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Kiwi Artichoke Barks At Learning Objects

Wow, and some people think I have an edgy tone in this here blog, especially towards the sacred cow of reusable learning objects, which frankly after several years of looking at, thinking at, I just still do not buy. Yes, RLOs are R.I.P and I have questions lke If All The Learning Objects Are Web Pages Who Needs a Repository?

Then yesterday, I stumbled across the Artichoke blog, where a posts on Mr Ed the talking horse on those Digital Learning Objects and Dear Horse God, about those Digital Learning Objects, the Artichoke takes some nice big bites:

You cannot earjack a conversation between card-carrying members of the MoE digerati “A-list” at the moment without picking up terms like Learning Management Systems and Digital Learning Object.

These terms are tossed like Brassica sprouts into the (e) conversations of the digerati with a facility and confidence that belies the fact that these resources and design environments are contentious, as yet not well defined, and often do not support contemporary understandings of meaningful learning environments…

When I question the digerati it seems that learning management systems are all about managing content for consumption, and digital learning objects all about creating the content for consumption.

Perhaps it is in the various representations, and misrepresentations of learning, within these conversations about LMS and DLO’s that underlie the bewilderment, amongst the educators I work with, over what a digital learning object looks like.

Ouch, sharp bark at the establishment, we like it!

I have been holding back, waiting, just waiting, for the Horse God to stamp her hoof for once about Digital Learning Objects. Because it didn’t seem to matter how many times I searched the Kia ora and welcome to Te Pātaka Matihiko Our Digital Storehouse site, I just didn’t get it.

I couldn’t understand why a seemingly retro notion of “knowledge as an object thinking” was being celebrated with such (e) froth and (e) frenzy by our pro constructivism Ministry of Education.

Sweet web serendipity, indeed.

The funny thing is the tangle trail to finding this blog from New Zealand. I was surfing my RSS feeds, and a post by Albert Ip had a quoted comment to his blog containing the artichoke link… so I just took a peek. It’s this kind f serendipity that maybe fluff like Web 2.0 might enable, but does not create. Casual links, curiosity, discovery… those are the gems on the web.

Of course, I am a fan of most things Kiwi ;-)

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. These terms are tossed like Brassica sprouts into the (e) conversations of the digerati with a facility and confidence that belies the fact that these resources and design environments are contentious, as yet not well defined, and often do not support contemporary understandings of meaningful learning environments…
    RORY>>> Design environments for education are (and I suggest will remain so, at least for our lifetimes). What I find difficult is to find out is WHO is stating that LOs MUST conform to any particular educational approach or technique??? Many put their particular approach into LOs, but they do not insist that everyone must do so. Constructivists and behaviourists and those who simply want to put lectures on the web can all use LOs OR not. LOs are simply a means of formatting the content and making it available in a STANDARD capsule that can be then used in a variety of online applications. Because content is reusable it does not preclude anyone using it for whatever interactive purpose they desire. It just makes it easier to use in your application. Perhaps everything cannot fit into a standard capsule – so what? – if 10% or 50% or whatever % can, this will be useful to SOME educators, perhaps more useful than NOT having a standard.

    When I question the digerati it seems that learning management systems are all about managing content for consumption, and digital learning objects all about creating the content for consumption.
    RORY>>> Yes, and having the content readily available in a standard format (as the book format has served us for centuries) will empower those who wish to use constructivist or other methodologies. I do not see how having content in a standard container can hinder them.

  2. Rory, I am honored you’d visit my little corner of the web. While I am 10000% in favor of sharable, reusbale content, whatever contained they are put in, I remain a sideline skeptic because:

    * After all this time, maybe 6, 8, 11 years, why are there so few documented examples (and not the airline industry widget training sequences) of compelling learning content that has been assemble lego-like as the theory goes? Is it we lack the ability to track re-use?

    * After all this time, we are still focused on the building the collections of “objects” not the creation of content from them. So I empathize with the Kiwi Artichoke who is eyeing with doubt Yet Another Repository, Yet Another Pile of Objects.

    * I have trouble with the book metaphor. It is very clear to someone whether something is or is not a book (with some grey area between books and journals). Yet, there is, after all this time, no clear sense of whether something is or is not a learning object. And we still get mired down in hashing out the definitions. When learning objects are reduced to “digital content used for learning” and almost anything can be a learning object (as instances where I have found thins referred to as “HTML objects”), then learning obejcts themselves have no unique characteristic that makes them worth applying. The term means nothing. If it content, let’s talk about content.

    Soi please, bring on more content, make it available, share it, re-use it, but please someone else start yelling that the Learning Object King is wearing no clothes (meta data optional).

  3. * After all this time, maybe 6, 8, 11 years, why are there so few documented
    examples (and not the airline industry widget training sequences) of
    compelling learning content that has been assemble lego-like as the theory
    goes? Is it we lack the ability to track re-use?

    RORY>>>>> According to Downes’ and Teemu’s definitions there are +10 billion
    Learning Objects on the Web. I don’t believe too many serious researchers
    are using the “lego” analogy anymore, except in a simple sense. Other use
    molecular and even biological analogies to convey the complexity. And, we
    may not lack the ability, but we lack the research time in setting up an
    investigation.

    * After all this time, we are still focused on the building the collections
    of “objects” not the creation of content from them. So I empathize with the
    Kiwi Artichoke who is eyeing with doubt Yet Another Repository, Yet Another
    Pile of Objects.

    RORY>>> I respectfully disagree. We are focusing on the content, which is
    increasing exponentially. What other repository??? The repositories are
    failing NOT the content creation.

    I have trouble with the book metaphor. It is very clear to someone whether
    something is or is not a book (with some grey area between books and
    journals). Yet, there is, after all this time, no clear sense of whether
    something is or is not a learning object.
    . RORY>>> Quite, there is no accepted definition yet. But eh, it’s early!
    .
    . And we still get mired down in hashing out the definitions. When learning
    objects are reduced to “digital content used for learning” and almost
    anything can be a learning object (as instances where I have found thins
    referred to as “HTML objects”), then learning obejcts themselves have no
    unique characteristic that makes them worth applying. The term means
    nothing. If it content, let’s talk about content.
    RORY>>>> The IEEE, Downes and Teemu believe everything is a LO. I believe I
    agree with you that such a definition is useless. We can talk about content
    AND we can talk about what makes content a learning object. I would suggest
    that there is room for digital ‘information objects’ that can be used in an
    educational context and digital LOs which are specifically designed for a
    learning context (my definition). What we need are the means to make these
    objects eminently interoperable – That is the worth of LOs. Encapsulating
    the content in a container with metadata to facilitate use in a wide variety
    of applications and environments – that is an LO. So, we can talk about
    learning content as pedagogues OR we can talk about LOs as computer
    scientists – how do we make this content (whatever the orientation or
    methodology) accessible, searchable and interoperable.
    The book analogy is simple: We make the content accessible by putting the
    books in libraries (repositories) and searchable (Call Numbers [LofC
    standard] -metadata) and they are interoperable because they are all
    formatted in standard ways (left – right orientation, page numbers etc.).
    LOs make digital content accessible when in repositories (the WWW can be
    viewed as a huge repository)- searchable using IEEE LOM metadata standard
    and interoperable using a standard content packaging [IEEE/SCORM].

    Soi please, bring on more content, make it available, share it, re-use it,
    but please someone else start yelling that the Learning Object King is
    wearing no clothes (meta data optional).

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