Year

2009

Degree Name

Master of Engineering

Department

School of Electrical, Computers & Telecommunications Engineering

Abstract

A dominant factor in cost analyses of e-Learning programs at tertiary education institutions is the measurement of direct and indirect costs associated with digital learning content, or in brief, learning content. In broad terms, over 60% of total e-Learning costs are related to design, development, publication and evaluation of learning content. The inclusion of new and emerging concepts and technologies including Learning Objects (LOs) and Learning Content Management Systems (LCMSs) into e-Learning programs at universities has opened up new opportunities and increased the complexity of learning content cost analyses.

This thesis constructs a model that offers a minimized cost for the design, development and publication of learning content in a typical e-Learning program. Steps towards building the target model include the investigation of factors that affect learning content development, identification and prioritization of variables influencing the development cost, discussion of the relationships between identified variables and the process of learning content development, and analyses of two extreme cost structures. Finally, by assigning relevant variables in the available cost structure, a cost-effective model that covers the three main processes for design, development and publication of learning content is constructed.

The cost-effective model introduced in this thesis covers not only the main subject notes but also content materials that are widely used in e-Learning programs. The proposed model takes into account subject notes and other materials which include quizzes, tutorial questions, critical thinking tasks and assignments as Learning Objects. In addition, based on this model, an experimental platform is designed and implemented to support the practical aspects of the proposed model noting its limitations and constraints. The experimental platform allows for the implementation of a simple case study for verification of development strategies adopted in the proposed cost-effective model. The reusability of Learning Objects used in the case study, and standards compliance of the resultant learning packages with different e-Learning platforms are also tested and documented.

As an efficient and effective method of enhancing and facilitating students’ learning, e-Learning has obtained a wider acceptance among higher education institutions. The concept of Learning Objects and underlying models and technologies, including the proposed cost model, represent a cost-effective approach for accelerating the design, development and publication of learning content that can be highlighted in the development of e-Learning programs worldwide.

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