Online Strategies to Promote Business Goals

The Role of Reusable Learning Objects

We discussed the role of chunking in eLearning in a recent blog posting, “How Chunking Improves eLearning” (3/26/2014). There is a particular chunking strategy that segments content into Reusable Learning Objects, also known as nuggets, chunks, information objects, reusable information objects, or sharable content objects.

What is a Reusable Learning Object (RLO)?

Reusable Learning Objects in Action

An RLO supports a single, narrowly defined learning objective that can be used for multiple learning or content sharing contexts. By its nature, an RLO is self-contained and has value independent of additional content. On the other hand, RLOs can be combined to form courses, modules, lessons, topics, online help systems, reference documents, and other aggregate knowledge solutions. The same learning objectives can be leveraged for various levels of learning, performance support, help systems, job aids, or blended learning solutions. An RLO is tagged with metadata that allows it to be located via search functionality, thereby facilitating its reusability.

Reusable Learning ObjectsA Reusable Learning Object may include content, practice and assessment, as in the model illustrated on the right.

Another approach is to have different types of learning objects share a common objective, but include different content formats.

3 Types of Learning Objects

For example, content might be included in one learning object, while practice would be included in another, and assessment in yet another. This provides greater flexibility for use in online learning verses help systems or performance support.
Kinds of Reusability
Reusability can mean adding the same content into different knowledge applications, or it can mean linking to content in a common repository. The benefit of the linking approach is that maintenance is streamlined. Only one item needs to be updated, rather than multiple instances of the item in various locations.

A Content Management System, Learning Content Management System or a Knowledge Management System can be used to manage various knowledge assets so that RLOs can be pieced together to form various types of content. In addition, some Content Management Systems provide the features of a Learning Management System (LMS), enabling them to also manage and track the progress of learners. An experienced knowledge solutions developer can guide you to a solution that will best meet your varied needs.

What Fits Your Needs?
Are RLOs always the best solution? Some points to consider include the following:
  • What is the shelf life of the content?
  • How immediate is the knowledge need or demand?
  • What is the scalability of the content? Are there small pieces that can stand on their own?
  • Are there unique audiences or applications for varied use of core content?
  • What is the location, size and function of the potential audience or user groups?
  • Would this format reach an audience that might otherwise not be reached?
  • How much of an advantage would single source management be?
Exploring these and other considerations can guide you to more efficient knowledge management and dissemination, and to a more knowledgeable and efficient workforce.

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Susan Vaillancourt

Project Manager/Instructional Designer at CDT MicroGraphics, Inc.
Nineteen years experience in the field of eLearning, with emphasis on project management and instructional design. Management responsibilities have included planning, scheduling and directing all phases of project development, from needs analysis through testing and implementation, management of instructional design teams, and client liaison for custom development initiatives. Instructional design responsibilities have included design of eLearning courseware (Bloom’s Levels 1 through 4), design and development of job aids, operations and training manuals and adjunct materials, and development of curriculum and eLearning standards.

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