Introducing learning objects in teacher preparation

Giuliana Dettori
Genova, Italy

Repositories of learning objects (LOs) can help exploit the potentialities of the Internet for education and training since they allow teachers to share materials and experiences on a wide basis. However, sharing didactical materials is not a straightforward task for teachers -- it requires an ad hoc competence in both integrating other people's productions into their own lessons, and preparing new contributions in a form that interests their colleagues and is easily re-used and adapted to different learning situations. Unfortunately, little explicit attention is usually paid to preparing school teachers to become good users and producers of LOs. It is not surprising, therefore, that they still have only a limited appreciation of the re-use of shared materials, a process which is still found mainly in enterprise training. There is a need to introduce into pre-service teacher training activities likely to promote a culture of sharing and re-use of educational resources and to give trainee teachers an initial competence to actually start doing it.

In order to train teachers to work profitably with LOs, the authors included a module on this topic in a teacher training course on introducing ICT. The aim of this activity was to build a common ground of shared conceptual and pedagogical knowledge as well as a base of methodological and operative competence likely to favour teachers' collaborative work on LOs. The activity proposed was carried out in an online discussion environment joined to a repository developed for this purpose (LODE). At the beginning of the activity, the repository contained a number of LOs prepared by other trainees. The assignment consisted of the following tasks:

  1. Select an LO from the repository and comment on it from a pedagogical and technical point of view, proposing possible applications in different contexts -- a task which aimed to develop ability in analysis and critical evaluation.
  2. Design a learning itinerary based on the LOs available in the repository, possibly pointing out the need to develop one or more LOs to address the chosen topic in an articulated and satisfactory way. This was intended to avoid the fragmentation of knowledge which can be induced by the use of LOs, support a global view of a repository's content and stimulate creativity in the re-use of educational material.
  3. Produce a new LO -- which aimed to let the trainees exploit their understanding of what can make a good LO gained from carrying out the previous two tasks.

In this paper, the authors describe this teacher training experience, analysing how the proposed activities can favour the social construction of individual knowledge. They discuss how this kind of training can start a knowledge formation process which contributes both to teacher's pedagogical preparation and to the development of a positive attitude to and competence in using LOs.