Learning Innovation Unit, Dublin City University

Learning Innovation Unit

Learning Innovation Fund Awards

A Multi-disciplinary Reusable Learning Objects Portfolio

Principal applicant

Claus Pahl

School or Unit

School of Computing

Additional Applicants

Nora Brophy, School of Computing, Nora.Brophy@DCU.ie

Amount requested


Amount received


Summary description

Learning objects can enable active learning and engage the learner through high levels of interactivity - a guiding principle of DCU learning activities. The technology and infrastructure requirements for these learning objects in e-learning environments, however, might hinder their flexible, learner-managed provision in various modes of delivery. Two aspects shall be investigated:

- the facilitation of interaction that allows to engage a student in active learning,

- reusability and flexible combination of learning objects in various situations.

Analysing suitable media technologies, investigating the infrastructures required, and development techniques for these objects are the objectives.

We will collect learning objects already in use in different Schools. A selection of interactive learning objects shall be analysed, redeveloped, and integrated into virtual learning environments and content repositories. The project aims to deliver a representative portfolio of reusable learning objects across different subjects, learning activities, and technologies that provides instructors with expertise for their development.

Project URL


Strategic Objectives

Objectives 1.3, 1.3.2, 2.2, 4.1, 5.2

Strategic Context

The project addresses flexible learning opportunities - a highlighted priority area. The aim is the redesign of existing e-learning resources to enable their flexible reuse and deployment in virtual learning environments. We will focus on interactive and engaging learning objects enabling an active style of learning.

Two aspects - related to LI strategy objectives - will be addressed:

- Learner-centricity in e-learning environments. Reusable learning objects allow the flexible management of content by learners (Objective 1.3). The flexible combination of these objects enables personalisation based on individual learning styles and needs (Objective 1.3.2).

- Mixed mode provision. Reusable learning objects are basic building blocks of flexible learning in an e-learning university (Objective 2.2). Parttime and mixed mode provision (Objective 4.1) requires flexibility in module creation and delivery.

Learning objects technology is also a current research topic (Objective 5.2) in educational technology. This project is related to the EU-MINERVA project TUPULO - see Section 8.

Implementation Plan

Duration and Responsibilities

The project shall be carried out between summer and the end of 2006. The main work shall be carried out by a research assistant - a computing graduate ideally with background in Web and learning technologies. Initially preparations and final evaluations will be supported by the applicants.Objectives

The focus of this project shall be on learning objects that enable active learning and engage the learner through high levels of interactivity, which is a guiding principle for all learning activities in DCU. The technology for these learning objects, however, might hinder the flexible, learner managed provision in various modes of delivery. Analysing suitable learning object technologies, investigating the infrastructures required, and developing these objects are the central objectives.


- Learning Object Collection [06/2006]. This comprises a survey of DCU-wide learning object development and deployment activities, the collection of learning objects, the analysis of these objects in terms of reusability and quality aspects, and finally, the selection of a representative subset of interactive learning objects across the range of technologies and subjects.

- Redesign [06-09/2006]. The selected learning objects shall be catalogued and, if necessary, redeveloped. The aim is an investigation of infrastructure requirements for these objects, for instance SCORM-compliancy, but also other Web technologies and architectures.

- Quality Assessment (technical) [09/2006]. The outcome is a summary of learning object types, their underlying Web and media technology and their required deployment infrastructure.

- Rollout/Deployment [09-12/2006]. Two aspects shall be addressed: the deployment in selected courses and also the entry of these learning objects and their descriptions into the HEA-supported National Digital Learning Repository (NDLR).

- Quality Assessment (educational) [12/2006]. The final evaluation addresses the pedagogical side to complement the previous technical evaluation.


Detecting and documenting problems in developing learning objects is an objective in itself.


The impact is twofold:

- Firstly, interactive learning objects enable active learning and enhance the learning experience for students.

- Secondly, a central aim is to allow learning objects to be used in different learning situations by staff in their module development, but also allowing students to access and self-manage content in various modes of delivery.

It will provide DCU staff with documented expertise in learning objects development and deployment and will demonstrate the potential of the technology through the chosen selection of learning objects across the DCU spectrum of subjects.


Surveys shall support the evaluation. Staff and students shall be surveyed after the deployment in relation to quality and form of integration; staff shall also be asked for continuous feedback during the development stages on issues of quality, reusability, and interoperability. Two workpackages (see Section 4) are dedicated to evaluation.

Dissemination and Sustainability


Reports will be prepared complying with guidelines provided by the LIU. Publications and presentations at national and international conference shall be attempted. The applicants are willing to present their work to DCU staff and to discuss the results and share their experience and assist those involved in learning object development and deployment


Sustainability is an inherent objective of the proposed project. A main project aim is reusability through interoperability and standards-compliancy. These will increase the stability and the overall technical quality. As a consequence, a reduction of maintenance costs for these learning objects is anticipated, thus making the targeted learning objects more sustainable.

Detailed budget

€ 15,000 for a Research Assistant (around point 4 on the DCU Research Assistant scale, depending on qualifications, and employer's PRSI contributions) for about six months between mid June and mid December 2006.

This is a project that will benefit staff across faculties in DCU. It is, therefore, not in the remit of a single faculty or school.

Other Information

This proposed project is closely related to the ongoing EU MINERVA project TUPULO (Teaching Undergraduate Programming Using Learning Objects) - a collaboration between DCU (Nora Brophy and Claus Pahl, School of Computing; Morag Munro, OVPLI) and other partners from Ireland, Spain, and Romania.

TUPULO is, however, very limited in its scope by being restricted to programming modules. The proposed project can benefit greatly from TUPULO as central objectives are shared. A TUPULO workpackage on technology assessment for reusable learning objects has recently started. Until the summer, results regarding the development of learning object technology will also be available. The aim of this proposed project here is to exploit and utilise the results of TUPULO technology assessments and learning object design in a range of learning object applications across the subjects and fields covered by Schools and Faculties in DCU.