No Love for Reusable Learning Objects

No Love for Reusable Learning Objects

I am a self-proclaimed evangelist of reusable learning objects. In an industry where the norm is small budgets and short timeframes, reusable learning objects are the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg.

Why are reusable learning objects not an industry standard?

As a society, reusing or repurposing items is old hat. Look at the current movie listings: how many are sequels, spin-offs or retellings? From young ages, we teach our children the concept of “reduce, reuse, recycle” at home and in school. Some of us even occasionally re-gift; granted this one comes with some shame if we get caught.

If you perform a search on Google for reusable learning objects, you’ll find a smattering of articles that are three or more years old, two videos that are older yet and several studies. Compare that to another search of adaptive learning. The difference is staggering. Lest we are overwhelmed by the screeches of protest that I am not comparing apples to apples, they are correct. The former is the black sheep of the training and development industry while the latter is one of the hottest trends.

Why aren’t reusable learning objects invited to the party?

I see two culprits for not implementing reusable learning objects.

Ego

The idea that we know better. If we are right, then everyone else must be wrong. People consider their knowledge to be unique and feel that it needs to be protected. However, thinking like this closes us off to new ideas, other perspectives, and prior insight. While we all feel the need to justify our jobs, why wouldn’t we draw on existing source material that someone else has created when it is as good or better than what we have time to do?

You don’t have to completely let of your ego if you take time to consider that the original author of the reusable object does not know your audience. When you are reusing learning objects, it is not a cut and paste scenario. You become an editor at least, and often a new contributor in these situations. The reusable material will need to be changed to match the current audience; references may need to be updated; certain areas may have to be reworked to match the “voice” of the present work. You may still need to convert the material to eLearning or short videos. Given tight budgets and time crunches, why would you want to start from a blank page?

Culture

We need to nurture an environment that allows reusable learning objects to flourish. This requires having systems to track content, a team of people who buy into the concept, and methods for sharing the new material we sometimes need to create so that it can be reused in the future.

Tune in next week! Same Bat-Time! Same Bat-Channel!

We will cover the best practices for creating reusable learning objects.

ATD 2019 International Conference & Exposition

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