Let’s face it, online learning objects have distinct advantages over offline objects. First of all, you can make changes easily with a few clicks of a button, and some typed text to an online form. This is not the case with offline materials. At best, you need to reprint copies of printed materials. At worst, you would have to have stuff laminated or, worst of all, get 3D objects manufactured. Second, it is much cheaper to customize online learning objects. Since online objects often come in template form, making the necessary changes can be done, again, with a few clicks and lines of text. Compared to online learning objects it’s not so with an offline object. At best, you’ll have a form that you need to redesign. At worst, you’ll have hard and three-dimensional objects you have to remold and remanufacture. All these take quite a bit of resources-especially if you are dealing with a huge volume of materials. Given the ease of use and cost of online objects, why do people even bother with offline learning objects? Listed below are the features of the best offline learning objects. These features spell out clearly why many education providers and instructors prefer them to online objects.
It’s one thing to tell someone to use an online test or learning module, it is another to actually hand materials to the person, see how they interact with the object, and explain to them the idea behind the object. Offline learning objects have a personal touch which allows for a greater level of interactivity with the student like online objects can have too. By having materials in front of them, they can easily and spontaneously ask you questions. These questions can help you explain the objects better. This boosts the effectiveness of the objects. The spontaneity of personal interaction with tangible objects also produces questions that can help you design better materials.
For all its much publicized social interaction features, online interaction simply doesn’t compare to offline interactions. Nowhere is this more apparent than when dealing with offline learning objects. Your objects can stimulate students to share ideas, ask common questions, and, most importantly, collaborate on solutions. Full interaction involves being able to lean over and look at the other person’s eyes and quickly understand where they are coming from. It is much easier to brainstorm when everyone is physically handling the same item.
Online learning requires the student to log on and access the learning materials. It is easy to procrastinate because the participants can always think that the materials will always be available online. They say they’ll just get to the materials when they have time. This is not the case with offline learning objects. They have to deal with the materials once they get on the premises. It is more structured and harder to shirk.
When we were on a bike tour with the company through Holland (The Netherlands, a Western European country, for people who don’t know) with a small operator (www.hollandcycletours.com) we had a lot of time to discuss online learning with eachother. Eventually we came up with a list of the best online learning object. I’d like to share them with you here. Online learning objects help make the learning process easier, faster, and more effective. Learning objects can take many forms from graphics to text to simple shapes and diagrams. What they all have in common, however, is their ability to break down complex concepts and relationships into simple parts, which are then given to the learner to understand. Online learning objects allow learners to look at both the big picture and big concepts they are trying to learn and also understand the small parts that make up the big picture This philosophy takes many different shapes when implemented as an online learning object or course. The particular shape and form of the learning module are determined by how creative the module builder is. The good news is that if you are interested in building online learning modules, you don’t have to start from scratch. There are many learning object templates available online. With only a few clicks and forms to fill, you can easily come up with a solid learning object The great thing about using pre-made objects is that they save you a lot of time and a lot of the initial testing has already been handled by the template producer. The downside, of course, is that the module might be a bad fit for the group of learners who will use the module. If you are interested in building your own learning objects from the ground up, here are the three main features of the best learning objects
If your learning object has too many bells and whistles, you run the risk of confusing the learner. You have to strip down the object to its bare essentials. The simpler, the better. In a way, objects are like sentences. To be an effective writer and communicator, your sentences must contain one idea each. This makes for easier digestion. The same principle applies to objects. Their focus must be narrow. One object. One objective.
Efficiency is the key
Online learning objects must produce quick results. You can only do this when the object’s mechanism are automated in the back end. Don’t leave any guesswork to the student using the materials. Their focus should only be on getting the principle the object is trying to teach. Don’t cloud their understanding by having them do the heavy lifting of processing the object’s inner scoring or answer discovery mechanisms.
Build once, reuse many times. This should be one of the key principles driving your learning object design. Get the most out of the time and resources you invested in the objects you’ve made so far by designing in re-usability. Re-usability requires flexibility. Make sure your materials can work in a wide variety of situations and contexts. The sky is the limit..