Learning technology is currently attracting intense interest due to the rapid increases in technological capability and in the size of the audience able to access it, and also due to the increasing demands upon the education system as the need for lifelong learning becomes reality.
Technology can provide quality learning to a mass audience, and by offering greater learner involvement and a more personalized learning experience can deliver the kind of learning most suited to the information age. But if technology’s potential is to be fully realised its strengths and weaknesses need to be understood by learning providers. The computer is just one of a range of media that should be used to present learning in a blended approach.
Reusability, and in particular the topic of reusable learning objects, is the subject of much activity. The concept is attractive from an economic standpoint, but does not represent an educational panacea. Major criticisms of the approach are that it is too reductionistic and of compromising the quality of purpose-made content.
Further work is needed to identify the boundaries within which reusability might be most effectively applied, e.g. are there differences in the applicability of the approach between arts and science subjects, introductory and advanced topics, or academic and vocational contexts? Work is also needed on the development of models for the efficient authoring, representation, storage, distribution, presentation and production of learning objects.
A major difficulty in learning technology project implementation is due to the diversity in the skill sets that need to be involved and the potential for misunderstanding that might occur between them. The problem of understanding mismatch may be alleviated once learning technology implementation methodologies become established. However there should be no rush to move to rigid methodologies at the expense of widespread experimentation and innovation in this evolving field.
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An earlier version of this paper appeared in the May 2004 issue of the International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning.