Learning Technology Development Council
Learning Objects and Pedagogy Grant Program
Learning objects are currently the subject of much interest and excitement in online learning. There is some discussion about what exactly learning objects are, but in essence, they are small chunks of instructional content, often in the form of simulations or applets, which faculty can select from a central repository to use in their own teaching. The big advantage of learning objects is seen in their granularity: if the chunks or objects are small enough, faculty will use content created by others and thus not have to make all the digital materials that they use themselves. A number of projects have sought to make digital learning objects available to academics by means of repositories or “referatories,” including:
- MERLOT (http://www.merlot.org)
- CAREO (http://careo.netera.ca/cgi-bin/WebObjects/Repository )
- the ADL Co-Lab (http://www.academiccolab.org/)
- Lydia (http://www.lydialearn.com/)
- Many publishers are also producing and distributing learning objects, often in association with course management systems such as WebCT or Blackboard, for example http://www.webct.com/content and http://www.mhhe.com/catalogs/solutions/blackboard.mhtml) or on compact discs.
More information about learning objects some sources you may consult are:
- Bob Beck’s resource and primer on learning objects http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/CIE/AOP/learningobjects.html
- Tom Barron’s article in Learning Circuit’s at http://www.learningcircuits.org/mar2000/barron.html
- e-Learning Magazine article on learning objects http://www.elearningmag.com/elearning/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=5043
- Stephen Downes’ paper on learning objects http://www.atl.ualberta.ca/downes/naweb/column000523.htm
However, much of the attention given to learning objects thus far has been focused on questions of how to create, store and tag the objects. Less frequently addressed is the issue of the instructional design and pedagogical issues involved in using learning objects on any large scale. These questions include:
- What challenges does the use of learning objects pose to current models of instructional design?
- As faculty, what are some of the ways that we can teach well using learning objects?
- What are some of the ways to include learning objects into teaching in such a way that student learning and understanding are enhanced?
- What are some of the pitfalls of trying to teach using learning objects?
- What obstacles do faculty face when they teach a course that incorporates significant numbers of learning objects made by others? How do faculty members overcome these obstacles and challenges?
The Learning Technology Development Council at the University of Wisconsin System is seeking faculty to participate in exploring some of these issues. We are looking for faculty who are in the process of planning and designing courses to be taught in Summer or Fall of 2002 to participate in a grant program on incorporating learning objects into their courses.
Faculty selected for the program would receive a $1500 stipend and would be brought together for a brief training workshop on learning objects and how to use them in teaching. They would then identify a significant number of learning objects relevant to their discipline and course, and incorporate those objects into their teaching. These learning objects would come from a range of sources: some might be made by the faculty member themselves but the bulk would be found in repositories, referatories or from publishers. The faculty member would then write a brief (4-6 page) report on their experience, addressing issues such as:
- How to find and identify the best and most appropriate learning objects for use in higher education
- Different ways of incorporating learning objects from a variety of sources into their courses.
- Examples of assignments and exercises built around learning objects.
- Drawbacks and problems involved in using learning objects from a variety of sources.
- Integrating learning objects into course management systems, such as Blackboard or WebCT.
In addition, each faculty member participating in the program will be required give a short presentation on their learning object project at either the LTDC summer conference on Learning Objects and Pedagogy (July1-2, 2002) or at LTDC meetings in the fall or winter.
We anticipate that up to 10 faculty members will be selected to participate in this project. Criteria used in selecting faculty to participate include:
Appropriateness of the course proposed for the inclusion of learning objects.
Availability of learning objects for the discipline and course selected.
The extent to which learning objects will be used in the course. (It is difficult to quantify exactly how many learning objects would qualify as a significant use. However, there would need to be a sufficiently large number of objects, they need to be materially related to the general course outcomes and must play an important and identifiable pedagogical role within the course.)
The range of different types of courses and disciplines represented. The goal is to have as wide a range of courses as possible, including large introductory courses, small seminars, hybrid courses, enhanced traditional face-to-face courses and completely online courses. We would similarly hope to have a mix of courses from the natural sciences, the humanities, the social sciences and professional courses.
To apply please submit a two (2) page proposal addressing the following issues:
The discipline in which you teach and the particular course in which you plan to integrate digital learning objects.
When the course will be offered, the level of the course and how many students you anticipate having.
Whether the learning objects will be offered through the medium of a course management system (such as WebCT or Blackboard).
An example of one or more of the learning objects that you plan to use in your class and a listing of others that you have identified.
How these learning objects will address specific learning objectives for the course.
Where do you plan to find the learning objects for use in your class (including links to repositories and referatories and a list of appropriate objects that you have found there).
Include a syllabus for the proposed course as an additional attachment.
In developing your proposal we strongly encourage you to work with the learning technology development person on your campus (see http://www.uwsa.edu/olit/ltdc/ltdclist.htm).
Where to Submit:
Submit your proposal as an attachment in Word or RTF format via email to Glenda Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also contact me via phone (608.265-9559) or email with any questions about the program.
All applications must be received electronically by April 15, 2002. Participants will be informed by May 1 2002 about whether they have been selected or not. The $1500 stipends will be disbursed in the Summer of 2002.
For more information contact:
Office of learning and Information Technology
University of Wisconsin System