A European Evaluation of the Promises of LOs

A European Evaluation of the Promises of LOs

Robert McCormick (The Open University, UK), Tomi Jaakkola (University of Turku, Finland) and Sami Nurmi (University of Turku, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-861-1.ch025
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Abstract

Most studies on reusable digital learning materials, Learning Objects (LOs), relate to their use in universities. Few empirical studies exist to explore the impact of LOs on pedagogy, especially in schools. This chapter provides evidence from an evaluation of the use of LOs in schools. The evidence is from an EU-funded project Context E-Learning with Broadband Technologies, involving 500 schools in six countries across Europe, to examine the impact of LOs on pedagogy. It brought together producers and users to try out technically and pedagogically sound ways of producing, making available through a portal, and using LOs. This chapter reports data from both quantitative and qualitative studies conducted during 2004, including: online surveys (of all the teachers involved), routine data from the portal, semistructured interviews in 40 schools in all six countries, experimental studies in one of these countries, and 13 classroom case studies in four of the countries.
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Introduction

This chapter will examine the major promises that learning objects (LOs) offer to teachers through the experience of a major European project, Context E-Learning with Broadband Technologies (CELEBRATE). LOs have been seen to offer a way of exploiting the new educational technologies, including those based on the Web and on virtual learning environments (VLE). One difference that it is claimed LOs bring to the new educational technologies is their potential for re-use in a variety of circumstances and thus that they have flexibility and interoperability. This marks them out from more purpose-built resources. Despite this apparently special nature, the most accepted definition of a LO is rather general: any entity, digital or nondigital that can be used or re-used or referenced during technology supported learning.a In this chapter we will examine the major features that have been attributed to LOs and, through the data from the evaluation of the CELEBRATE project, see to what extent some of the promises they offer can be fulfilled.

CELEBRATE was an Information Societies Technology Programme project funded by the European Commission over 30 months: June 2002 until November 2004.b It involved 23 participants from 11 countries, including commercial producers of learning materials, multimedia specialists, ministries of education, software and network companies, university academics and schools, and associated local authorities. Its objectives were to create and use a critical mass of material for a new generation of learning environments, and this material was distributed and used in schools in six countries: England, Finland, France, Hungary, Israel, and Norway. The LOs were made available via a Demonstration Portal to selected schools across Europe that were involved in existing broadband pilots in order to further stimulate the development of LOs by teachers themselves. CELEBRATE took the idea of an “exchange” and applied it to the school sector through a brokerage system. The CELEBRATE Brokerage System, which was a way of connecting initially four repositories of LOs and allowing users to search for and retrieve a LO on that system, provided a working model for how both schools and commercial publishers could develop and make available media-rich LOs both separately and in partnership. Precisely because all the elements of production, distribution, and use of LOs were involved, this was considered a feasibility study, and all that could be achieved by way of use of LOs by teachers was in the form of a pilot lasting a relatively short period of time (a maximum of four months). The data that forms the basis of this chapter were derived from an evaluation carried out by three of the universities involved (see Chapter XXVII for an account of the evaluation methodology).

The literature on LOs is largely based on technical aspects or on speculations about the benefits to producers and users of LOs, and much of this within the higher education sector. There are few empirical studies (e.g., Littlejohn, Jung & Broumley, 2003), and so this evaluation provided unique empirical evidence against which to judge the promises that pre-occupy the literature on LOs, extending it to include user experience (teachers). The evaluation revealed a positive view of LOs by school teachers, but a number of problems related to some of the major promises of LOs. The promises examined in this chapter relate to each of the phases of production, distribution and use (re-use) of LOs, and through this address the issues of:

  • Interoperability, that is, that they can be used in different technical environments (Campbell, 2003; Koper, 2003);

  • Reusability, that is, that though they might have been designed by one person with a particular learning context in mind, they can be used by another in a different context and in different combinations of LOs without making any changes to content (use “as is”) (Lambe, 2002);

  • Modification, that is, that they can be modified in some way to make them appropriate to the “new” situation of use;

  • Adaptability, that is, that the re-use, and any modification, will enable the LO to be adapted to the particular learners in question.

In addition there are some specific issues relating to providing LOs at an international level, where the language, culture, and educational systems vary considerably; a particular consequence of the CELEBRATE project.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Routine Data: Data that is collected automatically by a learning object distribution system.

Brokerage System: A system for connecting several repositories of learning objects such that they can be searched for and accessed by users through a portal.

Interoperability: The condition for a learning object to operate in any technical environment.

Adaptability: The condition for a learning object that will adapt to the learners needs.

Repository: A store of learning objects that can be accessed by users.

Granularity: The “size” of a learning object, seen in terms of student hours, extent of topic(s) covered, or degree of integration of material.

Reusability: The condition for a learning object to be used by any teacher in any context.

Metadata: Data used to describe a learning object in ways that a computer or computer system can read and work with.

Modifiability: The condition for a learning object that a teacher can alter some of its features to suit his or her situation.

Constructivist Learning Principles: Learning that sees learners constructing their own knowledge, and in so doing exercising their agency.

Learning Object: Any entity, digital or nondigital, that can be used, re-used, or referenced during technology-supported learning.

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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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About the Contributors