Sorry, it’s been a whirl of activity, this past week and more. Most of it, interestingly, circling around something I was working on several years ago, content models. The notion is being more granular in content specification, separating out, both in content development and in representation through tagging,the different components of learning:
This gives us flexibility in packaging them up in different ways to serve different needs.
I once defined the right size of a learning object as the smallest unit you’d give to one learner versus another (implying if you were serving as a wise and knowledgeable tutor). However, we’re not there yet with the ability to sufficiently tag domain/topic role down to the level of a table or a graphic across all domains, which is what you’d need to build a really intelligent but mass-market tutoring system, but we certainly can make approximations.
Yes, I do have complaints from authors who feel it’s constraining, but when we pay closer attention to the elements (and good principles along with, see the Seven Steps to Improved Instructional Design white paper, warning: PDF; soon to come out in a ‘readers digest condensed’ version via Lisa Neal’s eLearningMag) we get more flexibility and better learning outcomes. And it’s not that hard to shift, it’s some initial extra overhead, not a whole new writing process.
As you move from publishing monolithic works to delivering Wayne Hodgin’s “right stuff” (the right information, to the right person, at the right time, in the right place…etc), and increasingly want authors who don’t have instructional design expertise but important knowledge to develop learning, you’ll need this structure. I’m finally seeing some real market movements in these directions, and I look forward to more innovations.