Learning objects are like luggage.

Learning objects are like luggage. Dumb as dirt.

In the April 2002 issue of the Learning Place, Stephen Downes says,

A recent article [1] about airline luggage prompted me to think about learning objects in a new way. The premise of the article was that that airlines would lose luggage less frequently if the luggage were equipped with more intelligence. In other words, 'what if we managed bags like we managed people?' After all, 'passengers are smart entities traversing a stupid network, whereas pieces of luggage are very stupid entities traversing a marginally smarter network.' Wouldn't it be better if 'a suitcase could check itself into airplanes, order transportation, track news about delays or cancellations, and make sure, in case of unforeseen changes, that it will be booked on the next flight or sent back home again?'


...the main point of this article is to show that, if we made learning objects a little smarter, they could perform many of the tasks we now envision the hiring of minions of baggage handlers to accomplish. There is no in principle reason why we could not develop smart learning objects: if we can write self-extracting executables, self-pacing audio streams, or applications that report back to Microsoft when you use bad words, then we can write learning object wrappers that perform basic self-analytical tasks, scan the web for web services, and learn about their new environment.

What's more, once we develop an architecture of smart learning objects, we are no longer constrained by the bounds of 'supported' data formats. Should a developer want to deploy a previously unused 3-D multimedia file format, the developer need not wait until the learning management system has built in support or until the user has downloaded a plug-in: everything that's needed ships with the learning object. Should developers become dissatisfied with Adobe's or Microsoft's file formats (or pricing structures), they can simply write their own presentation application.

Smart learning objects. So much more than learning luggage.

Ah, but of course.

Posted by Jay Cross at May 7, 2002 08:59 AM | TrackBack

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