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Re-Usability Support System for eLearning (RUSSEL)

By Alan Workman • November 06, 2012

What is RUSSEL?

The Re-Usability Support System for eLearning (RUSSEL) is an open-source software project to manage and repurpose courses, documents and multimedia assets. It will make content more useful through a rich metadata environment with ratings, analytics and comments that will support communities of practice and collaboration. It will include an Electronic Performance Support System (EPSS) for reuse and repurposing of SCORM®-conformant content based on instructional design best practices and reusable design frameworks.


The objectives of the RUSSEL project are:

  • To develop an out-of-the-box repository and digital library for the DoD to better manage and curate courses, documents and multimedia assets and to make search and discovery of content easier.
  • To make content more useful through creating a rich metadata environment and the inclusion of ratings, analytics, and comments on usage (paradata).
  • To improve design and development of training with an Electronic Performance Support System (EPSS) for instructional design to facilitate reuse and repurposing and to promote best practices.

Repository Design

RUSSEL will provide a web-based tool that takes users through the process of identifying objectives, selecting an instructional design strategy, and adding content to a template associated with that strategy. RUSSEL's repository is built around the AlfrescoTM enterprise content management platform and will support federated, contextual search in multiple repositories and registries. RUSSEL will be a lightweight tool that includes places to enter design notes, development notes, and descriptions of the content the author wants for a particular screen or block. The imposed workflow will encourage the alignment of instructional and technical parameters of SCOs and emphasize ADL recommendations for creating reusable content in SCORM® 2004. The RUSSEL software is being developed as open source with access through GitHub.


The EPSS is based on instructional design theory, frameworks of reusability, and SCORM®. It will aid authors by helping to identify objectives, select instructional strategy, and add design notes. Instructional authors will be able to find and add content using advanced search, preview and test options and be able to add to a template reflecting the selected instructional design. RUSSEL will enable users to publish templates as basic SCORM® packages that can be handed off to a developer. The packages will include any content used to populate the template, a basic manifest (no sequencing), and design and development notes. The packages may be "Frankenstein packages" in which different parts have different appearances, navigation structures, and reporting mechanisms. They will, however, be viewable in a SCORM® player and modifiable in the ADL RELOAD application or other SCORM® aggregation tools.

Next Steps

The RUSSEL project kicked off at GameTech in March 2012 and is still under development. The project team is currently wrapping up Sprint 3 development for the repository, and continued Sprint 2 development for the EPSS. Quality Assurance testing of cumulatively completed code is roughly at 70% complete. Integration of the EPSS templates is nearing completion. Work has begun on investigation of the Learning Registry (LR) integration. Work on Sprints 4 and 5 will follow through to the end of December 2012 with final deployment scheduled for the end of March 2013.

RUSSEL software repository on GitHub: