MedBiquitous Accelerated Standards Curriculum Inventory Standards Research Report

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MedBiquitous Accelerated Standards

Curriculum Inventory Standards
Research Report

March xx, 2011





Organizations Researched






Existing standards, specifications, and open systems



Best Practices



Controlled Voc



Use of Competencies




As part of the standards development process within the Curriculum Inventory Working Group,
MedBiquitous has researched existing standards and specifications that could be assets in the
development of a curriculum inventory
specification. As a matter of best practice, MedBiquitous build
on existing standards when it is practical to do so. MedBiquitous staff researched credible learning
technology standards developers and relevant open tools. A summary of the findings for each

or specification researched is included along with information on relevant vocabularies, best practices,
and recommendations on the use of competencies.

Organizations Researched

The following organizations were researched:

CEN (The European Committee for Standardization)


IEEE Learning Technologies Standards Committee (IEEE LTSC)


Global Learning

The UK Joint Information Systems Committee (


The Post Secondary Education Standards Council


y of E

Within each organization, a search for curriculum related standards, specifications, and systems was


The European Standardization group CEN has produced a

for the representation of
curricular information. Th
e Curriculum Exchange Format was approved as a
CEN Workshop Agreement

January 2010; it is unclear as to whether any software developers in Europe have implemented the

CEN has also produced Metadata for Learning Opportunities, which has been refi
ned to
support curriculum in the ECTS Information Package/Course Catalogue. Again, adoption rates are

JISC has assembled other standards and specifications to produce the dynamic learning maps
JISC has also funded the development of
Xchanging Course Related Information

Advertising Profile
, a specification which formed the basis of Metadata for Learning Opportunities and
has since evolved to become a profile of that standard.

In addition, other standards and specification deve
lopers have some work related to curriculum

If the MedBiquitous Curriculum Inventory Working Group is to leverage any of these specifications, we
must take into account
the following:

Any licensing or
Intellectual Property policies of the p
arent organization and their approach

derivitative works made by external organizations.

The ability to extend the specification. None of the works cited address the US continuing
education or residency environments, so a mechanism for extension suitab
le to including that
data would be necessary.

Technical constraints and tradeoffs. In some cases very general approaches to representation
are used. Overgeneralization can make adaptation to a particular domain difficult if the
mappings to that domain ar
e not clear to implementers. Or sometimes older technologies are
used where newer technologies are available.

Adoption. If an existing specification has broad adoption and is highly applicable, leveraging that
specification would increase the scope of int
eroperability and increase chances for broader

Existing standards

, and open systems


There is a technical specification for the CurrMIT

system that enables systems to export data in a format
that can be uploaded or transferred to the system. The group has already determined that many aspects
of this specification are too constraining. We should keep in mind the lessons learned from CurrMI
T as
we go about building or building on a specification.

Some oft cited lessons include:

Controlled vocabularies are

necessary to promote usability

Certain fields overlapped in practice(ie

categories and keywords), resulting in duplicative entries
and difficulty using the fields as they were intended.

There is a need to move beyond the notion of a course and to
represent programs, tracks, and

Incorporating the concept of an academic

year could be beneficial.

Schools use various units of time as the major organizing principle for their curricula (year, 18
month block, etc)

Many schools offer some integration of basic and clinical sciences as well as interprofessional

and lo
ngitudinal clerkships, and these


difficult to capture.

Clerkships need to be clearly identified as such.

It’s essential to map competencies to program and course objectives.

CEN CWA 16078:2010 Curriculum Exchange Format

“Learning resources can be found on the Internet or in a computer system. They are often stored in an
organised way in repositories together with information about them. The inf
ormation is called metadata
and it helps to search, browse, filter and then retrieve additional information. Some of the keywords
that are put into metadata can be based on words or phrases taken from real curricula so that learners
and teachers can relate

to them. Adding the identifiers of these terms or concepts to metadata and
associating them with a resource, is called tagging. Curricula often have a tree like structure that
presents topics and objectives in a particular way. This structure can be used
to navigate or browse to
the terms that are used in the metadata and so provide links to useful resources. The main benefit that
will result from widespread use of the Curriculum Exchange Format (CEF) will be that learners and
teachers will be able to find

resources using a curriculum that they are familiar with and using their
preferred language. The resources they find may come from lots of different sources and may have been
originally organised by a different curriculum. Developers or publishers of web
sites, tools, learning
platforms and resources can all share information in an agreed way making it easier for systems to
interoperate. The impact on learners and teachers will be smoother moving between different software
systems and web sites and result
in a more personalised experience.”

Curriculum Exchange Format
provides the ability to defi
ne a set of curriculum “terms

documents. Terms may be objectives, topics, actions, or competencies, or similar characteristics
defined by the group imple
menting CEF. CEF provides the capability to unambiguously define term sets
to be used in a curriculum represented using CEF. CEF also provides the ability to express hierarchical
and non
hierarchical relationships among these terms. Implementers have the c
apability to extend the
CEF supports the use of controlled vocabularies that may be used across different standards sets.
For example, a set of competencies can be used to describe the learning resources used in the
curriculum and the learner.

of statements within the framework may be expressed as
vocabularies, too. For example, competency, objective, and milestone may be components of a
vocabulary for health professions education. Vocabularies may be expressed as CEF instances.

CEF is a
p agreement

approved by
those who participated in its development

The British Standards Institution has produced a data model and binding to support the CEF. This data
model and binding are informative only; they are not considered formal standards.

CEF is a very abstract, generalized approach to curriculum excha
That may pose a barrier to
If we were to leverage the CEF
, we would still need to develop our own controlled
vocabulary of terms, guidance on how they all fit together,
and resources to support implementation,
including explicit examples.

CEF uses ZTHES, a
specification for representing, accessing, and navigating thesauri

CWA 15903:2008

Metadata for Lear
ning Opportunities

Advertising (MLO


Metadata for Learning Opportunit

AD) is a CEN Workshop Agreement developed
by 21 experts from 12 countries
The goal of MLO
AD is to provide information about a learning
opportunity, to enable the learner to make a decision if there is a need for more information about the
learning o
pportunity, and where to find that information. Each learning opportunity has a provider, a set
of descriptors about the opportunity, and a set of descriptors about a particular instance of the
opportunity. The standard may be extended and customized to a
CWA 16076:2010 ECTS
Information Package/Course Catalogue MLO Application Profile defines r
efinements made to the

to facilitate the representation of degree programs for the Bologna process.
The specification omits
the vocabularies necessary
for semantic interoperability in a given field, stating that such vocabularies
are likely to change often and are best left out of the specification.
The data model includes several
fields that overlap with IEEE Learning Object Metadata (LOM) and the MedBi
quitous adaptation
Healthcare LOM.

MLO is currently in the process of being approved as a European Standard by CEN. CEN anticipates that
the standard will be available by September 2011.

CWA 16076 ECTS Information Package/Course Catalogue MLO Application


“The Bologna process seeks to establish a comparable and compatible European Higher Education area.
uidance documentation created in support of that aim includes a template for describing degree
programmes, course units and the Higher Education institutions that offer them, known as the ECTS

This CWA defines refinements to the MLO Information
Model for representing the European Credit
Transfer Systems Information Package/Course Catalogue (ECTS IP/CC), based on best practice guidance
offered to institutions seeking the honorary distinction of an ECTS Label. The ECTS IP/CC MLO
Application Profile

has as its background the Bologna process intention of creating the European Higher
Education Area by making Higher Education more comparable and compatible. The ECTS IP/CC MLO
Application Profile specifies refinements to the

Metadata for Learning Opportu
nities Information Model which facilitate representation of one of the
core Bologna documents: the ECTS IP/CC.”

This CEN Workshop Agreemen
t defines refinements to the Metadata for Learning Opportunities based
on the needs of the Bologna process for
harmonizing higher education across Europe. The information
provides details that would allow students from other countries to make informed decisions about
whether or not they would want to study at the institution,
erties added include
degree program

information including a diagram of the structure of the program, course unit information and content

teaching methods,
assessment methods, recommended readings, educational and professional goals,
competence, and much more.

Of the specifications reviewed
, this comes closest to aligning with the
preliminary requirements identified.

Standard for Learning Technology

Learning Technologies System Architecture (LTSA)

TSA provides a technical architecture for computer
based training, electronic performance support,
intelligent tutoring, and metadata. The LTSA identified import
ant system interfaces but does not provide
a technical specification relevant to curriculum.

IMS Adoption Group: Common Cartridge

12 Curriculum Standards

The IMS Common Cartridge specification provides a mechanism for packaging learning content, web
inks, discussion forums, assessments, and metadata.

This IMS Adoption Group provides the opportunity for K
12 schools and related organizations to develop
scenarios for
common cartridge
content tagged with curriculum standards.

IMS also collaborates with t
he Achievement Standards Network
) , which provides a list of competencies for use in educational
environments. The Achievement Standards Network uses the semantic web technologies Resource
Description Framework (RDF) a
nd Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS) to provide a repository
of academic standards, a tool for entering academic standards into the repository, and web services to
access the academic standards.


Dynamic Learning Maps project



has funded development of a dynamic learning map


application that integrates curriculum
with learning resources and learner
developed content via an e
portfolio. Learners can add, share, rate,
and discuss external resources associated with topics in the curriculum map.

DLM is based on existing standard
s and specifications such as: In addition, DLM integrates with LEAP2A,
the specification forming the basis of the MedBiquito
us Educational Trajectory, an e

JISC has a number of projects related to curriculum design. See:


Course Inventory

The Post Secondary Education Council has work underway related to the development of a course
inventory. These standards would support the description of courses in XML to support the course
g. While related to the curriculum, a course inventory is likely to cover a different set of data.

Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF)

SIF provides a comprehensive specification for integrating the systems that support K
12 education.
One component of the SIF
specification is the Curriculum Structure. The curriculum contains references
to learning objectives, lessons, activities, assessments, learning res
ources, and learning standards
(statements from published academic standards, usually put forth by state and

local governments). Each
element has a complex data model described within the specification.

Learning Activity Management System (LAMS)

LAM is a tool for designing seque
nces of online learning activities that may include individual
assignments and group work based on content and collaborative activities. LAMs builds on the IMS
Learning Design specification and has a strong community that shares these mini

ersity of Edinburgh

COM:MAND, Curriculum Outcome Mapping: Management and Delivery

The COM:MAND system allows learning outcomes to be assembled hierarchically and mapped to
datasets, including other sets of learning outcomes and
standardized vocabular
ies like

MeSH. For
example, it allows learning outcomes from the Scottish Doctor to be mapped to Tomorrow’s Doctor
learning outcomes. According to Micha
el Begg, e
Manager at U
niversity of Edinburgh, “
process was relatively quick and easy and, through the use of visual triggers and alerts, quickly exposed
where the Scottish Doctor outcome set required revision in order to meet shortfalls in the mapping
against th
e GMC.”

The system also allows administrators to embed outcome information in virtual learning environments,
manage version control of outcome sets, and produce reports detailing the coverage and pattern of a

Currently the developers are worki
ng to enable outcomes to be mapped to specific learning and
teaching events in a curriculum and to deliver
Scottish Doctor outcome sets to Scottish medical schools
via web service

eXchanging Course Related Information

Course Advertising Profile

P) 1.2

XCRI was developed by the UK Joint Information Systems Council (JISC) and approved
by the UK
Information Standards Board in 2009. The UK then submitted the specification to CEN, and it became
the core of the Metadata for Learning Opportunities (MLO) standard.

The data model for XCRI includes
Provider, Course, and P
, w


the specifics

of a particular course offering

Best Practices

Many of the specifications listed build on previous standards as a matter of best practice. In addition,
offering flexible ways to reference vocabularies is seen as a best practic
e by JISC. They recommend
“explicit structures for machine readable coded values and human readable terms”


Controlled Vocabularies

Whatever approach we come up with should account for some of the more widely used controlled
vocabularies for healthcare.

Medical Subject Headings (

Developed by the National Library of Medicine for indexing PubMed content, MeSH is used by many
schools to index their course offerings.

menclature of


CT is a comprehensive, multilingual healthcare
designed for use in healthcare
information systems.

The International Health Terminology Standards Development Organization
(IHTSDO) administers SNOMED CT

licenses. IHTSDO members manage the release, adaptation,
distribution and sub
of SNOMED CT and other products of the Association within their
Territory. In the US, the National Library of Medicine distributes SNOMED CT at no cost. IHTSDO includes
15 member countries, including the US and the UK. For full details, see:

Other vocabularies should be considered as well.


mEducator is a EC
funded project to
enable specialized state
art medical educational content to
be discovered, retrieved, shared and re
used across European higher academic institutions. As part of
the project, the group has developed a metadata profile based in part on Healthcare LOM. They have
developed taxon
omies for educational resource type (45 concepts), Media Type (19 concepts), and
learning outcomes (53 concepts).

Medical Education Taxonomy Research Organisation (METRO)

METRO was funded by the UK Higher Education Academy to develo
p a thesaurus of descriptors for
topics in medical education. METRO 2 concentrates on the area of assessment.

Healthcare LOM

Developed by MedBiquitous, Healthcare LOM provides vocabularies and recommended lists of terms for
the following:


Participation modality (conference/workshop, technology based, on the job, print)

Activity delivery (live/not live)

Accrediting bodies (recommended list for CE)

Activity certification (recommended list for CE)

Credit type (CME, CE

Credit unit (CECH, CEH, CEU, Cognate, Contact Hour, Credit, Hour, Unit, Credit Hour, and Point

Pacing (learner paced/provider paced)

Audience category (general, patient, caregiver, professional)

Profession (recommended list)

pecialty (recommended list)

Reading level (recommended list)

Orientation (axial, coronal, horizontal, longitudinal, sagittal, transverse)

Medical Image Type (11 terms

Specimen type (cell, organ,

system, organelle, tissue)

Learning resource type (
expanded on LOM vocabulary)

Educational context (9 terms)

Classification purpose (expanded on lom vocabulary)

Use of Competencies

Whatever approach adopted should accommodate references to competencies, learning objectives, etc.
The MedBiquitous Competenc
y Object and Competency framework specifications provide a mechanism
for uniquely identifying a competency statement/outcome/learning objective/milestone and collections
of competency statements/outcomes/learning objectives/milestones. A conceptual model o
f this work
is available at: