What kind of images come to your mind when you think of learning objects?
Do you think of trainees in a lab or at home working through a set of interactive exercises? Or remote employees working on the same interactive exercise in a collaborative manner? Or maybe some technical employees working on a simulation exercise to practice the right protocol from the safety of their computers?
In any case, you’re right! All these scenarios and many more describe the functions and features of learning objects.
Digital learning objects include many interesting and engaging activities that invite the learner to experiment with the content. The key to create a successful learning object is to respond to one learning objective at a time.
In this article, we will guide you through all the steps needed to create a learning object that follows all quality standards.
But before we do, let’s shed some light on what research says about learning objects.
Interactive Learning Objects (LOS) And Examples
According to research, a great way to explain the concept of a learning object is to use the analogy of the LEGO™ building blocks: small units that can be fitted together any number of ways to produce customized learning experiences (Hodgins & Conner, 2000).
So you create an entire model by fitting together small Lego pieces (each with their unique shapes and sizes) that can be re-used to create another model, and yet another model and so on.
In another analogy, learning objects are compared to atoms that combine with specific atoms to form compounds. They cannot form a bond with any atom, only with the compatible atoms (Wiley, 2000).
The New Media Consortium (NMC) describes learning objects as follows: “a learning object is any grouping of materials that is structured in a meaningful way and is tied to an educational objective”. The “materials” in a learning object can be documents, pictures, simulations, movies, sounds, and so on.
Structuring these in a meaningful way implies that the materials are related and arranged in a logical order. But without a clear and measurable educational objective, the collection remains just a collection.
To make this very clear for you, a digital learning object consists of content and an interface. The content is made up of images, text passages, videos, sound clips etc. The interface, on the other hand, is the part of the learning object with which the user interacts.
The interface has all the graphic design elements that include the navigational elements, the question dialogs, the sound buzzers and other controls that the user sees. An interface can be as simple as content display with navigation, or it could be a highly interactive experience that simulates a lab experiment or programming development.
If you frequently work with eLearning programs, you are most likely creating learner experiences. In order to make quality experiences, create learning objects. This will save your time when creating a large volume of eLearning training programs.
Before you work with learning objects, ask yourself these questions:
· What educational problem are you trying to solve?
· How do you envision your learning object being used?
· What rights issues can you identify?
· What resources do you have available for development?
Steps to Create a Learning Object (LOS)
1. Work with the employees, (if creating in-house training) or with your clients to establish clear goals. What do they hope to accomplish? Create a formal learning objective (LO) and have your clients agree on it.
2. Ask your clients the following three questions to create a clear learning objective:
· What needs to be learned? This accomplishes what the learner can DO after learning. For example, create a business plan using the provided template, run the machine successfully, improve task management skills by using the prioritization techniques provided, etc.
· Who needs to learn it? This question will help analyze your learners’ characteristics.
· What do they need to know before they can start? This question will help outline the prerequisites of the learning object.
3. The time limit of a LO should span between 5 to 10 minutes.
4. A clear learning objective is a true starting point. Create learning experiences that reinforce the learning objectives, with the help of an SME.
5. Create assessment items for the learning objective.
6. Make sure the learning object is SCORM and Section 502 compliant. This allows your learning object to be used in any learning management system or browser and also make it manageable.
7. Inform the learner of the technical requirements to run the LO.
8. Explain how to use the LO through clear directions.
9. Make sure you add metadata to make your LO searchable across several search engines. Make sure to add copyright information to your LO.
10. Ask for comments from your learners to improve the LO periodically.
Learning objects are a great way to prevent the “reinvention of the wheel”. They make the task of the eLearning developers easier when they are inherited. Reusing and sharing saves time to focus on specialized tasks and learning objects.
The next time you build an eLearning program, think of “bite-sized-chunks”. When you do, create LO’s and connect them together with the aid of the common user interface.
Who knows, you may need a bunch of LO’s for your next eLearning program!
Save time and energy using these 10 steps to creating LO’s. The “learning objects” approach to eLearning is a better eLearning practice than creating a large volume of interactive content. With a little planning and creativity, you can become a better eLearning developer.
Remember to share with us your LO development experiences!