5 Top Tips To Create eLearning Courses Using Reusable Learning Objects

5 Top Tips To Create eLearning Courses Using Reusable Learning Objects
Summary: Reusable Learning Objects (RLOs) and eLearning content chunking are a perfect pair. Reusable Learning Objects can be mixed, matched, and organized into tidy groups to improve knowledge retention. In this article, I'll share 5 top tips to create eLearning courses using Reusable Learning Objects.

How To Create eLearning Courses Using Reusable Learning Objects

A Reusable Learning Object for eLearning is a self-contained online asset that can be used for a wide range of purposes. Each Reusable Learning Object must have its own learning objective, but it can also be combined with other objects to create comprehensive eLearning courses. However, there is a catch. In order to make the eLearning content cohesive and meaningful, you must divide it into groups. Otherwise, chaos will reign supreme and online learners must contend with cognitive overload.

The Importance Of Content Chunking In eLearning

Content chunking in eLearning involves organizing information to improve knowledge retention and recall. Each piece of chunked information is stored as a Reusable Learning Object that may be grouped together in various combinations based on their subject matter and relevance, to form new eLearning courses. This also makes it easier for Instructional Designers to create eLearning courses that facilitate the process of linking new ideas to the preexisting knowledge of online learners. In addition, content chunking is particularly useful for complex ideas or concepts, as it breaks them down to their most basic components. Thus, online learners can study each subject and fully absorb the information before moving onto the next online lesson.

How To Use Reusable Learning Objects To Create eLearning Courses

Here are a few eLearning strategies you can employ to create new eLearning courses using Reusable Learning Objects:

1. Map Out Your eLearning Modules

Before you start organizing and grouping your eLearning course material, you should create a general overview based on learning objectives. In other words, map out every aspect of your eLearning module or activity so that you choose the appropriate Reusable Learning Objects. Otherwise, you may end up with a cluttered and disjointed eLearning module that lacks a common theme. Determine the basic structure of your eLearning course and develop an eLearning storyboard to make sure you stick to it. For example, is it going to be a 10-minute eLearning module or an hour-long eLearning course? Then gather all of your relevant Reusable Learning Objects and start piecing together the puzzle. Ideally, each eLearning module or lesson should center on a single learning objective to prevent cognitive overload. Additionally, it should be self-contained and serve as a comprehensive stand alone unit.

2. Organize Online Resources Using Metadata

One of the advantages of using Reusable Learning Objects is that you can use metadata to organize each asset. As such, you're able to create RLO categories based on the topic or learning objectives more rapidly. For example, instead of sorting through your files to look for the right eLearning materials, you can search for specific keywords or characteristics. Metadata also makes it easy to store and transfer Reusable Learning Objects, which is ideal for online collaboration. For all of these reasons, it's important to create clear and concise metadata to avoid confusion later on. Be specific about what's included in the RLO, which topics it covers, and its primary benefits.

3. Focus On Learning Objectives

One of the most important steps in eLearning content chunking is prioritizing the learning objectives. You may have a variety of assets in your online library, but there is limited space in your eLearning course design. Therefore, you must identify which RLOs best serve the learning objectives and the desired outcomes. To do so, evaluate the eLearning interactivity, aesthetics, eLearning content, and length of each RLO. For instance, a serious game or branching scenario may be the ideal choice for an eLearning module that requires more real-world examples. You should also remove extraneous objects that may confuse or overwhelm online learners. In some cases, you may even have to revise a Reusable Learning Object in order to make it more concise or targeted. The goal is to create a succinct eLearning module or lesson that gives online learners all the information they need. Nothing more and nothing less.

4. Manage Reusable Learning Objects With A Top-Notch eLearning Authoring Tool

Reusable Learning Objects are simple and stress-free to store and manage if you have the right eLearning authoring tool. One of the perks of using RLOs is that you can reuse them for multiple eLearning modules or courses. eLearning authoring tools allow you to pull objects from an online asset depository and then upload them into a Learning Management System. They also make it easier to modify existing RLOs so that they suit your current eLearning needs. If possible, opt for a cloud-based eLearning authoring tool that gives you the ability to store and access your RLOs on any device.

5. Use Multiple Types Of Reusable Learning Objects

According to Churchill’s typology [1], there are several types of Reusable Learning Objects to consider. Here are the 4 most common ones:

  1. Presentation
    RLOs that simply present the subject matter to the audience. The main goal is to impart knowledge. This is more of a passive activity, as interactivity is not typically required.
  2. Practice
    Unlike presentation RLOs, practice RLOs involve feedback, learner participation, and real-world application. Examples of practice RLOs include serious games and branching scenarios. Online learners have the opportunity to put their knowledge into practice and gain firsthand eLearning experience.
  3. Conceptual
    Typically used for complex topics or tasks. It involves representations, such as graphs or images that convey they key ideas. For example, an infographic which highlights a trend.
  4. Simulation
    Online learners participate in eLearning simulations that mimic real-world environments. This is ideal for task-based eLearning, as online learners can try out new software and equipment in a virtual setting. Thus, they can avoid a steep learning curve when they do enter the workplace.

Knowledge is never a sure thing, especially when you’re dealing with the human memory. If online learners aren’t able to properly absorb and assimilate the subject matter, then it’s bound to vanish into thin air. Which is why it’s essential to chunk your eLearning content and follow these RLO-based eLearning course design tips.

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1.     Churchill, D. (2007). Towards a useful classification of learning objects. Educational Technology Research & Development, 55(5), 479-497.