Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Arts, music, language and information literacy resources

Have you heard about Karen Ellis and the Educational Cyber Playground? Well, neither had I until just a few days ago. Developed to improve literacy through arts education the site provides numerous web base resources to promote art, music, language, and information literacy. Educational Cyber Playground received a lot of media attention and awards during the late 90s and early 00s and provides a lot of free instructional content and information about online resources to educators, parents, and web surfers.

According to the information on the site, Ellis has been online since 1991 and her site has been used and visited by people all over the world. While the site looks like it could use some updating and has broken links there are many good resources to support educators and home schoolers. Why am I blogging about this? Well, the point of this blog is to find, write about, and link to women who are leaders in education technology.

Karen Ellis' site indicated that she is one. A self proclaimed "webmistress, site architect, curriculum content developer and RingLeader for the Educational CyberPlayGround" she has helped "over 2 million people a year" through her website. She has collected several "Hot Site" awards, USA today, MSNBC, The New York Times Learning Network on the Web: Parent Connections, and several Grammys . More recently, she created the National Children's Repository of Folksongs in 2003.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Women's Voices on Learning Objects and Learning Objects Repositories

In my first search of women blogs connected to learning objects and learning objects repositories found an article by Diane J. Goldsmith on Assessing Learning Objects: The Importance of Values, Purpose, and Design. It was unusual to read a woman blogging on learning objects and issues surrounding their use in education and I hope to find more over the next year. Besides citing some of the energetic male discussions surrounding the use of standards to create learning objects (Downes, 2006:Norman, 2006:Wiley, 2006), Goldsmith (2007) proposed there is opportunity in integrating assessment principles into developing learning objects.

While the discussion surrounding learning objects is focused on definitions, standards, context for use and reuse Goldsmiths’ (2007) article discusses learning objects and connects them to faculty values, purpose of LOs that is connected to what the objects might assess. She poses a set of questions to frame developing LOs and ask faculty and development teams to consider:

1. Why should a particular learning object be developed?
2.Who are the stakeholders? Users?
3. How will one know if the learning object is successful?
4. What determines success?
5. How can the cost of developing a learning object be justified?
6.What is the intended purpose in developing the learning object?
7. How can assessment of the learning object be factored into the development process?
8. If the object is published to a learning objects repository (LOR) how will data be collected on its use, reuse, and outcomes be assessed?

Finally, Goldsmith (2007) asks faculty and developers to consider what they will do with the data they collect and how any need for improvements will be communicated. This article also provides a list of assessment models for learning objects that included,
MERLOT, the University of Wisconsin, Connecticut Learning Consortium, Center of Academic Transformation, AliveTek, and Wesleyan University's LOLA project.

This article is a good one for people looking for information that goes beyond the debates about defining what a learning object is or is not and whether or not the whole notion of learning objects is dead. I favor two simple definitions for the term learning object, the first is the Southern Regional Educational Board's (SREB, 2005) definition of learning object (LO), "a LO is any digital resource that can be used and reused to support learning". The second is New Media Consortium's (Smith, 2004) definition that connects LOs to materials grouped in structured, meaningful content contributions that are tied to measurable education objectives.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering... I believe that the promise of learning objects to improve teaching and learning is still very much alive.