Towards a Comprehensive Learning Object Metadata: Incorporation of Context to Stipulate Meaningful Learning and Enhance Learning Object Reusability

Article excerpt

Introduction

Electronic learning is the convergence of the web and learning on all levels that is made up of several learning methods that are enhanced or facilitated by technology. The use of a learning management system (LMS) in e-Learning environments allows content authoring and sequencing, and content delivery to learners. In addition, a LMS also assigns content lessons to learners and records their performance, thus creating a learner's profile. In other words, e-Learning offers a one-location gateway to varieties of educational resources, such as electronic books, digital presentation, web-based lecture notes, case studies, and other types of educational learning materials. This contributes to the rise of digital learning materials in the education field. However, these learning materials need to be designed effectively, as e-Learning promotes online education, unlike the traditional method which emphasizes the face-to-face and instructor-centered way of teaching. In contrast, digital materials need to include multimedia presentation--where words and graphics are used together--to deliver the instruction, to adopt personalization principles, to initiate cognitive processing in learners, and to include practice exercise, as stated by Clark and Mayer (2003).

In brief, designing and developing digital learning materials requires a substantial amount of effort, as the materials need to be well-designed using various media integration that require an allocation of cost. The cost to design and develop digital learning materials is high and extensive and is equivalent to developing traditional materials, because these digital materials need to be built from scratch using textbooks, references, and past experiences as a guide. For instance, to develop web-based lecture notes requires a substantial amount of money, and inclusion of graphics and animation would double the cost, and, if simulation is included, the cost would quadruple (Downes, 2004), which shows that developing interesting and well-designed learning materials involves a substantially large investment.

Consequently, if each educational institution produces its own local materials, the cost would multiply. This is ineffective, as the cost can be reduced by sharing the same learning materials among institutions.

The advent of communication technology has made sharing possible through the use of the Internet, and this leads to the emergence of the learning object (LO) concept. The LO concept was introduced to allow sharing of small, portable learning materials on the Internet. The concept, however, is not new to the world of reusable learning materials. The idea of learning objects had already emerged in the early nineties (Persico, Sarti, & Viarengo, 1992). The concept was then concerned with storing the learning materials into databases. From then on, the issue that emerged was the reuse of learning materials (Olimpo, Chioccariello, Tavella, & Trentin, 1990; Rada, 1995; Sarti & Marcke, 1995). Nevertheless, due to the exponential growth of the World Wide Web, the worldwide availability of easily accessible learning materials sparked the re-emergence of these old concepts in the late nineties, and these concepts are presently being further developed to generate knowledge and insights into storing and retrieving of learning materials.

However, the success of this concept is hindered by problems that arose in the current e-Learning setting. Figure 1 summarizes the current trends in e-Learning environment leading to existing problems in LO matters and points out that there are a few main challenges that need to be addressed in order to ensure the success of LO. As such, this paper focuses on the problems relating to LO metadata contextual and reusability issues. The next section will look at the incorporation of meaningful learning into LO in order to provide context and retrievability of LO. …