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Learning Objects and the On-line Composition Course. Or:. Learning Objects: A Force for Good or Evil?. One Teacher’s Quest. Warm-up. If you have or do teach on-line, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced developing materials for on-line delivery?

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Warm up
Warm-up

  • If you have or do teach on-line, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced developing materials for on-line delivery?

  • If you haven’t, what would concern you most about designing/adapting a course for on-line delivery?


Overview
Overview

  • Overview (or review) of Learning Objects

  • My experience building a unit of instruction from LOs

  • Challenges and compromises

  • The end product

  • The unit revisited -- discussion


Being object oriented
Being Object-Oriented

  • The theory behind object-oriented programming languages was that time and money would be saved if programs were designed so that bits and pieces could be revised without revising a thousand lines of code.

  • An object would be designed to do a single task. If users’ needs changed, programmers could replace or redo that “object” without affecting the rest of the program.


Knowledge objects
Knowledge Objects

  • Discrete items that can be integrated into lessons.

  • Not complete units of instruction – rather, knowledge objects are building blocks.

  • Examples: a text or reading, an image, a video or audio clip.

  • Not a Learning Object until a lesson is attached to it.


Learning objects
Learning Objects

  • Mohamed Ally’s definition: “any digital resource that can be used and re-used to achieve a specific learning outcome or outcomes”


Learning objects1
Learning Objects

  • Any digital resource that can be used and re-used to achieve a specific learning outcome or outcomes.


  • Digital: so object can be stored in digital repository available for electronic search and retrieval

  • Re-usable in different lessons, courses or instructional interventions

  • Tied to a specific learning outcome so appropriate content and assessment can be included.


Learning objects2
Learning Objects:

  • Revisable

    • Educators should be able to revise and/or customize a single LO in isolation, without revising an entire module, unit or course.

  • Stand-alone and Re-usable

    • LOs should be context-independent, so they can be used in multiple lessons or courses.

  • Flexible

    • LOs should be usable in different instructional settings (Ally mentions “learning, remediation, just-in-time learning, job aids, and enrichment”) (5).


Learning objects3
Learning Objects:

  • Linkable

    • Educators should be able to link LOs together to build custom lessons/courses.

  • Durable

    • Ideally, LOs should be designed so that they can be used many times without becoming obsolete

  • Platform Independent

    • LOs should be accessible from whatever platform students and instructors are using to access the course.


Learning objects4
Learning Objects:

  • Demonstrate sound instructional design

    • LOs are complete “chunks” of instruction. As such, they must make use of effective instructional strategies to help students process information, master material and demonstrate that mastery.

    • For example, an LO designed using a cognitive approach might include an activity to engage prior knowledge, followed by an activity or activities to help learners process new information.


Metadata
Metadata

  • One of the selling points of learning objects is that they can be stored in repositories.

  • Objects are tagged with metadata, a segment, in XML or HTML, which describes the purpose of the LO.


Metadata tags include

Title of LO

Description

Language

Location

Learning Resource Type

Context

Cost

Keywords

Metadata tags include:


A sample knowledge object
A Sample Knowledge Object:

  • This is an HTML file which delivers a “lecture” on freewriting for an on-line 112 course.


Clustering

If you are more a visual than a verbal learner, you might want to try brainstorming through clustering, which combines words and images to help you develop and expand your ideas. Write your topic in the center of a blank sheet of paper and draw a circle around it. Around it write (or draw) whatever comes to mind about that topic. Then consider each of these ideas or drawings, and do the same. What you'll come up with might look something like the example on page 14 of your handbook - or you can follow someone through a clustering exercise by visiting Deb Okey's Prewriting Page , which is one of the assigned readings for this unit.

Loopy Writing

Peter Elbow and Pat Belanoff, two of the biggies in the field of Composition and Rhetoric (yes, there really is such a field), outlines the Loop Writing Process in their book, Being a Writer: A community of Writers Revisited. The goal of loop writing is to attack an idea from several directions, then to "loop" back to refocus on your topic when you begin revising. The Unit 1 exercise folder contains an exercise which will lead you through a writing loop.

Your Process Journal

The process journal is another idea spawned in the fertile mind of Peter Elbow. The goal of the process journal is to help you to think about your own writing process. Again, the journal is private writing - what you'll submit to me is a collection, a collage, of the insights you come across when writing about how you write. Think about it this way: let's say you play golf, but aren't doing so well. You keep getting kicked off of courses for hurling divets the size of a human head every time you swing, and one more than one occasion you've had to let a troop of Brownies going for their golfing badges play through because you just couldn't get past the 2nd hole. How do you improve your swing? Well, you'll have to try to identify what you're doing right, and what you're doing well. You'll have to think about how you're standing, and how you're gripping your golf club. This is what your Process Journal will help you do with your writing. Keep in mind, however, that your journal is still a form of freewriting. Each time you sit down to write, leave a bit of time at the end for your journal. Instead of freewriting about your topic, freewrite about your writing session. Try writing the story of your session - how did you get started? What stumbling blocks did you trip over? What went really well? Each time you submit an essay to me, I'll ask you for a Process Letter: this will be a summary or collage of the insights you've developed in your process journal. The Unit 1 assignment contains an exercise which will lead you through your first process letter.


A Knowledge Object

Unit One Lecture (Content)

Clustering

If you are more a visual than a verbal learner, you might want to try brainstorming through clustering, which combines words and images to help you develop and expand your ideas. Write your topic in the center of a blank sheet of paper and draw a circle around it. Around it write (or draw) whatever comes to mind about that topic. Then consider each of these ideas or drawings, and do the same. What you'll come up with might look something like the example on page 14 of your handbook - or you can follow someone through a clustering exercise by visiting Deb Okey's Prewriting Page , which is one of the assigned readings for this unit. Loopy Writing

Peter Elbow and Pat Belanoff, two of the biggies in the field of Composition and Rhetoric (yes, there really is such a field), outlines the Loop Writing Process in their book, Being a Writer: A community of Writers Revisited. The goal of loop writing is to attack an idea from several directions, then to "loop" back to refocus on your topic when you begin revising. The Unit 1 exercise folder contains an exercise which will lead you through a writing loop. Your Process Journal

The process journal is another idea spawned in the fertile mind of Peter Elbow. The goal of the process journal is to help you to think about your own writing process. Again, the journal is private writing - what you'll submit to me is a collection, a collage, of the insights you come across when writing about how you write. Think about it this way: let's say you play golf, but aren't doing so well. You keep getting kicked off of courses for hurling divets the size of a human head every time you swing, and one more than one occasion you've had to let a troop of Brownies going for their golfing badges play through because you just couldn't get past the 2nd hole. How do you improve your swing? Well, you'll have to try to identify what you're doing right, and what you're doing well. You'll have to think about how you're standing, and how you're gripping your golf club. This is what your Process Journal will help you do with your writing. Keep in mind, however, that your journal is still a form of freewriting. Each time you sit down to write, leave a bit of time at the end for your journal. Instead of freewriting about your topic, freewrite about your writing session. Try writing the story of your session - how did you get started? What stumbling blocks did you trip over? What went really well? Each time you submit an essay to me, I'll ask you for a Process Letter: this will be a summary or collage of the insights you've developed in your process journal. The Unit 1 assignment contains an exercise which will lead you through your first process lette


A Learning Object

Loop Writing Exercise

(Practice)

Unit One Lecture

(Content)

Process Letter (Assessment)


A Course Constructed of Learning Objects

Freewriting Unit

Review of writing process

Writing essay 1

Course Interface (i.e. Blackboard)

Students, multiple platforms, accessing via WWW


Which can be accessed from multiple platforms over the WWW

Desktop PCs and Macs

Notebooks and laptops

Handhelds

Carrier pigeon


Will wall mart rule the world
Will Wall-Mart Rule the World?

  • Ally suggests that LOs can provide “just-in-time” instruction, an expression which initially made me nervous – are we Mom-and-Pop stores watching as a Wall-Mart goes up across town?


Question
Question:

  • What concerns (if any) do you have about this technology?


Los and constructivism

Constructivists see learners as actively engaged in learning – creating meaning, rather than passively absorbing knowledge from instructors.

Students can access LOs as needed – giving them great control over the sequencing of instruction. Students can even be encouraged to revise LOs or create their own.

LOs and Constructivism


Supporting a variety of learning styles
Supporting a Variety of Learning Styles – creating meaning, rather than passively absorbing knowledge from instructors.

  • Linking content with LOs which, for example, present the same information in text, audio and video formats instructors can provide support for learners with different learning styles.


Los a new hope
LOs: A New Hope – creating meaning, rather than passively absorbing knowledge from instructors.

An illustration of how LOs could save the galaxy…or at least a galaxy far, far away….


Our Learner – creating meaning, rather than passively absorbing knowledge from instructors.

Why do I have to take a writing course? I’m a Jedi Major!


Our Instructor – creating meaning, rather than passively absorbing knowledge from instructors.

Luke must learn the ways of freewriting…


The learner accesses LO, while instructor serves as facilitator…

How am I supposed just write until I generate a topic?

Use your feelings, Luke. The ideas will be with you…


  • Because LOs are facilitator…Stand-alone, Reusable and Flexible, they can be linked into courses of many instructors, supporting different teaching styles…






Now the student has become the Master, Obi Wan! “just-in-time” instruction, they give learners control over their own learning….

The things they make you do for tenure! At least it’s not another committee meeting….


There is something Obi Wan didn’t tell you. The essay is due tomorrow!

Noooooo!

Oh yes, and I’m your father.


One teacher s quest
One Teacher’s Quest due tomorrow!

The task: build a unit of instruction using LOs for an MDDE course in Instructional Design at Athabasca University.

  • Identify needs

  • Develop design strategy

  • Keep learning journal


What i set out to do
What I Set Out to Do due tomorrow!

Revise the first unit of my on-line 112 English Composition course. The unit needed to accomplish three things:

  • Activate prior knowledge by reviewing freewriting techniques practiced in 111.

  • Introduce new concepts (Loop Writing and process journaling)

  • Familiarize students with the Blackboard environment, especially the communication tools they’ll use throughout the course.


Where i started from
Where I Started From due tomorrow!

  • When I first adapted my face-to-face course to the on-line environment, I’d more or less uploaded my on-line materials and translated my lecture notes into on-line lectures.

  • Introduction to Blackboard was largely overlooked – I provided a few help files, but typically dealt with questions as they arose.

  • Unit led students from discovery to writing their first essay, reviewing the entire writing process.


Challenges and compromises
Challenges and Compromises due tomorrow!

  • A true LO must be context-independent.

  • But, in the unit I envisioned each chunk of instruction would be simultaneously providing instruction on the core subject (writing) and on the medium of instruction (Blackboard).

  • Compromise: apply insights from LOs to pacing and structure, but cheat a little in design of activities.


The end product
The End Product due tomorrow!

  • How does the final product hold up as an LO?

  • Ally’s elements of LOs offer useful criteria for evaluation.

  • A few observations:


The current unit
The Current Unit: due tomorrow!

  • Revisable

    • Sort of. The unit’s freewriting activities are linked to an essay to be written in unit two. However, the tour of Blackboard is self-contained.

  • Stand-alone and Re-usable

    • Not so much. Again, the freewriting activities are designed to generate ideas for a specific activity, to be carried out in Blackboard.

  • Flexible

    • Not so much (see above).


Learning objects5
Learning Objects: due tomorrow!

  • Linkable

    • Potentially. With some tinkering, this could serve as a unit on freewriting to be linked with other writing-related LOs.

  • Durable

    • Somewhat. But the tour of Blackboard is obsolete now that Delta is switching to Compass Educator.

  • Platform Independent

    • Yes. The original unit is written in HTML format, and so can be read by any web browser.


Learning objects6
Learning Objects: due tomorrow!

  • Demonstrate sound instructional design

    • Tentative yes. The unit employs a number of ID strategies presenting both a cognitive strategy and a procedureusing task expertise sequencing as well as self-directed instruction.


The unit revisited
The Unit Revisited due tomorrow!

  • Using true LOs to build the unit would undermine one of the key goals – delving more deeply into freewriting than student’s might have gone before and familiarizing them with Blackboard.

  • LOs could, however, provide support for the unit, including providing scaffolding for different learning styles.


A step forward
A step forward… due tomorrow!

A less context-dependent task, scaffolded with Knowledge Objects


What else
What else? due tomorrow!

  • How LOs might help us do what we do better?


References
References due tomorrow!

  • Ally, Mohammed (2004). “”Designing Effective Learning Objects for Distance Education.” In R. McGreal (Ed.), Online Education Using Learning Objects. London: RoutledgeFalmer, p. 87-97.

  • Elbow, P., Belanoff, P. (2001). Being a Writer. Boston: Mcgraw Hill.

  • Morrison, G., Ross, S., & Kemp, J. (2003). Designing Effective Instruction (4th ed.). New York: Wiley.

  • Ragan, T., Smith, P. (1999). Instructional Design (2nd ed.). New york: Wiley.


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