eLearning e-Learning


Every time you develop training, you're capturing information and graphical elements from other departments, reformatting them and producing some type of static document - printed, PPT, web page. Every time you glue those elements together to create a static training presentation you create another hard to access, and costly to manage, island of information.

What happens when a graphic changes and you've copy/pasted it into multiple places? You have to "remember" everywhere you pasted that graphic and manually change it. Will there be documents that you may forget to change? It's very likely you will. If that graphic were "unglued" from the other presentations, then you'd only need to change it one time, in one place.

To determine what should be made a reusable object, begin with the training department.What text or graphic elements do you commonly end up copy/pasting? How many times do you take content from a "communication" lesson and put into a "sales" or "management" or "customer service" lesson? Or, reuse information about a product? Or, use the same material for the final lessons in a "beginner" level and repeat/review them for the "intermediate" level lesson?

Those snippets/chunks of content, graphics, etc are where you should start to break out your first reusable objects.

While you're doing that, keep in mind that there is NO SUCH THING as Learning Objects or Knowledge Objects or Information Objects. They're all just objects. As soon as you attempt to limit an object for one environment, it is no longer reusable. As soon as you attach/embed/integrate an assessment to an object to make it a Learning Object, it can no longer be reused except for that one, narrowly defined use.

Since the creation and use of different objects are not restricted to one functional area, does it make any sense to use a content/object management approach such as a LCMS (Learning Content Management System)? No, it makes more sense to use an enterprise level CMS (Content Management) to dynamically manage presentations for many areas instead of just one functional area. Objects used in a learning presentation may be "owned" by marketing or R&D, etc. Marketing may need to reuse objects "owned" by R&D, or sales, etc.

Content can be reformatted and reused in different ways at different times only if it's kept separate from the presentation. An object can be text, graphics, anything that is a discrete element. In the graphic below, we've attempted to show how the same source objects can be mixed and matched in different ways to create a personalized presentation, on demand, for different audiences/environments. The objects can be the same but their presentation will appear to be different as they're transformed by the logic of the application in response to the user's needs.

Or, Click Here to See an Alternate Graphic

Anytime you've used a style sheet in a word processor like Microsoft Word, you're using a basic approach of the this concept. You can keep the document the same but it will appear different depending on how you define your Header, Body, footnote, etc styles. You can even attach or detach reusable, predefined styles. The internet also allows for this approach using its Cascade Style Sheets.

Or, think about anytime you use a template. To change the appearance of something - you just change the template, the information doesn't change - just the presentation.

Or, if you've ever used "Insert, Object" in MS Word and used an Excel graph, you'll have noticed that when the graph changes, so does it's presentation in the Word document.

If you've ever used a database, you probably already understand how content can be recombined and reused in different presentations. In a database is a collection of objects. Tables, fields, relationships, content of each field.

Here's the Microsoft Northwind database. Notice the | and oo symbols. Those indicate a one to many relationship. These are used to connect the tables so that that information doesn't have to be repeated. Look at the"Order Details" table, notice how it's connected to the "Product" table by the "ProductID" field. This makes the information about each product reusable without having to repeat the product information each time it's ordered.

Database Diagram

Below is what a typical order for products would look like. Notice how the information from the above tables has been reused to present the customer, product and order information for one order.
Database Order Form

This shows how reusing the information collected from the order entry
can be recombined and represented as many orders with many products for one client.
Database - Order Detail

And another way.
The data hasn't changed, it's just being presented differently
for different users with different needs.
Database Report
Database category report

Simply defined, meta data is the data about the data. MetaData describes the hierarchy or meaning of the content.

Example One Example Two
If you look at the database example above you'll notice that "Company Name" appears as a field name in the Customers, Shippers and Suppliers tables. If you were to see something like...

Database: Northwind
Table: Supplier
Field: Company Name

   then you would know that any reference to "Company Name" is for a Supplier that listed in the Northwind database.
Something like "Listening" doesn't mean anything unless it's meaning is described. If you were to see something like...

Function: Sales
Course: Strategic Skills
Chapter: Qualifying the Client
Module: Listening

   then you would know that "Listening" is a Module of a Chapter called "Qualifying the Client" which is part of a course called "Strategic Skills" which is targeted at Sales people.