Creating and Deploying Effective eLearning Experiences Using .LRN

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON EDUCATION, VOL. 50, NO. 4, NOVEMBER 2007 345Creating and Deploying Effective eLearningExperiences Using .LRNRocael Hernndez, Abelardo Pardo, and Carlos Delgado Kloos, Senior Member, IEEEAbstractThe significant quality increase in open-sourcee-learning platforms allows for large-scale e-learning courses withsignificantly reduced costs. This document describes a pedagog-ical model enhanced for effectively providing courses to a largenumber of students and producing media-rich content suitable tobe managed by the open-source e-learning platform .LRN. Twocase studies are presented: 1) a course for high school students toincrease the popularity of engineering degrees; and 2) a regular en-gineering course with a blended learning approach. In both casesthe proposed paradigm allowed the creation of successful learningexperiences impossible with conventional teaching methodologiesand tools.Index TermsAuthoring systems, learning systems.I. INTRODUCTIONTHE evolution of online education (courses with at least80% of the content being offered online) in recent yearshas been closely followed by an equally significant increase inthe quality of e-learning platforms. In [4], Allen et al. show thatonline enrollment in the U.S. for the 20052006 course had itslargest percentage increase of 35%.Learning management systems (LMSs) are at the technolog-ical core supporting this type of education. A few years back, theavailable platforms were mainly commercial with a few open-source prototypes with limited functionality. But the landscapehas changed significantly [1]. A growing market is in demandfor open-source LMSs which are being considered as viable al-ternatives to commercial tools.This demand stems not only from the increasing number ofonline students but also from the need for sustained innovationin the functionality offered by these platforms. The open-sourceparadigm is known to fit nicely into this type of environment.Once the major open-source LMSs included the main featuresfound in their commercial counterparts, they started to includeinnovative functionality to enhance the learning experience.The LMS .LRN [5] is an enterprise-class, open-source plat-form for supporting e-learning and digital communities. Theplatform is tightly coupled with the open architecture commu-nity system (OACS) [6], an open-source toolkit to build com-munity-oriented scalable, Web applications. These tools are sus-tained by a large and active community of developers and userscontinuously adding new features and improving current ones.Manuscript received December 29, 2006; revised August 3, 2007.This work was supported in part by the E-LANE Project and GrantUC3M-TEC-05-056-1/2.R. Hernndez is with Galileo University, 01010 Guatemala City, Guatemala.A. Pardo and C. D. Kloos are with Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, E-2911Legans Madrid, Spain (e-mail: abel@it.uc3m.es).Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TE.2007.906895This document presents a comprehensive paradigm, in-cluding a pedagogical model, content production, and deploy-ment workflow used within the E-LANE project [11]. Theeducational model follows a constructivist approach basedon three stages: conceptualization, construction, and dialog.Content development was enhanced by providing authoringtools to simplify and streamline the creating process. Two casestudies are shown to illustrate the capabilities of the describedparadigm: a fully online nationwide initiative, oriented towardpromoting engineering studies, and a second conventionalcourse, enhanced by including a blended learning scenario.Results show how to apply this paradigm to these two scenariosand its effectiveness.II. RELATED WORKOpen-source platforms for educational purposes appearedmore than 15 years ago. But only recently they started to be seenas a viable alternative to proprietary software. There are severalreasons behind this change of tendency. The requirementsfor technology-enhanced learning platforms are not fixed norstatic. Rather, these platforms are frequently being modifiedby new demands in both technical and pedagogical aspects.Institutions that had chosen a homemade solution soon foundout that their approach was not sustainable on the long run.Commercial vendors also saw this pressure, which translatedinto a significant increase in license prices. Open-source solu-tions, on the other hand, offer a reasonable tradeoff betweencost and maintenance effort and usually offer faster reactionwhen adopting new requirements (if the community behind thetool is well organized).As Von Hippel points out [9], open source is a paradigm thatpromotes innovation driven by the user. Quoting [7], clearlyThe information asymmetry between user and manu-facturer provides the user with an inherent advantage in de-veloping certain types of innovation. If a particular productlends itself to modification, a user is more likely to devisea solution that meets just their particular circumstance. Bydrawing on their own need and context of use, users aremore likely as a group to overcome the gap between whata product provides and what the user needs. Also, open-source platforms usually offer a lower barrier for adop-tion, thus, are more adequate for deployment in developingcountries.The landscape of available open-source LMS platformsis changing rapidly. There are several websites that offerdetailed comparison among the most important (i.e., www.edu-tools.info), thus, for the sake of brevity, only the most significantones will be mentioned.0018-9359/$25.00 2007 IEEE346 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON EDUCATION, VOL. 50, NO. 4, NOVEMBER 2007Moodle [12] is a system simple to install and administer. Thetool requires an interpreter of the scripting language PHP and arelational database such as MySQL or postgreSQL. A construc-tive pedagogical underpinning and very large base of developersand consultant companies are its additional advantages. Alsorequiring PHP and MySQL is Claroline [10], a tool developedfrom teachers to teachers and built over sound pedagogic prin-ciples. Claroline has an intuitive user interface and is currentlydeployed in more than 500 institutions worldwide. Sakai [8]is a collaboration system that supports teaching, learning, andad hoc collaboration. The tool was created as an initiative byseveral highly-ranked universities in the U.S., is based on Java/Tomcat, and currently supports MySQL and Oracle databases.An exhaustive comparison among these platforms is a com-plex task and is beyond the scope of this paper. None of themwould cover a hypothetical list of desirable features and each ofthem would be best in class in any of these features.The platform considered in this document is .LRN, a com-munity-oriented educational platform that puts its emphasis inoffering enterprise-class scalability. But the main differentiatingfeature of .LRN is that it is communication rather than contentoriented. Almost all the current LMSs were initially orientedto cover the content management part of the learning process,that is, easy access to material and efficient administrative tasks.However, .LRN was conceived to facilitate the communicationand exchange of material among all persons participating in alearning experience. This feature proved to be essential to de-ploy the pedagogical model chosen for the presented experi-ences. A brief description of the structure and functionality of.LRN is described in greater detail in Section IV.III. THE PEDAGOGICAL MODELThe model used in the described experiences is based on thepedagogical methodologies to deploy e-learning courses pre-sented in [2] and [3]. This model uses a three-stage environment. Conceptualization: In this stage, content containing ob-jectives, theory concepts, strategies, etc., are presented tothe students. Construction: Resources are given to the students to per-form the tasks required in the material. This state includesall the activities such as assignments, projects, laboratories,etc. Dialog: Communication among all participants in the ex-perience is included and purposely motivated.This model, which follows a constructivist approach, is basedon activities in which the student becomes the center of thelearning process, the communication among peers is favored,and the teacher becomes a tutor or a supervisor of such com-munication. Nowadays, with all the information available tostudents, a significant amount of collaborative knowledge con-struction is possible with tools such as wikis, knowledge sharingthrough blogs, and several other tools to create online commu-nities. In this new environment, the role of the tutor is centeredon shaping the knowledge process through tasks such as cre-ating, investigating, and helping to assemble a set of online ac-tivities to allow critical thinking, greater levels of engagement,Fig. 1. Conceptualization, construction, and dialog model.and more effective learning. Fig. 1 depicts the proposed modelwith its three stages.Each course is contextualized using instructional design prin-ciples and best distant education practices developed with thetarget audience in mind. The content is divided into didacticunits of an appropriate length, based on students estimated timeper learning session. A general introduction is included in eachcourse in which the method for interacting is described. Further-more, each unit contains its own introduction section in whichthe content to be covered is summarized. Rich multimedia ma-terial such as graphics, animations and videos, are frequentlyused for the most relevant sections. Course content is packagedas shareable content object reference model (SCORM) modules,using the content packaging scheme from the IMS Global Con-sortium for its organization.The deployment of this model into real-life courses can beseen from two complementary perspectives: 1) the teaching staffand 2) the students.A. The Teacher PerspectiveTeachers needed to adapt to the special requirements of thismodel. First, adequate material had to be produced for thecourses. The construction stage in the previously describedmodel requires an unusually varied number of activities in-cluding a rich set of resources. In other words, rather thanproviding an extremely exhaustive set of theoretical material,a rich set of activities was proposed to motivate students forthe understanding of such concepts. Second, since the coursesfollowed an e-learning paradigm, activities were releasedgradually to the students throughout the course to maintain ahigh motivation, requiring teachers to be proficient in the useof the platform. Finally, since communication between studentsand teaching staff is an important part of this methodology,effective e-tutoring was an additional requirement.To facilitate the adaptation of the teaching staff to thismethod, several measures were taken prior to its deployment.Teachers attended a practical training module on the use of theHERNNDEZ et al.: CREATING AND DEPLOYING EFFECTIVE eLEARNING EXPERIENCES USING .LRN 347e-learning platform. A seminar on generic e-learning teachingand e-moderation techniques, following the model proposedby Salmon [13], was also organized. Since some teachersalready had course material from their regular courses, a setof guidelines on how to transform this material to the onlinecontext were given. Finally, a short module covering practicalknowledge on the type of graphical assets that can be used foronline courses was also offered. This teacher-training schemeproved to be essential to guarantee a successful deployment ofthe courses.While the course is being taught, the teaching staff has two re-sponsibilities: 1) gradual deployment of new material and 2) ac-tivities of the course and e-moderation. Follow-up sessions withthe teaching staff were regularly scheduled where the overallprogress of the course was reviewed.B. The Student PerspectiveFrom the students point of view, the proposed model trans-lates into a learning environment with a low barrier to the com-munication and exchange of information with both tutors andpeers. Courses may include an initial module to familiarize stu-dents with the communication features offered by the platformand to indicate how are they expected to use such features. Thismodule is suppressed if students have already used the platform.At regular intervals, new additional material accompanied by aset of activities is published. Each student is given a private anda public virtual folder to store documents related to the course.During the time allotted to the activities, tutors and studentsexchange information through several communication tech-niques (forums, blogs, wikis, etc). The teaching staff maintainsthis constant evaluation throughout the course.IV. COURSE CREATION AND DEPLOYMENTThe enterprise-class, open-source platform .LRN supportse-learning and digital communities. The tool was originallydeveloped at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cam-bridge, as a virtual learning environment and then evolvedinto a comprehensive platform including not only e-learningsupport but also generic Web resources.The platform is based in the OACS [6], a toolkit for buildingscalable, communication-oriented Web communities and appli-cations. The toolkit structure is highly modular, and .LRN is aset of modules providing the additional features to deploy ane-learning platform.The virtual community around .LRN/OACS currently in-volves nearly 11 000 registered users. The community portal isbased on this platform and coordinates the interaction betweendevelopers, users, technology personnel employed by highereducation institutions, or anybody interested on exchangingideas, solutions, and information.The platform is in production in several educational insti-tutions such as MIT Sloan School of Management, with over11 000 users; Harvard University E-Government Executive Ed-ucation Project, which needed an effective platform to handlecommunication and information management for company ex-ecutives; Vienna University of Economics and Business Ad-ministration, which gives support to 20 000 users and containsaround 26 000 learning resources; and Universidad de Valencia,Spain, with a community of 40 000 users. See [5] for a more de-tailed list, including case studies.A. The Functionality of .LRNSeveral features make .LRN a powerful e-learning platform.Its modular structure allows for very fast customization andprototyping of new applications. The user space is organizedthrough a customizable set of portlets, each of them offeringaccess to one of the various services available. The underlyingOACS toolkit provides an ever increasing set of basic Web func-tions, most of them suitable to be adopted by the e-learningplatform.Because OACS is a community-oriented toolkit, it has influ-enced and shaped .LRN into a communication oriented LMS.Most of the current LMSs focused at the beginning of their ex-istence in providing content management for teaching staff andlearners. However, .LRN was conceived as a platform to facili-tate communication among all the different actors in a learningexperience. For example, each user in .LRN has a Web foldershown in the login page to include both private and publicly ac-cessible files. Each community of users also has its own publicand private areas to exchange documents. A significant part ofthe pedagogical model used for the courses presented in thisdocument requires information exchange with tutors and peersand, therefore, makes extensive use of this feature.Support is offered by .LRN for several common e-learningspecifications. Course material can be uploaded as a SCORMpackage. The administrator uploads a zip file, and the systeminstalls its content in the common file storage area of a classor a community. A portlet in the student area shows the linksto enter a special screen to visualize the course content. Testsand quizzes are supported through the IMS Global Consor-tium Question and Test Interoperability format. Examinationquestions may be either uploaded embedded in a SCORMpackage as standalone files or created and manipulated throughthe editing capabilities of the platform. Teaching staff maymanipulate both examination content and results and statisticswithin the platform.B. Content Production WorkflowAlthough the functionality of e-learning platforms is in-creasing rapidly, content production is a problem largelyunsolved. The notion of reusable, adaptable learning contentis perfectly understood, but the inherent complexity of theproduction process is not properly addressed by the currentstate-of-the-art authoring tools. This problem is worsened whenauthoring is extended to a larger community of users that areonly familiar with a conventional set of basic editing tools.A hypothetical scenario, consisting of a powerful e-learningplatform offering a wide range of services and a communityof authors incapable of using them, should be avoided. Inthis experience, almost all users had previous experience withLMSs, but only to publish course material. The objective thenwas to propose a course creation methodology with a min-imal adoption barrier but oriented toward obtaining learningresources packaged in SCORM as efficiently as possible.Following a pragmatic approach, the proposed solutionaimed at maintaining the same editing platform (Microsoft348 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON EDUCATION, VOL. 50, NO. 4, NOVEMBER 2007Word Editor) while at the same time using multimedia docu-ments in HTML format packaged in SCORM. A set of basicstyle definitions was created, and authors were trained to usethem when producing learning material. The editing platformwas then enhanced to store documents automatically in Doc-book [14] format. Docbook is a publicly available XML-basedmarkup language allowing a detailed marking of documentparts. Also, a comprehensive set of highly customizable for-matting templates is available to translate Docbook to bothHTML and PDF formats.Although significantly improved with this approach, the con-tent production cycle still required manual intervention. Whenall documents were obtained from authors in Docbook format,they needed to be reviewed and packed in SCORM format. Eventhough several open-source tools offer this functionality, theyare not tightly integrated with the rest of the authoring envi-ronment; therefore, authors need guidance, at least in the firststages, by the support staff.This aspect of the overall e-learning paradigm is one that re-quires much more effort. Increasingly, powerful e-learning plat-forms will not be fully utilized unless a low-complexity contentproduction flow is made available to the average author. If mul-timedia content production requires teams of experts and so-phisticated production processes, the level of adoption of thisparadigm will be significantly reduced.The described pedagogical model and course deploymentscheme are being applied in online courses in Guatemala. Adescription of two case studies is presented in the next sections.The first is a nationwide initiative, and the second is withinthe academic context of the Galileo University, GuatemalaCity, Guatemala. They were both organized and supervised byGalileo University in collaboration with other national entitiesand used .LRN as an LMS.V. THE EnRED PROJECTThe EnRED course is a nationwide, ten-week online coursefor high school students in Guatemala, oriented toward gainingfamiliarity with basic Web publishing tools and Internet usage.Since engineering enrollment figures are declining, EnRED,hosted and supervised by Galileo University, is also an effec-tive introductory course for prospective computer engineeringstudents. The course has had two editions to date in 2005 and2006, and a third edition is scheduled for 2007.The two course objectives are for students to learn how touse the Internet as an effective information source and how todesign and deploy innovative high quality multimedia websites.The course is free of charge, and the enrollment period was pre-ceded by a nationwide marketing campaign in a national news-paper (collaborating in the experience), radio broadcasts, TheInternet, posters, and a promotional bus tour through severalhigh schools. Also, five university scholarships were offered forthe top-graded students. Since the course was not part of anydegree, the challenge was to provide a formal and, at the sametime, attractive learning setting to maintain student motivation.Enrollment figures were 860 and 1024 students, respectively,for the first and second editions. In both of them, the percentageof students actively participating in the course (that is, partic-ipating regularly in forum discussions, assessments, feedback,etc.) was 68%. Upon closer inspection, a large number of per-sons of the remaining 32% not engaging in the course were notin high school but in lower levels. This anomaly is being ad-dressed in the promotional material for the new edition.The course was created for a distant learning scenario withspecial emphasis on maintaining a sustained set of motivatingactivities. The decision was made to divide the material intoten modules with one-week duration each and clearly statedobjectives.A two-week introductory module was added to remove po-tential difficulties when using the distant learning scenario forthe first time. Following the adopted e-moderation model, thismodule included interaction between students and tutors aboutthe functionality available in the platform.Activities are organized around the idea of a global projectthat consists of creating a website and publishing content on atopic selected by each of the students with some minimal re-strictions. The activities are designed to provide techniques andresources gradually and directly applicable to the developmentof this website. The course is divided into the following units: Internet history; Effective browsing; Website content; Web photography and video; Online content sharing; Beyond e-mail; My cool page; Letting the world know about your page; Security and privacy on the Web; The project.Each module had a similar structure consisting of asmall welcome message, usually a video uploaded on thewww.youtube.com website, a set of topics, self-learning as-sessment, an assignment with a set of activities requiringinteraction with the rest of the students, and a final set ofrecommendations oriented toward the course project.Instead of making all modules available to students from thebeginning of the course, each week they were given access to anew one. This decision was made largely because of the largenumber of students in the course and in order to maintain focuson the activities of one module and a higher student motivation.Past modules were always available.The content for course modules was created followingthe pedagogical model previously described in Section III.More precisely, modules were oriented toward motivatingand engaging students with online activities such as forumdiscussions, self assessments, photo publications, blogs, etc.Also, tools for Web publishing were made available throughoutthe duration of the course. Two forums were available to thestudents: the first was for generic questions and the second wasused only by members of previously created student groups andtheir designated tutor (a total of 22 groups formed in the secondedition). The role of this tutor was identified as essential. Inthe conducted course evaluations, 91% of the students ratedthe tutor role as good or excellent. As a consequence, thenumber of tutors in the second edition was increased from 3HERNNDEZ et al.: CREATING AND DEPLOYING EFFECTIVE eLEARNING EXPERIENCES USING .LRN 349TABLE IGENERAL FORUM PARTICIPATION STATISTICSTABLE IILEARNING MATERIALto 20, thus reducing the ratio studenttutor and increasing themotivating factor. Table I shows the participation statistics inthe forums.As the data in this table shows, participation was primarily aresult of student messages (more than the 80%), which supportsthe effectiveness of the used e-moderation model.The lower numbers seen in the second edition were a result ofprivate forums for student subgroup discussion, deployed onlyin this edition. Communication progressed through this privateforum with more focused students; therefore, questions were an-swered more effectively; and the overall number of messageswas reduced. The appearance of subgroups also diverted a sig-nificant part of this interaction to regular e-mail (60% of stu-dents reported using e-mail) not monitored. In the first edition,e-mail questions were not allowed, and all this interaction wasdirected to the forum. In the second edition, the global forumwas replaced by one forum per module.A significant number of activities were performed outside ofthe LMS. Students were asked to maintain a personal blog withtheir comments, a photo album, and their own website. Theseactivities were gradually introduced to the students to achievethe objectives using these type of tools on a regular basis. Botheditions included 11 activities that were performed with thistype of resource.Course assessment was completed through the .LRN plat-form. Surveys and quizzes were produced and uploaded as apart of the SCORM modules. The experience derived from thefirst edition prompted the course material to be significantly re-vamped for the second edition. Table II shows the figures of thischange.The reason for this increase in the number of resourcescame after evaluating surveys for the first edition. Studentswere asked for the type of material that they considered moreattractive and effective. As a consequence, the number of flashanimations and images was significantly increased (six-fold).These resources had the highest acceptance among students.This trend is consistent with the observed tendencies in genericInternet culture. The appearance of pod casting, vod casting(video broadcasting), and sites such as YouTube clearly pointedin this direction.Table III shows the detailed results obtained in the courseevaluation from the students through an online questionnaire.TABLE IIIPERCENTAGE OF AFFIRMATIVE ANSWERS IN COURSE EVALUATIONThe average level of satisfaction is, in general, very high andincreased in the second edition of the course.During the first edition of this course, the LMS registeredmore than 880 000 hits. This figure shows the extensive useof the platform by the students. Although desirable from thepoint of view of soundness, a comparison between this courseand its hypothetical equivalent version in an offline environmentis impossible because of its nationwide scope. Targeting sucha wide audience could not be feasible without the use of anLMS. The course topic and the hands-on approach (i.e., studentspublishing their own Web page) could simply not be achievedwithout the use of this platform. From the enrollment numbersand the student satisfaction, the effectiveness of the proposedparadigm is demonstrated.VI. PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE THEORYThe second case study is a mandatory course for the En-gineering, Electronic, and Telecommunications Programs ofGalileo University. The experience is based on a group of 42students exposed to a blended learning environment. Regularlectures were combined with online content, interactions, andself assessment.The course covers mathematical and logic fundamentals incomputer science, including but not limited to induction and re-cursion, languages, automaton, regular expressions, grammars,context free languages, and Turing machines. The objective isto increase the student ability to analyze and comprehend rig-orous and formal problems in computer science with the useof a blended learning environment. The evaluation is based onweekly assignments and a course project.This course relies completely on the LMS to distributecourse material, exercises, video and text presentations, exam-ination resolutions, project descriptions, grades and activitiesincluding discussion forums, self-assessments, and learningobject browsing. The content was also conceived following thepedagogical model described on Section III.The blended nature of the adopted environment meant that theset of learning objects available to students were used to com-plement the course textbook and auxiliary references, but at thesame time, this environment was enriched with the communica-tion features contained in the platform.Student participation in the online activities was encouragedby including project discussions and self-assessment as part ofthe course grade computation. Table IV shows the course forumstatistics.Results show an intensive use of forums, mostly during theproject phase of the course. As in the previous case study, stu-dent messages and communication helped to achieve a higherstudent satisfaction with the course.350 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON EDUCATION, VOL. 50, NO. 4, NOVEMBER 2007TABLE IVCOURSE FORUMS STATISTICSTABLE VPERCENTAGE OF GOOD OR EXCELLENT ANSWERS INSTUDENT COURSE EVALUATIONTo increase the interaction through the activities, studentswere advised to ask any type of question in the forums andwere given an unlimited number of attempts when answeringassessments. These measures reduced the pressure to obtaina high grade at the first attempt. The course included a totalof six online assessment activities. Self-assessment during thefirst half of the course increased the confidence in the onlinecommunication.During the project phase of the course, students were askedto participate in online question and answers sessions to clarifyproject issues. Forums were not moderated, although teachingassistants usually participated in most of the discussions.The main effect of these discussions was to create a senseof community that was not present in regular editions of thiscourse. Facilitating the exchange of questions, answers, andinformation about the activities in the course clearly enhancedthe overall learning experience. The creation of this virtualcommunity, even as a complement of a course that meetsregularly in face-to-face sessions, provided a more secureenvironment for interaction.Table V shows the percentage of student answers that ratedgood or excellent on several aspects of the course.These results demonstrate that even on regular courses, andwith a reduced number of students, a communication and infor-mation, exchange-based blended learning environment is per-ceived as a clear course improvement by the students.Although in different environments, comparing the two de-scribed experiences prompts two observations. First, an onlineenvironment with content that captivates students, activitiesthat keep a high motivation, sustained tutoring activity, anda platform where communication is easily achieved can beeven more effective than traditional learning scenarios (havingsuch a large geographically dispersed number of students inface-to-face classes would not be feasible). Second, very oftenteaching staff is searching for course adjustments to enhancethe overall learning experience. A blended learning approachsuch as the one described here can be deployed and couldprovide a safer context in which communication can take place.VII. CONCLUSIONThe pedagogical model, creation, deployment, and manage-ment of online and blended learning courses using the .LRNplatform has been presented. The use of this paradigm wasillustrated with two study cases. The first is a fully online,nationwide course to familiarize high school students withtechnology and engineering studies. The second is a blendedlearning course embedded in a regular engineering degree. Thepedagogical model includes a dialog phase where all the stake-holders exchange information about a course. The material forthese courses included a significant number of activities wherecommunication among students was required.The used open-source platform was .LRN which offeredthe required functionality and the intuitive environment forboth teachers and students. The difference in scope of the casestudies shows how .LRN offers a versatile environment capableof hosting learning experiences ranging from a fully onlinecourse deployment with a significant number of students, toa more reduced blended learning scenario. Additionally, amodified content production flow was proposed to authors toreduce content management complexity while complying withcurrent models such as SCORM.When applied to the context of electrical/computer en-gineering education, the presented approach has severaladvantages. The pedagogical model accommodates the ever-in-creasing forms of interaction among students and teachingstaff. The authoring environment reduces the cost of includingnew media resources such as audio, video, animations, simu-lations, etc. Finally, .LRN is an enterprise-class, open-sourceplatform that offers the required functionality for the successfulexploitation of the learning experiences present in engineeringeducation.REFERENCES[1] S. Adkins, Wake-up call: Open source LMS, in Learning Circuits.Atlanta, GA: American Society for Training & Development, 2005.[2] V. S. Alexandrov, N. S. Alexandrov, and R. Ramrez-Velarde, Educa-tional meta-model for e-learning, presented at the Int. Conf. Interac-tive Computer Aided Learning, Villach, Austria, 2006.[3] V. S. Alexandrov, N. S. Alexandrov, and R. Ramrez-Velarde, Novelpedagogical paradigms facilitating mixed mode and collaborativelearning using open source software, presented at the Int. Conf.Interactive Computer Aided Learning, Villach, Austria, 2006.[4] I. E. Allen and J. Seaman, Making The Grade. Online Education in theUnited States, 2006. Needham, MA: Sloan Consortium, 2006.[5] R. A. Calvo, E. Ghiglione, and R. A. Ellis, The openACS e-learninginfrastructure, presented at the 9th Australian World Wide Web Conf.,Gold Coast, Australia, Jul. 2003.[6] N. Demetriou, S. Koch, and G. Neumann, Open Source for Knowledgeand Learning Management: Strategies Beyond Tools. Hershey, PA:Idea Group Publishing, Oct 2006, ch. The Development of the Ope-nACS Community.[7] A. Essa, Innovation and strategic advantage: Lessons from opensource, Int. J. Contin. Eng. Educ. Lifelong Learn., Dec. 2006.[8] J. Farmer and I. Dolphin, Sakai: E-Learning and more, presentedat the European University Information Systems Conf., Manchester,U.K., Jun. 2005.[9] E. Von Hippel, Democratizing Innovation. Cambridge, MA: MITPress, 2005.[10] N. Karlovcec, S. Saina, and T. Skala, Computer networks course:Claroline-based E-learning model, in Proc. World Conf. E-Learningin Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education, G.Richards, Ed., Vancouver, BC, Canada, 2005, pp. 794799.HERNNDEZ et al.: CREATING AND DEPLOYING EFFECTIVE eLEARNING EXPERIENCES USING .LRN 351[11] C. D. Kloos, A. Pardo, M. Muoz, and L. de la Fuente Valentn,E-LANE: An e-learning initiative based on open source as a basis forsustainability, Int. J. Contin. Eng. Educ. Lifelong Learn., vol. 17, no.1, pp. 5766, 2007.[12] W. H. Rice, Moodle. E-learning Course Development. Birmingham,U.K.: Packt, 2006.[13] G. Salmon, E-Moderating: The Key to Teaching and Learning On-line. London, U.K.: Routledge Falmer, 2002.[14] N. Walsh and L. Muellner, DocBook: The Definitive Guide. Se-bastopol, CA: OReilly Media, 1999.Rocael Hernndez received the B.S. degree in computer science from Fran-cisco Marroquin University, Guatemala, in 2000.He is Director of Development in the Research and Development Depart-ment and Director of the eLearning Department, Galileo University, GuatemalaCity, Guatemala. His research interests are in e-learning, Web content devel-opment technologies, collaborative websites, online communities, and Web de-velopment frameworks. He also leads the Tools Integration subproject in theE-LANE project and coordinates all its deployment in Guatemala. He has servedfor more than two years as part of the OpenACS Core Team, the Web frame-work behind .LRN, and now serves as a Member of the Board of Directors ofthe .LRN Consortium.Abelardo Pardo received the Ph.D. degree in computer science from the Uni-versity of Colorado, Boulder.He is an Associate Professor of Telematics Engineering at Carlos III Univer-sity of Madrid, Spain. His research interests are in the area of computer-sup-ported learning, adaptive hypermedia, and multimedia content creation. He is aMember of the .LRN community, where he participated in the implementationof the learning design support within the platform. He has also participated inseveral international research projects and is the Principal Investigator of themosaicLearning-2 project on e-learning platforms, tutoring systems, user mod-eling, and adaptive hypermedia.Carlos Delgado Kloos (M05SM06) received the Ph.D. degree in computerscience from the Technical University of Munich, Germany, and the Ph.D.degree in telecommunication engineering from the Technical University ofMadrid, Spain.He is a Full Professor of Telematics Engineering at Carlos III University ofMadrid, Spain, where he is the Founding Director of the Department of Telem-atics Engineering. He is Associate Vice-Chancellor, Director of two Mastersprograms (one on e-learning), and Director of the Nokia Chair. His main cur-rent interest is educational technologies. He has been involved in more than 20projects with European (Esprit, IST, @LIS), national (Spanish Ministry) and bi-lateral (SpanishGerman and SpanishFrench) funding. He has authored over160 articles in national and international conferences and journals. He has au-thored one book, coauthored one, and coedited five. He is the Coordinator ofthe European-funded E-LANE project and a Member of the Board of Directorsof the .LRN Consortium.

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