The Death of Learning Object
May 17, 2006
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Some great quotes in this item: "What I like to say is that learning technology standards effort has focused at the wrong spot. Teachers do not need technologists to tell them how to do their job. Teachers do not need technologists to draw a square on the floor and be asked to stand inside the square. Teachers need tools, good tools so that they can use to craft their wares - whatever that may be. Blog is godsend. That's why people are all jumping into this bandwagon."

I also enjoyed Ip's post on Learning Design. Is this definition right? "
Learning as the process of building an inner world which enables one to participate meaningfully in a community." I would be happier with 'growing' than 'building'. And 'environment' than 'community'. And I think 'inner world' and 'meaningful' need to be carefully specified, because they are, in my view, not rooted in language.
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Comments

Re: The Death of Learning Object

The Death of the Learning Object is welcome inasmuch as "Learning Objects" have been imbued with mythical and impossible features. Just like the 16mm projector and the overhead projector and the classroom VCR and the classroom computer and a computer for every child and Click and Twitch* on every screen have been touted in the past as "changing the nature of learning" some technology lovers have jumped on that bandwagon without considering all the angles. Learning Objects are however highly useful -- going back to Wayne Hodgin's original definition--, and standardization (using Elliott Masies's container analogy) is a great step forward. But one should not confuse technology with purpose. Those same people who decry Learning Objects today are still using books every day. Books might not be cool these days, but they work. Like computerized learning objects, though, they did not really become useful in the way we are using them today until their technology aspects became standardized a few hundred years ago (see The Day the Universe Changed by James Burke). But we're not confusing books with learning. A book is just a tool, and some books are appropriate for learning certain things at certain times. If you are confusing books with learning then it is appropriate to say "Books are dead". If you are confusing Learning Objects with learning then it is appropriate to say "Learning Objects are dead". Two big mistakes were made in standardization efforts. The first one was to believe that standardizing the packaging and delivery of learning objects would be easily dealt with so we could move on to more interesting things. Bookbinding and pocketable size are not terribly interesting except for book binders and book collectors, but at the same time they are useful technical standards that allows us to publish, store, ship, and read books in a very handy way, including reading in bed, while waiting for a bus, or in a classroom. Bookbinding is not what makes the books useful. Same with SCORM. SCORM is not what makes a learning object useful. It is what we can find in it, and whether it is the right learning object for the right purpose at the right time. SCORM is however a useful technical standard so that we can just use a learning object without having to go through a totally uninteresting rigamarole before we could use it. Where did we go wrong then? With trying to add traditional CBT sequencing features to SCORM. Unfortunately the "simple" sequencing turned into something much too complicated. Fortunately (unless you are a LMS implementer) you don't have to use it to take advantage of SCORM. This sequencing standardization effort distracted many people from other more useful issues that are still unaddressed, while pushing many people into a misguided perception that SCORM supports onl high production value, CBT-like content. The second big mistake was to try to create technical standards for mythical processes, and to focus on those mythical processes rather than on deep outcomes in the form of competency, not just measurements of activity. The same mistake was made by many software vendors outside of the realm of learning, by the way, and is in the good old misguided training tradition that says that because someone "completed" a course they learned something, and that hours spent correlate with amount and quality of learning. So, we got computer conferencing systems based on the myth of how a meeting is supposed to happen, learning management systems that assume that all evidence of competency can be equally trusted, a learning design "standard" to drive a group of learners through a learning process that failst to take into account the reality that people get sick, drop out, cheat or simply fail, etc. (* Everlasting thanks are due to David Merrill for the term "Click and Twitch") -- Claude Ostyn [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: The Death of Learning Object

Been saying this for years, and at every CADE conference since 2003. Education needs to be driven by the pedagogical needs, not the tech infatuation of the week. Educational theory needs to ground our work and teachers and academics need to ask the question of who is here to serve who? Do we "stand in the tech box" or do we make the tech serve our instructional needs and the learning needs of the student? And when it come to tech, Baggaley said it best, so many years ago (and about t.v., not the net), "...education about the medium is as fundamental as education through it..." (Baggaley & Duck, 1976, p. 131). We are forever forgetting this. Paul Jerry Athabasca University [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: The Death of Learning Object

Been saying this for years, and at every CADE conference since 2003. Education needs to be driven by the pedagogical needs, not the tech infatuation of the week. Educational theory needs to ground our work and teachers and academics need to ask the question of who is here to serve who? Do we "stand in the tech box" or do we make the tech serve our instructional needs and the learning needs of the student? And when it come to tech, Baggaley said it best, so many years ago (and about t.v., not the net), "...education about the medium is as fundamental as education through it..." (Baggaley & Duck, 1976, p. 131). We are forever forgetting this. Paul Jerry Athabasca University [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: The Death of Learning Object

Been saying this for years, and at every CADE conference since 2003. Education needs to be driven by the pedagogical needs, not the tech infatuation of the week. Educational theory needs to ground our work and teachers and academics need to ask the question of who is here to serve who? Do we "stand in the tech box" or do we make the tech serve our instructional needs and the learning needs of the student? And when it come to tech, Baggaley said it best, so many years ago (and about t.v., not the net), "...education about the medium is as fundamental as education through it..." (Baggaley & Duck, 1976, p. 131). We are forever forgetting this. Paul Jerry Athabasca University [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: The Death of Learning Object

Been saying this for years, and at every CADE conference since 2003. Education needs to be driven by the pedagogical needs, not the tech infatuation of the week. Educational theory needs to ground our work and teachers and academics need to ask the question of who is here to serve who? Do we "stand in the tech box" or do we make the tech serve our instructional needs and the learning needs of the student? And when it come to tech, Baggaley said it best, so many years ago (and about t.v., not the net), "...education about the medium is as fundamental as education through it..." (Baggaley & Duck, 1976, p. 131). We are forever forgetting this. Paul Jerry Athabasca University [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: The Death of Learning Object

Been saying this for years, and at every CADE conference since 2003. Education needs to be driven by the pedagogical needs, not the tech infatuation of the week. Educational theory needs to ground our work and teachers and academics need to ask the question of who is here to serve who? Do we "stand in the tech box" or do we make the tech serve our instructional needs and the learning needs of the student? And when it come to tech, Baggaley said it best, so many years ago (and about t.v., not the net), "...education about the medium is as fundamental as education through it..." (Baggaley & Duck, 1976, p. 131). We are forever forgetting this. Paul Jerry Athabasca University [Comment] [Permalink]

Re: The Death of Learning Object

Sorry for the apparent spam -- my many posts were not intentional. The page continues to not load up for me and it seems that each attempt of mine was actually successful. Hopefully you can delete a few of these Stephen. Paul [Comment] [Permalink]



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