I’m at the LAMS European Conference in Cadiz, where we’re presenting some of the work from the OU Learning Design project. Grainne gave a keynote on Thursday morning, along with Stephen Downes. Simon and Andrew presented their work in the afternoon, and I got co-opted (read press-ganged) onto the panel at the close.
Stephen was talking about he made an Audacity recording of his presentation, and that constituted a learning object in his view, although it wouldn’t meet many of the strict definitions of one. Grainne was talking about our Cloudworks project (loosely based on the Flickr for learning design concept) and the importance of adding in the social factor to encourage educators to share. Listening to Stephen and Grainne talk one thing struck me – education often seems very bad at solving some of these problems. For instance, learning object repositories haven’t been a resounding success despite being such a plainly good idea. And yet Slideshare is very successful and could be thought of as a repository. So why did they succeed where many smart, dedicated people in education failed? Here are my suggestions:
- Educators tend to see all possible problems and thus create an overly complex solution – e.g. masses of metadata fields to cover every possible element of reuse.
- Educators don’t actually like sharing much when it comes to teaching, but Slideshare is like sharing research.
- Many of the projects have definite deadlines, and project milestones, etc. These can get in the way of the flexible, lightweight development you need.
- The learning object repositories were too content-centric and didn’t utilise the social motivation – people put stuff up on Slideshare partly for altruistic reasons, but also because they get ego boosts from people favouriting, or commenting on their presentations.
So the question this raised for me was ‘is there an equivalent change we can do for learning design that happened for learning objects?’. I’m hoping it’s Cloudworks, but it may yet be some smart start-up in San Francisco.
Photo story: In the conference bags the LAMS people gave away a lamb in a can. My bag was devoid of this item, and I tweeted to this effect (it could constitute my travel gift for my daughter). An international incident of bodyline proportions was thus avoided when one was donated to me.