Duration: 2008-2011

Contact Person: Dr. Bernd Simon

ICOPER: The eContent+ Best Practice Network for Technology-enhanced Learning in Higher Education 

ICOPER is the community of the 30 month eContentplus Best Practice Network ICOPER started in September 2008.

The ICOPER networking capacity is grounded in key and leading experts in digital educational development and technology enhanced learning (TEL).  Driven by a consortium of 23 key players in Europe will provide access to a critical mass of more than 12,500 hours of integrated educational content.  Based on this beneficial infrastructure the project will systematically analyse the specifications and standards available and in use, to draw conclusions on their validity in ICOPER Suitability Reports for Better Practice. ICOPER’s underlying educational framework will guide a consensus building approach to developing Best Practices, addressing issues such as: (1) exchange of competency models and learning outcomes, (2) collaboration around learning designs, (3) integration of content via federated search and harvesting, (4) reuse of instructional models and content in learning delivery environments, (5) interoperability of item banks for assessment and evaluation.

ICOPER will provide mechanisms to ensure European-wide user involvement, cooperation, and adoption of standards within a large community to support all phases of standardization.

Overall, the confusion around the applicability (fit-for-purpose) of standards and specifications in technology enhanced learning results in a lack of adoption, which consequently has a profound negative impact on making digital content in Europe more accessible, usable, and exploitable. 

The work in ICOPER is driven by an educational framework that is competency-driven and consists of 4 process stages where best practices and use of specifications and standards are analysed, and the result is integrated in the ICOPER reference model.

The 4 ICOPER process stages are:

1) Needs analysis
2) Content Preparation
3) Learning Interaction
4) Assessment
For each process stage a number of Working Groups are defined:

Needs Analysis:
a) Competency development Working Group (WG): it will use Competency Specifications as a starting point in order to define an approach towards a unified description of Educational Learning Offerings based on Learning Outcomes (i.e. knowledge, skills, competencies)

Content Preparation:
a) Content Aggregation Working Group (WG):
will analyse alternatives for integrating learning content, starting with various standards and specifications such as OpenID, Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH), Simple Publishing Interface (SPI), DOI/OpenURL

b) IT Support for Content    production and   reuse Working Group (WG): will focus on sharing best practices on innovative approaches for content development and reuse: both open (web 2.0 – user generated content) andclosed (repositories) approaches.

Learning Interaction:
a) Instructional Design Working Group (WG):
will investigate the technology supported Generic Instructional Models in Specific Instructional Contexts. 

b) Delivery Working Group (WG): will investigate and support the delivery of activity-based learning scenarios with open content.

a) Assessment Working Group (WG):
  is concerned with tracking the skills acquired and evaluated the learning delivered.

These 6 WGs will also act as large-scale implementations drawing conclusions on the validity of existing standards and specifications. The results will be documented in Best Practices reports (ISUREs) and change proposals and will be integrated in the initial version of the ICOPER reference Model (IRM)

Measurable Results:

ICOPER will produce the following results addressing 3 major objectives:

(1) Making content accessible

  • Open ICOPER Content Space uniting at least 12,500 hours of content
  • Integrate at least 13 repositories, including at least 5 repositories that were not part of the initial consortium
  • Integration of at least 40 different installations or tools

(2) Large scale implementations drawing conclusions on the validity of standards and specifications

  • Validation, adoption and improvement of at least 5 different specifications and standards according to usage scenarios of the ICOPER Use Case
  • Production of at least 10 ISUREs (ICOPER Suitability Reports for Better Practice)
  • Development of the ICOPER Reference Model
  • Development of at least 2 CEN Workshop Agreements (subject to approval by the CEN/ISSS WS-LT)

(3) Promotion & adoption of standards and specifications

  • Delivery of at least 900 hours of training and consulting on standards and specifications
  • Implementation of additional 40 interface implementations resulting from that training
  • Involvement in at least 18 different meetings of standardization bodies and groups, presentation of ICOPER results by ICOPER liaison agents in at least 9 meetings.
  • Proven dissemination of ICOPER results to at least 22 EC countries (82% coverage)
  • Attraction of additional 3 associated partners to the consortium during the project life.

The ICOPER project partners are now working to fulfill these objectives: 

  1. Set up and maintain the ICOPER content space.  The ICOPER content space will provide access to a critical mass of more than 12,500 hours of integrated educational content. It will be also the site where the new specifications developed by the ICOPER and the Reference Model will be implemented.
  2. Systematically analyze and assess the implementation of existing specifications (e.g. IMS RDCEO, IMS LD, SQI, QTI) for Delivering Competency-Driven Learning Content.  Towards this objective, ICOPER will make use of a Competency Driven  Educational Framework which is centred around 3 core concepts:  1) Learning Needs Analysis, 2) Learning Preparation 3) Learning Delivery 
  1. Ensure European-wide user involvement, cooperation, and adoption of standards within a large community to support all phases of standardization. ICOPER recognizes the importance of a strong user involvement in all phases of standard development and adoption, therefore it will promote an open dynamic collaborative network where any individual, group, community can have a voice and make sure that the specifications and standards developed are relevant to their needs.
  1. Condense findings into an ICOPER Reference Model (IRM) which will be fed back to standards bodies.  The ICOPER Reference Model will integrate existing as well as new standards and specifications on two levels: a) it will describe competency-based learning scenarios in an interoperable way; b) it will provide a framework to developers and users to develop open, interoperable, standard-conformant learning scenarios.
  2. Provide a Technical Roadmap for competency based learning, which will serve as a tool for collaborative strategic planning for the involved community.  The ICOPER roadmap will provide a conceptual framework to assess the maturity of the current status, identify current and emerging requirements, capture desired futures and derive actions to bridge the gaps between the pre-standardization, standardization and standards adoption.
  1. Establish a Virtual Institute for Training and Consulting. The ICOPER Virtual Institute is envisioned to be an important instrument for European-wide consensus building on the adoption and promotion of specifications and standards across Europe through training measures and consulting.

For more information: website