What about online courses?

Common Question:
Why doesn’t the Digital Learning Asset Framework consider online courses to be assets?

Quick Answer:
Because they’re aggregations of Digital Learning Assets.

Longer Explanation:
The thing about online courses is that there’s surprisingly little definition around exactly what a course is. They tend to be wildly different from one another, and are typically quite complex aggregations of media — some of which is expressly designed for learning, some of which isn’t (it’s just filler).

Media, on the other hand, tends to be much simpler and more direct from a design perspective, and it’s much better defined. If it’s text (a form of media), it’s very clear what it’s for: reading.

Same with graphics, same with audio, same with video. Adult learners need no instruction on how to consume media. According to the Five Core Principles of the Framework, if they did, it would be the wrong form of media to leverage for those learners.

Media that crosses from passive consumption to active participation (games, self-directed immersive experiences, etc.) may benefit from a bit of user orientation, but even then it’s typically embedded informally as part of the overall interaction. And that interaction is still one single asset, it starts and ends from one location.

Early on in the process of establishing the Framework, we decided that it would be best to work from things that could be said to exist in one single place. What is the smallest, indivisible, unit of training? From here we can build up, without having to wrestle with all the “filler” material along the way.

It was also decided at the outset that scope of the Framework would not cover all forms of training, but only the scaleable varieties. The same Five Principles may well apply to non-digital assets as well, but the simpler and more consistent assets seemed to be the best place to start.

Remember the Digital Learning Asset Framework is intended to be the beginning of a larger conversation about what we make, why we make it, and how we know when it’s working.

If you’d like to get in on that conversation, the best place to start is the comments below…

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