Finished Sir! Are digital learning objects worth the effort?

As teacher-developer, I am starting to second-guess the value of generating original learning objects or LOs for my students. It is disheartening to hear a student call out, “finished sir” within two minutes of starting digital activity. This is especially so when the learning event was anticipated to engage the students for at least ten minutes.

Some contemporary students seek out the most efficient means to complete an activity with satisfactory results. If their final score is a pass, they seem to feel justified in using any means to achieve it. This includes ignoring audio, image, video or text content and proceeding straight to the questions. They look at these activities as games not learning opportunities. Finishing faster than their peers seems to boost their self-esteem.

To be fair, developing with a full-time teaching load encourages taking short cuts, ignoring testing of the LO, spelling mistakes and poor formatting. Rather than give up and return to publishers’ provided content or paper worksheets, I have reflected on my LO development practices and have considered the following for future teacher development.

1. Limit quick response question types (T/F, multiple choice, select the word, drag and drop).
2. Use question types that require knowledge and fill in the blanks and open ended questions.
3. Reveal questions or prompts after media has completely played.
4. Ensure that the content is challenging and not a simple review of in-class content.
5. Create activities that engage students through topic or content. This includes not limiting prompts to discrete items within the media but also include scaffolding and summative questions.
6. Incorporate online video/animations with frequent comments, questions or prompts that require their attention to be successful.  If possible, include rollover or clickable hints when questions or concepts are challenging.
7. Limit or remove retry buttons.
8. Remove any Show solution buttons.
9. Create paired, groups and class activities that require communication and cooperation.
10. Craft questions that cannot be answered without viewing the media or content.

Overall, I have determined that I should produce less complex and fewer LOs as a teacher developer.  Time is limited by core responsibilities.  It better to create a few reliable LOs  than  a lot of problematic ones.  I am sure that you have more tricks and practices that keep students engaged on your learning objects. If you can, share a few in the comments section below.

John Allan

John Allan

John, Canadian ex-pat living in Qatar, writes about learning object development, practical tools and applications for the blended teaching/ learning environment.
John Allan

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John Allan

John, Canadian ex-pat living in Qatar, writes about learning object development, practical tools and applications for the blended teaching/ learning environment.

3 thoughts on “Finished Sir! Are digital learning objects worth the effort?

  • Pingback:Task-setting to slow down fast finishers | Kate's Crate

  • 15th December 2018 at 11:51 am

    That’s a very useful reflection John !
    I’ve always felt that most SCORM creation applications are way beyond the skills and time of most teachers.
    Something like H5P does change the game a little, because it’s relatively quick and easy to create interactive content, and quick and easy to edit it later (unlike most SCORM packages).
    Certainly many of the items you have listed above will help.
    It’s all too easy to make this type of content … well … all too easy !
    As you say, rather than trying to replicate YouTube movies, hours of SCORM content, or multiple choice activities than encourage “don’t think just click” approaches, it’s far better to challenge the learner, and provide something that isn’t about consuming data, but rather evaluating and interacting with it in some way.

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      18th December 2018 at 6:00 am

      Stuart, I am using my unique position as a teacher/developer to nudge learning objects to incorporate more activity and inquiry, while running blended learning classes. I am taking notes, revising and hope to have more answers for a future post.

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