There is a major new e-learning consortium project that is exploring the potential to set up a global virtual medical school. It's presently in the feasibility stage and I've just come back from a steering group meeting. There are around 40 international medical schools signed up already. There will hopefully be a public web site soon so for now I won't go into any details about the partners or how this consortium will operate. What I can talk about are some of the issues we discussed as they're pertinent to most e-learning projects.

One of the approaches the consortium will be taking will be to develop a global bank of reusable learning objects (RLOs) covering aspects of medicine, nursing and potentially other professions allied to medicine. These RLOs will have a resource discovery system and will interoperate with existing Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS) in consortium institutions.

High amongst the issues being discussed are metadata tagging (which schemas?) and IMS compliance and the SCORM reference model.

Questions I'd like to ask you are:

  1. Does you institution consider the sharing of RLOs to be a viable proposition?
  2. Do you currently run an LCMS to deliver some/all of your content?
  3. Is you system IMS compliant or can it be made compliant if you thought this was important?
  4. Does the value of RLOs lie in the ability to use them 'in place' i.e. in the format/location of the originating institution or should they be embedded within your own local system? And in fact are these two mutually exclusive?
  5. Can you retro-fit metadata and content packaging onto existing learning objects (you may not have thought of them as such when you created them) or is it best to scrap legacy material and develop new material with these issues in mind?
  6. Are these the right questions to be asking?