Monday, May 15, 2006

LOR & SCO Naysayers

The love affair and pursuant honeymoon between educators and Learning Objects appears to be pretty much over. It's becoming more obvious to me that we haven't found much real value in this concept during the past several years. Here's what some very smart people are saying:

Random Walk in Learning:
(Albert Ip, 5/15/06) "I have been a strong advocate of learning technology standards such as SCORM, I am now starting to question whether these standards actually deliver any value to the learning community."

eLearn Magazine:
(Michael Feldstein) "I believe the term "learning object" has become harmful. It hides the same old, bad lecture model behind a sexy buzz phrase. If we're really serious about stimulating learning, then we should think in terms of something like a cognitive catalyst. Rather than just serving up digital content and assuming the students will absorb it, we should be creating artifacts that function like enzymes for the intellectual digestive system. We want to increase the likelihood of a chemical reaction between a piece of information and a human mind. To me, this is the essence of teaching."

CogDogBlog: (Alan Levine, 5/24/05) "All the piles of effort to define what us a “learning object” has gone back and forth across the academic papers and presentations, but in the end, I must bring up the ghost of Clara Peller to inquire, “Where’s the Beef?” Meaning, where is all the content that has been created form the re-use of all the things piled up inside the “repositories”? Where has a so-called object been “recontextualized” with a set of others into something new? I’ve been looking for a while and coming up empty."

Iterating Toward Openness: (David Wiley, 1/9/06) "There have been lots of articles around the blogosphere of late ringing the death bell for learning objects. It’s hard to tell if they’re right or not, because no one can agree about what a learning object is (although I enjoyed reading that a urinal apparently qualifies). And perhaps that very statement is all that needs to be made." (and a follow-up, 1/31/06)

D'Arcy Norman Dot Net: (1/9/06): "But, we completely lost sight of the simple fact that the reuse that is important. and actually much more difficult, is the pedagogical use of content and not a futile pursuit of technical interoperability." (and another 12/29/05)

Parkin's Lot:
(Godfrey Parkin, 6/26/05) "Perhaps the most important obstacle to the success of sharable content objects is the fact that learning is not primarily about content, or about courses. Those who glibly pronounce that “content is king” really irritate me, because it is patently untrue. While content is obviously essential, context and process are more important to learning."

So now what? My guess is we'll continue to throw millions of dollars down a rat hole by building more LORs and SCOs and wrapping them all in metadata, just to realize that no one really wants to use them all that badly. Of course, I could be wrong.

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