Last !deas from Melbourne

Final day of the !dea conference in Melbourne – I’m sitting in the Melbourne airport waiting for my plane reflecting on what I’ve learned, and enjoying the fact that I can connect to the web to blog via their wireless network!

Overall an extremely profitable trip – I’ve even learned the art of Simple Sequencing using SCORM standards and a tool called Reload (although I’ve found it pretty unstable to use on my Mac). Really interesting workshop with a variety of content developers working alongside the developers of various systems designed to incorporate SCORM compliant resources.

Must say that the whole experience has clarified a number of things for me, but has also left me feeling uncertain about the value of SCORM compliance in eLearning. So far the focus of SCORM has been on the definition of digital resources (SCOs – Sharable, Content Objects) and the creation of standards for these to allow for the exchange of these between and among systems. For many teachers using the objects this discussion may have seemed irrelevant – so long as they could appear in the LMS and be accessed by students.

The introduction of Sequencing has closed the gap between those concerned with the technology and standards, and the teachers/instructional designers etc. The pedagogical assumption behind Sequencing is that learning will occur as a result of interaction/engagement with resources/content – and that through the careful sequencing of these content items, learners can be encouraged to learn more effectively.

The problem with this for me is that, at a time when we are advancing theories and practices based on the construction of knowledge through participation, interaction, collaboration and a greater degree of self-determination, the end result of the sequencing process is a return to the Computer Based Training (CBT) approaches that were in vogue through the late 70s and 80s.

While there will inevitably be a place for well designed and well constructed sequences of learning materials, particularly in relation to skills development, filling ‘gaps’ in knowledge and areas of remediation, this must be seen only as a part of the overall Design for Learning – particularly if we are (as is being advocated) moving towards a service-oriented learning design.

This I have emerged from my Melbourne experience with a clearer idea of Learning Desing as the “superset” and “sequencing” as one of the subsets within this – providing an effective option in particular circumstances.

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