A Needs Analysis Framework for the Design of Digital Repositories in Higher Education

A Needs Analysis Framework for the Design of Digital Repositories in Higher Education

Sue Bennett (University of Wollongong, Australia), Dominique Parrish (University of Wollongong, Australia), Geraldine Lefoe (University of Wollongong, Australia), Meg O’Reilly (Southern Cross University, Australia), Mike Keppell (Charles Sturt University, Australia) and Robyn Philip (University of Sydney, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-861-1.ch030
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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 challenge to all repository projects is to understand the various motivations and needs to those wishing to contribute to and access the collection. To date there has been considerable attention given to technical issues of repositories, with much less consideration of how to attend to the needs of those who will use them. This chapter presents a needs analysis framework that was developed to guide the design of a new repository currently being created for the Australian higher education sector, The Carrick Exchange. The project to develop the framework is described, outlining the findings from analysis of literature and existing repositories, with input from a survey of potential users. The purpose of the framework was to distil key issues that should be considered in the design of the repository and we offer it here as an analytical tool that could be applied by others.
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With the advent and adoption of the Internet it has become easy to share and distribute information. This has generated considerable interest in how digital resources can be stored and organised. In the early years of the Internet, many had visions of “virtual libraries,” a digital analogy to the familiar physical library. More recently as the idea of reusable and sharable “learning objects” has emerged, attention has become focused on digital repositories.

In higher education, the vision is for learning objects developed for specific teaching purposes to be housed in digital repositories in which they are catalogued and described in ways that make the resources accessible across institutions (Littlejohn, 2003b; Littlejohn & Buckingham Shum, 2003). The activities involved in populating and using these repositories would create an economy in which individual academics design and prepare resources appropriate for reuse by others in exchange for access to a much wider range of similarly reusable resources contributed by other individual academics (Malcolm, 2005). In addition, institutions, government bodies, and commercial educational developers could also contribute to such an economy. There is also considerable interest within institutions to make the most of digital resources, a trend that can be observed in the current move to content management systems, though this issue is somewhat separate from the broader notions of the learning object economy.

It is difficult to define a “learning object” with any precision or authority as there is still significant debate in the literature as to what should be regarded as a learning object (see Agostinho, Bennett, Lockyer, & Harper, 2004). For the purposes of this chapter, the term will be used to encompass teaching and learning materials and guides that range in granularity from single files to full courses. As such, learning objects can be considered items relevant to the teaching and learning process that are made available for others to use and adapt to their own contexts.

Thus, learning objects made available in digital repositories promise a new way of creating learning environments within and outside the traditional boundaries between courses, disciplines, and institutions. Digital repositories that accommodate high quality learning objects could be of assistance to university teaching by increasing the reusability of content thereby:

  • Saving time and money in course development,

  • Enhancing students’ learning experiences, and

  • Engaging teaching staff in a dynamic community of practice.

The basis of digital repositories is the sharing of digital resources. The fundamental premise is that digital resources are submitted according to specified criteria and accessed according to another set of conditions. The submission of digital resources may occur in a variety of ways, for example:

  • Contributors freely provide digital resources that may be assessed, enhanced, or peer reviewed before being accessed from the repository (e.g., Apple Learning Interchange, Connexions, and iLumina).

  • Only registered members are able to contribute digital resources that may be peer reviewed prior to being made available to repository users; for example, Campus Alberta Repository of Educational Objects (CAREO), Cooperative Learning Object Exchange (CLOE), EducaNext, Education Network Australia (EdNA), Jorum, and Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT).

  • An education advocate selects, develops or designs digital resources that are made available from the repository (e.g., Blue Web’n and INTUTE).

  • Educators design and produce digital resources for a specific higher education course or purpose and use the repository as a means for dissemination (e.g., LEARNet, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Open CourseWare (OCW) and Scottish electronic Staff Development Library (SeSDL)).

  • Contributors provide details and/or information about the digital resource and a link to the Web address where the resource is housed, external to the repository (e.g., Educause and Learning Resources Community (LRC) Project).

  • Registered members use tools that are made available through the repository to create digital resources that once developed are described by metadata and added to the repository for other registered members to reuse; for example, European Knowledge Pool System (ARIADNE) and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (KEEP).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Needs Analysis: A needs analysis is carried out upon the initiation of a project to determine the characteristics and the needs of users of a system or intervention.

Learning Object Economy: The learning object economy refers to the process whereby learning objects are shared and exchanged through mechanisms such as licensing or royalties.

Community Of Practice: Communities of practice are characterised by a shared domain of knowledge, a shared community, and shared practices built up over time. Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder (2002, p. 4) define a community of practice as “A group of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise . . . by interacting on an ongoing basis.”

Granularity: Granularity refers to the “size” or “extent” of a learning object. A fine grained learning object may be a single file, but also be tightly focused on a single concept or idea. A learning object of larger granularity would contain more extensive content, perhaps linking together multimedia concepts or with multiple activities for learners.

Learning Object: The term is often used quite broadly, and for the purposes of this chapter the term refers to teaching and learning materials and guides that range in granularity from single files to full courses. The term also has a very specific meaning in certain research fields. Wiley (Wiley, 2000, p.7) defines a learning object as “Any digital resource that can be reused to support learning.” The IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee includes nondigital objects in the definition: “Any entity, digital or nondigital, which can be used, re-used or referenced during technology supported learning (The Learning Technology Standards Committee, 2002). A more specific definition is that offered by Dalziel (2002): “An aggregation of one or more digital assets, incorporating metadata, which represents an educationally meaningful, stand-alone unit.”

Reusability: Reusability is essential to the notion of the learning object in that a learning object can be more effectively shared and used if it can be adapted to multiple contexts.

Digital Repository: A collection of items in digital format that can be accessed via an online catalogue. The collection might be colocated on a single server or distributed across numerous locations. The collection may be made available to users within a particular computer network, to registered users or to the public.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Tom Carey
Lori Lockyer, Sue Bennett, Shirley Agostinho, Barry Harper
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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