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More on this later.) Since this sort of discussion can very quickly become too abstract to be helpful, I'm going to stick to the time-honored method of story-telling, providing vignettes of actual client problems I had to solve and what I learned while struggling to solve them.Object Lesson #1: Reusability Breaks Some Instructional Designs Back in early 1998, a professional association for managers came to the company I worked for with the idea of converting all of their self-study workbooks into online courses.Having just read a rather academic article speculating on the notion of "object-oriented instructional design," I suggested the idea that the courses could be created in chunks, or "learning objects," that could be custom-assembled into new courses.
It's hard not to fall in love with the notion of reusable learning objects.
The idea of a world filled with little self-contained lessons that you can assemble into any course you can think of seems so…well…cool. Unfortunately, after five years of struggling with the challenge of finding that world, I have come to the conclusion that I am simply not smart enough to lead the way to the Promised Land of e-learning, where milk and honey flow from the earth and learning objects can be plucked like ripe fruit from fig trees.
Likewise, I was used to telling stories that carried over from one lesson to the next.
Because there's nothing quite like a good concrete example to make a lesson stick, a repeating storyline across the entire arc of a course tends to tie all the lessons together very effectively.
The project was killed after the pilot for unrelated business reasons.
Object Lesson #2: Content is Harder to Recycle than Design A financial services company brought me on as part of a large team to put together e-learning for their first-year brokers.
To the contrary, we worried that if some of the stories were different then most or all of them might have to be different, even within a single course.
It would seem odd if most of the stories in a (learner-assembled) course were the same but a few were different.
This project was huge; they eventually created roughly a hundred courses on topics ranging from retirement planning to options trading to selling skills.
Since we were creating a lot of interrelated courses in parallel, it seemed sensible to try to coordinate and reuse content across the curriculum.