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Monday, January 24, 2011

Why the Federal OER funds will be wasted - another reason

Well, it was an interesting week in the USA. One in which President Obama pledged in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal to put in place a new directive that a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to "remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive." And then just a little later in the week the announcement from the Department of Labor and Department of Education of a potentially groundbreaking program for Community Colleges and Open Educational Resources (OER) - TAACCCT - that contains within it a clear violation of the President's new mandate - namely that something called SCORM - a government controlled and regulated standard that is about ten years behind the industry - be the required format for content developed in the program.

This requirement seriously jeopardizes the success of the TAACCCT program with respect to the content created being easily customizable, reusable, and remixable.

The TAACCCT program invests in the creation of online courses and resources for community colleges to make available to enhance work force development - which is of course very positive. The required use of Creative Commons licensing on the courses in the solicitation is a major potential breakthrough in that regard.

But in the fine print is the requirement to use SCORM - an antiquated content format developed by the U.S. Department of Defense. The SCORM requirement is a ticking time bomb with respect to being able to meet the need to reuse and remix the TAACCCT-created digital courses and resources - which is a key expectation of the program. SCORM will add enormous cost to the creation of the courses and to the platforms that must deliver them. This is a marquee example of over regulation with additional cost and no gain.
I too have tried to work with SCORM objects -- far too much hassle for too little return.  Generally they don't connect to LMS grade books.  They have to go back to a "developer" for revision and updates.  I hate to be so negative, but how many community colleges have SCORM programmers on staff?  I kind of doubt the major publishers need to be worried about this initiative.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, the idea behind the initiative is not bad, but tied to SCORM and in the hands of the feds, unfortunately, the project will likely be pretty useless. Too bad they couldn't partner with an organization like NROC to put the $$$ to truly good use: :)