The point of the story is that, if we strongly believe on something, and same time all those who are doubtful or non-believes are claimed to be “unfit for their office or unpardonably stupid”, the believe becomes real. To see the truth you need the child who will say in front of all “but he has nothing on at all” – the King is naked.
With learning technology I often have this feeling that I would like to cry out the famous words of the child in the story. Of course it is possible indeed that I am “unfit for my office and/or unpardonably stupid” . Here is an example – you may justify me.
Learning objects. If you ask me, the concept it is totally empty and (almost) useless term. The IEEE Learning Object Metadata standard defines learning objects as “any entity, digital or non digital, that may be used for learning, education or teaching” (IEEE 2002). Please read the previous sentence at least twice and think what do they say! The definition states that learning object is a learning object – not more. Why?
Because any entity in the universe – digital or non-digital – can be used for learning, education and teaching. You choose the entities that will be used, depending on what and how you are going to learn or teach. If everything – from atoms to Airbus A380 – are learning objects, it ends-up to be just a new word for an object or an entity.
I know that many people are using the term “learning object” when they talk about pictures, graphics, simulations, piece of texts, video and audio clips that are specifically designed for learning purpose and can be combined together to build up larger learning material units. This all makes sense. But why should we call them “learning objects” and not just learning content, or pieces of learning content?
Another approach to learning object is to claim that it is an unity that contains the content plus metadata: description on how the content can be used in teaching, learning and education. Hmm… think about it. How much metadata description you can write about a single photograph of Eiffel-tower in the context of how it could be used in teaching, learning and education? I’ll try: “The picture can be used in primary, secondary and higher levels of education for teaching history and geography of France, Europe and the World, but also architecture, design, technology, social science …and so on and on”. Maybe my example is too simple. Let’s take another one.
Would it help you as a teacher if you could easily search and find simulations designed for teaching gravitation? Sure. But if this information (metadata) is written beside the simulation, is the combination then a “learning object”. For me it is still just (learning) content with a good description (metadata) – just like all content should be.
So, what is the use of the term “object” bringing to the discussion? Let me tell you (this is the secret!): It makes it sound more “scientific” almost like object-oriented programming, that actually is a great idea. And when it is more scientific, many R&D funding bodies – who hardly understand anything of it – are more willing to give you research funds. Been there, done that.