L2O: Sharing Language Learning Objects
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L2O - Sharing Language Learning Objects

L2O was a JISC-funded Distributed e-learning Pilot Project which began in 2006. Led by the University of Southampton, a consortium involving 4 regional partner hubs, the Universities of Reading, Portsmouth and Surrey, generated online re-usable learning objects (RLOs) from existing learning materials. These were tagged, stored and retrieved from the project's customised learning object repository, CLARe, (Contextualised Learning Activity Repository) by learners and teachers for independent learning, classroom-based learning or blended learning according to particular needs. In broad terms, L2O aimed to evaluate the feasibility of re-using learning resources across the regional community and in different educational and teaching contexts, and for different purposes. The project was completed in July 2007 and a number of project documents are available.

Significant achievements:

Community of Practice:

Work on the project enabled the development and involvement of a Community of Practice (CoP), consisting of language teachers and learning technologists from around our geographical region and beyond. These individuals took part in all aspects of the project, from contribution to project aims and concepts; the submission of online language learning material to be re-made into RLOs; discussion and development of project understanding of metadata needs; and in the piloting of our prototype repository. The CoP continues to be sustained and expanded through further projects in the area of OERs. Work on the L2O Project also had an influence on practice within some CoP institutions.

RLOs within a prototype repository:

In the initial stages of the project, the team took existing learning materials and investigated how these could generate RLOs. This led to the development and implementation of Pedagogical Process Model for Disaggregation of existing resources and re-aggregation into RLOs. The development of this model involved developing an understanding of how learning material could be broken up into relevant 'pedagogical pieces' and then re-assembled into a discrete unit suitable for meaningful independent online learning.

CLARe Repository:

In order to investigate the sharing of online resources, the Project developed a prototype repository CLARe (Contextualised Learning Activity Repository - based on ePrints). This was populated with a set of quality assured re-usable learning objects (RLOs) and pedagogical assets (PAs) contributed by members of our community of practice. This was successfully piloted with various groups within the CoP, and enabled the project team to investigate issues around sharing resources. The piloting consistently revealed a desire amongst practitioners for this kind of repository of online learning materials.

Metadata:

A key realisation from the project was the importance of contextual metadata in finding resources and in contributing to the creation of effective online resources. The community developed task/pedagogical asset description templates (contextual metadata templates) which focused on the educational learning and teaching context and used non-technical terminology, to validate 'Standard' RLLOMAP metadata enhancement.

A bespoke application profile was then created to incorporate contextual metadata in the educational fields of LOM metadata and create IMS compliant content packages using EU and JISC-funded tools - Telcert, Schemaprof and Reload.

Main challenges:

Communication was extremely effective in face-to-face situations but faltered when pursued by other means (such as blogs, Moodle forums, Skyping etc). This could be seen as both an advantage and a disadvantage of regional collaboration - we were close enough to meet easily, but too close to use 'virtual' tools. Communication with FE partners was also problematic because of the intense time pressures on FE teachers, and FE partners were also approached when tools and resources were in an immature state, so they were unable to contribute fully.

From a technological point of view, it became evident that materials contributors had a wide range of technical skills and knowledge, and so there were problems associated with standardising online material and ensuring its quality and accessibility, so that it could be delivered as learning objects in the repository. Initially, the project had inadequate proactive support mechanisms for re-purposing, and this inhibited progress.

Progress was also inhibited by the lack of a user-friendly, quick-to-use content packaging tool, which meant that the inputting of metadata was a laborious and unpleasant task. There were problems in uploading our content packages to JORUM due to the additional contextual metadata fields that the project developed. IPR issues represented a serious barrier to sharing and re-purposing existing materials. The barrier existed at a number of levels: with individuals unable to guarantee the IPR of all elements within their learning material and therefore unable to make them open for all, to institutional level with departments restricting use of materials (this was particularly true in the FE sector).

IPR issues represented a serious barrier to sharing and re-purposing existing materials. The barrier exists at a number of levels: with individuals unable to guarantee the IPR of all elements within their learning material and therefore unable to make them open for all, to institutional level with departments restricting use of materials (this was particularly true in the FE sector).