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POLO - Panther Online Learning Objects

POLO is a digital library of rich, locally-produced media for students, faculty, staff and the Palm Beach State College community.

POLO Submissions

POLO is no longer accepting contributions. With a few exceptions, most items have been moved to the Kaltura Video Platform.  We value the past contribution to POLO and thank those who have shared their learning objects with the Palm Beach State College community.


POLO (Panther Online Learning Objects) was a digital library of educational resources. It served as a portal to find  rich, publicly-accessible media spread throughout the College's websites. Its main collections were:

  • POLO for Learning
    Resources that have been created by Palm Beach State College faculty to meet the specific needs of their students. These multimedia objects include videos, audio files, demonstrations, animations, voice-over PowerPoints and other files.
  • POLO for Teaching
    Resources created by faculty to share their strategies for teaching, examples of assignments and assessments with other faculty. The current focus of these resources is critical thinking, but additional themes will be added in the future.
  • POLO for Support
    Resources designed to familiarize students with campus resources and assist them with successfully navigating through college processes and procedures.
  • MTIS Videos on Demand
    Campus events, presentations, seminars, special projects, and trainings which have been filmed by Media Technology & Instructional Services.

Features of POLO include:

  • A simple search tool to aid in finding resources of interest
  • Brief information about each resource to simplify the decision process for which resource best meets an individuals needs
  • Most items can be downloaded or printed (links to other web sites do not include these features)
  • Persistent URLs for each resource so it can be linked from other webpages, Blackboard modules, syllabi, faculty homepage etc.
  • Social features (commenting, rating and tagging) which increase engagement with the objects

YouTube is a video sharing website which allows users to upload and view their own, or any other user's videos. Virtually any topic can be found on YouTube, and the only standards for content are that videos should not infringe on copyright, contain pornography, obscenity, or be excessively long. No one can say for sure how many videos are on YouTube, but company statistics claim 72 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube each minute.

POLO's intention is not to compete with YouTube in scope or scale. Instead it is meant to be a collection of high-quality educational resources, created by Palm Beach State College faculty and staff, which meet the immediate and specific needs of our students. These resources are easier to find since they are not lost among millions and millions of similar-sounding videos, some of which may have questionable content.

Contributors to YouTube must agree to their Terms of Use when they create an account. By uploading videos to YouTube, the uploader grants YouTube, or any of their business affiliates, a "sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content..." This essentially gives away copyright and intellectual property rights and allows YouTube to use a video anyway it pleases. By contrast, items uploaded to POLO retain their creators' copyright, and allow them to specify any copyright restrictions or creative commons licenses.

YouTube "reserves the right to discontinue any aspect of the Service at any time," and may block or terminate an account solely at their discretion. If an account is terminated, the account holder may be unable to access their videos or re-establish a new account. YouTube has no contract with its users to provide services other than granting access to their site. They do not provide any technical support for problems which may arise, other than documentation which can be searched or user's forums. Neither does YouTube have a strategy in place to guarantee the security or integrity of its video files.

Just because a video has been uploaded to YouTube doesn't mean it can't also be found in POLO--A record can be added to POLO with a link to the video on YouTube's site. In this case however, YouTube's terms and licenses take precedence, and the creator is subject to any agreements they have with YouTube.

Academic debate still rages over the proper definition of "learning object." The Learning Technology Standards Committee provides the following definition:
Learning Objects are defined here as any entity, digital or non-digital, which can be used, re-used or referenced during technology supported learning. Examples of technology supported learning include computer-based training systems, interactive learning environments, intelligent computer-aided instruction systems, distance learning systems, and collaborative learning environments. (LOM, 2000)

For the college's purposes, the following characteristics of learning objects are emphasized:

  • Digital entities (multimedia, videos, audio files, Java applets, animations, games, etc)
  • Small, granular, self-contained units (typically ranging from 2-10 minutes)
  • Tied to a specific learning purpose or outcome
  • Can be re-used or re-assembled in different learning contexts

Some general principles to keep in mind (from "Guidelines for Authors of Learning Objects" by Rachel Smith):

  • Start with a specific learning outcome.
  • Simplify the design wherever possible.
  • Minimize the amount of text and use graphics only when they add to the meaning.
  • Keep file size in mind--Smaller is better. Just because an authoring tool (or MTIS) can create special effects doesn't mean end-users will wait for a large file to download
  • Be consistent in the use of design elements, language, formatting, appearance, and functionality.
  • eLearning at Palm Beach State College offers support for the creation of learning objects. Contact Jim Robinette, Instructional Design Technology Specialist (2-5231).

Accessibility and usability are major goals for learning objects within POLO. While most file formats can be uploaded, some formats display better than others. In some cases, an end-user must have an appropriate program or app in order to view a file.

We are making every effort to be able to stream videos and download them to mobile devices, and are exploring different staging platforms, including Vimeo. We encourage files which have been encoded with h.264 (MP4, FLV, F4V, HTML5). but most file types can be accommodated. SWF files are not considered "true videos," so if possible reformat to another file type. Although not necessary, you can view guidelines for advanced compression and encoding.

PowerPoints and PowerPoint Slideshows:
These can be uploaded to POLO; however when PowerPoint Slideshows (.pps) are downloaded they are stripped of the slideshow function and open as a regular PowerPoint presentation. The end-user must have the appropriate PowerPoint program or app on their device in order to open a file. We suggest saving a PowerPoint file in a video format (Save as>>wmv) so it can be viewed as a video.

Executable (.exe) files have been associated with viruses and may have problems opening easily. For these reasons we suggest an alternate format. Zipped files are not recommended, but if using them please give clear instructions to the end-user how to open and use these files. SoftChalk lessons stored in the SoftChalk Cloud can be easily linked from POLO.

Who Owns a Learning Object?
According to the Agreement between the District Board of Trustees of Palm Beach State College and the United Faculty (pg.10), intellectual property created by a faculty member is owned by its creator (except where the College provided substantial resources in the creation of the work.) Copyright owners have exclusive rights of reproduction, distribution, creation of derivatives, performance and display.

What is Creative Commons?
A copyright owner may grant permission to share and use their work under certain conditions. (Creative Commons Licenses.) There are levels of licenses which spell out these conditions from moderately restrictive to very liberal usage. One does not give up ownership or copyright by using Creative Commons licenses; instead the license modifies the legal restrictions that are automatically placed on it.


The six Creative Commons licenses

License Name



This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation.


This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.


This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.


This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don't have to license their derivative works on the same terms.


This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

This license is the most restrictive of the six licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can't change them in any way or use them commercially.

Creative Commons Licenses website

How Do I Incorporate Copyright-Protected Material in a Learning Object
Palm Beach State College expects faculty to comply with United States copyright law. Although special exemptions have been created for educational institutions through the TEACH Act and Fair Use doctrine, publishing a learning object on POLO may not meet the criteria for those exemptions.

The TEACH Act allows limited use of copyright protected material. Generally, exemptions apply within a learning environment that is either face-to-face, or in a distance learning environment with enrolled students for a specified time (defined as a "class session.") The open access of POLO and its intention to maintain the learning objects as long as they are relevant may prevent application of this exclusion.

The Fair Use doctrine also provides some limitations on exclusive rights of copyright owners. Under certain circumstances the use of copyrighted material can be used for teaching, research and scholarship. Four factors are used to determine whether usage is fair:

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
2. The nature of the copyrighted work
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work
                                     Fair Use: The U.S. Copyright Office

Fair Use is decided on a case-by-case basis by the courts if matters go as far as litigation. The four standards are not individually all-or-nothing, but the total weight of all factors tends to either fair use or copyright infringement. The University of Minnesota website explains Fair Use and has developed a quick worksheet called Thinking Through Fair Use (it's available through a Creative Common's license.) Completing the checklist can help determine if use of copyright–protected material will more likely be considered fair use or an infringement.

Our suggestion: If in doubt whether the use of copyright protected material would be considered fair, ask permission from the copyright owner! (Also remember that citing the source is not a substitute for obtaining permission.)

***Students and other individuals should sign a model release form if they are used in a video. If submitting student work into POLO for Teaching remove all identification.

How Do I Seek Permission?
The steps for seeking permission appear deceptively simple: identify the copyright owner, contact them, and request written permission. However determining the copyright owner may not be easy--the owner may be the creator or an heir. Music may have multiple copyrights—copyrights for the musical composition by the composer and lyricist. Additionally, sound recordings may be copyright-protected by the performer and record producer/engineer. The U.S. Copyright Office publishes a circular How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work. You may search their online registry for free, or request they conduct a fee-based search.

Columbia University Libraries, Copyright Advisory Office website provides an overview of the process and sample letters for seeking permission.

Some agencies like the Copyright Clearance Center or EMG may also secure permission for a fee. Contact the Palm Beach State College Library, Lake Worth, to see if the libraries can help.

What Are Alternatives to Using Copyright-Protected Material?
There are alternatives to using copyright protected material:

  • Public Domain resources--either the copyright terms have expired or have been forfeited
  • Material created by the Federal government does not have a copyright (however sometimes an independent contractor working for the government may copyright his/her material—always check)
  • Royalty-free sound recordings may be purchased (which generally do not include voice).
  • Creative Commons--a copyright holder may give permission to use with certain limitations
  • Clip art, such as those available in Microsoft products, is copyright-protected but use for educational purposes may be allowed by the End-User License Agreement (EULA)
  • Content in Camtasia's Library may be used without copyright infringement

Some websites are known for having collections of public domain text, audio and visual material or other permissible resources (But always check individual items for copyright.)

Metadata is a formal and structured way of describing a learning object so it can be easily found in a search query. Other elements describe the technical aspects of the object which help long-term preservation and administrative needs.

Metadata used in POLO with Examples: (from Be Here Now: Power Strategy #2)

Title of Object: The name by which the resource is formally known
Example: Be Here Now: Power Strategy #2

Learning Outcome: A statement that specifies what learners will know or be able to do as a result of a learning activity. Students will________________________________________

Description: A brief description of the content of this learning object. 100 words or less is preferred.
Example: This video learning object is the second in a series of twelve concepts critical to student development and retention. "Be Here Now" presents the concept of being truly aware of and attentive to our thoughts in order to manage time effectively. Students learn several strategies for concentration, including the idea of noticing stray thoughts, acknowledging them, and then letting them go – rather than dwelling on or fighting them. The video encourages students to practice "being in the moment" whether in the shower or in a classroom lecture and to use time as the precious resource it is.

Subject / Topic: Denotes the primary topic covered by the learning resource. It describes the main concept and can be a single-word or multiple-word term. It is broader than a keyword, but narrower than the course name. If you have titles for your lectures, you might use the one where this resource fits. It's not necessary to provide a Subject / Topic if it's apparent from the title.

Example: Time Management

Keywords: Words or phrases which identify important concepts presented in the resource. These should be familiar terms students might use when searching. One to five keywords are sufficient. The keyword should not repeat a Subject term.
Example: multitasking, awareness, attentiveness

Related Learning Exercises: Other resources which will be placed within the repository which support or extend the learning object.

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