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HEA Annual Conference Aug 2007. Learning Objects, Pedagogy and Motivation. Dr Bill Tait COLMSCT Associate Teaching Fellow The Open University. Reusability.

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Learning objects pedagogy and motivation

HEA Annual Conference Aug 2007

Learning Objects, Pedagogy and Motivation

Dr Bill Tait

COLMSCT Associate Teaching Fellow

The Open University



Learning Objects are reusable learning resources that are designed to achieve specific learning outcomes and are usually delivered online.

They are less expensive than custom designed material and they are …

widely available, discoverable in repositories, easily updated and maintained, and include multimedia.



Abstraction – defines a learning outcome that must plug into the course.

Encapsulation – object must be independent of the course context.

Implementation – must be compatible with the course context.



The context defines a planned sequence of knowledge construction.

So each object has entry requirements provided by outcomes of earlier units.

Entry requirements can be added to the object metadata.



Objects can’t see

internal contents of

other components.

So they can’t extend practical examples to form authentic progression.

Need to develop each from start or add internal links to the entry requirements.



How the learning outcome is achieved –

Method - equates to IMS learning activity.

Content - determines the learning process.

Style - should be consistent with the context.

Motivation effort

Motivation - Effort

Motivation drives a process and effort inhibits it.

For students the process is the learning process. For tutors it is the teaching process.

In both cases motivation may be external, such as by assessment or financial reward, or internal, which is the main consideration in designing learning objects.

Student motivation

Student Motivation

‘Concepts should be selected that represent appropriate challenge’ – in this case a progressive treatment.

‘Dual purpose teaching methods should be employed’ – explanations, hands-on activities, computer simulations and real life applications.

‘Learning climate should encourage motivation’ – in this case by optimising the production quality of the software.

Tutor motivation

Tutor Motivation

The tutorials address a part of the course programme with which students experience difficulties and need help.

They are easily accessed by the students without much effort required by the tutors.

They can be adapted by the tutor to meet any preferred teaching method that may include an online discussion.

Tutorial object

Tutorial Object

Extensible learning objects

Extensible Learning Objects

Use XML (eXtensible Markup Language) to separate the method text from the content and the presentation.

XLO allow the tutor to edit the text and thereby adapt the method for a local context, down to a single tutor group.

So the tutor can use existing object technology but adapt the pedagogy to their own preference.

Learning object components

Learning Object Components

Independent learning

Independent Learning

JavaScript Repetition

You should read each page and try to solve the problem. You may also want to write the program and see what it does. When you have solved each problem you can go to the next page where a solution and an explanation are provided.

Collaborative learning

Collaborative Learning

JavaScript Repetition

Read each page then discuss the problem with other members of your group. Try to agree on a solution. Then I will post a solution to the conference that you will be able to discuss before we move on to the next problem.

Results first trial

Results – First Trial

The tutorials were presented to tutors in the London region and to the course team then published on the web.

They were offered a choice - default independent learning version or an adaptable version with online discussion.

Several expressed interest in the adaptable version but none actually used it – all sent students to the default.

Results second trial

Results – Second Trial

Independent learning tutorials were deployed on a website and their location was published to all tutors on the course – about 100 tutors and 1000 students.

There were 112 visits that were long enough to have worked through one of the tutorials.

A blog was provided for discussion but none used it.

Results second trial1

Results – Second Trial



Only 10 forms were submitted but follow-up discussions and a student workshop obtained much more feedback.

Tutors were interested in adapting the objects to their own teaching styles but did not seem to have the time.

Students were very interested in the online tutorials but all preferred the independent study version on the grounds that online discussion was unnecessary.



Tutors would be interested in using the learning objects and in adapting them for use with online discussions if the effort involved were less.

Students are even more positive about online learning but prefer the less interactive independent learning method.

The overall conclusion is that learning objects should be designed not only to increase motivation but also to reduce the effort required to use them.

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