Repurposeable Learning Objects: the TALON Learning Object System

Award Winner: 
2003 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Author Information
Jeremy Dunning, Indiana University-Bloomington
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Indiana University-Bloomington
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Indiana University-Bloomington creates learning objects which can be easily reprogrammed to fit an instructor's need.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

The two important lines of evidence of effectiveness include faculty involvement and cost-effectiveness. Faculty members who have no interest or experience in the use of multimedia programming are now designing their own learning objects using these tools. We believe this is due to the fact that the learning objects templates are described and defined in terms of teaching and learning modalities. Their utility is more obvious to the instructor because they are defined in terms that instructors understand, rather than in technical programming jargon. The cost effectiveness of the tools is due to the fact that they are reprogrammable objects that are almost like templates. The cost of creating a new object with one of these tools is less than 10% of the cost of creating the same object from first principles. Online learning at some institutions is problematic because the expense of creating high quality interactive courses is exorbitant. To reduce the cost, many online courses become simple text documents with graphics and discussion groups, but little interactive learning or critical thinking. Reducing the cost of high quality interactive modules may be an important benefit. We use them extensively in our distance learning courses at the Indiana University School of Continuing Studies.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

learning effectiveness: Multimedia learning objects are an important component of high quality, technology-mediated instruction. Learning objects allow the student to use the content learned in a particular part of a course and: 1. Demonstrate mastery of the content. 2. Apply that knowledge to solving a problem. 3. Use the content in a critical thinking exercise that demonstrates mastery and allows the student to place the content within the context of the larger topic of the course. The difficulty associated with the use of learning objects on a broad scale is that they require programming skills that most professors and instructors do not possess. Learning objects also tend to be custom productions and are defined in terms of the programming and code terminology, further limiting a professor's ability to understand how they are created. Learning objects defined in terms of styles of learning and teaching allow professors and instructors to develop a deeper understanding of the learning objects and the design process. A set of learning objects, designed for some of the important styles of learning and teaching, has been created at Indiana University - Bloomington. These learning objects include; visual learning, writing skills, critical thinking, time-revealed scenarios, case studies and empirical observation. The learning objects are designed and described in terms that the average instructor can readily understand and redesign for their own courses. The learning object can be reprogrammed for new applications in other courses and subject areas, with little or no additional programming. The learning objects are part of a system called the Teaching and Learning Oriented Network of Learning Objects, and can be viewed at:

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

The cost of creating new learning objects (excluding rendering graphics) has been reduced from roughly $800 to about $75, with no loss in quality. The faculty development time for each learning object appears to have been reduced by more than 50%.

Other Comments: 

Feedback is most welcome.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Jeremy Dunning
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