A New Approach to Context: The Learning Object Context Profiling Tool

Reuse of Learning Objects

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Abstract

This chapter provides a new view focused on reuse strategies based on the data gathered in the research. Chapter 8 provided the answers to the research questions formulated in Chapter 1 using the secondary research questions. The answers to the research questions form the basis for a new set of dimensions, each sharing bipolar end values which define two new extremes of context (identified as “System oriented’ and “Personal oriented”) and are important for a reuse strategy. Section 1.1 gives an overview of the different dimensions and the values used for these dimensions. The dimensions are structured around the Why? (Section 1.2), Who? (Section 1.3), What? (Section 1.4), How? (Sections 1.5), and Where? (Section 1.6) questions used in the projects. Based on these dimensions a model for reuse strategies is developed that reflects these two new opposites of context. Section 1.7 describes the Learning Object Context Profile Model related to key dimensions sharing a Systems and Personal…

1       A New Approach to Context: The Learning Object Context Profiling Tool

This chapter provides a new view focused on reuse strategies based on the data gathered in the research. Chapter 8 provided the answers to the research questions formulated in Chapter 1 using the secondary research questions. The answers to the research questions form the basis for a new set of dimensions, each sharing bipolar end values which define two new extremes of context (identified as “System oriented’ and “Personal oriented”) and are important for a reuse strategy. Section 1.1 gives an overview of the different dimensions and the values used for these dimensions. The dimensions are structured around the Why? (Section 1.2), Who? (Section 1.3), What? (Section 1.4), How? (Sections 1.5), and Where? (Section 1.6) questions used in the projects. Based on these dimensions a model for reuse strategies is developed that reflects these two new opposites of context. Section 1.7 describes the Learning Object Context Profile Model related to key dimensions sharing a Systems and Personal orientation, and Section 1.8 describes how the model can be used as the basis for a tool for different tasks related to reuse strategies. In Section 1.9 and Section 1.10 reflections on the model, tool, and research methodology are discussed while Section 1.11 concludes the research with a speculation about a new development relating to reuse, the Semantic Web.

1.1  Dimensions for Context

The research questions answered in Strijker, A. (2004). Reuse of Learning Objects in Context: Human and Technical Aspects.[1] focused on the differences and similarities in the university, corporate learning, and military contexts. The results in Chapter 8 show that there are differences and also similarities between the university, corporate learning, and military contexts but broader relations can be identified in terms of context. The broader relation can be found in each of the endpoints of the dimensions. On reflection, the researcher proposes that these endpoints be aligned so that the left extreme is related to a context that can be Systems oriented and the right extreme can be Personal oriented. The Systems orientation focuses on technical specifications, rules, policy, and procedures as the key identifiers and a Personal orientation is related to human interaction, personal needs, personal incentives, and personal values. The two orientations can be seen as the end points of each dimension where also values between the endpoints can reflect the involvement of both orientations as follows:

 

 

S

Context
 

P

Orientation

Systems

 

 

 

 

Personal

Identifiers

Technical specifications, rules, policy, procedures, formality

 

 

 

 

Human interaction, personal needs, personal incentives, personal values

While these contexts might seem to reflect the Technical and Human perspectives that structured this dissertation, they are not fully the same. A Systems orientation is broader than technology, and involves people and organisations, but in ways that are structured and systematic. A Personal orientation may involve an individual using technology also in a structured way, but a way that he has determined for himself. Thus both technical and human perspectives are involved in both of the new orientations; the difference relates to the structure of a system compared to the structure of the individual. Based on these Systems and Personal orientations the different dimensions identified in Chapter 8 in terms of answers to the secondary research questions can be aligned and used to predict how reuse will occur and what the implications are for the granularity, standards, design model, and specifications for the learning objects for different contexts as described on the Systems-Personal dimensions. How this occurs will be explained in Section 1.2. The definition of the learning object given in Section 3.1.1 is still used but can be specified differently for the different orientations. The following definition was originally used:

A learning object is any digital entity that may be used for learning, education, or training.

Different specifications can be made in terms of pedagogy, structure, quality, format, sequence, prerequisites, scoring, assessment, time constraints, size, and layout guidelines focused on each of the Systems and Personal contexts. In Chapter 8 the dimensions were identified, based on the Why?, Who?, What?, How?, and Where? questions used in the projects. Table 101 expands on Table 99 from Chapter 8 by adding a label for each endpoint of the dimensions, labels that reflect a Systems-oriented value or a Personal-Oriented value. The reasoning behind these labels will be discussed in Sections 1.11.6:


 

Table 1 Dimensions for reuse, expanded from Table 99 (last two columns)

Perspective

Question

Conclusion from Chapter 8

Dimension

Systems-oriented value

Personal-oriented value

Human

Why?

The culture underlying any specific context determines the value system for the reuse situation.

Cultures within the context

The industrial world

The world of inspiration

The level of learning objectives is determined by the context

Level of learning objectives

Knowledge

Evaluation

The learning scenarios underlying reuse are determined by the context

Learning scenarios

Acquisition

Participation

The incentives for reuse are determined by the context

Incentives for reuse

Organisational

Personal

Who?

Those who control the quality of learning objects are determined by the context

Quality of the object

Formal processes

Personal

The roles of those involved with learning objects is determined by the context

Work process

Formal workflow

Personal habits

The need for human interaction is determined by the context

Need for human interaction

Low

High

Technical

What?

The “instructional packaging” of learning objects depends on their origin.

Purpose for creating the object

Created for learning

Not created for learning

The reusability of learning objects is determined by their specificity

Nature of he course object

Specific

General

The reusability of learning objects is determined by the adaptability of the objects

Adaptability of the learning object

Fixed

Editable

The role of learning objects determines their “instructional packaging”

The role of the learning object

Replace the instructor

Supporting the instructor

How?

Specifications of learning objects are determined by the context

Specifications for the learning object

Predefined

Defined when needed

The role of the learner is determined by the context

Personal control over learning

Low

High

The characteristics of the tools that support reuse are determined by the context

Tools for reuse of learning objects

Specific

General

Where?

Where the learning objects are stored is determined by the context

How are learning objects stored

Repository

Locally

Taxonomies are determined by the context

Structuring of learning objects

Organisational

Personal

 

The implications of the Systems and Personal orientations for the specification of learning objects, granularity, and reuse are described for each dimension in Sections 1.21.6, organized again around the Why? Who? What? How?, and Where? questions that have helped to structure the research since its start.

1.2  Why Does Reuse Takes Place?

The reason why reuse takes place is determined by the underlying culture in a reuse situation (Section 1.2.1), the level of learning objectives within a certain context (Section 1.2.2), the underlying learning scenarios within a context (Section 1.2.3), and the incentives for reuse within a context (Section 1.2.4).

1.2.1        Cultures within the context

The culture underlying any specific context determines the value system for the reuse situation.

The organisational cultures of the contexts can be seen as different worlds where different values and attitudes can be applied. The organisation culture is a key variable in the motivation for why reuse takes place. In Section 2.1.2.5 the worlds defined by Boltanski and Thevénot (1991) were used to describe different culture within organisational contexts. Table 2 shows the characteristics of the different worlds only in terms of verbs, value features, and attitudes which are relevant for a reuse strategy.

Table 2 Relevant characteristics of the worlds (adapted from Boltanski and Thevénot, 1991)

 

Verbs

Value features

Attitudes

The Industrial World

To organise, to control, to formalise, to standardise

Efficiency, performance, productivity, professionalism, reliability, system

Responsibility, professional, discipline, seriousness

The Domestic World

To behave, to give, receive and give back; to respect; to interact.

Responsibility, convention, hierarchy, generation; rules and confidence

Common sense, repetitive, reproductive, reliable

The Civic World

To debate, to gather, to inform

The general will, the common interest, the group, collective action, collective entities (ideas, values, symbols and institutions).

Concerned with the general will, giving collective interest a higher rank than personnel Interests.

The World of Opinion

To convince, to persuade, to seduce, to promote, to orientate, to compare.

Reputation, credibility, Identification.

Contributive, communicative, participative, personality,

The Merchant World

To desire, to buy, to sell, to negotiate, to deal, to rival, to conclude, to accumulate.

Wealth, money, luxury; business, fair deals, good deals, contract; competition, rivalry, freedom,

Attractive, respectfulness to the customers, open-minded, willing to help, thoughtful, reactive

The World of Inspiration

To create, to discover, to research

Singularity, difference, innovation, originality

Independent, intuitive

Based on the characteristics in the table the worlds can be ordered in terms of flexibility needed for the specification of learning objects. The verbs, value features, and attitudes reflect this flexibility and can be used to order the worlds, from a Systems orientation to a Personal orientation. The Industrial World can be seen as a systematic, controlled, stable environment where procedures are formalized and standardized. At the other extreme, the World of Inspiration focuses on a Personal orientation including discovering, singularity, difference, and intuition. Based on the terms in Table 2 the worlds are ordered and combined in a dimension related to cultures within a context. Contexts that can be compared with worlds with a Systems orientation are expected to define clear specifications of learning objects because of the professional needs within the organisation. Learning objects in a culture with a Personal orientation are difficult to specify because there are no clear boundaries accepted beyond the individual level. The dimension relating to cultures within the context can be visualized with endpoints reflecting Systems-Personal orientations as follows:

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cultures within the context

The Industrial World

The Domestic World

The Civic World

The World of Opinion

The Merchant World

The World of Inspiration

 

For example, reflecting an underlying Industrial World culture, the development of courses in the corporate-learning context is formalized in terms of stages and related responsibilities for learning-object development. In contrast, reflecting an underlying World of Inspiration, the courses in the university context are developed by an independent instructor based on his own research.

1.2.2        Level of learning objectives

The level of learning objectives is determined by the context

Why reuse takes place is closely related to the required learning objectives in a certain context. The context determines the required skills for the tasks that need to be carried out. In Section 2.1.4.3 different levels of learning objectives are described based on the taxonomy of Bloom (1956) for the cognitive domain. The different cognitive levels can be seen as a dimension where “knowledge” represents the lowest cognitive level and “evaluation” the highest cognitive level. The specification of learning objects is expected to be specific when learning objectives focus on knowledge transfer and general when learning objectives for complex open-ended tasks such as evaluation are involved. The dimension relating to complexity level of learning objectives within the context can be visualized with endpoints reflecting Systems-Personal orientations as follows:

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cognitive level

Knowledge

Comprehension

Application

Analysis

Synthesis

Evaluation

For example the course “Ranks” in the military context is focused on acquisition of pre-identified knowledge while a course in the university context can have evaluation, for example of a design or a literature review, as a learning objective. The latter will be much less likely to be able to make use of pre-specified instructional designs and learning-objects with pre-specified instructional metadata than will the learner dealing with knowledge-acquisition objectives.

1.2.3        Learning scenarios

The learning scenarios underlying reuse are determined by the context

Besides the cultural differences in the organisations and related to the learning objectives, there can also pedagogical differences identified that relate to either a Systems orientation or a Personal orientation. The differences in learning scenarios are related to the type of learning objects that can be reused. The reason for a certain learning scenario is related to the learning objectives needed within a certain context but also to the underlying view of teaching and learning. In Chapter 3 the diagram shown in Figure 1 was used to show the relation between organisation and pedagogy.

 

Figure 1 Relation between organisation and pedagogy (Reproduced from Chapter 3)

The differences in pedagogy in the contexts can also be used as identifiers for the specification of learning objects. When learning scenarios focus on knowledge acquisition learning objects can be simple pieces or objects representing information. When the learning scenarios are based on participation more support for human interactivity is needed for making use of the learning objects. The specification of interactive learning objects containing support for communication is more difficult than the specification of learning objects for acquisition of knowledge such as CBT page turners associated with knowledge acquisition. The dimension relating to learning scenarios within the context can be visualized with endpoints reflecting Systems-Personal orientations as follows:

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning scenarios

Acquisition

 

 

 

 

Participation

For example a CBT e-module in the military context such Ranks is focused on acquisition while a blended-learning course in the corporate-learning context focuses on working in groups writing a production-analysis proposal.

1.2.4        Incentives for reuse

The incentives for reuse are determined by the context

The reason for reuse can be related to organisational policy or personal incentives. Reuse can be part of a policy because of efficiency, effectiveness, knowledge management, or cost reduction. Such a top-down approach can support users within an organisation with tools, systems, and procedures to make reuse part of the daily tasks. Learning objects can also be specified in terms of structure, content, and granularity so that objects can be exchanged within a CMS between users. In contrast, individual users can also reuse objects based on their own personal experiences for reducing course-development time. Structuring of objects in terms of labels is then organized locally and exchange of object with others is based on personal needs. Learning objects created by individual users for personal needs can have various specifications in terms of structure, content, and granularity. Therefore reuse or exchange may be problematic. The dimension relating to incentives for reuse within the context can be visualized with endpoints reflecting Systems-Personal orientations as follows:

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reason for reuse

Organisational

 

 

 

 

Personal

For example within the corporate-learning context organisational policy is focused on sharing knowledge and course material. In contrast, within the military context the instructor decides how to reuse material and is thus motivated by personal incentives for reuse.

1.3  Who is Involved?

The users involved in the reuse strategy play a role in the different stages of the lifecycle of the learning object. The users for the related tasks are determined by the context and are related to quality determination (Section 1.3.1), the roles related to a work process (Section 1.3.2), and the human interaction needed for learning to occur (Section 1.3.3). Each of these has different forms in a Systems or a Personal orientation.

1.3.1        Quality of the object

Those who control the quality of learning objects are determined by the context

The quality of the object can be defined in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. Efficiency refers to outcomes and the effort needed achieve these. Effectiveness refers to the impact on learning or on the organisation, such as the number of graduate students, student performance, time effectiveness, motivation, ease of use, satisfaction, and test scores. The quality aspects can be formalized in terms of review groups and responsibilities but can also be a personal decision based on expertise. When a formal review group is involved, rules and policy within the group need to be established. When an individual instructor determines the quality of material no organisational guidelines are involved. The dimension relating to quality control within the context can be visualized with endpoints reflecting Systems-Personal orientations as follows:

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quality of learning object

Formal processes

 

 

 

 

Personal

Examples of this dimension occur within the Digital University project where different roles are identified for assigning metadata and controlling the quality of the developed learning objects, and in contrast, in the Military KIM context where the course developers individually decide if learning objects are suitable for a certain course.


1.3.2        Work process

The roles of those involved with learning objects are determined by the context.

The work process is closely related to the number of participants involved in reuse and how much work is involved in the development and management of learning objects. Reflecting a Systems orientation, publishers have a tradition of formal workflows with strict procedures and clear tasks. Each person has his own responsibility for a certain task. Material is gathered from different subject-matter experts and reviewed by other experts to control quality aspects. Editors control the content and the structure of the material. Graphical designers are used to control the layout and for illustrations. This systematic way of working can only take place when organisationally determined financial resources are available. Also the time to go through all the steps may not be available. In contrast, in a Personal orientation, all tasks may be combined within one person. This means that personal habits become dominant because external control on the different aspects is missing. The dimension relating to learning-objects work processes within the context can be visualized with endpoints reflecting Systems-Personal orientations as follows:

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work process

Formal workflow

 

 

 

 

Personal habits

For example within the corporate-learning context the development of a course is based on procedures and different roles are identified such as course designers that support course instructors. In contrast, within the university context all work processes are done by an individual instructor who decides about how to carry out all of the aspects.

1.3.3        Need for human interaction in learning

The need for human interaction is determined by the context.

The need for human interaction in learning is also closely related to the question of who is involved in the learning scenario, in this case as it is experienced by the learner. In the blended-learning scenario human interaction is an important aspect for learning and participation in a course. In contrast, in the sort of learning typical of Systems orientations, human interaction may not be needed if the course object is simple and created for “knowledge” or “comprehension” purposes. For “application”, “analysis”, “synthesis”, or “evaluation” levels of learning objectives, human interaction is required for feedback or discussing new constructions of ideas. Human interaction may occur between the instructor and learners or among the learners themselves. These relate more to a Personal orientation than a Systems orientation. For the levels of knowledge or comprehension human interaction is not necessarily needed. For “application”, “analysis”, “synthesis”, and “evaluation” human interaction is essential. On the dimension for the need of human interaction “low” means that learning objects can be easily created and can be rather small. When the human interaction is high the development of learning objects should include plans for communication outside of the learning objects for human interaction. The reusable objects can consist of threads of discussion themes or question-and-answer items. The reusable objects may be extracted from the learner’s interactions or submitted assignments. The dimension relating to the need for human interaction in learning within the context can be visualized with endpoints reflecting Systems-Personal orientations as follows:

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

Need for human interaction

Low

 

 

 

 

High

For example the “Aircraft Recognition” course does not require human interaction and learners can succeed by only working with the computer. In contrast, within a course developed at the KIM in the military context, learners are expected to interact with each other to do assignments.

1.4  What is Reused?

The type of learning objects used and reused is determined by their origin and their instructional packaging (Section 1.4.1). Also specificity of learning objects (Section 1.4.2), adaptability (Section 1.4.3), and the role of learning objects depend on the requirements of the context (Section 1.4.4).

1.4.1        Purpose for creating the object

The “instructional packaging” of learning objects depends on their origin.

The type of learning object reused depends on the reason the object was created and obtained. The intended origin of material can be for learning or not. Material created for learning may include instructional packaging in terms of instructional guidelines. When objects are specifically created for learning, specifications for learning objects can be used, the granularity can be controlled, and learning scenarios can be incorporated. When material is used that originally was not intended to be for learning purposes, such as journal articles or resources found via Google from the WWW, the objects may differ in granularity and no instructional packaging may be expected. This is more likely to be the case in a Personal orientation than a Systems orientation where such lack of specification would not be tolerated. In Systems settings, however, reuse possibilities may be reduced when learning objects contain instructional packaging because other contexts do not use the same learning scenario. An instructionally neutral object such as a map can in contrast be reused in many Personal situations. The dimension relating to the purpose for creating the objects within the context can be visualized with endpoints reflecting Systems-Personal orientations as follows:

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purpose for creating the object

Created for learning

 

 

 

 

Not created for learning

For example syllabi used for learning in universities are selections of objects that are originally not created for learning. Also while manuals used in the military context were originally not written for learners, most CBT objects on the other hand are developed only for learning. These examples show some of the complexity of this dimension however, in that the manual segments that were extracted and recombined for learning in the IMAT project reflected a Systems orientation rather than a Personal orientation even though the objects were originally taken from maintenance manuals not produced for learning.

1.4.2        Nature of the course object

The reusability of learning objects is determined by their specificity

The specificity of learning objects plays a large role in their reusability. Material can be very specific when certain tasks are described for a specific tool including pre-specified pictures and related procedures. This sort of learning situation is frequently associated with a Systems orientation. Material on the other hand can be general when learning objects are linked to different kinds of resources and based on broader goals such as assignments for writing a paper. In the latter situation, related to the Personal orientation, the learning object can be part of a set of interrelated pieces that may not be coherent among themselves and need to be constructed by the learner. The nature of the material in terms of its specificity is thus determined by context and is based on the requirements for the tasks and the intended learning objectives. The dimension relating to the nature of the course objects within the context can be visualized with endpoints reflecting Systems-Personal orientations as follows:

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nature of the course object

Specific

 

 

 

 

General

For example the course “Ranks” in the military context where specific pictures of insignias are required represents a Systems orientation as the pictures are carefully indexed using a common taxonomy for reuse in other military learning settings. Within the university context in contrast, resources for courses are often based general resources such as journal articles.

1.4.3        Adaptability of the learning object

The reusability of learning objects is determined by the adaptability of the objects

When learning objects can be adapted to a certain context reuse of these learning objects is possible in other situations. This means that the learning object are created in such kinds of format that they are editable by others in other locations. Tools should be available to edit such kinds of learning objects. When learning objects are fixed and offered in a way that it is difficult to make changes when used, reuse is expected to be low because the learning objects may not precisely fit the needs of course developers. Providing an object in PDF offers little possibilities to make changes in layout or content. Compiled CBT packages are also not editable and can only be reused as a whole. When commonly available authoring tools such as PowerPoint can be used to edit objects for the user’s own purposes reuse is expected to be easier. This relates to a Personal orientation. Fixed learning objects are however easier to manage in terms of copyrights and control over how the objects are used and thus correspond better with a Systems orientation. Editable objects in a Personal approach can be changed by anyone; this can be problematic in relation to copyrights and intellectual property. The dimension relating to the adaptability of course objects within the context can be visualized with endpoints reflecting Systems-Personal orientations as follows:

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adaptability of the learning object

Fixed

 

 

 

 

Editable

For example the e-learning modules used in the corporate-learning context are obtained from an external vendor and the modules are not editable. In contrast, learning objects created with the TeleTOP® CMS are editable and can be changed when needed by the individual instructor.

1.4.4        The role of the learning object

The role of learning objects determines their “instructional packaging”

Similar to the dimensions on learning scenarios and human interaction, the pedagogy in terms of learning scenarios being used can be part of the learning object or outside the learning object. When instructional packaging is part of the learning objects the material is expected to replace the instructor. When pedagogy thus resides in the object reuse may be restricted to similar situations in terms of learning scenarios, target groups, and the educational level of the student. This assumption is frequently the case in a Systems scenario, with applications stressing time- and place-independent learning. In contrast, when no instructional packaging is involved, the learning object may be edited to make is suitable for a certain learning scenario or even used in different ways by the same instructor and the reuse possibilities may be higher. For the specification of learning objects instructional packaging of the object can be part of the structure. Instructional principles can be used as a basis for the specification of a learning object. For objects not containing any instructional packaging specifications are difficult because the range of ways the object potentially can be used is high. In a Personal orientation, this material can be used for the development of different courses and can support the instructor within different learning scenarios. The dimension relating to the relationship of the learning object to the instructor within the context can be visualized with endpoints reflecting Systems-Personal orientations as follows:

 

 

S

 

 

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

The role of the learning object

Replace the instructor

 

 

 

 

Supporting the instructor

 

For example within the military context courses such as “Ranks” and “Aircraft Recognition” are developed to replace the instructor during the learning process and reflect a Systems orientation. Within the university, corporate-learning, and KIM contexts course material is used to support the instructor.

1.5  How is Reuse Supported?

How reuse is supported is determined by the context in terms of available specifications for learning objects (Section 1.5.1), the role of the learner (Section 1.5.2), and the characteristics of the tools that are available for reuse (Section 1.5.3).

1.5.1        Specifications for the learning object

Specifications of learning objects are determined by the context

The specifications for learning objects can be of various natures and can differ from very specific with constraints such as time, content, structure, and underlying instructional model to very general with only a subject and description. The tools to develop learning objects with particular specifications need to offer the functionality to do so. When the specifications of learning objects are clear it may be expected that the objects are well defined and well structured. The specifications can be a tool for course developers to obtain or create learning objects. Clear specifications for learning objects make it possible to exchange objects easily between systems that use a similar specification of the learning objects. The learning objects can be specified by the organisational needs for learning and specifications may include pedagogy, structure, quality, format, sequence, prerequisites, scoring, assessment, time constraints, size, and layout guidelines. The more specifications learning objects contain the more specific an educational context is needed and system requirements are expected. This restricts the possibilities for reusability. The more specific the learning-object specifications are, the easier templates can be used to create course object but fewer types of learning scenarios can be addressed. In contrast, learning objects can also be defined at the time when object is needed. The user in a Personal orientation uses his own judgement and perhaps his own skill at using a search engine to find and decide to use a particular item. The constraints such as quality, size, and content are defined by the instructor or course developer based on the needs in the learning setting. Pieces of material become learning objects when an instructor or course developer decides that the piece is useful within a learning context. The instructor or course developer decides how the object is used and defines the learning object. CMS systems provide the facilities to make the learning objects reusable and exchangeable, at least within the instructor’s own courses. The dimension relating to the specifications of course objects within the context can be visualized with endpoints reflecting Systems-Personal orientations as follows:

 

S

 

 

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specification for the learning object

Predefined

 

 

 

 

Defined when needed

For example the SCO-generator in the military context uses strict specifications of learning objects based on instructional templates. In contrast, the material used within the university context is selected by the individual instructor based on the course topics and defined when needed within the CMS by the instructor or even by the learner.

1.5.2        Personal control over learning

The role of the learner is determined by the context

The tools used for the development of course objects are specific for the type of learning objects that are created. When personal control is high the learning objects are expected to be more general. This means also that more pedagogy has to reside in the learner. When a learning object is on the level of “knowledge”, “comprehension”, or “application”, the control of learning can be managed by using pre-structured learning scenarios as used in CBT. When “analysis”, “synthesis”, or “evaluation” is involved the learner is more in control over learning. The learner has to extend what he already knows but has to learn to use the knowledge in a more-general way and structure his or her own learning. When personal control over learning is low, the individual interactivity is also low or shallow because the system controls the learning. When the personal control over the learning object is high, features to give the learner control over the learning should be supported to make this possible. For the specification of learning objects this means that objects with low personal control over learning are easier to define than learning objects with high personal control over learning. It also means that the reusable objects may differ in granularity because the objects for personal control can be larger and more general while for objects with low personal control learning reusable object can be at the assets or module levels of granularity. For low personal control, the objects should contain strong pedagogic guidance but for high personal control over learning there may be little pedagogic steering because the learner or instructor has to control the learning. The more complex the learning situation, the more decisions have to reside in the learner. The dimension relating to learning control within the context can be visualized with endpoints reflecting Systems-Personal orientations as follows:

 

S

 

 

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal control over learning

Low

 

 

 

 

High

For example within the CBT courses in the military context the personal control is low. In contrast, the Knowledge-Sharing project in the corporate-learning context focuses on high personal control over learning where learners have to search for material in their workplaces and share new developments.

1.5.3        Tools for reuse of learning objects

The characteristics of the tools that support reuse are determined by the context

The tools to support the use of learning objects can be very specific or general and are determined by the learning scenarios used, the learning objectives required, and the incentives for reuse. The different tools are closely related to the type of course object developed. The use of the specific tools in the military context requires also specific skills to work with the tools. The specifications for the development of learning objects can be incorporated in the authoring tools and can make structured exchange within a certain setting possible. The granularity of the object can be part of the specifications. In contrast, when general tools such as word processors or PowerPoint are used for the development of learning objects, the learning objects are difficult to specify and granularity can vary in each individual setting. The dimension relating to tools for the reuse of learning objects within the context can be visualized with endpoints reflecting Systems-Personal orientations as follows:

 

S

 

 

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tools for reuse of learning objects

Specific

 

 

 

 

General

For example within the military context specific authoring tools such as the SCO-generator are used. These require more of a Systems orientation, in that special licensing is involved that is supported by the organisation and special training is needed to use the tools. In contrast, within the university context general Office tools such as Microsoft Word or Microsoft PowerPoint are used.

1.6  Where Does Reuse Take Place in Terms of Systems?

Where learning objects are stored (Section 1.6.1) and how the learning objects are structured when stored is determined by the context (Section 1.6.2).

1.6.1        Where learning objects are stored

Where the learning objects are stored is determined by the context

The objects available for reuse can be stored in repositories such as LCMSs. This makes it possible to offer the objects to other users of the LCMS. Using LCMSs makes it possible to exchange objects in a systematic way and selections can be made on the metadata that are available for each object in the LCMS. The metadata need to be consistent and structured to make them logical for searching for different users. These characteristics relate to a Systems orientation. In contrast, objects can also be stored locally on an individual’s own hard drive or a local network. When the object is stored on a local hard drive it is expected that the owner uses his own way of structuring of folders and naming conventions for file names. Selecting objects based on these user-specific metadata is difficult and therefore problematic for reuse possibilities beyond the individual. In contrast, within a structured environment supported with a repository the selection of objects can support reuse. The dimension relating to the storage location of learning objects within the context can be visualized with endpoints reflecting Systems-Personal orientations as follows:

 

S

 

 

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where learning objects are stored

Repository

 

 

 

 

Locally

For example in the corporate context all material is stored in a repository for reuse. Material for the course “Ranks” in the military context is all stored locally because of network limitations but the storage is not based on an individual’s own way of organizing information but rather, on decisions made by the group.

1.6.2        Structuring of learning objects

Taxonomies are determined by the context

When material is stored the metadata for describing the material can come from a pre-determined vocabulary or filled in based on the expertise of an individual. The taxonomies for the vocabularies depend on the organisational incentives for reuse. Predefined structures can support selection and reuse of learning objects across an organisational setting or even outside an organisation. When material is reused mainly by the ones that obtained the material a personal description may be enough. The dimension relating to structuring of learning objects within the context can be visualized with endpoints reflecting Systems-Personal orientations as follows:

 

S

 

 

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

Structuring of learning objects

Organisational

 

 

 

 

Personal

For example within the Shell-TeleTOP® corporate-learning context learning objects are mainly described based on the personal needs of the individual Course Director. In contrast, the university project about the Digital University focused on a vocabulary that can be used in a broader perspective.

References

  • Strijker, A. (2004). Reuse of Learning Objects in Context: Human and Technical Aspects. PhD dissertation, Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands. ISBN 90-365-2090-9
    Reference Link