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DITA Learning FAQ

  1. What is the DITA Learning Specialization?
    1. The DITA Learning Specialization builds on past DITA work on topic-based content, reusable learning objects, and the learning content types needed to support them. It provides a general top-level design for structured, intent-based authoring of learning content with good learning architecture.
  2. What is DITA Learning Specialization good for?
    • Creating custom courses quickly
    • Making technical content available for direct sharing and reuse in learning and training
    • Enable indexing, searching, and retrieval of learning content
  3. What are the components of the DITA Learning Specialization?
    1. The components of the DITA learning specialization are
      1. a set of specialized DITA topic types that support structured authoring and delivery of learning and training content,
      2. a specialized learning map domain to structure those topics into learning objects and groups,
      3. an interactions domain to define assessment questions,
      4. a metadata domain to provide learning metadata that is modeled after the IEEE LOM elements, and
      5. a set of "starter kit" processing for delivering as stand-alone HTML, PDF, and SCORM.
  4. What makes the DITA Learning Specialization unique from core DITA?
    1. Core DITA provides for 4 basic topic types (topic, concept, task, reference). The DITA Learning Specialization extends core DITA to include the following domains and topic types to create learning and training content:
      1. Learning Map domain: enables the assembly of learning objects into modules and/or courses.
      2. Interactions domain: enables the eLearning aspects of learning content, with support for various types of interactions and associated feedback. This domain provides interactive methods for assessing the student's knowledge of the learning content.
      3. Metadata domain: incorporates metadata elements from the IMS Metadata specification, intended for use with eLearning applications.
      4. Learning Plan: describes learning needs and goals, instructional design models, task analyses, learning taxonomies, and other information necessary to the lesson planning process.
      5. Learning Overview: identifies the learning objectives and includes other information helpful to the learner, such as prerequisites, duration, intended audience, and can include information and strategies that seek to gain attention and stimulate recall of prior learning.
      6. Learning Content: provides the learning content itself, and enables direct use of content from DITA task, concept, and reference topics, as well as additional content of any topic type that supports specific objectives declared in the Learning Overview topic type. A Learning Content topic comprises a set of self-contained content about a single terminal learning objective supported by zero or more enabling learning objectives.
      7. Learning Summary: recaps and provides context for the achievement or accomplishment of learning objectives, provides guidance to reinforce learning and long-term memory, and may pose questions to enhance encoding and verification of the learning content.
      8. Learning Assessment: presents questions or interactions that measure progress, encourage recollection, and stimulate reinforcement of the learning content, and can be presented before the content as a pre-assessment or as a post-assessment test. The interactions use a sub-set of the Question-Test Interoperability (QTI) specification, implemented as a DITA domain specialization.
      9. Learning Base: The Learning Base topic type is not used to deliver learning content; instead it provides a set of common elements for use in the other more specific learning content types: Learning Overview, Learning Content, Learning Summary, Learning Assessment, and Learning Plan.
  5. Where do I get the DITA Learning Specialization?
    1. The DITA Learning Specialization is a subcommittee to the DITA Technical Committee and can be found at the OASIS DITA Learning and Training Content Specialization SC page.

      1. Specification:

      2. Schema/DTD, Samples and Toolkit:

  6. How do I use the plugin?
    1. To set this up, with sample content and specialized plug-in processing, do the following:
      1. Download and install the DITA Open Toolkit 1.5 Sep 2 (or later) Test Build
        1. The DITA OT home page is on SourceForge here -

        2. Download the Sep 2 test build -

        3. Note - For Windows, use the full easy install:

      2. Download the This provides a plugin with specialized learning processing and a samples folder with learning content.

      3. Unzip to the DITA OT 1.5 root folder. This is the folder with build.xml, build_demo.xml, etc.
      4. Use startcmd.bat or from the DITA OT 1.5 root folder to open a command box.
      5. Type ant -f integrator.xml and press Enter. This sets up the specialized processing for the learning content from the xsl in the plugin.
      6. Use ant -f build_demo.xml to generate sample web or other builds of the learningsample.ditamap. You will be prompted for the name of the file to process. Use: samples/learning/learningsample.ditamap. The testlearningAssess.html shows specialized processing for the interaction items.
      7. Use this command to build SCORM template 4b output: java -jar lib\dost.jar /i:samples\learning\learningsample.ditamap /outdir:samples\learning\out /transtype:scormtemp4b
  7. Can I use my existing DITA content for Learning?
    1. Yes, you can incorporate existing base DITA topics into a Learning map.
  8. What best practices and industry standards were considered during the DITA Learning Specialization development?
    1. IEEE LOM - The IEEE 1484.12.1 – 2002 Standard for Learning Object Metadata is an internationally-recognised open standard (published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association, New York) for the description of “learning objects”. Relevant attributes of learning objects to be described include: type of object; author; owner; terms of distribution; format; and pedagogical attributes, such as teaching or interaction style. [source: Wikipedia]

    2. SCORM - Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is a collection of standards and specifications for web-based e-learning. It defines communications between client side content and a host system called the run-time environment (commonly a function of a learning management system). SCORM also defines how content may be packaged into a transferable ZIP file. SCORM is a specification of the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative, which comes out of the Office of the United States Secretary of Defense. [source: Wikipedia]

    3. Cisco RLO - The RIO Strategy represents a synthesis of modified information mapping and the work of Dr. Ruth Clark fitted Cisco System’s requirements. In defining a methodology to design and develop training, Dr. Clark combines a modification of information mapping with Dr. Merrill's component display theory. The result is a structured approach for creating and categorizing content based on five information types: concept, fact, process, procedure, and principle. [Source: Cisco Systems Reusable Information Object Strategy, 1999]
  9. How do I start creating a learning object (to include topics and maps)? [?]

  10. What sort of output types are available from the DITA Learning Specialization?[patrick]

    1. The learning specialization includes a set of "starter kit" processing for delivering learning content as stand-alone HTML, PDF, and SCORM.

  11. Can I use the DITA Learning Specialization to create SCORM output?
    1. Yes. [?]

  12. Where can I find that latest information about the DITA Learning Specialization? [?]

  13. Can I use my existing media objects in the DITA Learning Specialization? [patrick]

    1. You can incorporate new or existing media objects using the "object" element, just as you would in a base DITA topic. Media elements could include SVG graphics, FLASH, or audio.[?]

  14. Can I use DITA to create e-learning?[?]

    1. Yes. The new DITA specialization for learning has e-learning in mind when the specification was created. The specification will provide standard SCORM processing based on the latest SCORM specification from the ADL (CORDRA).
  15. Can I embed audio and video into courses using DITA?[?]

    1. DITA provides standard markup for embedding audio and video into your content. The DITA for learning specialization has included this markup to ensure users are able to embed their audio and video files. Specialized processing may be required with some file types.
  16. Can I still create Flash based interactivity with DITA?[?]

    1. As an XML based markup, the DITA for Learning specialization can make extensive use of Flash. All your content will be tagged in XML making it accessible to your FLASH movies through proper action scripting.
  17. Can my subject matter experts use DITA?[?]

    1. Yes. Your subject matter experts will be able to use the DITA markup. Training on DITA’s proper use may be required prior to allowing subject matter experts to author content using DITA, but once accustomed the DITA standard will help your subject matter experts do their job more efficiently.
  18. Can I use DITA to create Mobile Learning?[?]

    1. Yes. You can author content for Mobile learning using the DITA markup. From there you will need to create specialized processing to render the content into a mobile friendly format.
  19. What tools do I need to use DITA?[?]

    1. There are many off the shelf 3rd party tools for using DITA. Most XML editors support DITA while others have built specific tools that make authoring content using DITA extremely easy. Some of the more popular editors with DITA support are: Arbortext, XMetal, XML Spy, XML Mind, etc.

  20. Do I need to download anything to use the DITA for Learning Specialization?[?]

    1. You can obtain DITA’s open source toolkit from a variety of sources such as This is the only download you will need to get started.
  21. [add additional questions here][?]


LearningContent/DITA_Learning_FAQ (last edited 2009-08-12 18:02:41 by localhost)