Customisation and the Interprofessional Application of E-Learning Objects

Customisation and the Interprofessional Application of E-Learning Objects

Helen M. Lynch (Canberra Institute of Technology, Australia) and Kerry Trabinger (Canberra Institute of Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-889-0.ch022
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Abstract

Toolbox learning objects are a class of pedagogically rich, sophisticated e-learning objects created for the Australian vocational education and training system (VET). Their richness makes them very attractive to teachers and trainers working across a range of learning contexts but at the same time makes them difficult to reuse. While these e-learning objects have been designed to be customised and are often repurposed for use within one vocational context, an approach is emerging that sees them increasingly customised for reuse across a range of intervocational or interprofessional contexts. This chapter describes this approach, focusing on the tools and techniques of customisation, and presents a model of reuse that can be implemented elsewhere with any pedagogically rich web based e-learning object in intervocational and interprofessional settings. Toolbox learning objects are freely available to anyone with internet access from the Toolbox Learning Object Repository website. The Repository is fully searchable and objects can be previewed from the Repository website and downloaded without charge for educational use. This chapter will be of value to teachers, trainers and academics who are exploring the reuse of pedagogically rich web based e-learning resources for interprofessional or intervocational education.
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Background

Definitions of e-learning objects have generally focused on specifying their attributes. Polsani (2003) suggests that there is general agreement that e-learning objects should have technical qualities that make them accessible, interoperable and reusable. Further definitions suggest that e-learning objects should not just support learning but be instructionally designed to ensure they are credible educational resources (Harvey, 2005). Pedagogically rich, highly granular e-learning objects amply meet these criteria. However their size and sophistication can make them difficult to reuse because of the depth at which the learning or subject specific context is often addressed in such objects. This difficulty highlights the fundamental tension between pedagogically rich, high granularity objects and their reuse.

Despite this, practitioners recognise and are excited by e-learning objects that are well designed, instructionally sound, and rich with activities, explanations and information. They immediately see how such objects could be customised to support reuse with their student group or teaching and learning context. What stops them from undertaking such activity is a lack of technical skill and appropriate, freely available, easy to use tools and techniques for repurposing (Fill, Leung, DiBiase & Nelson, 2006; McDonald, 2006). They are further hampered by trying to work with e-learning objects where little attention has been paid in their design, presentation and creation to the ways in which they might be reused (Paris, 2003).

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