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The Prospects for Increasing the Reuse of Digital Training Content

2009; Shanley, Michael; et. al.

Distributed learning (DL) offers the promise of self-paced learning and training at any time and in any place, as well as new technologies for developing and delivering content and tracking student performance. Although demand for DL is increasing, DL still represents a small percentage of all learning and training, in part because of the high cost of developing and maintaining electronic-learning (e-Learning) materials. Development costs for DL might be reduced if digital content could be reused on a large scale, like if existing digital content could be used to produce new content or applied to a new context or setting. One option for encouraging widespread reuse is to create and link learning object repositories, such as searchable databases in which digital content is stored in the form of learning objects and accessed by others to create new course content. In 2006, RAND was asked to examine how the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative and the Department of Defense (DoD) more broadly might encourage reuse through the use of learning object repositories and the eventual emergence of a learning object economy. The study’s primary focus was on the extent to which incentives and other enablers currently are and might be used to encourage training development (TD) organizations to develop a reuse mechanism (especially the supply side of it) supported by repositories. Four key questions guided the research: 1. To what extent are TD organizations currently engaged in reuse at this stage of technological development? 2. To what extent do organizations find reuse a worthwhile investment? 3. To what extent do disincentives to wider sharing of learning objects impede reuse? 4. To what extent do organizations know how to implement a reuse strategy?