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This project is funded by
CANARIE Inc. - Learning Program

Adaptive Technology Resource Centre
Web site hosted by the
Adaptive Technology Resource Centre

Learning Design

Donald Norman has highlighted the risk inherent in using modular, re-usable learning objects: by excessive granularity and modularity we threaten the coherency of the learning experience. Phase 1 of the Barrierfree project demonstrated that coherency can be maintained even when personalizing and re-purposing learning objects. This is achieved by providing a coherent story line or learning structure. Through TILE we extend this transformability to media types other than video. A more generic but equivalent learning structure is employed. The backbone of the learning structure is the learning plan, this learning plan can be populated with a number of modular learning objectives, each of which can be populated with any number of content objects. The content objects can include exercises, simulations, publications, self tests, etc. Each content object can be flexible in terms of how it is displayed and how it is controlled. If the content object cannot be transformed directly an equivalent can be available in other modalities. At its simplest, the learning content can be organized in the following hierarchy:
1) a learning plan assembly object 2) a number of modular learning objective assembly objects, 3) and many associated content objects.

TILE also addresses the current issues raised at the forefront of Learning Object theory. Leaders in the field have come to realize that instructional design needs to play a larger role in LOR architectures http://wiley.ed.usu.edu/docs/astd.pdf. TILE partners have designed a simple architecture for collaborative and cumulative authoring that is consistent with the latest in learning design theory.

To understand the functionality developed by TILE, imagine the following example within an adult learning situation:

"A Week in the Life of a Transformable Learning Object"

Ryan, a tutor with Frontier College, works with a learner Jim, who would like to learn to use on-line banking, since the trek to the bank is difficult during the winter. Jim needs assistance in learning to use the interface, reading and comprehending the information on the screens, paying the bills that he receives regularly and keeping track of his balances. Ryan uses the on-line learning design structure to specify the overall learning plan and the individual objectives. These he then populates with the actual screens that Jim will encounter at each step, his own clarifications of components of the screen, step by step instructions on how to accomplish each task, ways to recognize and correct errors, and instructions on how to verify that he has been successful. This completed assembly object or lesson is checked into the repository. An accessibility checking tool checks to see that any non-text elements are accessible and guides Ryan in correcting any accessibility errors.

When Jim views the lesson the service delivers the assembly object according to Jim's previously expressed learner preferences. His preferences specify where, when and how clarifications, instructions, help, and self evaluations will be displayed and how feedback will be given. Because Jim has a learning disability all text will be read to him when he points to it using his head pointer. Because he has difficulty pointing accurately all active areas of the screen such as buttons or input fields will be enlarged.

Mary is working with a learner, Ferdinand, who uses the same bank but has a different set of bills to pay. She checks out the lesson and replaces the learning content pertaining to the unwanted bills with information about bills relevant to Ferdinand. Because Ferdinand is learning English and is more conversant in Spanish, Mary adds a Spanish translation of the clarifications and instructions, help and feedback. Mary also remembers a very simple to use accessible calculator that she has previously seen in a linked repository. She searches for it and adds a link to it. She then checks this new version of the lesson or assembly object into the repository. When Ferdinand accesses the lesson he reads and listens to both the English and Spanish text.

Judith is a trainer with the bank referenced in the lesson. She has just created an educational video about on-line banking. She uses the Barrierfree tool to structure the synchronized verbatim captions of the video and then links the indexed segments of the video to the appropriate points in the learning plan. When Jim next views the lesson he can choose to reinforce what he is learning with the instructional video.

Alfred is a tutor working with a class who need to access the on-line banking service of another bank. He views the lesson and decides that he likes the structure of the learning plan and many of the generic explanations, but he must replace the screen shots and detailed instructions. After doing this he checks the new version of the lesson or assembly object into the repository.

The repository has a record of each instance of the assembly object as well as the cumulative master assembly object. Thus the next educator/author can view and use resources from any of the derivative assembly objects.