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The Learning Object
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For some time now, the learning community has been exited at the prospect of developing learner-centered solutions. In the past, training methods have used large, monolithic, inflexible training courses, which take up a lot of resources. The solution to this problem is to divide the courses into smaller components that again can be put together to new courses. The idea is that with proper descriptions, these smaller components can be stored, retrieved and reused in new courses. These components are what we call learning objects, and the descriptions of the learning objects are the metadata. Several standards for this metadata have been developed. The current standards and specifications of learning object metadata have been criticized for being too comprehensive and failing to describe the pedagogical content of the learning object. Studies have shown that only 50%-67% of the potential elements in the standards are populated, and especially the pedagogical elements are not used. When only a few of the potential elements are used, and many of them not correctly, problems with retrieving and reusing the learning objects arise. This thesis tries to improve the pedagogical descriptions of learning objects by describing them with design patterns. If the learning objects were described with design patterns, the elements will be fewer, they will emphasize on the pedagogical content, and contain the information that most users search for. Describing learning objects with design patterns will probably make the creating of metadata easier for the creator of the learning object, but more difficult for another person. The learning object pattern consists of seven main elements, Name, Learning object type, Context, Problem, Solution, Limitations and Example usage, where the solution is the learning object, and the problem is the problem that the learning object is going to solve. Several learning objects have been described during the work, and one of the findings is that some of the elements should be created before the learning part is created. This is because it is unnatural to construct the problem after the solution, i.e. the learning object, is created. Ideas for an editor for metadata, based on the findings of the work with describing learning objects, are presented in the third part. It has to be assumed that the creators of the learning objects will continue to create the learning parts in the same tools as before. Therefore there is a need for an editor to create the metadata belonging to the learning objects. The editor that is described lets the user create the metadata in several steps, and use his own tool to create the learning parts. The work with finding a good way to describe the pedagogical content in learning objects has just started, and if describing learning objects with design patterns should succeed, there are several things that have to be done. More types of learning objects have to be described, and the element set of the learning object should be revised and extended with more elements. It should be developed a method for searching in freetext in the metadata, and an editor that supports the way of creating metadata that design patterns demands needs to be implemented. It also remains a great deal of work in the field of creating metadata automatically.