The goal of structuring learning content with granularity and in self-contained learning objects is for reusability. A digital learning resource is reusable if it can be used or adapted for use in multiple learning contexts and in multiple learning environments. The goal of reusable design is to create resources that lower or remove the barriers to reuse as much as possible without reducing learning effectiveness.
From Reusable Learning, the examples on this page make it clear that there are multiple dimensions to reusability:
(from Reusability Learning)
Granularity of digital learning resources refers to size, decomposability and the extent to which a resource is intended to be used as part of a larger resource. A related term is aggregation level , which is used in IEEE Learning Object Metadata (LOM) to describe “the functional granularity” of a learning object. IEEE LOM offers the following scale for aggregation level:
- The smallest level of aggregation, e.g. raw media data or fragments.
- A collection of level 1 learning objects, e.g. a lesson.
- A collection of level 2 learning objects, e.g. a course.
- The largest level of granularity, e.g. a set of courses that lead to a certificate.
Granularity, or aggregation level, is important in defining and determining reusability. For an image, reusability means the ability to use the entire image in another setting. For an entire online course, reusability often refers to the ability to use parts of the course. Krull and Mallinson, based on Hodgins made this slide (PPT of Krull & Mallinson) :
One of the key issues in using and reusing learning objects is their identification by search engines or content management systems. This is usually facilitated by assigning descriptive learning object metadata. Just as a book in a library has a record in the card catalog, learning objects must also be tagged with metadata. The most important pieces of metadata typically associated with a learning object include:
- objective: The educational objective the learning object is instructing
- prerequisites: The list of skills (typically represented as objectives) which the learner must know before viewing the learning object
- topic: Typically represented in a taxonomy, the topic the learning object is instructing
- interactivity: The Interaction Model of the learning object.
- technology requirements: The required system requirements to view the learning object.
Metadata is the data of data, it’s to facilitate retrieval and to increase the ability for content to be exchanged between different Learning Content Management Systems. Open standards for describing educational content include :
SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model)
LOM (Learning Object Metadata) from IEEE LTSC
LRMI (Learning Resources Metadata Initiative, a new initiative co-led by the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) and Creative Commons (CC) )
Note : These standards are not included in most wiki software.
The Instructional Use of Learning Objects
Like to learn more about the development of learning object concept ? David Wiley held an online version of a book “The Instructional Use of Learning Objects” containing five major sections for you to dig deeper.
- Learning objects explained
- Learning objects and constructivist thought
- Learning objects and people
- Learning objects implementation war stories
- Learning objects and the future
Don’t forget to re-visit part I of this topic for practical suggestions for designing learning objects.