Standards are necessary to harmonize the differences
from developed ideas with varying backgrounds, cultures and
contexts. Some of the standards of interests here are applicable
in other design and disciplines. Nonetheless, the need to
find the appropriate standards to guide the integration of
e-Learning environment is necessary and important. One key
standard in the AOLA framework is the 'Activity' specification,
or ActivityML (Activity Markup Language).
There are standards such as SCORM and
but they are not necessary as narrowly focused as ActivityML
on only mathematics content.
activity is used to initiate a process with
a goal of the learner to reach a certain level of understanding
of a topical subject. Leveraging the Web technology, it is
intended that the learner can interact with intelligent mathlets
and online participants of interests, explore further or other
presentations, and assess his or her own progress. For the
teachers, ActivityML will be the final representation of their
authored activities that enables such learning experience.
Thus, the specification of ActivityML is a challenging task
as the metalanguage links the teacher and the learner via
technology. It must be expressive to allow the teacher to
provide different learning paths, yet it is explicit such
that technology can enable the learning experiences of the
learners to the fullest allowable. That is, technology is
not bounded by the ActivityML specification.
Standards and Technology
Technology has been an excellent enabler in visualization
of mathematics, giving another dimension in learning and education.
The Web technology bring access to a common platform that
sharing of experiences becomes possible and easy. Yet the
development of Web technology needs a focus on mathematics
education, and SIGAOLA is an attempt to provide an integrative
approach to bring technology into one where activities for
learning can be AOLA'ed. We suggested [Chu,
2005] recently that a scan of the technology landscape
for mathematics and mathematics education should be carried
out to provide the communities a glimpse of what is and what
In here, for standards, we will look at
- DocBook as a starting point, with the discussion
focuses on technology that is needed to make it happen and
why standards play an equally important role in AOLA. The
definitive guide to DocBook by O'Reilly was published in
1999. DocBook is a SGML-based DTD, providing a structured
layout metalanguage for authors to create manuscripts (on
hardware and software topics) without the headache of presentation.
That, how it should look in general is separately handled
by a proper or proprietary publishing software. We will
borrow from its specification to create a general framework
to begin the definition of ActivityML in XML and XSchema
context, with possible stylesheets and formatting control
to suit the general needs of authors and readers (i.e.,
teachers and learners).
- UBL (Universal Business Language) - liken to an
'Universal Mathematics Activity Language' but of lesser
scope with a different set of challenges. This standard
provides some background information on the development
of ActivityML. We were exposed to this language standard
when we were conducting research on e-Business, and more
recently on the document standards in transportation and
trade of DTTN.
- OpenMath - Version 2.0 released on June 2004.
The key contribution of OpenMath, in our opinion, is the
concept of 'mathematical objects' that are considered to
be manipulatable, computable, exchangeable in a meaningful
and correct way. It is discernable the benefits
of such design for enabling mathematics on the Web.
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