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Reusable Learning Objects

Here is an article about obesity.

Here?s a White Paper about Reusable Learning Objects

It seems like a useful methodology, and one especially geared toward storage via databases, but it makes implicit assumptions about the subject matter. It seems to assume that all learning goals can be ?chunked? into 5-9 learning objects, and that learning goals by themselves are small and discrete. It also assumes that the instructional designer knows the typical usage patterns for a piece of software. That may very well be the case for learning software applications and other procedural tasks. But in programming, for example, each learner may be performing an action on a different computer (and in a different context). Therefore, the specific steps in RLO/RIO may not correspond exactly to the learner?s experience. In other domains (the arts, for example), it just doesn?t work to have learners go through specific learning objectives. A behaviorist approach like RLO/RIO controls the learning process for users and doesn?t allow for discovery or distributed learning. The problem with this learning methodology is that it treats learning as a ?content creation? problem. But learning is often a cognitive problem. A learner can follow the steps in a book about TCP/IP setup without understanding underlying concepts (such as netmasks and gateways). Similarly, a person may understand the basics of networking but be unable to troubleshoot TCP/IP problems in real life. And since the instructional designer may map out only one or two typical uses or installation scenarios, the learner is left trying to figure out what part of the RIO actually apply to him. This methodology places an insuperable burden on instructional creators to explain everything, when in fact the most effective learning strategy may be trial-and-error or consultation with other learners.

I?m not saying that a good instructional designer couldn?t fit alternate methods into the RLO/RIO approach, but RLO/RIO emphasizes small attainable objectives rather than constructivist or cognitive methods. It might work in situations where a group of instructors are collaborating on the creation of learning modules (such as with a Fortune 500 company), but on a smaller scale its effectiveness seems questionable.

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