LinkLog: Interactive Learning Objects

This article  Let’s breathe interactive life into the common textbook triggered a whole set of thoughts on creating learning objects. But first, some context.

by and large, students aren’t provided with the tools to customize their learning to their needs: Lectures are one-sided with no interactivity, as are courseware and other materials. Feedback from quizzes and exams can take weeks. And, if a student is stuck on a problem at 11pm? Good luck finding help unless he can find the answer on Google.

textbooks — remain fundamentally unchanged. Books, designed for a paper-based medium, are static, bloated, expensive, and increasingly irrelevant in a Web-enabled world, where students consume information using different media and devices. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons MOOCs have high dropout rates – you cannot combine new ways of teaching with old style learning material and expect transformative changes.

Infusing digital material with interactive animation/simulation can make a lot of difference. Let us take the example of showing how an automobile engine works:

  1. You start by showing the picture of an engine on a touch enabled device (like a tablet)
  2. The student can pinch, zoom this image and turn it around and look at it from various angles.
  3. They can tap on it to get it working – pistons move in and out, valves open and close, fuel flows, spark plug ignites the fuel etc. It is a simulation and the student can examine any portion in detail or from any angle.
  4. They should be able to point to a part and receive text or audio (in their language) on what it is and how it works.
  5. A lesson like this can be made exploratory with deeper dives as students gain more knowledge (how do the combination of fuel and sparks result in thrust? What are other similar examples).
  6. We can even include interactive tours through the simulation to guide as starting points
  7. We can include a search (Google body used to do this). Typing a term would zoom into that particular part and highlight it (or animate it alone).

Can we simplify the tools for building these learning objects? Can we have a framework for assembling a collection of these objects in some coherent way and create special books? How can we make them really simple for teachers to create, innovate and share?

Lots of things to think about and lots of opportunities for content creation.