Scanning the horizons of my RSS reads… XPlanazine had this new one on A Discussion with the UT TeleCampus about Learning Objects (note to XPlanazine- how about using the blog title in your template TITLE tag; it makes for more laborious furl-ing)…

Jennifer Rees and Michael Anderson of UT (University of Texas) Telecampus discuss an innovative, large-scale project that required the expansion and development of learning objects. Interest and discussion in learning objects has picked up considerable steam in the last year, Jennifer Rees points out, which has resulted in the circulation of multiple definitions of what constitutes a learning object. Most agree that the learning object is a small, digital, accessible, transferable packet of information. From there the definitions vary and may include something as simple as what we call an information object – such as a jpeg or gif – to a learning object as complex as a medical simulation. When the use of learning objects (LO) began in the arena of corporate training it was simpler to define. As it migrated to the arena of higher education’s online offerings and was tied to multiple instructional design theories, the complexity of the definition grew.

The interview-ees describe a large grant funded project to create learning materials for 11 graders to meet state exit content now made of 340 learning objects, used for 400 hours of instruction. The article goes on to tell how the side stepped definitions (creating their own)– interesting concept of objects needing a method to “message” each other and the system, and some sad tales of having moved the content in and out of 3 learning management systems. The swerve around meta data, where they hint that they created their own, but it is still SCORM compliant (if someone could give me the SCORM for Dummies answer why this is so critical, I would be forever grateful… it just seems like it is “because everyone else is”)

We disagree with that model for higher education. Using Wiley’s (David A. Wiley, II, The Edumetrics Institute, Utah State) metaphor of metadata being like the content and nutritional value labels on cans, we’d like to take that metaphor a step further. Just because you could see a list of contents on a series of cans on a given grocery store shelf does mean pouring them together would make a gourmet meal. Good instructional design and good designers have to be involved in bringing the content together appropriately.

Exactly. Think of the difference too in the way a teenager might prepare a meal with little knowledge of recipes and then think of Julia Childs. This goes beyond tags and content into having deep understanding of how the pieces fit together.

Nice, but they neglect to say how tastes can vary among the people who eat these recipes. Beets make me barf, but my wide thinks they are heaven on earth. Where does taste fit in?

I was eager, ready to click, ready to see some stuff:

To see what LOs look like in the real world, feel free to access TRACK. By going to the TRACK website at http://www.track.uttelecampus.org you can follow the links to the login page. Create an “other” account (please do not create a student account – we want the diagnostics available exclusively to the students using them in Texas) and explore subject areas.

Their browser detection insisted my Safari browser was not a recent enough version of NetScape or IE. Trying, as suggested NetScape 7, I got to the browser check where it said I needed a newer version of Flash (greater then 7.0.19.0) which I promptly got and installed (v 7.0.24.0). It also said I needed Acrobat Reader, so I lugged down the 30 Mb install. Quit the browser. It still said I lacked these plugins. Tried Mozilla. Nope, it was not the right version of NetScape. Tried IE 5.2, which is the minimum on the browser page. Still said I lacked the plugins.

Who do I have to bribe to let me in? Especially since I could play fine the chemistry example on the front page.

Sometime in the next few days, I may restart the OS or even try it on the PC at work. I am really eager to see some examples, especially for the way the article claimed they were tied together with a common navigation scheme.

Pesky browsers, get me every time.

The post "UT Telecampus Learning Objects: Great Concept (But I cannot get in)" was originally pulled from under moldy cheese at the back of the fridge at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2004/09/ut-telecampus/) on September 13, 2004.

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