“Lo-Tec Tools for Creating Learning Objects” (or just describing ’em?)

“Scissors, Scotch Tape, Post-its, Magic Markers and Colorforms: “LO-Tec” Tools (and Toys) for Creating Learning Objects” has been getting some blog echos [here, here, there…] but once again, I take on the role of Clara Peller and ask, “Where’s the Beef?” When we will stop the endless harping on creating metadata and do something with it?

While I am a glutton for the catchy title and metaphors, I fail to see anything in the article that is about creating the objects or creating content with the objects. This, folks, is all about “Lo-Tec” Tools/Toys for creating Metadata — descriptions of stuff that will come together to create content. It is like talking about talking about learning objects….

I am still scratching my snout trying to figure out, “Who sits down in the creative process for learning content and describes all the assets first?” It is like planning a major film production by first getting all the actors signed and the shooting locations detailed before there is a script or a story treatment! I mean, doesn’t the conceptual storyboards come before the objects?

Even beyond my quibbling, where are the real examples of things built, described by this process? Yes, throw open your windows, and shout to the streets, “WHERE ARE THE OBJECTS?!!! WHAT IS BUILT FROM THEM??

The creation process described involves some magical transformation to XML that can be handed off to “programmers”:

Much of the work done by the programming side of the team can be automated. A simple save function would map the data to the appropriate XML representations. However, this requires a more complex underlying implementation, since the templates do not map directly to a single representation. Even these simple tools do not serve only a single purpose in learning object creation, but rather begin to form the basis for an integrated content development process.

Maybe my visual senses are dulled, but I just fail to see how you create meaningful learning content by starting with describing assets, even with fun, colorful peel and stick decals. It falls right into the mythology of the Lego blocks that are magically snapped together to build a castle. Or a rocket. Or a wing flapping theropod that can swoop down and devour all of the metadata and spit it into a volcano…

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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.


  1. I think this is the role of Pachyderm, and APOLLO. Tools for the layperson to create useful things out of digital resources. You’ll want to come to the APOLLO session at the NMC conference…

  2. almost forgot… Metadata is only useful when it’s invisible. Otherwise it just gets in everyone’s way. You don’t manually enter EXIF data into the JPEG captured by your digital camera. It’s just there, waiting to be looked up. Same thing with all this “learning object” stuff – we’ve been preoccupied with metadata for far, far too long. It’s good to have (crucial, at times), and simultaneously irrelevant…

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