Power to the people

Right on!

Learning objects

I'm saddened to see no one else replied to this post or commented on learning objects elsewhere... the post is actually the sole reason I voted the article up... There aren't really any new ideas in the article, but the mentioned project is so exciting!

Everyone should go read at least the first part of the first document on the linked site : Connecting learning objects to instructional design theory: A definition, a metaphor, and a taxonomy. This is some truly amazing stuff, people!

I'll paste the two definitions, hopefully giving you an idea of the concepts involved and grasping your attention:

A learning object is "any digital resource that can be reused to support learning". It's basically object-oriented authoring, taking templates to a whole new level and allowing, at first human, eventually dynamic, mixing of small learning resources into complete specific lessons that can take many variables into account, most importantly the knowledge of the user, and eventually be an answer to the "assumed knowledge" problem. It also means that concepts common to many disciplines can be taught once and reused infinitely, blended with other objects about how they apply to a specific subject. Do not think of them as merely text, they can be anything: graphs, audio, video, etc.

"Instructional design theories are design oriented, they describe methods of instruction and the situations in which those methods should be used, the methods can be broken into simpler component methods, and the methods are probabilistic."

Forget Scoop (which is not at all fit for the job and would require an almost complete rewrite)! A sister project (and probably more interesting and close to the author's goal) is the European ARIADNE. They define it as "A European Association open to the World, for Knowledge Sharing and Reuse, E-Learning for all, International Cooperation in Teaching, Serving the Learning Citizen." Part of the project is to develop GPL tools* for both authoring and learning, using PHP/Apache/MySQL (PostgreSQL supported). Tutorials, programming references, downloads and a tour of the software are provided on the linked site. The tour presents it more as a general web site authoring tool (which it can be used for, obviously), but there are tutorials on creating web applications that would certainly meet the project's requirements. The software already seems pretty mature.

Sure, authoring (quality content using learning objects) for such a system might require some basic knowledge of pedagogy/instructional design theory, but with professional managers to help divide the work, give a hand to authors and review/adapt content a bit for the system, such knowledge could be reduced to a widely accessible minimum. Many universities fund these projects and I'm sure some would be willing to at least provide some teachers' time to help.

Also, as minerboy (again! I love that guy!) mentions, there is a vast amount of quality, public domain or legally distributable information available on the web or that can be digitalised, which could be reused and adapted to such a system to save time and ensure that the project starts with very high quality standards and encourage contributors to follow in this trend.

Come on now, I want some quality brainstorming, here!

The licence adds a clause that allows content created with, and that require ARIADNE to run, to be distributed under any licence, as long as distributed separately.

"liberty is the mother of order, not its daughter" - Pierre-Joseph Proudhon