The Sordid History of Learning Object Repositories or, a chat with Brian Lamb

Barry Dahl recently blogged the following video he took at the WCET of Brian Lamb chatting about Learning Object Repositories, which provides an excellent overview of the logic of EdTech circa 2001.  The idea of educational repositories for content as a shared resource was, and remains, a powerful idea for sharing resources, yet the means through which it was being approached was insanely labor intensive. His framing of that moment, and the emergence of Google, and the changing nature of the web is amazing, and I’ve had the pleasure of sitting around a table with Brian listening to him riff about a topic like this, and nothing interests me as much as when he talks about the heady days of 2004, when CogDog, D’Arcy, and Brian came into contact with Downes’ EDURSS magic—was it the Merlot presentation in 2004? I love that story, even if I have conflated some dates and details.

I truly enjoy the field of educational technology, and it is an absolute treat to sit around a table with Lamb and get a beautiful constructed narrative of the  emergence of some real alternatives to overly complex learning object repositories.  And here’s your chance, and deep thanks for to Barry for both taking and sharing this videos, it is a gem.

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6 Responses to The Sordid History of Learning Object Repositories or, a chat with Brian Lamb

  1. Alan Levine says:

    I too enjoyed the flashbacks told in classic Lambian style (I still hope one day I can casually use words like “oligarch” in conversation).

    The MERLOT preso Brian refers to was in 2003- you can find it still on the Maricopa server though some of the links may have rotted
    http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/show/merlot03/

    There was also a more developed version we did in Macromedia Breeze format for an online NMC conference in October 2003
    http://www.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/show/nmc1003/

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  3. Martin says:

    This is great – I was a big proponent of LOs back in the day, and lived through SCORM, IMS, Dublin Core etc. This is a good account, and I think there are some more general lessons we can draw from this about how trends change, and the influence of technology. LOs became OERs but more importantly became blogs, slideshare, flickr, etc
    Let us learn these lessons!

  4. Mike Bogle says:

    Man that topic takes me back. I was one of the poor saps here tasked with flogging our learning object repository to academics who saw no value in it (or LOs in general), didn’t understand it, and thought the metadata criteria were too demanding (which they were).

    I also remember the very first time I ever heard the term “blog” used – it was Brian who said it (in Hong Kong around 2003 I believe), and ironically it was during a training session for the learning object repository.

    Funny how technologies that cost oodles of money, fail to gain uptake, and yet are based on rigid centrally managed structures will get funded by institutions – but the second you start releasing control to the masses there’s silence…

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