Applying Learning Object Libraries in K-12 Settings

Applying Learning Object Libraries in K-12 Settings

Sebastian Foti (University of North Florida, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-861-1.ch035
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Abstract

The author describes the work of Dr. Mary Budd Rowe and the establishment of an early learning object databases. Extensive training with K-12 educators left two lingering issues about learning object library implementation: the question of granularity, and the perceptual chasm between developers of learning object libraries and the practitioners who will ultimately retrieve the objects. An examination of Dr. Rowe’s projects, including Science Helper K-8, Culture & Technology, and Enhanced Science Helper provides insight into possible barriers to success when teachers use learning object libraries as a tool for lesson planning. An intelligent lesson-planning tool that populates a student-centered learning environment is proposed as a possible solution to overcome such barriers.
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Introduction

Learning objects libraries have been around for well over 15 years and a great deal of effort has been put into their formalization. Indeed, it may be said that more attention is currently being directed towards the formation of such libraries than ever before. Planning groups, pilot programs, industrial libraries, and standards committees across the globe have been implemented and in some cases are running successfully. It is not altogether clear, however, if learning object libraries will ever be successful in mainstream K-20 educational settings. A “learning object is any entity, be it digital or nondigital that may be used for education and training” (IEEE, 2002, p. 6). A learning object library is a collection of such objects, along with facilities to retrieve them. Learning object libraries are the perfect computer application. They take the work of many and share it globally, make access to the materials simple and straightforward, catalog the materials by universally accepted standards, keyword, process themes, content themes, experience type, suitable learning style, and so on. It is a match made in Heaven: a world full of educational material, and a high speed, networked computer system. The merits of such a system are so obvious most advocates never even ask a very basic question. Unfortunately, we have learned that this question must first be asked: “If we build it, will they come?” Why wouldn’t they come? As it turns out, there may be many reasons.

Learning object libraries, like all database systems, have an inherent bias: they are categorical. They maintain information in very specific ways. And teachers do not necessarily think so categorically about their curricula. Even simple databases are rarely used professionally by teachers:

Database design can help users to think relationally, in a detailed fashion, and in an inductive (in aggregating data) and deductive (in disaggregating information) manner. Yet, the conceptual and technical difficulty of databases renders them invisible in terms of classroom use….Complex software such as spreadsheets, databases, simulation software, statistical programs, or “mind tools,” (so called because of their ability to promote higher order thinking) are most obvious in US classrooms by their absence. In tracking software use by 300 teachers with whom I worked over a four-year period, only about 12% reported spreadsheet use (mostly among math teachers and for purposes of creating graphs). When math teachers were removed from the equation, spreadsheet use fell to 2%. In eight years of classroom-based work with teachers, I have never witnessed database, GIS, simulation or statistical software use. (Burns, 2005, p. 3)

Apparently, problems with database use are not limited to teachers. In a study of collegiate business students researchers, Chen and Ray (2004) investigated the students’ ability to solve a realistic business problem using a database software application. Students made a variety of mistakes applying the database in their work. For example, “the majority of queries were unnecessary queries,” “6 of 11 individuals and 5 out of 9 teams performed no planning” (p.15) when using the database, and only one team and two individuals were able to make good conclusions” (p. 16). The researchers reported that “After exposure to numerous demonstrations and exercises involving database tasks such as creating queries, creating reports, and using online help facilities, students were not able to use these procedures to solve a business problem” (pp. 18-19). This suggests that understanding how to use database search facilities is not adequate preparation for solving problems that involve the use of the database.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Knowledge Base: A knowledge base is a database that is used to manage knowledge. The information in the knowledge base can be accessed using logical operators to determine appropriate retrieval items. Often a knowledge base uses an ontology or data model to define its classification scheme. As applied here, the knowledge base is a highly contextualized set of classifications and relationships related to a focused core of content knowledge.

Granularity: Granularity refers to the size of the components that make up a system. There is often discussion in learning object library circles about the ideal granularity of learning objects. The IEEE standards suggest several size ratings for objects from small media fragments to courses (or nested courses).

Metadata: Metadata is essentially data that describes data. In a learning object library, a database of metadata is used to “tag” each learning object for subsequent retrieval.

Inference Engine: An inference engine is a computer program that applies artificial intelligence to try to obtain answers or responses to queries from a knowledge base.

Science Helper Project: The Science Helper Project was a project funded by Carnegie Foundation of New York to archive curricular materials created in the post-Sputnik era in the United States. During this time, the U.S. National Science Foundation and other agencies funded several innovative science projects in the U.S. Ultimately, the project produced several products: (1) Science Helper K-8: a CD containing what would be called a Learning Object Library with a level-2 Aggregation Level (Lessons) by IEEE standards. The project contained 990 lessons. (2) Science Helper Video Series: A series of science videos focusing on elementary science methods for use by teachers, teacher’s aides, and interested parents. (3) Culture & Technology: A set of 3 CDs containing over 15,000 pages of searchable lesson material and 1550 lessons. Culture & Technology was the same type of learning object library as Science Helper K-8, but included social science curricula as well as science curricula. (4) Enhanced Science Helper: A revision of the original Science Helper CD with added learning objects including video clips. This library contained 1370 editable lessons and a more robust search engine.

Natural Language Processing: Natural language processing refers to the ability of computers to translate computer database information to natural sounding language or vice-versa (as is described in this discussion).

IEEE Standards: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association is a developer of industry standards for a broad range of industries. The IEEE has created Learning Object Metadata standards which are referred to herein.

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Table of Contents
Foreword
Tom Carey
Preface
Lori Lockyer, Sue Bennett, Shirley Agostinho, Barry Harper
Acknowledgment
Lori Lockyer, Sue Bennett, Shirley Agostinho, Barry Harper
Chapter 1
Shirley Agostinho
The term “learning design” is gaining momentum in the e-learning literature as a concept for supporting academics to model and share teaching... Sample PDF
Learning Design Representations to Document, Model, and Share Teaching Practice
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Chapter 2
Isobel Falconer, Allison Littlejohn
Practice models are generic approaches to the structuring and orchestration of learning activities for pedagogic purposes, intended to promote... Sample PDF
Representing Models of Practice
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Chapter 3
Rob Koper, Yongwu Miao
IMS learning design (IMSLD) is an open standard that can be used to specify a wide range of pedagogical strategies in computer-interpretable models.... Sample PDF
Using the IMS LD Standard to Describe Learning Designs
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Chapter 4
David Griffiths, Oleg Liber
The IMS LD specification is internally complex and has been used in a number of different ways. As a result users who have a basic understanding of... Sample PDF
Opportunities, Achievements, and Prospects for Use of IMS LD
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Chapter 5
Franca Garzotto, Symeon Retalis
“A design pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that... Sample PDF
A Critical Perspective on Design Patterns for E-Learning
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Chapter 6
Sherri S. Frizell, Roland Hübscher
Design patterns have received considerable attention for their potential as a means of capturing and sharing design knowledge. This chapter provides... Sample PDF
Using Design Patterns to Support E-Learning Design
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Chapter 7
Peter Goodyear, Dai Fei Yang
This chapter provides an overview of recent research and development (R&D) activity in the area of educational design patterns and pattern... Sample PDF
Patterns and Pattern Languages in Educational Design
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Chapter 8
Gráinne Conole
The chapter provides a theoretical framework for understanding learning activities, centering on two key aspects: (1) the capture and representation... Sample PDF
The Role of Mediating Artefacts in Learning Design
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Chapter 9
Elizabeth Masterman
This chapter uses activity theory to construct a framework for the design and deployment of pedagogic planning tools. It starts by noting the impact... Sample PDF
Activity Theory and the Design of Pedagogic Planning Tools
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Chapter 10
Barry Harper, Ron Oliver
This chapter describes the development of a taxonomy of learning designs based on a survey of 52 innovative ICT-using projects that formed the basis... Sample PDF
Developing a Taxonomy for Learning Designs
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Chapter 11
Carmel McNaught, Paul Lam, Kin-Fai Cheng
The chapter will describe an expert review process used at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. The mechanism used involves a carefully developed... Sample PDF
Using Expert Reviews to Enhance Learning Designs
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Chapter 12
Matthew Kearney, Anne Prescott, Kirsty Young
This chapter reports on findings from a recent project situated in the area of preservice teacher education. The project investigated prospective... Sample PDF
Investigating Prospective Teachers as Learning Design Authors
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Chapter 13
Paul Hazlewood, Amanda Oddie, Mark Barrett-Baxendale
IMS Learning Design (IMS LD) is a specification for describing a range of pedagogic approaches. It allows the linking of pedagogical structure... Sample PDF
Using IMS Learning Design in Educational Situations
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Chapter 14
Robert McLaughlan, Denise Kirkpatrick
Decision-making processes in relation to complex natural resources require recognition and accommodation of diverse and competing perspectives in a... Sample PDF
Online Role-Based Learning Designs for Teaching Complex Decision Making
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Chapter 15
Garry Hoban
Digital animations are complex to create and are usually made by experts for novices to download from Web sites or copy from DVDs and CDs to use as... Sample PDF
Facilitating Learner-Generated Animations with Slowmation
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Chapter 16
Yongwu Miao, Daniel Burgos, David Griffiths, Rob Koper
Group interaction has to be meticulously designed to foster effective and efficient collaborative learning. The IMS Learning Design specification... Sample PDF
Representation of Coordination Mechanisms in IMS LD
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Chapter 17
Johannes Strobel, Gretchen Lowerison, Roger Côté, Philip C. Abrami, Edward C. Bethel
In this chapter, we describe the process of modeling different theory-, research-, and best-practicebased learning designs into IMS-LD, a... Sample PDF
Modeling Learning Units by Capturing Context with IMS LD
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Chapter 18
Daniel Burgos, Hans G.K. Hummel, Colin Tattersall, Francis Brouns, Rob Koper
This chapter presents some design guidelines for collaboration and participation in blended learning networks. As an exemplary network, we describe... Sample PDF
Design Guidelines for Collaboration and Participation with Examples from the LN4LD (Learning Network for Learning Design)
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Chapter 19
Tom Boyle
This chapter argues that good design has to be at the heart of developing effective learning objects. It briefly outlines the “knowledge... Sample PDF
The Design of Learning Objects for Pedagogical Impact
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Chapter 20
Margaret Turner
This chapter introduces an approach to writing content for online learning over networked media. It argues that few resources currently utilise the... Sample PDF
Visual Meaning Management for Networked Learning
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Chapter 21
Christina Gitsaki
Due to the increasingly diverse student population in multicultural nations such as Australia, the U.S., Canada, and the UK, educators are faced... Sample PDF
Modification of Learning Objects for NESB Students
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Chapter 22
Daniel Churchill, John Gordon Hedberg
The main idea behind learning objects is that they are to exist as digital resources separated from the learning task in which they are used. This... Sample PDF
Learning Objects, Learning Tasks, and Handhelds
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Chapter 23
Peter Freebody, Sandy Muspratt, David McRae
The question addressed in this chapter is: What is the evidence for the effects of online programs of learning objects on motivation and learning?... Sample PDF
Technology, Curriculum, and Pedagogy in the Evaluation of an Online Content Program in Australasia
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Chapter 24
David Lake, Kate Lowe, Rob Phillips, Rick Cummings, Renato Schibeci
This chapter provides a model to analyse the effectiveness and efficiency of Learning Objects being used in primary and secondary schools by... Sample PDF
Effective Use of Learning Objects in Class Environments
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Chapter 25
Robert McCormick, Tomi Jaakkola, Sami Nurmi
Most studies on reusable digital learning materials, Learning Objects (LOs), relate to their use in universities. Few empirical studies exist to... Sample PDF
A European Evaluation of the Promises of LOs
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Chapter 26
Tomi Jaakkola, Sami Nurmi
There has been a clear lack of rigorous empirical evidence on the effectiveness of learning objects (LOs) in education. This chapter reports the... Sample PDF
Instructional Effectiveness of Learning Objects
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Chapter 27
Robert McCormick
This chapter will examine the approach taken in the evaluation of a large-scale feasibility trial of the production, distribution, and use of... Sample PDF
Evaluating Large-Scale European LO Production, Distribution, and Use
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Chapter 28
John C Nesbit, Tracey L. Leacock
The Learning Object Review Instrument (LORI) is an evaluation framework designed to support collaborative critique of multimedia learning resources.... Sample PDF
Collaborative Argumentation in Learning Resource Evaluation
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Chapter 29
Philippe Martin, Michel Eboueya
This chapter first argues that current approaches for sharing and retrieving learning objects or any other kinds of information are not efficient or... Sample PDF
For the Ultimate Accessibility and Reusability
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Chapter 30
Sue Bennett, Dominique Parrish, Geraldine Lefoe, Meg O’Reilly, Mike Keppell, Robyn Philip
As the notion of learning objects has grown in popularity, so too has interest in how they should be stored to promote access and reusability. A key... Sample PDF
A Needs Analysis Framework for the Design of Digital Repositories in Higher Education
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Chapter 31
William Bramble, Mariya Pachman
Reusable learning objects (LOs) constitute a promising approach to the development of easily accessible, technologically sound, and curriculum... Sample PDF
Costs and Sustainability of Learning Object Repositories
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Chapter 32
Kristine Elliott, Kevin Sweeney, Helen Irving
This chapter reports the authors’ experiences of developing a learning design to teach scientific inquiry, of integrating the learning design with... Sample PDF
A Learning Design to Teach Scientific Inquiry
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Chapter 33
Lisa Lobry de Bruyn
This chapter explores through a case study approach of a tertiary-level unit on Land Assessment for Sustainable Use, the connections between three... Sample PDF
Adapting Problem-Based Learning to an Online Learning Environment
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Chapter 34
Tan Wee Chuen, Baharuddin Aris, Mohd Salleh Abu
This chapter aims to guide the readers through the design and development of a prototype Web-based learning system based on the integration of... Sample PDF
Learning Objects and Generative Learning for Higher Order Thinking
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Chapter 35
Sebastian Foti
The author describes the work of Dr. Mary Budd Rowe and the establishment of an early learning object databases. Extensive training with K-12... Sample PDF
Applying Learning Object Libraries in K-12 Settings
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Chapter 36
L. K. Curda, Melissa A. Kelly
We present guidelines for designing and developing a repository for the storage and exchange of instructional resources, as well as considerations... Sample PDF
Guidelines for Developing Learning Object Repositories
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Chapter 37
Sandra Wills, Anne McDougall
This study tracks the uptake of online role play in Australia from 1990 to 2006 and the affordances to its uptake. It examines reusability, as one... Sample PDF
Reusability of Online Role Play as Learning Objects or Learning Designs
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Chapter 38
Lori Lockyer, Lisa Kosta, Sue Bennett
Health professional education is changing to meet the demands of a limited workforce and a focus on community-based clinical training. The change... Sample PDF
An Analysis of Learning Designs that Integrate Patient Cases in Health Professions Education
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Chapter 39
Mohan Chinnappan
The shift in the way we visualise the nature of mathematics and mathematics learning has presented educational technologists with new challenges in... Sample PDF
Reconceptualisation of Learning Objects as Meta-Schemas
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Chapter 40
Henk Huijser
This chapter provides an in depth discussion of the issues involved in integrating learning design and learning objects into generic Web sites. It... Sample PDF
Designing Learning Objects for Generic Web Sites
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Chapter 41
Morag Munro, Claire Kenny
E-learning standards are a contentious topic amongst educators, designers, and researchers engaged in the development of learning objects and... Sample PDF
Standards for Learning Objects and Learning Designs
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Chapter 42
Eddy Boot, Luca Botturi, Andrew S. Gibbons, Todd Stubbs
In developing modern instructional software, learning designs are used to formalize descriptions of roles, activities, constraints, and several... Sample PDF
Supporting Decision Making in Using Design Languages for Learning Designs and Learning Objects
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Chapter 43
Gilbert Paquette, Olga Mariño, Karin Lundgren-Cayrol, Michel Léonard
This chapter summarizes the work on instructional engineering and educational modeling accomplished since 1992 at the LICEF Research Center of... Sample PDF
Principled Construction and Reuse of Learning Designs
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