The ACETS Project Reusable Learning Objects (RLOs) have been a topic of debate for several years But what happens when teachers use other people’s materials in their teaching? … not just as an adjunct (textbooks, libraries etc), but in their teaching UK JISC ‘Exchange for Learning’ Programme X4L - RLOs (mostly content and tools: RELOAD etc) ACETS: “Assemble Catalogue Exemplify Test and Share” Multi-dimensional, detailed case studies of reuse in situ Real students, real activities Healthcare focus: anatomy or communication skills
ACETS + 36 months = ? Research methodology 21 exemplar case studies Ethnographic evidence base Focus on underlying issues Recommendations
ACETS SSLD Semi-structured Learning Design: SSLD Based on IMS Learning Design ‘to achieve these outcomes and given these preconditions, these individuals perform these roles within the following activities using these resources and services in this environment’ Rendered as a pro-forma Uses natural language but remains sufficiently formalised for cross- comparison and analysis Creation is part of closing interview - post hoc holograph Thematic analysis
Using the SSLD in ACETS Teachers had major problems doing an SSLD themselves, so.. Initially rendered by ACETS Project Officer Iterative validation and clarification Blank pro-forma bad - completed pro-forma good Clearly identifies the RLOs (push-button map) But many emergent issues …
SSLD Issues Scope - from whole courses down to using single artifacts? Granularity - stepwise or overview, too much detail, too little? Focus - algorithms, elements, stories … pedagogy? Implicit vs explicit environmental factors? “on or off?” - blending online and offline activities - when does technology become invisible? Sequencing non-contiguous (or otherwise different) kinds of activities?
SSLD Issues Key importance of triggers - but often not ‘triggers’ in an activation sense Domain-specific terms need expanding (teaching and learning is highly culturally and politically situated) Objectives/outcomes need expanding: procedural objectives vs terminal outcomes (context again) Dependent activities outwith current activity - e.g. assessment (activities are often not self-contained - context yet again) Difference between ‘teaching design’ and ‘learning design’ (what the teacher thinks happened) - issues of ‘hidden curricula’
ACETS SSLDs Common analysis framework for v.different activities SSLD in ACETS is 1 of 4 case study components - triangulation, dimensioning etc (methodology …) IMS LD very useful as basis for an evaluation framework but not perfect Complex for teachers to create, but less so to read (validation step) Issues of representativeness - emergent craft vs algorithm Later cases used SSLDs from earlier cases as starting point - not as a whole but as ‘licks’ or ‘riffs’ Many issues: scope, detail, focus, context, borders, perspectives … But it helped us to generate a number of recommendations
Recommendations (i) Reuse is not in itself a good or bad thing and it should not be encouraged or discouraged as a matter of dogma. Reuse is not particularly dependent on upfront technological support; the needs of teachers are often highly specific, contextualised and related to their personal approaches to teaching. If educational institutions and supporting bodies wish reuse to become mainstream then they must deal more directly with the issues and needs of teachers. Appropriate resources for teachers’ needs need to be made available, with conditions of use and the facility to obtain them for local applications made clear and simple. LD
Recommendations (ii) Web and multimedia skills, although interesting and useful, are far less important than good pedagogical and instructional skills. The technology that the exemplars used was mostly Google for searching and local VLEs for delivery. As such, infrastructure is mostly in place and frequently used. Local support is very important but it should be focused on what can be done as well as how it can be done. Without motivation and clearly perceivable benefits teachers will be unlikely to overcome the difficulties associated with using existing third-party materials. LD
Exemplars online at: www.acets.ac.uk Reports from: Rachel.Ellaway@ed.ac.uk ACETS and the Semi-structured Learning Design Statement Rachel Ellaway The University of Edinburgh UNFOLD, Berlin, November 2005
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