So for those who don’t know an RLO is a Reusable Learning Object. If you haven’t heard this expression before, now is a good time to drop off this conversation. For more info on RLO’s look up Ruth Clark’s RLO/RIO model and read up on SCORM.
I’m taking up this subject because I’ve now heard people disregard the technology behind Intelligent Content as being a rehash of the ‘failed’ RLO experiment. Essentially, can the same piece of content be reused in a different context, separated from its natural place in the flow of a well designed piece of communication. People attribute the intent of RLO’s to being just that and frankly I’m not sure that was what an RLO was or what it was intended to be. Intelligent Content however most certainly wants to allow machines to understand the context of content and allow machines to determine when and how content is to be consumed. This means that yes, content can be moved from context to context and not necessarily as determined by humans, but also determined by machines.
Lets start with RLO’s. Although most people who have never gotten their hands dirty at the programming levels of RLO’s have determined them to be a failure, I’m not sure they have been. But lets not argue that point because the failure to get reuse out of an RLO can be attributed to many things and the argument is not the purpose of this blog. An RLO is a learning object designed to be self sufficient. It is a nugget of learning that ought not to be dependent on any other nuggets of learning, and if there is some predetermined relationship, then the RLO needs to have the metadata around it to identify that relationship (relationships aren’t dependencies). An RLO is a finished piece of content. It is content already wrapped and packaged in one format or another. Reuse of an RLO isn’t reuse of content in some other medium, or partial reuse of content, it is reuse of the entire object as it is in its final state.
Intelligent Content is not an RLO because Intelligent Content isn’t content that is wrapped as anything, nor does it necessarily have any predetermined organization, such as an ‘object’. Intelligent content has no predetermined criteria of what is a ‘complete’ piece of intelligent content and there can be many instances of the same content written differently but by virtue of it being intelligent, all have relationships with one another. Intelligent content isn ‘t a sentence, it isn’t an image, nor is it a page or section. Intelligent content is content in all its shapes, forms and organizational principles that can communicate to machines all of its aspects, virtues, intents and context use cases. Intelligent content is content backed by a purposeful language that speaks to machines, so that it can be used at the right time in the right context. Not all intelligent content is backed by the same language, yet all the different languages still speak ‘machine’. I work with this technology day in and day out. If you don’t think it ‘works’ its because you’ve never taken a look under the hood.
From somebody who gets their hands dirty working with new technologies focused on ‘intelligent content’ I wish those of you who talk theory and concept from your perch would take a little bit of time to understand the inner workings of what your preaching. Its the ol’ Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance discussion….quality as viewed from the person who gets their hands dirty or from the person who just wants to ride the motorcycle. One is not better than the other, but if you lean to one side, doesn’t hurt to stick your nose in on the other side before you make judgement calls.