I think of a “learning object” as having the shape of a ball. Everything inside that ball relates in some way to the overall understanding of the learning object’s subject or core concept. A student can approach the learning object and enter from any direction, but to be effective initially, the student should be encouraged to enter the subject from their strongest point of understanding. Doesn’t that make sense? If understanding is built on prior knowledge, then entering the study of a new subject would be best from where we are most comfortable.
Analogy, “something is like something else,” provides a framework of clarification and understanding.
The learning object is in constant motion (like a Roomba, it eventually will cover all the area) and as it rotates, it reflects back our level of understanding. Where the interface senses our greatest level of recognition, it “lets us in.”
As we enter the learning object, our level of understanding could be portrayed much like a smaller bubble (sphere), or that is what we are imperfectly working toward. No one ever understands it all. There are always areas of knowledge that make our level of understanding like Swiss Cheese. But, we enter the sphere and immediately we see some things that we readily recognize, while other things are dim, or possibly even unintelligible and apparently blank.
So, we can once again move to what we know, and “turn right”. There is that dim item and we begin to learn how it is related to what we know. The item becomes brighter, and down to the “southeast” we see another dim item. We explore and find something, that we never knew existed, or that we thought was totally unrelated to our current level of study. We learn more.
Now if we step back out of our learning object and attempt to re-enter where we first entered, our level of understanding has changed. There are still the most recognizable areas, but now, some of the dim areas are equally as bright, and to our surprise, at least one blank area is not blank any longer.
Adaptive learning should be as simple as controlling the weather, or herding cats. There are so many variables when it comes to individual learning that it would almost be impossible to create a tool (other than a teacher) who could interface with a student, determine their level of understanding and then proceed accordingly to improve their understanding where they are weak.
The “Something” Interface needs to be able to test our understanding and respond accordingly. Images, audio, video, text. Something from “A Clockwork Orange” or some psychological study where images are flashed before a test subject in a dark room. The subject, hooked up to electronic equipment which is sensing bodily changes, increased electrical activity between synapses, modifications in the levels of gases in exhaled air, etc. I’m not quite sure how you would determine a level of understanding. Is it as simple as responses to questions? It could be.
Badges? Someone has to determine the differing levels of understanding of a subject. As our model of understanding of a subject begins to approach that of an orb, but there are still pockets of emptiness, resembling Swiss Cheese, then we need to fill these in. We need a complete set of badges to complete the instructional process.
If a learning object is in the shape of a sphere, then the process more than likely will not be a linear progression.