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Learning objects

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Edited by Amanda Harrington-Vail, Thursday, 24 Apr 2014, 14:31

Downes makes the point that learning objects need not be duplicated because this can save time and effort (therefore money). Perhaps in our field of learning this could relate to e.g. Blooms Taxonomy, there are different visual representations but they are saying the same thing.

The discussion then leads onto if learning objects are shared then other materials could be too. However it was felt that teaching materials would not suitable to share because “no two courses share the same contents” Downes (2001). Although schools and colleges may have a common curriculum this is not true of universities, but Downes suggests that online university modules could share common themes citing Hamlet as an example. This piece of literature is interpreted similarly therefore Downes claims that other learning objects could work like this. It could be achieved by changing from the traditional method of course design by Bates (2000) to Rapid Application Design (RAD). 

RAD “is a process which allows software engineers to develop products more quickly and of higher quality” (Downes, 2001). If written in HTML it would be accessible to all, as this is a standard language. "The purpose of open standards is to allow engineers from various software or hardware companies develop devices and programs that operate in harmony. A document saved in an open standard could be read, printed, or transmitted by any number of programs and devices" (Downes, 2001). Although institutions and countries would need to agree definitions etc. for instance a common language of XML. The authoring of learning objects data is considered best "to create course materials not in HTML, but rather, in a structured markup language such as XML" (Downes, 2001). There are codes to convert various data into XML.

Figure 7. XML and XSL merge to create HTML (Downes, 2001)

"There is very much a tension, between those who create the knowledge, and who jealously guard their monopoly over its propagation and distribution, and those who must consume that knowledge .... My personal belief is ... professors ...will have to redefine their approach or be priced out of existence. Probably history, not argument, will show whether this belief is well founded" (Downes, 2001). This demonstrates that Downes understood the process of how and why to create OER and history has shown his belief  to be well-founded.



Bates, A. W. (2000). Managing Technological Change. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass.

Downes, S. (2001) ‘Learning objects: resources for distance education worldwide’, IRRODL, vol. 2, no. 1 [online], http://www.irrodl.org/ index.php/ irrodl/ article/ view/ 32/ 378 (last accessed 24 March 2014).

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