eLearning Resources or eLearning Assets

As the year starts to wrap up, I've been reflecting on some of the projects I've been working on during 2008. One small project was prototyping a different way for doing resource development for a large centralize resource development project. These are resources that are designed to be used by teachers and trainer in different contexts. The project prides itself on the quality of its learning.

One of the frustrating things with the project was seeing how the "Learning Design" got in the way of reusability of the resources. One of the basic fundamentals of learning design is "focus on what the learner is doing," not what is being communicated. At the same time, what the learners are doing needs to be relevant to the context in which they working or the context they will be working in the future.

At the same time, I've seen people in other projects spending huge amounts of time and money taking apart these resources and customizing them to a specific context.

This has led me to wonder what educators really need in terms of reusable eLearning: learning assets with great communication and information design. Then there might be suggestions about learning activities, but they are set up in a way that is really easy for the educator to customize or remove.

By learning assets, I mean things like

  • web pages of information
  •  diagrams
  •  animations
  •  parts of instructional video

An example of this is a handwashing learning experience we recently built. The booklet has RFID tags embedded in it, and the learner swipes the pages' trigger video on a laptop. At certain stages, the student has make choices about the video. It includes interviews with people employed in the tourism and hospitality industry about why handwashing is important and includes a video that shows the right way to use it. When it was first demonstrated to the client, the first comment was, "Do we only have this interactive format? Can we get the bits video and use them in other ways?" Because of the way we had set up the project and files, reusing the information-based bits was simple and only a 5-minute job.

Other ways to separate activities and assessments would be to make sure that things are always on separate pages or are in separate files, or you could code the xHTML make sure the div have names like activity.

I would love to hear what other people think about this relationship between learning assets and reusability and ideas about how the activities should related to the information.