I just had an online conversation with an experienced trainer who told me that a new colleague fresh from his MS ISD program says that the idea of different levels of objectives is print based and
passé in the on-line world. Of course I have an opinion on this:
In my opinion, there is nothing "print-based" about having multiple levels of objectives. The SCORM/AICC specifications does not preclude this. In fact SCORM 2004 would seem to encourage this with their concept of score roll-up.
Paradigms that are print-based would include:
1. Linear navigation in a course. When printed, you read documents from start to finish. With web-based, you
should be able to jump around based on your needs as a learner.
2. Absolute positioning of graphics/text. With print, you know what size paper it is going on, so it is nice to specify that the graphic should be 5.23 inches by 6.54 inches, and placed 1.23 inches from the top. With web-based ,you have no idea what browser size the student will use, or even if it will be on a computer/PDA/cell phone. Therefore, with web-based, as the designer, you have to be open to flexible layout, and even run-time modifications of layout.
3. Modules are visited once. When you have a print-based test, once the person has filled it out, they can't fill it out again. The documentation goes on the shelf. With web-based, they should be able to return to the content whenever they want. In fact, if you place a search engine on your course, you will see more re-usability from the learner's perspective (that is, they re-visit the content for just-in-time-learning).
So, following these ideas of analysis, having multiple levels of objectives would be much more forward looking. Flat hierarchies are a print-based concept (how many web sites have you seen that consist of only one long page, or you have to read in a specific order?)
My observation about the "vogue" today is that there is great emphasis on the "look" of the course (animation, pretty pictures, links to Nike commercials, link to a social network site) rather than on the organization of the content. Course appearance is a much simpler concept to understand than instructional organization, so that is what a larger segment of the population emphasizes. However, crap dressed up in pretty finery is still crap! Well organized, usefull material, even if it doesn't use the latest in action-script will still produce good ROI.