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Trends and Issues: The Impact of Learning Objects

Strategies for Learning Objects (LOs); How Instructional Designers use LOs

With the paradigm shift to LOs, professionals need to change the way they conceptualize and design learning. Most activities tend to focus on eliciting specific responses.

Wagner states that developing object-oriented learning designs involves a significant change from behavioral to cognitive perspectives and from objectivist to constructivist perspectives. The goal of complete and correct understanding is to get people to know the entities, attributes, and relations that exist, unbiased by their prior experience (http://www.elearningguild.com/pdf/2/061802dst-h.pdf, 2002).

Constructivism enables designers to design instruction in a myriad of ways. Wagner states, “This suggests that there are many ways in which to structure the world.” As a result, there may not be just one correct meaning or understanding the learner must strive to. Learning is not a response to a stimulus, but is a process of understanding in this setting (http://www.elearningguild.com/pdf/2/061802dst-h.pdf, 2002).

In addition, when developing content, Learning Objects can be confusing and misleading without context, which is defined as “a nugget of learning that can exist stand alone" (http://www.learningcircuits.org/2002/apr2002/mortimer.html, 2002).

Instructional designers can use the following approaches when trying to create context within the content of a project (http://www.learningcircuits.org/mar2000/primer.html, 2000):

  • Tailored wrappers – wrappers consisting of information that is associated with a learning object. One LO can have multiple wrappers, “each providing a different way of contextualizing the project.” Using data from the audience analysis, an Instructional Designer can generate various context wrappers.
  • Tailored context frames – An object can be personalized with techniques such as humor, visual themes, or information that relates to specific knowledge. Longmire states that the context frames can be designed to match the characteristics of the learner, such as interests, needs, level, knowledge, and performance gaps.
  • Adding context links to objects – Links can be added to the learning object that point to outside contact. A good example of this would be if the learner is taking a course on the Internet to learn about cars, and a page that describes what a car looks like, can click on a link to another source that discusses the various models of cars.
  • Pattern templates – These templates contextualize information according to the variables defined by the user. One application of pattern templates is the use of competency models to contextualize learning objects in relation to abilities, knowledge, and attributes of excellent performers in an organization (a performance-based approach to using learning objects).

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