Digital Learning Objects
We have recently been building a set of Learning Objects for Dairy NZ, now when I say this most people look at me blankly, not really understanding what a learning object is and what it can do?
Wiki defines learning objects as:
A learning object is "a collection of content items, practice items, and assessment items that are combined based on a single learning objective".
To put it simply; it’s an online “app” for want of a better word that teaches you something, not by reading but by doing. It can take the part of small games, or a small collection of videos and discussions that basically impart knowledge to the user.
Originally learning objects or to give them their full title “digital learning objects” or “eLearning objects” began around the mid 90’s, but weren’t really introduced to the main stream until the early twenty first century. I designed and developed them when I worked for the Ford Motor Company in the late nineties when I was developing learning tools for their engineers, but the lack of real broadband at the time restricted their use. Ah, the heady days of 9600 baud modems.
They really took off when education thought of them as a method to help teach kids. Over the years they have waxed and waned in popularity under the different Ministries, and more recently the corporate world has begun again to see how they can be utilised to help the community. I think the rise of iPhone and iPad apps has encouraged this way of thinking, as both work in pretty much the same way as traditional learning objects.
A learning object has a few key elements:
- Fun and informative
- Small and easily accessed
- Accessible via the web.
Recently Voco, one of our most leading edge and innovative clients, published a learning object to give “background and context” to attendees of their series of innovation forums. They used a learning object to pre-engage attendees to the forum and ensure they were primed and ready to contribute before they turned up.
This is a great use of a learning object; it feeds you information but at the same time creates a curiosity on the subject. We have used freely available media, but repackaged it to make it easier for the intended users to first find the information and then access it. This project took just three days to complete.
Many online European newspapers, particularly The Guardian, use learning objects when trying to put across complex ideas. It seems a shame that Stuff hasn’t really grasped the nettle.
Dairy NZ (in conjunction with Lift Education) has decided to support the school curriculum in an effort to give back to the wider NZ community and help explain what they do. We have recently designed learning objects for -5–8 year olds and -9–13 year olds, and still have more on the way.
A learning object takes a concept, usually one that is difficult to define, and allows the user to experience it. This is exactly what our latest learning object does.
Try it here http://www.godairyeducation.co.nz/resources/interactive-materials/digital-learning-objects/level-3-4 ( click the arrow at the bottom of the list where its states Dairy Enterprise.)
This takes the idea of enterprise; never the easiest subject to understand and allows the users to take the roll of a sales director of the fictional company Sellmilk Ltd. Their aim is to sell a range of milk products to the world market and make a profit, but they must do this without flooding the market. The learning object runs over a ten-year period to allow the user to see the “big” picture of what really happens when you initially try and turn a fast buck and flood the market. Only to then realise the economies of scale and world related issues kicks in. There are also random events each year that can seriously affect even the best-laid plans of mice and men.
Learning objects don’t have to be only for the education sector, there are many ways in which they can be used and although all of these examples are flash based, the rise of phone app technology means we can build them in a number of ways.
Why not talk to us about what we can do to help you.