Version 37 (modified by hans, 14 years ago) (diff)


Demonstration of LO template prototypes

Teemu Leinonen, Hans Põldoja, Tarmo Toikkanen
Contact details
MediaLab, University of Art and Design, Helsinki
teemu.leinonen _at_
Keyword list



Collaborative learning, much more than traditional teacher-centered learning, focuses on learner interaction rather than material presented by the teacher. This raises new criteria for learning material, and removes many traditional ones. Material no longer has to contain all the information that must be learnt, and actually should not, since giving full answers in the beginning of the learning process hinders indepth learning (Hakkarainen et al., 2005).

The major challenge in collaborative learning is giving up the teacher's authoritative position to move towards a more self-motivating environment where learners willingly investigate new things. This is the challenge that collaborative learning material also faces - it must be interesting, enticing, and motivate learners to investigate more.

Another challenge are the various methods of working collaboratively - in the class room, in small groups, from home using network connections, from museums, etc. For learning material this basically stipulates that it must be usable anywhere, anytime.

Templates for Online Learning Object Creation


Learning Objects. The concept of "learning objecs" is about a decade old. In 1994 Wayne Hodgins named the CedMA working group as "Learning Arhitectures, APIs and Learning Objects" (Polsani 2003). Holdings idea was to have interoperable pieces of information that could be combined like LEGO blocks (Jacobsen 2001). Since then there have been number of attemts to standardize "learning objects". In 2002 IEEE Learning Techonlogy Standards Committee agreed of the Learning Object Metadata (LOM) standard (IEEE, 2002). Same time it defined the "learning object" as follows:

“Learning object is any entity, digital or non digital, that may be used for learning, education or teaching.”

The IEEE's definition has been criticized by number of authors (for instance: Sosteric and Hesemeier, 2002; Polsani 2003; Leinonen 2005). The main concern has been that the definition is too broad. If everything is a "leaening object" nothing is a "learning object". Because of this, in the WP3, we have decided to use a slightly different definition. In the WP3 we define learning object as follows:

"“Learning object is any entity, digital or non digital, that is or is aimed to be used for learning, education or teaching.”'

This means that a person aiming to create a learning object is expected to hold some kind of vision how and in what context the object could be used in learning, education or teaching. The "learning objective likeness" of any object is defined only in the situation where it is finally used. If the creators intension of use of the object in learning, education or teaching is never realized the object will simply loose the "status" of being "learning object".

In the WP3 we also decided to make a clear separation between "pieces" and "materials". Pieces are not learning objects – not even learning assets. Piece can be a single image, short audio file, or short video clip. A piece is something that is probably not very useful as such in a learning situation but can be used as a part of larger material or “learning object”. For this reason pieces do not carry any education or learning specific metadata with them. Only materials – build out of pieces - are learning objects. As materials are learning objects, they also carry learning object metadata (LOM) with them.

Templates are patterns used to create documents. Some people are familiar with templates from word processing and presentation software. However it is not clear how much they are actually used. In the WP3 we use templates for creating learning materials. In the WP3 templates are patterns for creating learning materials (learning objects) from pieces. The pieces can be in the person’s own hard disk or can be found from online database. Into the template the person may add the media pieces – images, audios or videos – to the places predefined and write of copy paste the textual content to field dedicated for them.

Collaborative learning is an umbrella term for learning activities taking place in an interaction among a group of people. The density of collaboration can be defined – for instance - to five steps:

(1) Solo activity where there are individual objects, individual scripts of process, and little or no communication between subjects;

(2) Coordinated activity with individual objects, but shared scripts of working process, and little or no communication between the subjects;

(3) Cooperative activity with one shared object and script of process and some communication;

(4) Collaborative activity with shared objects, various shared alternative scripts of process and lots of communication;

(5) Co-constructive activity with shared object, but also the scripts of process are objects to work on with lots of communication.

In the WP3 we try to support all different kind of collaborative learning, from solo activity with little or no communication between the individual to co-constructive activity that is continuously developing its processes. In the WP3 we on the other hand try to enhance collaborative learning among the students taking advantage of the learning materials provided by the system, but also people – teachers and other content producers – to learn collaboratively when (co-) constructing the learning materials.

Online tools for learning can be roughly divided to tools for delivering (1) learning content and for (2) tools for communication. This separation – especially in a digital online world – is however rather artificial as learning content is always communicative. Also actions where primary function has been communication may become learning content. Online newsgroups, discussion forums and blogs are examples of tools that are often primary used for communication, but as all the communication is recorded and archived the material found from these tools can be used as learning materials, as well. In wikis and other shared online document systems the focus is to build a more static content. These systems also always have integrated tools for discourse that is used to come-up with a conclusion and consensus on the shared content. In the WP3 we are aiming to support production of shared learning material in a communicative process. The results of the process are expected to be used as a source material that will support students co-construction of their own material in a communicative process.

Multimedia Page Template

Multimedia Page template is the default template for creating learning materials in LeMill. It enables users to compose media rich learning materials that may include not only text but also photos, sound clips and videos. The template is designed so that user has control only over semantically meaningful formatting options. Users have limited control over layout and no control over colours and typography. This way we can ensure that all learning materials look professionally designed, well readable and accessible.

The following scenario will describe typical usage of Multimedia Page template:

Lisa is a music teacher who is preparing a learning material about Beethoven. There is a comprehensive article in Wikipedia, but it doesn’t fit her needs. She wants to have learning material with samples from famous compositions. Lisa writes some most important facts about Beethoven to multimedia page template and adds a photo that she was able to find in LeMill. She knows that there is a good selection of Beethoven’s compositions in the Internet Archive. She can add these clips to LeMill as pieces. There is no need to worry about copyright issues because the clips are in Public Domain. She adds a selection of sound clips to multimedia page template and publishes the material. This is a valuable addition to information that students can find from the textbooks.

Multimedia Page template consists of text areas and piece placeholders. Text area has four symbol formatting options (bold, italic, subscript, superscript) and four block level formatting options (heading, paragraph, blockquote, preformatted text). It also possible to create bulleted lists, numbered lists and hyperlinks. Users can have only one level of headings in the Multimedia Page. This prevents them from creating too long documents with complicated structure. We expect that typical granularity for Multimedia Page is one lesson, not course.

It is not possible to insert images inside the text area. Images, sound clips and videos can be inserted in piece placeholders between text sections. Sound clips and videos will be played in Flash-based players.

Presentation Template

Presentation template enables users to publish presentations in LeMill. Our aim is to provide for those users who have done a live presentation somewhere a possibility to share it with people online. This way teachers can share their ideas, reflect on their own presentation and get ideas from others presentations. Presentation template is not designed for sharing the presentation file so that somebody can take it and reuse for their teaching. In WP3 we believe school education should not become lecturing with Powerpoint.

The following scenario will describe typical usage of presentation template:

Mary is an English teacher who is an expert in using ICT in her teaching. From time to time she is invited to give presentations on that topic. Recently she was having a workshop about using blogs and social software in international study projects. Teachers who participated the workshop became very interested in social software. In the evening Mary took some time to publish the presentation in LeMill. She exported the presentation as image files in her office software. In LeMill she wrote a short background info and uploaded the images to the presentation template. Mary decided to leave out some slides where were not so relevant for the web version of her presentation. She e-mailed link of her presentation page to some off her colleagues. A few weeks later she was invited to give another workshop on social software. She decided that next time she will record her presentation and put the audio file on the same page with the slides.

In the presentation template user has to write the title of the presentation and some background information (when and where the presentation was given). It is also possible to upload audio recording of the presentation. Initially three placeholders for presentation slides are displayed. User is expected to upload individual presentation slides as image files. It is also possible to search for images from existing pieces in LeMill. After each slide user can write a short caption where she can explain some image or provide other information that is important for understanding the presentation.

The presentations will be published as series of slides that are all visible on one page.

Progressive Inquiry Context Template

Progressive Inquiry Context Template (PILOT) is used to support progressive inquiry knowledge building process in Knowledge Building discussion tool found in Fle3 learning environment (Põldoja et al, 2006). Each PILOT consists of two parts - (1) text version of course context and (2) rich media teaser that is introducing the course context.

The following scenario will describe typical usage of PILOT:

According to the national educational curriculum, the six-grade teacher is starting a course in her classroom on wetlands. The course should have a perspective of environmental conservation and lead student to understand what are the wetlands and why they are important. Teacher is an expert of progressive inquiry learning method and has been using Fle3 with her students for several years. She has read about using PILOT’s to support progressive inquiry and she is interested to try it out. To compile rich media PILOT she must record voiceover audio and find relevant images to be displayed on the background. She makes some changes to course context from last year and divides that text to 5 parts. The most complicated part is recording the voiceover audio, but after some trying she manages to get good sound quality with her laptop built-in microphone. She finds easily some wetland photos from LeMill and adds them to the PILOT templates together with voiceover recordings. After looking through the result she adds some keywords and research questions to the rich media PILOT. When she is starting her course in Fle3 she can import the text part of PILOT to Fle3. The course context will also have links to rich media PILOT in LeMill.

LeMill will provide online templates that help teachers to write the text version of PILOT and compile rich media teaser that has images and voiceover audio. In the first page of the template users have to write the title, short description and full description of the context.

After writing the text context the users can add first scene. They are asked to upload (or search from Pieces) background image and voiceover audio clip. It is also possible to add up to three keywords that will be displayed during that scene.

After the first scene users can add additional scenes. The final scene must have initial research questions that guide students to raise their own study problems and start the knowledge building discussion.

Typical rich media teaser will have about 5 scenes that last in all for 2...3 minutes. It is possible to import PILOT’s from LeMill to Fle3 Knowledge Building. In the Knowledge Building teacher can make some final changes to the text part of PILOT and start the context.

Rich media part of PILOT will be a Flash movie that can play the uploaded voiceover audio and display the keywords and research questions on the background images.


Online editable templates are critical feature for collaborative authoring of learning resources.



Hakkarainen, K., Lipponen, L. & Lonka, K. (2004). Tutkiva oppiminen - järki, tunteet ja kulttuuri oppimisen sytyttäjänä. WSOY, Helsinki.

IEEE P1484.12.1-2002 Draft Standard for Learning Object Metadata, Learning Object Metadata Working Group of the IEEE Learning Technology Standards Committee (2002). Retrieved July 18, 2006, from

Jacobsen, P. (2001). Reusable Learning Objects. Retrieved July 18, 2006, from

Leinonen, T. (2005). Urinal as a learning object. Retrieved July 18, 2006, from

Polsani, P.R. (2003). Use and Abuse of Reusable Learning Objects. In: Journal of Digital Information, Volume 3 Issue 4, Article No. 164, 2003-02-19. Retrieved July 18, 2006, from

Põldoja, H., Leinonen, T., Väljataga, T., Ellonen, A., Priha, M. (2006). Progressive Inquiry Learning Object Templates (PILOT). International Journal on E-Learning. 5 (1), 103-111. Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Sosteric, M., Hesemeier, S. (2002). When is a Learning Object not an Object: A first step towards a theory of learning objects. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. 3 (2). Retrieved July 18, 2006, from