Although there is an abundance of medical educational content available in individual EU academic institutions, this is not widely available or easy to discover and retrieve, due to lack of standardized content sharing mechanisms.
The mEducator Best Practice Network (BPN) has critically evaluated existing standards in the field of e-learning and implemented a reference model in order to enable specialized state-of-the-art medical educational content to be discovered, retrieved, shared and re-used across European higher academic institutions.
By fusing the social web and the semantic web concepts together in mEducator, learning management systems and open educational repositories were united or federated together, so that educators and learners can organise, repurpose, re-use and share medical educational resources.
Different platforms have been created to enable this endeavour. In doing so, pivotal role has played the mEducator ontology, which has been designed to provide a consistent data scheme, across the various mEducator instances.
Two solution frameworks were developed for multi-type content sharing and repurposing:
1st Solution: mEducator 2.0, based on Web2.0 technologies (specifically mashups)
2nd Solution: mEducator 3.0, based on semantic web technologies (specifically linked data).
These solutions have been evaluated and compared by assessing their technological infrastructures, differences in design and implementation choices and user acceptance. In addition, best practices and recommendations have been distilled by the mEducator BPN with respect to content description metadata, content description procedures, content repurposing and IPR for re-purposed content.
The experiences registered so far and the best practices elicited from the mEducator work are going to shape the involved communities of practice in the next few years.
On a final note, some of the key innovative points in mEducator consist of the following:
The first real combination of social media technologies (Web2.0) and the semantic web (Linked Data/Web3.0) into education and learning (Linked Learning / Linked Medical Education)
The exploitation of the role semantics may play in education and learning
The wide use of Open source and the creation of multiple platforms
Obviously, work will continue in many of the above areas. One of the impressive ones though may include the semantic searching of resources in Second Life, as powered by the mEducator technology (short video demo of the 1st mEducator island in Second Life: http://youtu.be/okBxQCtv4og).