In my posting Happy 50th birthday, LEGO blocks!, I mentioned that the genesis of my model of Learning Objects started with one of those wonderful epiphany moments—in this case, from watching my children play with LEGO blocks many years ago. With thanks to those of you who asked, here is the short version of that story.
As with children in most families, my son and daughter have very different needs and styles: one loves clear instructions, directions, and a pre-determined end state (in this case, it was a castle as I recall), and the other wants complete “artistic” freedom and creativity when constructing whatever he can imagine.
One day, my son was busy creating yet another LEGO masterpiece, and he was having trouble creating just the right nose for his robot. Wandering into his sister's room, he found her busy playing with the LEGO castle she had just put together. She was enjoying rescuing the people in the castle who were under attack from the terrible dragon she’d also built. My son's eyes came to rest on the PERFECT nose for his robot—the LEGO blocks that made up the turret of his sister’s castle. I think you can figure out the rest of the story! <g>
Once I'd settled the “block war”, it struck me how incredibly well LEGOs, these simple blocks of plastic, met each of their wonderfully different needs. Even better, these LEGOs included blocks that were from my childhood, when LEGOs first came out, and some were purchased literally days earlier. Some came from collections of just an assortment of different size “plain” blocks and others were from specialized kits made to create a specific scene, theme, or object. I began to get that feeling when you know you’ve stumbled serendipitously upon something really significant, and you just need to figure out what it is.
Was there more to this? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could apply this same basic model to other situations and things in our “adult world”? And so I began a long and winding multi-year journey of refining this dream of a world where everything exists at just the right and in the lowest possible size, much like the individual blocks that make up LEGO systems.
Some people may find the most value in taking a pre-assembled unit and putting it to direct use; others will want to assemble their own, possibly from scratch, but more likely from sub-assemblies. Some will want instructions and guidance on how to assemble the blocks, while others will want to determine their own results.
The empowerment of literally every individual by such a world full of metaphorical LEGO blocks (no matter how they may be applied) remains as staggering and as exciting to me as that epiphany moment when I watched the wonder of my two little "snowflakes" having their unique needs so wonderfully met by these simple yet powerful blocks.
I will post a more detailed explanation soon of the original model for Learning Objects and how this model can be applied to any type of content and really almost anything else. Stay tuned.