The scope of use of learning technologies, by both institutions of higher education and other educational institutions, is growing year by year. With the expansion of technological possibilities in general, and the incorporation of web-based tools in particular, many lecturers have begun to integrate these applications in order to demonstrate and enrich their study material. The types of applications include the development of interactive tools, educational software, simulations, 3D models and more. To benefit from these developments, a national learning objects database has been established, entitled MAOR: Meta-data and Object Repository. The database is accessible to all the institutions where teaching takes place, includes diverse and accessible learning objects, and provides tools for searching and locating objects to be used in learning frameworks. Content developers' and users' evaluations of the learning objects are also included in the database. These evaluations can assist users to integrate the relevant objects into their study programs and lesson plans.
MAOR currently includes the projects developed within the framework of the Second Call issued by the Budgeting and Planning Committee of the Council for Higher Education: "Implementation of Learning Technologies in Institutions of Higher Education". These and other materials are accessible in the database, having been cataloged, examined and peer reviewed
MAOR includes three main components:
- Decentralized databases containing objects on various levels, including complete courses and lessons, presentations, simulations, web sites, video/audio clips, blogs, wiki, exercises, assignments, etc.
- A central database that includes metadata concerning learning objects. This information characterizes the learning objects and enables easy and efficient access to a large number of databases, portals and learning resources.
- Objects based on free submission by as many entities as possible (teachers and tutors from a variety of institutions), subject to review and inspection.
The establishment of a national learning objects database requires the consolidation of principles for characterizing and defining an Israeli standard for metadata of learning objects, with the intention that this definition will help create a common and uniform language for all the bodies active in this field in the State of Israel (the academia, educational bodies, the industry and content providers).
The work group, in which IUCC, the Israel Internet Association and the Ministry of Education are represented, has defined the Israeli standard for characterizing learning objects – ISRACore. This standard is based on the LOM (Learning Object Metadata), which is accepted in Europe for metadata for learning objects. LOM is the standard of the IEEE Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. The standard defines information about the object according to parameters, such as the definition of search fields; thesaurus for object characterization; addition possibilities; corrections made after the object has been created; and more. Other parts of the standard define the information envelope and how the list will be presented in XML. The parameters proposed by the standard assist in locating, evaluating and sharing the learning resource. The resource's description can be adapted to meet various communities' needs.
The adoption of the Israeli standard, ISRACore, by the bodies active in this field – first and foremost the above three organizations, will assist to create a common language for the use of various databases in Israel and worldwide, and will thus expand the range of objects placed at the disposal of users in various frameworks. Additionally, the implementation of the standard will enable users in different sectors to find the learning objects most suitable for their needs more easily, to reuse resources that have already been developed and to create new ones on the basis of existing content.