In terms of definitions that was an extremely useful conversation and there is a nice distinction between Learning Objects and objects for learning. There is this term ‘Learning Object’ and it means a tagged up learning experience, usually interactive, built usually with the intention of being used in a learning context, explicitly so, sometimes using a national / international standard to make it visible. On the other hand, the ecology of the web at the moment and the environment that teachers seem to be in is actually one of wanting to source objects for learning which could be anything. And they may not be tagged up they may not be curriculum connected they may just be a picture on a website at the moment and it seems to me that the need is for making those objects [from Museums] for learning discoverable, quickly and relevantly for teachers.
There is something also to do with the type of technologies that might power such an environment - a teacher going to Google, banging in a word or two and quickly finding ranked, certified museum content, objects for learning - and that might require some hard wired, standardized ontologies, hard semantic world; but in terms of re-usability, commentability, ranking, that person discovering being someone who can make a comment in some way we might also be talking soft semantic web as well.
For this project, for us identifying things that we might say something meaningful about, in terms of demonstrating something, maybe there is a case for giving attention to that school-based learning.
Martin Bazely: Because of the specificity of curriculum in primary schools its forced people developing resources in that area to really think about and engage a little bit with what the users actually need. I think that if there were a system that was based on iterative refinement by the end users, whoever that may be, it would take care of itself and we could create a snap shot now and what say the UK education looks like and put something in place that would serve that well. But the whole thing is changing all the time due to government policy and changes in technology, and so whatever system is in place moves with current practice and the only way that can happen is that if it received feedback from the people actually using it.
Richard Light: Thinking about the scenario where we have teachers trying to find this stuff and then we look at what we’ve got in museums. One obvious question is what effort are museums going to put into going half way towards the education sector and the answer to that very much depends on how generic the results are going to be. You can spend six weeks doing this tailored learning pack around this collection for this precise bit of the primary school sector but is that the best use of scarce museum resources.
Richard Light: The other thing that struck me was this picture of teachers finding this picture here and this resource there and making a lesson plan out of that. To me that ties in with island resources, sitting there on their own and not linked to anything, the key point that moves us beyond that is that the resource you get comes built in with little links that pull you somewhere else, so you get these multidimensional links so wherever you are at any point there are routes out. This is a logical, flexible, powerful thing to play with, either preparing the material in advance or on the ground, on the fly, you can actually go with it in real time.
Jon Pratty: You could combine the del.ici.ous api and add that to resources and at the end of one of our stories you would see a continuously evolving set of links to peoples favourites. The big problem is that it’s not mediated at all. It needs some structure.
Richard Light: What have museums got to bring to the party? The careful cataloguing work built into itself links from all types of resources (the object you start with) to entities in the world outside that are connected with that object. The discipline of cataloguing an object in a consistent way gives you useful links of a particular type that are more objective, factual links rather than opinion links.
Dan Zambonini: I think learning objects are actually very advanced in getting towards where the semantic web ought to be.
Mike Lowndes: Objects for learning become learning objects when they are defined [as such] by somebody, and that tool is best with the teacher not the cultural producer? Or maybe its both. (ML)
Mike Lowndes: You don’t build this as a portal you build it as an infrastructure and you expose it in the best possible way to Google.
Martin Bazely: This idea of whether we need something soft or hard? It needs to move with educational practice and it needs to be iterative and to me that means soft. I’m not sure whether anything hard is needed.
Ross Parry: If there was a UK teachers tag or a UK museum objects-for-learning microformat with 2.5 thousand museums signed up and using it then they (Google) would have to respond to it.