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Adoption of Digital Learning Objects

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When digital learning objects (DLOs) were initially conceptualized, based on object-oriented programming, there were initial high hopes that people could build learning objects that were re-usable by others. DLOs have come a long way in the past few decades, and many are available for free on various repositories, referatories, digital libraries, and other sources. In a recent research project, the presenter explored what features of DLOs make them adoptable for online learning and created a ten-element model for DLO adoption. The reality is that adoption of DLOs is not cost-free and not effort-free. The ten elements include the following categories:

Pedagogical Value
Learner Engagement
Presentational Features
Legal Considerations
Technological Features
Instructor (Adopter) Control
Applicability to the Respective Learning Contexts (Local Conditions)
Local Costs to Deploy
Labeling and Documentation, Contributor and Informational Source Crediting
Global Transferability and Adoptability
She then analyzed her decades of work in instructional design in higher education (and private industry) to see what features were addressed in the respective funded DLOs. She found discrepancies between what makes DLOs adoptable and what is built and suggests some practical ways to close those gaps with techniques and technologies, in order to further support and propel the “digital learning object economy”.

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Adoption of Digital Learning Objects

  1. 1. Adoption of Digital Learning Objects (AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR DLO DESIGNERS AND DEVELOPERS WHO SHARE) SIDLIT 2017 Aug. 3 – 4, 2017
  2. 2. Presentation When digital learning objects (DLOs) were initially conceptualized, based on object-oriented programming, there were initial high hopes that people could build learning objects that were re-usable by others. DLOs have come a long way in the past few decades, and many are available for free on various repositories, referatories, digital libraries, and other sources. In a recent research project, the presenter explored what features of DLOs make them adoptable for online learning and created a ten-element model for DLO adoption. The reality is that adoption of DLOs is not cost-free and not effort-free. The ten elements include the following categories: 2
  3. 3. Presentation (cont.) 1. Pedagogical Value 2. Learner Engagement 3. Presentational Features 4. Legal Considerations 5. Technological Features 6. Instructor (Adopter) Control 7. Applicability to the Respective Learning Contexts (Local Conditions) 8. Local Costs to Deploy 9. Labeling and Documentation, Contributor and Informational Source Crediting 10. Global Transferability and Adoptability 3
  4. 4. Presentation (cont.) She then analyzed her decades of work in instructional design in higher education (and private industry) to see what features were addressed in the respective funded DLOs. She found discrepancies between what makes DLOs adoptable and what is built and suggests some practical ways to close those gaps with techniques and technologies, in order to further support and propel the “digital learning object economy”. 4
  5. 5. Presentation Order Digital Learning Objects (DLOs) How the “LO Economy” Works… Two Research Hypotheses Three Stages of Research Ten Main Features of DLO Adopter Model Instructional Designer and Developer Focuses in DLO Development A Gaps Analysis Restructuring the “LO Economy” In Summary… 5
  6. 6. Digital Learning Objects (DLOS) 6
  7. 7. Digital Learning Objects Ranging from atomistic (indivisible) to full-sequence and virtual immersive learning May be used in a stand-alone way but also may be integrate-able (and nested) with other learning sequences May be open-access, open-source, or copyrighted, proprietary / closed-source May include metadata to increase findability, interchangeability, and usability (from various types of LO metadata frameworks) May be hosted on repositories, digital libraries, referatories, resource-based learning environments (RBLE), virtual worlds, websites, and other spaces ◦ Especially with advancements in federated searches across hosts Are built using mixes of resources: authoring tools, online websites, and others Are conceptualized as being possibly an important part of a future Semantic Web 7
  8. 8. Why Reusable? “Reusable Learning Objects” (RLOs) Introduces efficiencies (no “reinventing the wheel”) Enables support for online learning with free access to quality learning objects that may be used with little (or no) adaptivity Introduces competition in the “learning object economy” for being one of the top few user- friendly resources for particular digital learning objects ◦ If the resource is not in the top few pages of a Google Search, it will not likely be used (much less found) Offers an analogy to academic publishing by offering channels for the sharing of digital learning objects and the building of a professional reputation 8
  9. 9. Conventional Headwinds to Broad LO Reusability from the Local Context A majority of publicly created learning objects never have the momentum for escape velocity to move beyond the “walled garden” of the university What are some common headwinds to LO reusability? ◦ Expensive university investments into the creation of the DLOs ◦ Potential risks (legal, reputational, and other) in broad sharing of DLOs ◦ Design of DLOs for the local conditions and targeted learners ◦ Copyright (and intellectual property) protections ◦ Media releases related to the DLO development ◦ Few (if any) incentives to share ◦ Little (if any) public credit for the authors of the DLOs ◦ A lack of expertise in sharing DLOs broadly ◦ Reluctance to design DLOs with inheritor or user editability, and others 9
  10. 10. How the “LO Economy” Works… 10
  11. 11. How the “LO Economy” Works… IN THEORY Those in academia create learning objects as part of their general work ◦ As a byproduct, some of the learning objects are not under direct copyright protection or some other restriction and can be shared The learning objects are metadata-ed, output in a reusable way, and shared broadly through some platform (single-sourcing), and are referred to by indexes, referatories, and other federating tools IN PRACTICE However, only a few digital learning objects are re-used in a highly popular sense, and a majority of learning objects that are broadly shared just languish in the “long tail” Only about 20% of RLOs are re-used at all, with 80% not at all (in one version of the “Matthew effect”) 11
  12. 12. Two Research Hypotheses 12
  13. 13. Two Research Hypotheses Hypothesis 1: In the current learning object economy, there is a discrepancy between desired features by DLO adopters and DLO creators. Hypothesis 2: There are practical strategies and tactics to narrow some of the gaps between the desired features of DLO adopters and DLO creators. 13
  14. 14. Three Stages of Research 14
  15. 15. Three Stages of Research 1. What factors inform the adoption of digital learning objects for F2F, blended, and fully online learning contexts? (based on autoethnographic research, a review of the literature, and a sampling of digital learning objects) … and the drafting of “Ten Features of Digital Learning Objects that May Affect Adoption and Usage” 2. How are digital learning objects built for local contexts to meet local aims, based on the ten desirable features of DLOs? (based on autoethnographic research and analysis of a convenience sampling of publicly available digital learning objects) 3. What are the gaps between the desirable features of digital learning objects according to DLO adoptees in the field vs. what instructional designers and developer teams build to locally (in terms of objectives and focuses)? How can these gaps be mitigated to help DLO developers who want to share? 15
  16. 16. Ten Main Features of DLO Adopter Model 1. Pedagogical value: informational accuracy, informational value, curricular relevance, contemporaneous and up-to-date contents, unit size, and learning assessment (or at least an easy-to-build learning assessment) 2. Learner engagement: learning design, learning value (to learners), supports for learners, alignment to learner readiness, learner immersion, and succinctness 3. Presentational (and interactional) features: production quality, presentation novelty, sequencing, and learner interactivity 4. Legal adherence: intellectual property adherence, privacy protections, and accessibility accommodations 16
  17. 17. Ten Main Features of DLO Adopter Model (cont.) 5. Technological features: technology integration with learning environments, playability / functionality, and portability 6. Instructor (adopter) control: ability to edit and update, and ease of opt-out (delinkage / removal) 7. Applicability to the respective learning contexts (local conditions): political acceptability, alignment with instructor teaching approach, reputation of the DLO maker(s), and institutional costs 8. Local costs to deploy: technological requirements; direct costs and indirect costs; costs over time (lifetime costs); unwanted advertising and branding; unwanted dependencies: proprietary technologies, remote hosting; and risks to reputation 17
  18. 18. Ten Main Features of DLO Adopter Model (cont.) 9. Labeling and documentation; contributor and informational source crediting: pedagogical metadata, and contributor and informational source crediting 10. Global transferability and adoptability: culturally aligned (or culturally neutral), and multilingual versioning availability 18
  19. 19. Instructional Designer and Developer Focuses in DLO Development 19
  20. 20. Instructional Designer Focus for the Local Context 20
  21. 21. A Gaps Analysis BETWEEN DLO ADOPTER WANTS…AND WHAT INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGNERS AND DEVELOPERS AIM TO CREATE 21
  22. 22. A Gaps Analysis DLO Adopter Criteria Instructional Designer Focuses Disparities Pedagogical Value 20 40 -20 Learner Engagement 30 20 +10 Presentational (and Interactional) Features 15 10 +5 Legal Adherence 5 10 -5 Technological Features 10 10 0 Instructor (Adopter) Control 5 0 +5 Applicability to Learning Contexts 5 0 +5 Local Costs to Deploy 10 5 +5 Labeling and Documentation… 0 5 -5 Global Transferability 0 0 0 100% 100% -- 22
  23. 23. A Gaps Analysis as a Spider Chart 23
  24. 24. Instructional Designers Who Would Share DLOs Should… Focus more on ◦ learner engagement ◦ presentational (and interactional) features ◦ instructor (adopter) control ◦ others’ local costs to adopt the DLO … ◦ but not focus less on pedagogical value or legal adherence or labeling and documentation—because these are critical features both professionally and legally 24
  25. 25. Restructuring the “LO Economy” 25
  26. 26. Strengths to the “LO Economy” A global culture of online sharing, open-source, and open-access Advancements in online sharing with the creation of the Creative Commons licensure (per Lawrence Lessig) and “share-alike” Advancements in online sharing with the creation of LO repositories, referatories, digital libraries, online virtual worlds, and other delivery mediums Advancements in authoring tools for building rich varieties of LOs Advancements in building technological and metadata standards for LOs Advancements in social sharing and social media platforms that enable access to more atomistic and original objects like imagery, sound files, music, and video Pressures by government-based grant funding agencies to encourage publishing and sharing 26
  27. 27. Strengths to the “LO Economy”(cont.) Greater varieties of learning topics in terms of LOs and digital learning sequences Large-scale funded endeavors to promote DLO development in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields Originally more for university-level learning and then expansion into the K12 area 27
  28. 28. Challenges to the “LO Economy” A poor value proposition for developers of digital learning objects… Instructional designers and developers… ◦ Take on all professional responsibilities ◦ Take on all risks (intellectual property, reputational, and others) ◦ Acquire or create all contents (legally) ◦ Apply high-level skills ◦ Test and re-test … --- ◦ And share for free (often without byline and often without any financial compensation and no reward) ◦ In an environment with low adoption rates (high rates of non-use) ◦ With the pressures of time (learning objects date out) 28
  29. 29. Challenges to the “LO Economy”(cont.) Digital learning object (DLO) adopters are reluctant to spend time searching for suitable learning objects for various learning sequences, whether F2F (face-to-face), blended, or online A few small hurdles—whether informational, technological, pedagogical design, accessibility, or other—are sufficient to scotch an LO adoption 29
  30. 30. Challenges to the “LO Economy”(cont.) In practice, there is not one set of LO metadata used…or one reference model, but there are a number, and various authoring tools and integrate some approaches only An informal review of leading LOs shows that many do not use formal metadata or reference models…and may not even align with the concept of “learning objects” 30
  31. 31. Ways to Restructure the “LO Economy” Increase awareness of current “LO economy” and various identified gaps Incentivize development of LOs that are perceived as more adoptable (from the supply-side) ◦ Fund more open development of LOs ◦ Encourage development of LOs to metadata labels and technological standards Incentivize DLO adoption to encourage more LO development (from the demand-side) Support systematization of DLO search and integration Support more research in this area to find ways to improve the creation and reuse of DLOs 31
  32. 32. In Summary… 32
  33. 33. In Summary… HYPOTHESES Hypothesis 1: In the current learning object economy, there is a discrepancy between desired features by DLO adopters and DLO creators. Hypothesis 2: There are practical strategies and tactics to narrow some of the gaps between the desired features of DLO adopters and DLO creators. INITIAL FINDINGS Yes and yes. Possible strategies and tactics involve the following: ◦ Raising awareness among DLO creators ◦ Making structural changes to the “LO economy” in terms of incentives 33
  34. 34. Contact and Conclusion Dr. Shalin Hai-Jew ◦ Kansas State University ◦ 212 Hale Library ◦ 785-532-5262 ◦ shalin@k-state.edu 34

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