In the chapter “Reusability and Reusable Design” is to provide an overview about the issues related to the reusability in instructional Design and Technology field. The key questions; the author Robby Robson is trying to address is what the meant by reusability and what are the requirements for the reusability. To address this question, the author is giving the information about use of Meta data, management of rights, technical interoperability and an understanding of reusable design. The main point of view presented in this chapter is – the instructional designers have to study the reusability techniques and apply them in their work. In addition instructional designers have to develop a discerning eye to use the opportunities and a practiced hand for finding the reused resources instead of building from the scratch. However, I believe the emerging ideas of network neutrality and the open source foundation would reduce the challenges of getting rights, managing rights and interoperability. There are three reasons I believe the argument of reusability and reusable design is not completely sound.
Rights and Granting Permission
First, the topic on reusable and reusable design never addresses the impact of open source platform to address the issues of Rights and Granting permission. The Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is one of the concerns of the reusability, particularly the copy right issue. However, the emergence of Open Source Foundation would reduce the issues of copy rights and granting the permission. For example, the IT @ School project of Kerala, India is using the Free Open Source Software. This open platform helps to create customized resources and share to the public without the issues of IPR. This would also reduce the time to get the permission from authors or publishers. The idea of Creative Commons (Reiser and Dempesy, 2007, p304.) is also good but that too has a set of standards and terms and conditions. This would prevent the instructional designers to design in an efficient manner with regard to time. This would lead us to start from the scratch even though we have the resources available. The repositories collect the freely available learning resources but have a standard set of license. That too takes more time to get the licenses and other legal issues. The metadata provides the information about the resources. That is also based on the set of standards and conditions. For example in chapter two of the book (page no 13), the author has mentioned about this problem- Why many success stories of the instructional design model have not been published yet? One of the reasons the author has mentioned is that they do not have the time and motivation to meet the requirements of the research publications (Reiser and Dempesy, 2007, p13.). However, if we encourage the open source platform that would help the future instructional designers to access more resources and eventually will be free from issues of intellectual property rights and getting the permission.
Managing the rights is also another important issue. The information about managing the rights can be obtained from the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM). However here again the proprietary products and services are making ties with the existing customers and making money. This will cost more money and time to manage the resources. However the open source platform would eliminate these issues.
Secondly, the authors omit the idea of network neutrality and the open source platforms to address the issue of interoperability. I do agree on the significance of the question “will it work in my environment?”. However I believe the emerging trend of network neutrality and open source foundation would handle these issues very amicably particularly in the globalized environment. According to the author, another concern for the developer is the availability of source code (Reiser and Dempesy, 2007, p304.). I am hoping that recent court orders against the Microsoft for violating the anti-trust law. In 2000, Microsoft was found to be liable for illegally marinating a monopoly in personal computer operating system (California Department of Justice, 2009). This case is going on in the US. At the same time Microsoft is facing similar allegation in Europe. Decisions of these cases will pave the path for the future of network neutrality and open source foundation and eventually the availability of source codes for all operating systems.
The Role of Standards
Finally, on one hand the role of standards ensure the quality of service; on the other hand it hinders the dissemination process, particularly in developing and under developed countries. The high quality standards set by the developed countries for the instructional design resources would not be suitable for the developing and under developed countries. This restricts the idea of reusability. Setting up rules and regulations for the rapidly changing technological environment is also very difficult for policy makers. For example we saw the rapid change in the telephone technology from an old plain telephone system to cell phone. Markets are adding different types of application daily. In this situation how can we set standards? I believe the market will reach a point to set the standards; in other words saturation in the market. However, the disparity in the different economy and culture is also another bigger challenge for policy makers.
In conclusion, I do like the idea of reusable design in layers such as content, context, pedagogy and structure. This idea would help to customize the design. However, here again the question is how much time and cost must be incurred for applying the design principle and techniques in each layers. The issues of Intellectual property rights, managing the rights and the question of interoperability can be reduced by implementing the idea of network neutrality and open source software. There are issues with the use of open source software such as quality and security. However, a virus is not free from proprietary software it affects in every operating system.
California Department of Justice. (2003). Coordinated state enforcement of microsoft antitrust judgments. Retrieved May 25, 2009, from http://www.microsoft-antitrust.gov/
Reiser, R., & Dempsey, J. (Eds.). (2007). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA: Prentice Hall.