QUESTIONS: Some people believe that open educational resources “fix” many of the problems experienced by those who work with learning objects. Why do you think they would say this? Do you agree? Why or why not?

After doing the reading for this week on learning objects, I am struggling to find something meaningful to say.

My primary thought after doing this reading is that if all the time spent discussing arcane definitions of learning objects and complex formulations of common sense observations was instead spent developing some useful educational resources, the world would be a better place. But then I never was much for academia.

As nearly as I can tell, learning objects are any reusable learning resources, which would include every textbook, lecture, video, web page, piece of software, etc. that any of us have ever used in a classroom or in an informal learning setting. I don’t see OERs to be fundamentally different except that they are open and sharable. How then would OERs “fix” the problems that people have experienced with learning objects? I don’t see any basis for this. Perhaps others in the class will shed light for me.

In my own work, I have created a library of what I suppose could be called “learning objects.” They are items like ebooks, mini-movies, audio recordings, activities, assessments, etc. for K-12 students. Some are licensed under open licenses; most are not. I don’t think their licensing has much bearing on their instructional value. I can see how the ability to customize learning objects can affect their value; however, in my work, we permit (and even facilitate) this regardless of how materials are licensed.

The reality is that 98% of instructors I have worked with choose not to customize materials even if they are given the option of having the work done for them. I think this is unfortunate, but it was been proven true over and over again in my experience.

I’m curious if any research has been done on to what degree existing OERs are actually modified for reuse. My suspicion is that not many are. In informal interviews with several experts in this area, I have heard several times that the overriding problem with most OERs is that they are not reused much at all.

Beyond this, I don’t believe that problems like a lack of common terms, the technical nature of specifications and standards, the lack of attention to pedagogy, and irrelevance of much of this to education are solved by OER. To the contrary, I think that the OER movement suffers from many of these same problems. More on that in the next post.

OpenEd-Week 11-Learning Objects Part 1

3 thoughts on “OpenEd-Week 11-Learning Objects Part 1

  • November 11, 2007 at 11:38 pm

    Karen, I agree with you but I just wrote it differently. I feel that the spinning going on is delaying, if not destroying the promises of learning objects and OER. And I believe that what you have collected are the guts of learning objects. As the debaters debate, the rest of the world keeps building and creating ‘learning objects.’

  • November 18, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    Hi, Karen!
    You made a very interesting posting. I especially liked when you criticized academia. :-) I agree that too much time is spent in useless discussion that does not improve the quality of education at all.
    Well, another point in your text called my attention – that instructors do not take the time to customize resources. I think that this is a big sin. As Elisa pointed out, “localization” is very important. I agree with the both of you.

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