Design Tools for Creating Online Learning Materials
Development of the LOC (Learning Object Creation) Tool
This is a project funded by JISC / the Higher Education Academy to create tools to enable educators to produce pedagogically-sound online learning material in an easy and effective way. The project also involves the creation of proactive support mechanisms to help practitioners in their use and understanding of the tools. A key aim of the project is to build a community of users, who can benefit from these tools and share their materials and experience with others, thus cascading good materials and good practice in eLearning. The project is lead by the Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, based at the University of Southampton, with pedagogic and technical advice from eLanguages.
The initial stage of the project involved the creation of a toolbar and template which could be used with Dreamweaver, and which promoted effective online activity design. This was produced along with companion installation, technical and pedagogical guides. This package was delivered and tested during workshops at Durango University, Mexico, in January 2007.
In the light of feedback and experience from the initial stage of development, the project team went on to develop a bespoke tool for the creation of effective online learning material. This bespoke tool was designed to be used on its own (outside of any other package, such as Dreamweaver), to be user-friendly and intuitive.
The first LOC - Learning Object Creation - workshop was held on 21st and 22nd June, 2007, at the University of Southampton. It was attended by language teachers within HE and FE, from all over the UK. Participants were introduced to the tool and the pedagogical concepts underpinning its design, and encouraged to create their own learning objects for peer assessment within the group. The workshop was a thorough success, and almost all attendees agreed to become part of a fledgling community of practice, which would create learning objects and then share materials through the Subject Centre Resources Bank. A further workshop was held on 15th and 16th November 2007. Feedback from these workshops has informed the tool's development.
It has become clear to us that the LOC tool is used most effectively after users attend our intensive workshops. With this in mind, the LLAS Subject Centre intends to run workshops throughout the next year, building a 'learning object community of practice' over time. The tool, some guides, and materials created using it, will be made freely available through the Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies, along with comprehensive support resources for users. Our aim is for our community to build and create a substantial bank of quality, effective online resources for use within the language-learning community, and thereby, to spread good practice in eLearning.
The complete training pack now includes:
- A full one-day workshop in using the LOC tool
- The Guide to Learning Object Design
- The LOC Tool Technical Guide
- A developer planning sheet (pre-production)
- A developer checklist (post-production)
- A set of sample learning objects