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Sharing K-12 Learning Objects Through RSS

Sharing learning objects via RSS can provide a viable method of infoming educators of new learning objects as well as sharing what is created via aggregators. As Stephen Downes (my blogerati hero) writes “Aggregation provides greater exposure of those resources to the wider community. Aggregation also promotes the reuse of resources and encourages the development of interoperable resources.�

I am also anticipating adding the Ontario LOR to this list, as I have heard rumours that it will include an RSS feed as well as aggregate feeds from different school boards.

UK Centre for Materials Education – New and updated resources feed.

Edna Online – You need to browse the learning objects or do a search in order to find the rss feed.

Merlot – Provides 30 feeds.

OSAPAC – Learning materials and resources

eLearning Ontario – LOR

eLearning Ontario has posted a selection of the learning objects that are going to be posted in the Ontario LOR.

The arctic survival simulation game as well as the owning a car are good ideas. I think that it could inspire some interesting discussions for students. I’m not so big on the Sam Huges type LO that was developed, why not just show a video?? Or maybe have Sam Huges descendents talk about their grandfather.

The LOR is stated as it will comply with “with copyright and intellectual property rights� this is fine for content created by the ministry, but how will this be monitored if other boards or individual teachers submit LO’s. DRM will be a bureaucratic nightmare.

As educators become more adept at creating online course content they need to be able to edit the LO’s in order to customize them for their students experience. Providing the end product is not enough. I would want the raw files that were used to create the LO’s and make them useable for my students in the context of the course that I teach. Reusability of set LO’s is inversely proportional to the skill level of the educators creating online course content.

Ontario LOR Update

At The Canadian Blackboard User’s conference I was talking with Dawn Mercer, who had a chance to preview the Ontario LOR. It sounds like you will be able to search different LOR’s around the world, but there will not be the ability to do a federated search. The ability to search a set of LOR’s would be a handy tool.

She had also mentioned that the Ministries LOR is PHP based and will be feeding off RSS standards. That is going to knock out a lot of inflexible competitors when an RFP is put out. OKNL has bitten more than they can chew with the LOR and the provincial LMS.

They have not published the long awaited white paper describing their elearning intentions and although they have made a number of public appearances stating that their will be 5+ high school course ready in September. I’m not sure how the plan to prepare and review all the proposals and have a province wide LMS set up in three months. And they haven’t even put out an RFP yet. Not to be a naysayer, but good luck to you OKNL.

Not to add to your workload OKNL, but someone should really update your website – it doesn’t look like you have worked on a project since 2002?


The Co-operative Learning Object Exchange (CLOE) is a collaboration between Ontario universities and colleges for the development, sharing, and reuse of multimedia-rich learning resources. This occurs through the CLOE Learning Object repository. Each institution develops multimedia learning resources to address instructional challenges shared by the other partners, or uses/adapts learning objects created at another partner institution to use at their own institution.

The CLOE stories are quite useful especially as a primer for designing reusable learning objects as well as another explanation of learning objects. There is also a CLOE Camp from May 9-13, at the University of Waterloo for CLOE members.

Mathematic Interface Design

The goal of mathematics interface design (MID) is to enable the learner to perform tasks with as much mathematical understanding as possible by encouraging the learner to think about the task at hand. The goal of user interface design (UID) is different; it is to accomplish tasks as quickly and effortlessly as possible.

June Lester, is an advocate for mathematical interface design principles. She expresses the need for mathematical ideas to be communicated in a clear, intuitive and appropriate way, in the design of learning object.

The example that June Lestor uses to show the difference between the two interface designs is the use of tangrams to teach children geometric transformations, such as rotations, reflections and translations. If the goal of the learning object was to solve the tangram puzzle as a game then good UID would make the movement of pieces easy and the use of visual spatial skill of primary importance. An example of good MID would have the user decide on the most appropriate center for rotation and apply a value for the angle of rotation in order to move the piece. In this case, the movement of pieces is slower than that of UID, but the learning object takes on elements of a learning exercise rather than a puzzle.

One of the challenges in creating mathematical learning objects is including aspects of good user interface design, but making sure that it did not conflict with sound mathematic interface design.

An Exemplary Learning Object

In my opinion classroom teachers can find many useful learning objects on the internet, but there is little agreement among academics about which ones should be considered exemplary. Some scholars seem to come to an impasse either on a pedagogical or instructional design level when discussing learning objects. This disagreement should not discourage the creation of learning objects by educators like myself, but help to inform the creation process.Something I like to remember: an exemplary learning object is subjective to whoever is viewing the learning object. The more you develop the internal context of the learning object the more it seems to suit the immediate needs of the classroom and classroom teacher.

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