Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What really is re-usability in eLearning

Someone who used to work at ADL labs pointed out to me that re-usability
should really go beyond just SCORM courses. You should be able to take
the same content and serve it without tracking. Or you should be able
to print out the content for those users who learn better from paper.
Also, you may want to re-use the content for people with visual
disabilities. So, it shouldn't just be about re-assembling 20 SCOs 50
ways to create 50 courses.

How can this be accomplished? I see 2 approaches:
1. At the tool level. Use a tool that contains your content. SCORM
courses are one of many different outputs that the tool can produce. It
could also produce, printable versions, AICC courses, non-trackable
versions, etc. You can copy paste between different courses or from
other sources and re-arrange content prior to course assembly.
2. Using XML/XSLT - but here, you're post-processing the course files,
basically passing them through another program to produce different
output. (That could get really tricky with the tracking scripts.)

I see run-time re-usability primarily for different delivery platforms.
You should be able to specify a different style sheet (at run time) so
that an end-user on a PDA can get an optimal format for them, and a
person with visual disabilities should get a good layout for their
needs. This is possible if you specify a style-sheet at run-time,
something the SCORM discourages.

Furthermore, re-usability should be from the learner's point of view.
Will the learner come back to the course and re-use it as a resource
(like a textbook)? Or has the content been designed for a one-time
event, like a face-to-face presentation? A learner may remember that a
certain procedure or fact was described in a course they took, but
they'll only re-use it if they can get to it quickly. 3 screens worth
of gateways just to get to the start of the course, followed by some
enforced navigation sequence will deter the user from using the content
as a resource.

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