VET Toolboxes versus learning objects: what you need to know

Bernadette Parry, eWorks Client Support CoordinatorBernadette Parry is the Client Support Coordinator at eWorks. Her role involves juggling all sorts of client-focused tasks including start-up TrainingVC training, advanced Moodle training and support desk services. Due to an overwhelming response to our Toolboxes sale, we have extended the sale to offer a selection of VET E-learning Toolboxes at half price until Christmas. Think of it as our little Christmas present to you. So now seems like a good time to talk about the difference between VET E-learning Toolboxes and Learning Objects.

Is there any difference in the learning material between the Toolbox and the learning objects?

VET E-learning Toolboxes are integrated learning programs incorporating a number of units of competency that support the delivery of a qualification. The learning is generally scaffolded as a workplace scenario where the learner takes on the role of an employee, creating a ‘real-life’ learning environment as much as possible. These self-paced online courses are ‘ready to go’ and can be undertaken anywhere and anytime – with or without an internet connection. Each Toolbox contains a Teacher Guide and Technical Guide to support implementation, and is available on a CD-ROM for installation on a server, or for use on a standalone computer.

Toolbox Learning Objects are downloadable smaller self-contained components of content. Learning objects generally support an element or unit of competency rather than the delivery of a qualification. A Toolbox may be disaggregated into three or many learning objects depending on its coverage. You might like to think of learning objects as being ‘chapters’ and Toolboxes as complete ‘books’. The learning objects are compliant with SCORM content packaging standards, to enable them to be interoperable with a learning management system (LMS).

Is there any difference in the look of the Toolbox and learning objects?

A Toolbox works like a small website and the navigation is integrated into the interface design. The pages of a learning object are navigated using a dynamic menu created during the SCORM packaging process. The look of the learning object menu is defined by the styling of the learning management system (LMS). The style of the content pages is the same as those in the Toolbox.

Harness the Sun Toolbox

Are Toolboxes and learning objects suitable for use on iPad?

Both Toolboxes and learning objects would need to first be uploaded to a server so that you could access them via your iPad browser. In recent years Apple has ceased to support Flash on the iPad and this has meant that some content will not appear. This is generally restricted to interactive activities only. Any content from the Series 14 Toolboxes (identifiable as the Toolbox number starts with 14.) has been tested on iPads at the time of development. Those that used Flash have provided a fall back (non-Flash alternative) to any interactions. Three especially popular Toolboxes have also recently been updated for use on iPads. It is worth checking that the content you want to use works on your device by viewing the previews in the National VET Content collection first.

Are learning objects and Toolboxes available offline?

Toolboxes can be purchased on CD, in which case they will not require an internet connection in order to run. However, a CD drive and an internet browser (such as IE, Chrome, Mozilla Firefox) are required to run the content. Learning objects are SCORM content packages which are designed to be used within an LMS (which would be on a server). Although learning objects also contain standalone content package players so that they can be used outside an LMS, there are limitations such as the browser and version of it.

Should you buy a Toolbox or download a learning object?

It depends. While learning objects allow you to pick and mix elements to incorporate in your own learning plan or program, Toolboxes are a self-contained resource that has been contextualised by using a workplace scenario with relevant industry support materials. Downloading a learning object can give you a feel for a Toolbox topic, but for a packaged learning program that supports the delivery of a qualification, a Toolbox is the way to go. And with a selection of Toolboxes currently half price, you would be mad not to go for the whole shebang.