Having just read a rather academic article speculating on the notion of "object-oriented instructional design," I suggested the idea that the courses could be created in chunks, or "learning objects," that could be custom-assembled into new courses.
The only way to avoid that potential problem (we thought) was to make them all different. I was used to being able to create simulations or games late in a course that would string together a number of ideas that the learners had covered in various lessons.
This was particularly useful when lessons were short, since it's difficult to come up with an interesting scenario to test people's knowledge on just a couple of short facts that they had learned.
To my immediate delight and later dismay, the client agreed to try this approach.
I quickly discovered that some of my most basic techniques and habits as an educator no longer worked in the new world of reusable learning objects.
I continue to search far and wide for somebody who is smart enough to lead the way, but so far I'm still pretty much wandering in the desert. Rather than aiming to create seamlessly and instantly reusable learning objects, I try to think about which pieces of my e-learning courses are likely to be useful in other courses and whether I can invest a little extra time in the design now in exchange for saving a little more time later.
I'm not thinking about reusing my unaltered work so much as I am thinking about recycling it.
In the early days, we had frequent meetings trying to map out the various courses, divide them up into buckets of related topics, and generally work together to share ideas and content.
Within a few months, though, we were meeting much less frequently and we hardly ever talked about reusing content.
When strung together, would these units feel like a course, or would they be too disjointed and too abstract for the learners?
Unfortunately, I never found out the answers to these questions.