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Ian Luxford

H817 Week 8 (or 2) Activity 6 Objections to learning objects

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Edited by Ian Luxford, Tuesday, 26 Mar 2013, 09:23

I have always found the SCORM standards to be unhelpful when it comes to good pedagogy; what they have helped me with is being able to guarantee that others will be able to run my courseware on their systems and use their full functionality.  I have tended to ignore the reusability rules and tried to create objects that were based on sound learning principles but there is a wider limitation which is the inability of SCORM to interact in a wider environment and thereby bring in other relevant inputs that allow good evaluation etc.

Tincan api attempts to provide an antidote to this in a more learning friendly way.

Potential for reuse

The inverse relationship ©Wiley 2004


Friesen (2004): Three objections to learning objects and e-learning standards


Friesen sees the use of learning standards as contrary to good pedagogy; they are based on an “engineering” view of the world and not an educational one.


They assume the learning is designed to be worked on in isolation in a self-paced style, which originates from the American military and doesn’t fit with the higher education model.


His three objections appear to be:


·      The need to be able to handle the ambiguities that arise in real learning

·      The need to avoid the assumption that you can contain and commoditise knowledge in this way and to prevent this thinking from driving developments in education

·      The fact that “neutrality” (isolation from context, style, involvement, interpretation etc) is in diametric opposition to good pedagogy.


Wiley (2004): The reusability paradox


This could be the reason why reusability hasn’t quite taken off in the way that interoperability has and there is a temptation for some instructional designers to make a whole course a single object.


Wiley identifies the importance of context in learning – we make meaning by adding new information to the information we already have.


The principles of reusability deny context – to keep an object pure it has to exclude reference to anything else – this means it can appear within a course at any point without appearing to be out of place and it can be updated without affecting other items within the course.



This flies in the face of good pedagogy. A good learning experience builds on previous experience and develops meaning through context.

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Ian Luxford

H817 Week 8 (or 2) Activity 5 Learning Objects

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Edited by Ian Luxford, Tuesday, 26 Mar 2013, 09:09

Learning objects


Downes (2001) – Learning Objects: Resources for distance education


This article was written at a time when learning objects and associated concepts such as the SCORM standards were relatively new. 


Downes uses a basic economic argument to demonstrate that rather than creating identical tools to teach identical content within every institution, content should be produced once and able to be shared and reused.


He describes the now well-known standards of IMS and SCORM and how they sought to tackle reusability and interoperability.  For object data, he identifies HTML as a common authoring language but predicts (rightly) that specific tools will become more widely-used for particular course authoring purposes such as setting up quizzes.


He also covers the challenges faced at the time with multimedia – storage capacity and access to the right software were larger constraints then than now.


His vision is of vast repositories of objects which are open to educational instututions to teach core material in a way which is economically viable.


Elements of his vision have come true but learning objects did not materialise in exactly the way he predicts and this may be because they were driven more by technological expedience than pedagogical excellence.

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