Saturday, June 20, 2009

InSITE: Learning Objects and OOP

Namdar Mogharreban’s talk Regaining the ‘Object’ of Learning Objects, tried to link the concept of “learning objects” back to the idea of object oriented programming (OOP). He envisaged a model for creating learning objects based on a Learning Pod, which is, in the language of OOP, be a class. A learning object should be an instance of a Learning Pod with certain properties, values and behaviours (for instance the age of the learner, bandwidth, learning style, learning history and bandwidth).

I am a sceptical person, and often my first thought when confronted with a theoretical framework is “does it make sense in real life?” That is also my question here. The complexity of the concepts one wants the learner to learn, means, in my mind, that the specifications needed to get a useable learning object will be very extensive. For instance: if a pupil works on a multiplication algorithm for two-digit numbers, which learning object that will make sense to him and help him will depend of his understanding of the numeral system, on whether he has worked on the area model of multiplication, on whether his parents have shown him an algorithm already, on whether he knows the basic multiplication facts and so on. Thus, answers to all of these questions will need to be parameters for the Learning Pod when making a new learning object.

A counterargument might be that I compare the learning object to a perfect teacher who knows all his pupils’ backgrounds and has the time to individualize everything. Perhaps that is unfair, and the learning objects created in this way should rather be compared to the imperfect teaching many pupils get today, because they are taught by undereducated and overworked teachers. But still, I want to see the Learning Pod in action before I hoist the flag.

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