The material in digital format in the E-archaeology Content Repository was created to enable online learning. The repository is made of multimedia and interactive electronic books, which are available in the form of the e-learning courses. An e-learning course (or “e-book”, “content” ) is one way to save content in digital format, adapted to the specific nature of online learning provision. Course components include both multimedia and interactive elements. These provide a non-linear delivery of content and assessment of learner progress in the form of self-tests. The material is structured in such a way that it can be reused multiple times. The authors have edited the material so that content is divided into small cohesive chunks of knowledge which deal with a particular issue in depth. The material was then transferred into digital format. During the implementation of content into SCORM (versions 1.2) cohesive portions of material were saved as SCOs. The learner is able to cover the amount of material contained in an SCO in 3-10 minutes. This approach complies therefore with the organisation of content as Learning Objects concept. The SCOs forming a particular courses are organised in a hierarchical structure using the SCORM organisation component. These structures were defined during the creation of content and so reflect the author’s conceptualisation of the subject.
In order to avoid technically arbitrary criteria in the decision making process whether it is possible to use any single SCO or any set of SCOs from the repository in the educational process, the Universal Curricular Taxonomy System (UCTS) has been used to unambiguously interpret the didactic content available in the E-archaeology Content Repository. UCTS is a universal tool for interpreting all segments of material, which are consistent and didactically useful. The following components of UCTS can be used in the interpretation of didactic materials:
- Learning unit (or Unit) – a smallest element of didactically useful material,
- Learning module (or Module) – a set of Units,
- Curriculum – a set of Modules.
A Learning unit is the smallest element of educational materials. It usually conveys a coherent message or provides testing materials. It intuitively refers to the smallest piece of didactically useful material available in the form of any medium (e.g. book, script, PowerPoint presentation, etc.). Thus, learning units are made of a set of learning objects covering a specific topic. These refer not only to the didactic content per se but also to exercises and references.
The entire content available in the E-archaeology Content Repository has been divided into these three categories. The authors of its subsequent parts ascribed explicitly selected segments of material into learning units and learning modules. This decision automatically defined which parts of the material can be potentially reused. Hence, the curricula were built to meet the requirements of different target groups.