For the past 8 months, I’ve been researching Learning Object Repositories, trying to figure out just what they’re all about and how their potential benefit to course design and delivery. Admittedly, it’s not the most exciting of discussion topics, and to those of you who don’t work or play in this field, this video might be worth watching instead.
The idea of “Learning Objects” and “Repositories” have been around for awhile. David Wiley has a thing or 2 to say about about them. For now, I’m going to steer clear of definitions, metaphors and discussions around their effectiveness (or lack thereof). Let’s just say, I think they have their use.
There’s a bunch of LOR-type tools and databases out there; some tied to a learning management system, some stand-alone, some commercial, some open source. The Edutech Wiki has listings and information. We use the Desire2Learn Learning Platform tools at the University of Guelph, so my experience is flavoured by that. I have, however dabbled in some other tools, for comparison purposes.
Here’s my thinking on LORs:
- They require a different way of thinking about content development and course design. It’s not just about uploading files from your desktop to a course site. To be effective, there needs to be “Learning Object Thinking” built into content design. Modularity. Re-usability.
- Learning Object Repositories are disruptive technologies. They promote sharing and openness. These will be foreign concepts to some.
- That said, most repositories have tools in place to manage access, copyright, work-flow, distribution, and all that important stuff. There’s also some great tools for reporting and measurement baked in to a good LOR. If these things are important to your context, make sure the tool you adopt has those features.
- But, because of that, they can be difficult to manage and administer. The use of an institutional repositories requires dedicated resources.
- And speaking of “foreign”, if you work in this realm, you will develop a love-hate relationship with metadata. It could be your best friend, or it could be the aunt you never want to visit at Christmas-time. Aim for the first.
- Reap what others sow. Let others reap what you sow. Through the Open Archives Initiative (OAI), repositories can be set up so that they are interoperable, to facilitate the efficient dissemination of content. Think harvesting. Share openly and borrow shamelessly.
Here’s an introductory presentation I shared for some people at my institution. Feel free to use or adapt if it meets your needs: