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ER diagram


Index of definitions






A rule that constrains enrollment.

Degree rules. admission rules


Academic rule: Admission rules

Rules that cover admission to the institution (or a specific program of study).  May refer to SAT scores, IB scores, High School grades and English proficiency tests (eg TOEFL)



Academic rule: Program rules

Rules that specify courses or work that must be completed to fulfill promotional requirements or completion requirement.  Degree Audit rules typically specify completion requirement.

Degree audit rules, academic progression rules


Academic rule: Registration rules

Rules that constrain registration

Pre-requisites, co-requisites or any kind of restriction


Academic calendar

For convenience the academic year can be divided into sub-units: semesters, terms etc.  There can be multiple academic calendars

Fall semester, winter semester, summer terms



A collection of persons or groups (used in access management)


Grouper has become something of a de-facto standard in Higher Education (




An object of pedagogical value that is created and curated by the institution. May be re-used.  Access (read,write, modify) may be controlled by permissions assigned to roles just like any other object in the learning ecosystem.  Metadata, tags and usage data are associated with all Learning Objects.

Video, game, simulation, static content (PDF, HTML), quiz

If the Learning Component is a tool, then there is the IMS standard for Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI): [http://www.imsglobal.org/toolsinteroperability2.cfm
] For the content of the component the is the IEEE Standard for Learning Object Metadata:

Learning Object: Graphics



.png, .jpeg and .svg have become the standards for the Internet.  Standard Vector Graphics (SVG) have the enormous advantage of scaling without loss of clarity (as well as the fact that annotations can be embedded in the xml)

Learning Object: Interactive object

Interactive objects ranging from Calculus tutors to Second Life

Maple Calculus Tutor, Second Life, Chemistry Dry Labs


Learning Object: Text



PDF has become a ubiquitous standard for lecture notes and other course materials

Learning Object: Video




Learning Objective

Cognitive, psychomotor or affective objectives


Bloom's taxonomy is the most often quoted.  The Common Core (


) defines objectives for K-12.  Without clearly articulated objectives, measurement is problematical.  However, there are no universal standards for objectives.

Learning Plan

Learners intended course of study



Learning Result

Result assigned to a learner upon completion of a Learning Unit

Grade, standing, degree

The IMS CALIPER project provides a finely grained approach to measuring the learning process:


For learning results captures by a student transcript: the PESC College Transcript (




Any definition of a learning activity.  The abstraction used to isolate core attributes and relationships: learning objectives, organizational relationships, rules.  Learning Objects, by contrast, are the actual objects of pedagogical value that are used to accomplish the Learning Objectives of the Learning Unit.

Program, course, specialization


Learning Unit: Program

Any program of study that is composed of multiple units.  There may be rules constraining the manner in which these units are assembled.

Bachelor of Science. Major Biology.  First Aid Certificate


Learning Unit: Area of Study

Usually an area of specialization within a program. Again, rules define how this is completed

Major in History.  Minor in Philosophy


Learning Unit: Course




Learning Unit: Experiential Learning

Coop or work study.  Credit may be given

3 month internship at IBM


Learning Unit: Project Based Learning

Usually research based.  May be new research (as in a post-graduate thesis) or an opportunity to learn research methods (as in an undergraduate research project)

PhD thesis, Masters thesis


Learning Unit Instance

Any scheduled offering of a Learning Unit

Course offering, scheduled lecture



A group with some formal Terms of Reference within an institution.  Could also be an external organization

University, College, High-school, Department, Faculty, US Department of Education, Max Planck Institute



A permission defines access to a resource

Access to lab equipment, access to library resources



Person lies at the heart of the Learning Ecosystem.  A person may have multiple concurrent roles.

Learner, instructor, administrator

There is the Internet2 schema for eduPerson: http://www.internet2.edu/media/medialibrary/2013/09/04/internet2-mace-dir-eduperson-201203.html


Anyone administering registration, scheduling, facilities



Person:Content Developer

Anyone connected with creating learning units

Subject matter expert (Faculty), librarian, web-developer, pedagogical expert



Person with primary responsibility for delivering content




Any "consumer" in the learning process

Degree, student, non-degree student, life-long learner



A person with an ancillary role in the learning process

Adviser, tutor, auditor


Person:Teaching Assistant





Any resource used in the learning process

Room, server, projector, file, books, articles, videos


Detailed definitions

Academic Rule: Program

  1. Degree Audit rules. These define the courses and credits that are required in order to complete a program.
  2. Promotional rules.
  3. Program admission or transfer rules.

These rules are often very similar in structure. Eg: "You need to complete course xxx and course yyy and 10 credits of electives of type x"

Academic Rule: Registration
Rules that constrain registration can be of two kinds:

  1. Rules that are intended to ensure that students have the necessary academic background to succeed (you need to have completed differential calculus before you can register in integral calculus)
  2. Rules that are intended to ensure that certain cohorts get the courses they need (this section is reserved for electrical engineering students)

An institution may support multiple academic calendars. For example, undergraduate degree program courses may be offered on one calendar, while non-degree continuing eduction courses may be offered on another calendar. Some professional programs may be on yet another calendar. It is important that there is a level of indirection between learning unit instances and calendars.

A Learning Component:

  1. Has pedagogical value for the consumer
  2. Is re-usable
  3. Is searchable (across the Web)

Examples of Learning Objects include:

  1. Videos. A learning tool video platform allows parts to videos to be tagged, supports viewer analytics, supports access controls
  2. Static content: PDF, html, wikis
  3. Games
  4. Simulations
  5. Quizzes

Learning Objective
Learning Objectives can be attached to any learning unit.

  1. A course can meet certain learning objectives.
  2. Learning objectives can b e specified for an individual lecture
  3. An entire degree program may have to meet certain learning objectives. This is especially important in the context of the certification of professional programs

Learning objectives are typically divided into:

  1. Cognitive
  2. Psychomotor
  3. Affective

Learning Plan
The Learning Plan can be short-term as in a timetable for the following term's courses. It can be long term as in the case of someone who want to become a medical doctor: stretching from Biology prerequisites all the way to residency requirements.

Learning Result
The term Learning Result covers 3 different concepts:

  1. A measure of success in meeting the learning objectives of the learning unit. This can be a grade (78%, 3.5, A+) or a standing (PASS, FAIL)
  2. A unit measure of the "amount learned" - "3 credits", "2 units"
  3. Recognition on a transcript of completion of a learning unit: BA major in History, CHEM 123

Learning Unit
The concept of a "Learning Unit" comes from Kuali Student. Canonical Learning Units are prescriptive in nature: MATH100 consists of differential calculus. HIST200 covers the ante-bellum South. Learning Units can be courses, programs, majors....indeed, anything to which the word "learning" can be applied. A Learning Unit ID is like a SKU. This allows for the creation of an inventory of Learning Units (a curriculum) without having to worry about the exact nature of the items.


Person lies at the center of the Learning Ecosystem data model. Often there are two possible relationships between a person and any other object in the model:

  1. Learner - Instructor
  2. "Advisee" - adviser
  3. Instructional designer - instructional consumer (learner)
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