a learning outcome is listed to be achieved by learners but not covered by any learning opportunity of the program. Additionally, at the learning opportunity level, such visualization helps a teacher understand which learning outcomes were addressed before and which learning outcomes will be addressed in later learning opportunities. This approach helps making the learning opportunity delivery more effective where a learning outcome is not addressed multiple times. It is important that the learning outcomes should also be organized in a way that allows browsing through the outcomes. The managers and teachers should be able to browse learning outcomes by program or learning opportunity they belong to.
- The key to providing a well-defined procedure for linking learning outcomes to learning designs, opportunities and assessment is to ensure the achievement of those learning outcomes after successful completion of learning activities. As the same learning opportunity might be given to several groups of students by several teachers, we recommend that learning outcomes are first linked to learning designs of learning opportunities and then reused by teachers to make their own instantiation of those learning designs. A generic learning design can be implemented, whereas every teacher may add/adapt the learning outcomes and related assessment of his learning opportunity when appropriate.
- Communicating learning outcomes to students who are the main target of the learning offerings is an important step towards transparent outcome based education. Learning outcomes should be made available for students in learning opportunity descriptions during the advertising phase. This can help the students understand why they should follow the learning opportunity and what they would achieve after its completion. Students would also be able to provide valuable feedback on their achievements and quality of the learning opportunity afterwards. It would also help the teachers to find out at what quality level the learning outcomes were achieved. The students' feedback can in this way work as a tool for quality assurance.
- New tools that allow teachers to find, link, use or assess learning outcomes should be integrated and added as new functionalities into existing learning management systems, e.g. Moodle or dotLearn. The teachers should not move to a new application to do the new outcome based education tasks. This would decrease time to adopt the tools and new learning systems. A key usability issue in educational environments that include numerous heterogeneous educational systems and tools is seamless access to those systems, tools and resources. Seamless access should be granted without a need to have a different usernames and passwords in each repository, tool or system. We recommend developing one single unified authentication system for all the tools that use personal achieved learning outcome data and other relevant systems in which those tools are integrated, such as social networks, LMSs etc. This is the basis for enabling seamless access whenever and wherever needed.
- Information about achieved learning outcomes is stored in learners' personal profiles and can be considered as privacy sensitive information. Tools should enable learners to decide if they want to share data about the achieved learning outcomes.
- To provide teachers with training on how they design outcome-based learning opportunities and learning designs using outcome-based aware tools. This includes defining and linking learning outcomes to learning opportunities, learning designs, teaching methods and assessment. Furthermore, it includes training on the terminology used and best practice examples.
ICOPER also developed a process model for analyzing learner needs. We adopted and extended existing standards related to learning opportunities and learning outcomes in pilots that made use of large collections of learning outcomes and learning opportunities. We designed a new data model for describing and sharing Personal Achieved Learning Outcomes (PALO) profiles. PALO formed a backbone for a proposal of a European specification for exchange of learning outcomes data. PALO has been selected by other European projects like OpenScout to be used to collect information about achievement of learners.
ISURE: Report on implementation and validation of a standardized model for learning needs analysis and the provision of learning opportunities.