Introducing the Latest CNDLS Innovation: SCORMie

Over the course of the semester, CNDLS has been supporting the 28 faculty projects that were funded during the first funding round of the Initiative on Technology-Enhanced Learning (ITEL). As is often the case at CNDLS, one innovation engenders another.  For example, Linguistics Professor Jeffrey Connor-Linton’s Level II ITEL project inspired Assistant Director of Research and Development Bill Garr and Assistant Director for Web Projects Rob Pongsajapan to create an app, SCORMie, that has far-reaching potential for educators and students in the larger community.

Professor Connor-Linton’s first-round ITEL project for his Introduction to Language class relied on a flipped classroom model to move some knowledge-building activities outside of the classroom.  The Linguistics team used Adobe Captivate for outside lectures so that students could try out their learning and get feedback as they went through the material.  In theory, the data from students’ interaction with Adobe Captivate modules would be sent to the instructors to inform their teaching during the next class session; this strategy is known as Just-in-Time Teaching.  However, during early meetings with the Linguistics ITEL team, Bill noticed that Adobe Captivate was not supporting the team’s needs because the Blackboard Grade Center was not providing the kinds of data instructors needed.  Specifically, instructors received data regarding how students fared on an entire assignment, but they could not see which parts of an assignment were easy or difficult for students.

To troubleshoot, Bill contacted Blackboard to inquire about getting raw data dumps since he knew that Adobe Captivate files used SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference) to engage with Blackboard; this meant that a lot of data was made available through the Blackboard user interface. Long story short, Bill quickly realized that the solution to the Linguistic team’s needs would be more cost effective if he modified the javascript himself: “We kept trying to think of another way, when it occurred to me that the SCORM code was just some javascript that essentially we were providing, in that it got installed, along with the Captivate file, into the hosting Blackboard page. If we modified that javascript, we could also send the complete data to our own application on our own server, and then we could display it however the faculty needed it, for free.”

Creating this free solution initially proved challenging for Bill as he tried to ensure secure communication.  He likened the experience to writing a virus with one exception: “The hard part, getting the virus into a server’s code, was being done for me, every time one of our faculty uploaded a SCORM package with our modified javascript.”  After discovering a solution that delivered data to CNDLS’s server, Garr then asked Rob to make a Django Web app that would parse the data and convert it into manageable database tables. After collaborating on the database design, Rob created a beautiful interface, SCORMie, that is easy to understand.

SCORMie is currently a mature system that supports Adobe Captivate for the Linguistics ITEL project.  The Physics “Filling the Gaps” ITEL project also uses SCORMie with Articulate Storyline content.  SCORMie has streamlined data collection for both teams: instructors simply paste a script into their programs’ installation files and then publish and post as they normally would to Blackboard.  While the Physics project does not yet have enough content online to get data from faculty and students, the Linguistics team has enthusiastically noted the success of SCORMie, which has fostered better-informed teaching and supported student learning.

Bill notes that the next step for SCORMie involves the creation of a system whereby an interested faculty member can get his or her own SCORMie app, with a script that points the data to that app on the Web. Once support materials have been standardized in the near future, CNDLS hopes to announce SCORMie as a tool to facilitate Action Research about teaching methods and Just-in-Time Teaching.

Stay tuned for this exciting app launch!

For more information about the Linguistics and Physics projects, visit: https://cndls.georgetown.edu/projects/itel/, https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/itel-spring2013-connorlj/, https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/itel-spring2013-erv/2013/06/17/hello-world/.

 

Over the course of the semester, CNDLS has been supporting the 28 faculty projects that were funded during the first funding round of the Initiative on Technology-Enhanced Learning (ITEL). As is often the case at CNDLS, one innovation engenders another.  For example, Linguistics Professor Jeffrey Connor-Linton’s Level II ITEL project inspired Assistant Director of Research and Development Bill Garr and Assistant Director for Web Projects Rob Pongsajapan to create an app, SCORMie, that has far-reaching potential for educators and students in the larger community.

Professor Connor-Linton’s first-round ITEL project for his Introduction to Language class relied on a flipped classroom model to move some knowledge-building activities outside of the classroom.  The Linguistics team used Adobe Captivate for outside lectures so that students could try out their learning and get feedback as they went through the material.  In theory, the data from students’ interaction with Adobe Captivate modules would be sent to the instructors to inform their teaching during the next class session; this strategy is known as Just-in-Time Teaching.  However, during early meetings with the Linguistics ITEL team, Bill noticed that Adobe Captivate was not supporting the team’s needs because the Blackboard Grade Center was not providing the kinds of data instructors needed.  Specifically, instructors received data regarding how students fared on an entire assignment, but they could not see which parts of an assignment were easy or difficult for students.

To troubleshoot, Bill contacted Blackboard to inquire about getting raw data dumps since he knew that Adobe Captivate files used SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference) to engage with Blackboard; this meant that a lot of data was made available through the Blackboard user interface. Long story short, Bill quickly realized that the solution to the Linguistic team’s needs would be more cost effective if he modified the javascript himself: “We kept trying to think of another way, when it occurred to me that the SCORM code was just some javascript that essentially we were providing, in that it got installed, along with the Captivate file, into the hosting Blackboard page. If we modified that javascript, we could also send the complete data to our own application on our own server, and then we could display it however the faculty needed it, for free.”

Creating this free solution initially proved challenging for Bill as he tried to ensure secure communication.  He likened the experience to writing a virus with one exception: “The hard part, getting the virus into a server’s code, was being done for me, every time one of our faculty uploaded a SCORM package with our modified javascript.”  After discovering a solution that delivered data to CNDLS’s server, Garr then asked Rob to make a Django Web app that would parse the data and convert it into manageable database tables. After collaborating on the database design, Rob created a beautiful interface, SCORMie, that is easy to understand.

SCORMie is currently a mature system that supports Adobe Captivate for the Linguistics ITEL project.  The Physics “Filling the Gaps” ITEL project also uses SCORMie with Articulate Storyline content.  SCORMie has streamlined data collection for both teams: instructors simply paste a script into their programs’ installation files and then publish and post as they normally would to Blackboard.  While the Physics project does not yet have enough content online to get data from faculty and students, the Linguistics team has enthusiastically noted the success of SCORMie, which has fostered better-informed teaching and supported student learning.

Bill notes that the next step for SCORMie involves the creation of a system whereby an interested faculty member can get his or her own SCORMie app, with a script that points the data to that app on the Web. Once support materials have been standardized in the near future, CNDLS hopes to announce SCORMie as a tool to facilitate Action Research about teaching methods and Just-in-Time Teaching.

Stay tuned for this exciting app launch!

For more information about the Linguistics and Physics projects, visit: https://cndls.georgetown.edu/projects/itel/, https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/itel-spring2013-connorlj/, https://blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/itel-spring2013-erv/2013/06/17/hello-world/.