Digital education and online learning content has taken over the internet. But how do you know which content is of good quality?

In recent years, the proliferation of smartphones, coupled with better internet connections, has driven innovation and growth in the K-12 sector. In fact, as predicted by the ‘Online Education in India: 2021’ report, jointly published by Google and KPMG, the online education market in India is slated to touch USD 1.96 billion by 2021.

Not just any audio-visual content will work with Millennials

We have witnessed a spurt in education technology organisations in recent years. These organisations design content, which if marketed well, sells well too. However, they often fail to evaluate the effectiveness of digital content before launching their products in market.

We ought to realise that not just any digital content with audio-visual integration will either be able to hold a Millennial’s attention span or teach them. Thus, there is need for a tool to evaluate digital content.

Realising this need, the Inter-disciplinary Programme researchers in the Education Technology department at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, conducted extensive research and designed and developed Learning Object Evaluation (LOBE) instrument.

What is a Learning Object?

Before attempting to detail the ways in which digital content can be evaluated, it is important we define a learning object. Theorist H W Hodgins defines a learning object as a digital resource, which is a “collection of content items, practice items, and assessment items that are combined based on a single learning objective.”

LOBE assesses the effectiveness of core visualisation component (videos/ animations/ simulations) and associated components like assessments because meeting learning objectives is important, and learning design as well because the experience of the user while learning is important.

Importance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

A digital tool can be considered effective in a teacher-led instruction environment if it promotes higher-order thinking skills. The objective of a digital tool, teaching-learning activity and the assessment — all should be mapped to constructivist pedagogy.

With the help of ICT, students learn how to:

  • Actively engage with the content in the classroom
  • Construct knowledge through self-reflection and articulation
  • Authenticate their learning by applying it to their real-life problems
  • Set their learning goals and self-diagnose their errors using ICT
  • Collaborate with peers in group activity

LOBE evaluates the learning objects based on the extent to which the following parameters have been met:

1. Content

The content presented should cover the entire topic, and also be accurate. The language should be precise and comprehensible.

2. Method of instruction or pedagogy

Learning objective should be well defined so that the teaching and assessment are well aligned to the former. There should be scope for feedback. It should also be able to gauge prior knowledge of a student to master a subsequent concept.

3. Technology

It encompasses the user interface of a learning object. It should meet the Interaction Design Principles — proximity, visibility, user action feedback, consistence, affordance and mapping. It should also be able to meet the learning needs of differently abled students.

4. Pedagogical content

It deals with the application of established teaching-learning theories. It should address misconceptions and effectively draw a connection to the real life.

5. Technological content

It includes utilising technological affordance of a learning object to teach. For instance, appropriate media should be chosen to impart lessons, which can propel active learning and group activity.  There should be meaningful presentation of content using technology. And, the technology chosen should be compatible with other resources so that there are no disruptions in the students’ learning.

Explanation of concepts and processes, guidelines set by teachers to devise learning activities to cover those concepts, and assessments, independently and together determine the effectiveness of teaching-learning.

These three components also form LOBE’s focus of evaluation. E-learning companies can use LOBE to evaluate the learning objects they are designing. The tool also provides feedback, which can be incorporated in the learning programs they are creating. Again, different teams, such as subject matter experts, instructional designers and graphic designers, can use LOBE to evaluate their work.

Source: India Today