In addition to web tools, such as Prezi, GoAnimate, and Quizlet, virtual teachers can use learning objects to deliver content, to provide practice opportunities, and to assess students. Learning objects differ from web tools because they can be either the product of a web tool, like a completed Prezi presentation or an embedded Quizlet flashcard set, or one building block within another learning program, like a video embedded into a Prezi. In “Connecting learning objects to instructional design theory: A definition, a metaphor, and a taxonomy,” David Wiley describe the uses of learning objects:
The Natural Learning Object
Instead of making something artificial (like a LEGO) the international symbol for “learning object,” let us try something that occurs naturally, something about which we already know a great deal. This should jump start our understanding of learning objects and the way they are put together into instructionally meaningful units. Let us try the atom as a new metaphor.
An atom is a small “thing” that can be combined with other atoms to form larger “things.” This seems to capture the major meaning conveyed by the LEGO metaphor. However, the atom metaphor departs from the LEGO metaphor in some extremely significant ways:
- Not every atom is combinable with every other atom
- Atoms can only be assembled in certain ways prescribed by their structure
- Some training and understanding are required in order to assemble atoms”
Further in the article, he classifies five different types of learning objects:
- Fundamental – For example, a JPEG of a hand playing a chord on a piano keyboard.
- Combined-closed – For example, a video of a hand playing an arpeggiated chord on a piano keyboard with accompanying audio.
- Combined-open – For example, a web page dynamically combining the previously mentioned JPEG and QuickTime file together with textual material “on the fly.”
- Generative-presentation – For example, a JAVA applet capable of graphically generating a set of staff, clef, and notes, and then positioning them appropriately to present a chord identification problem to a student.
- Generative-instructional – For example, an EXECUTE instructional transaction shell (Merrill, 1999), which both instructs and provides practice for any type of procedure, for example, the process of chord root, quality, and inversion identification.
To read David Wiley’s entire essay, click here: Connecting learning objects to instructional design theory: A definition, a metaphor, and a taxonomy
Although most teachers may not know that such technologies had a name and classification, most teachers use them regularly. What teacher does not have a JPEG on his/her website? Yet, that is an example of a combined-open learning object. So, how does one combine learning objects?
The Internet has many tools to help teachers construct learning units, and they offer ways to share these units on the Web, smart phone, or tablet.
The following three tools are free to use:
Socrative by masteryConnect http://www.socrative.com/
OpenStax CNX – http://cnx.org/
The following two require the user to pay a fee or subscribe:
Explain Everything – http://www.morriscooke.com/?p=134
SketchUp – http://www.sketchup.com/