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Niels Jørgen Blaabjerg and the Learning Objects Web development project

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Article Sections

  1. The context
  2. SWIM
  3. FLOW – Flexible Learning Objects Web
  4. Comment
  5. References

FLOW – Flexible Learning Objects Web

In early 2008, SWIM was joined by FLOW – Flexible Learning Objects Web. FLOW is based on the same pedagogy as SWIM, with the five phases (see Figure 4 below). The difference, however, is that rather than being a learning object in its own right, with a didactic purpose, it is a tool for students to manage projects, and to reflect on what they are learning. Students can access it from within their virtual learning organization (VLE) and can log on individually or as a project group.

 

Figure 4. Screenshot of FLOW.

Figure 4. Screenshot of FLOW

 

The project’s focus and functionality was decided after an evaluation of a prototype: the original intention had been as a placeholder for SWIM, but the other purposes seemed to be highly valued by students. Thus being a container for learning objects was very much a secondary rather than a principle aim. The departure point, according to Blaabjerg, is "the students' actual tasks and working processes based on what they are doing in their writing process, rather than placing our learning objects on top we placed our own learning objects on the bottom so the top level is the students’ learning process…the learning objects are placed underneath so that they can go down into that level when they feel they need to get some help".

 

Figure 5. The Tasks in FLOW - screenshot showing overview of the tasks in FLOW.

Figure 5: The Tasks in FLOW

 

Function-wise, FLOW comprises a specific part where the learners can lodge their projects, and a generic part consisting of learning objects relevant to each of the phases outlined above, for example Flash activities or checklists for writing.

 

Figure 6. The process guide, screenshot showing learning objects for each one of the phases.

Figure 6. The process guide, screenshot showing learning objects for each one of the phases

 

Examples of the project specific parts of the tools are a task tracking system which enables the definition and assignment of tasks. Unlike more conventional project management systems, however, tasks are not deleted once completed but stay in the system so that student and tutor can reflect; "Process notes" is intended to help this purpose, as is "My comments". "My Stuff" is intended as a self-made reference source for the user to input useful learning objects.

 

Figure 7. Screenshot showing the "My tasks" part of FLOW.

Figure 7. Screenshot showing the "My tasks" part of FLOW

 

The ultimate effect is to create something which combines project management software with support for the creation of an electronic portfolio. This, Blaabjerg feels, is a Web 2.0 approach. "We want to create a community where you could work together, you could set up groups for instance and you could share things and assign tasks, a sort of group conferencing with the possibility of inviting others into the group, such as a librarian that they can ask for help in the process, as well as their counsellor or teachers or any other persons who could be a resource for them in the process. So we are trying to incorporate a lot of things that are similar to Web 2.0 developments".


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