Monday, August 6, 2007

Thoughts on assembling a course for use at delivery time

At McDonalds you can re-use fried potatoes (french fries) and Soda
with any other meal. And the result is a McDonalds "Happy" Meal. This
is "food", but I wouldn't call it nutrition or fine cuisine.

Using Spaghetti Sauce as a trackable re-usable object could make sense;
however what is the point of tracking spaghetti sauce when you want to
track that the user ate pizza, or that the user had a balanced meal?
Or, we could put the spaghetti sauce into an LCMS (Linguine Cannelloni
Management System) and have the LCMS re-use the spaghetti sauce
automatically for us - put it with lobster, put it with ice cream, put
it with peanut butter.

If we require that a SFO cannot lead to another SFO (e.g. the wine
course preparing your mouth for the artichoke course), then we shouldn't
be breaking the objects down so small simply so we can put them into the
blender (LCMS) to re-use them. I don't agree with making each SFO
primarily for the purpose of reusability. I should expand my kitchen so
that what it delivers is complete courses (pun intended) rather than
just building blocks reassembled (because it is easier to let the
blender reassemble the meal). If I want to re-use the components, I
should have the tools that let me blend them correctly before they leave
the kitchen.

In SCO language, what I'm trying to say is that I think the idea of
having an LCMS assemble a course for us at delivery time is a bad
solution. Yes, you should be able to re-use components, but this should
be done while you, the instructional designer, assemble the course for
the specific purpose. If you start mixing and matching content from
different authors simply because SCORM says you can, you will end up
with really bad courses that look disjointed. But this goes contrary to
a common perception that SCORM is about authoring based on reusable
components. I think SCORM should be about having the option of reusing
your courses in different delivery mechanisms.

To blend the idea of a multi-navigation course with a consistent
look and feel, the best solution I see is to make a larger SCO. For
granularity of tracking, the LMSs/courses need to use the interactions
and objectives groups. Then, you can serve a complete course (meal) as
a SCO, and provide sensible instruction with complete tracking so that
you know what each learner answered on every question. We need to have
final objectives that go beyond just creating a SCORM conformant package.

SCORM does not allow for dynamically generated content because of loss of interoperability/portability, but I have seen that you can fool it if your dynamically generated content is an "asset", e.g remote web page or remote graphic. What frightens me is
that there is a SCORM "group think" mentality that has taken over where
the concept of dynamically generated content (at delivery time) has
been replaced with the concept of an LCMS that organizes the chunks
mechanically. The two concepts are quite opposite and should not be
confused. One is a coherent approach that can provide up-to-date
variable content. The other is a solution looking for a problem to
solve based on people who want to use "big iron", resulting in
disjointed ransom note courses.

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