What are Learning Objects?

Learning objects are assemblies of audio, graphic, animation and other digital files and materials that are intended to be reusable in a variety of ways, and easily combined into higher-level instructional components such as lessons and modules. The primary purpose behind the development and use of learning objects is to increase access to quality content, and to avoid wasteful replications of effort by making that content usable in a variety of contexts. The most common view is that a learning object is a collection of digital materials — pictures, documents, simulations — coupled with a clear and measurable learning objective or designed to support a learning process. This view distinguishes a learning object from an “information object” (akin to a simple fact) — which might have an illustration or other materials attached to it — or from “a content object” such as a video or audio clip, picture, animation, or text document. The key distinguishing feature between these kinds of objects and a learning object is the clear connection to a learning process. This definition is built on the assumption that by combining learning objects in different ways, higher-level learning goals can be met, and ultimately, entire courses constructed.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • your response here
  • I teach introductory courses in theatre and recently assigned a "critique" to my students. When they said that they did not know what that was, it was a simple matter for me to go onto the Web and find a cogent explanation and lesson-plan which I then modified to be more in my style and credited the source. When I handed out the description I used it as a teachable moment to explain open courseware so it had a double application. - neil.baldwin neil.baldwin Oct 5, 2010

  • another response here

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • another response here

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • The structured Learning Objects approach has been largely superseded by the more free-form Open Content initiatives (http://horizon.wiki.nmc.org/Open+Content). It seems to be the case that the gains to be obtained from careful modularization, detailed metadata, and designated repositories were all offset by the time and effort involved in their creation. By contrast, the messier Open Content initiatives have "good enough" replacements for all three: content can be more-or-less easily chunked and remixed by users; blogs and other online publishing venues contribute descriptive commentary that, via search engines and bookmark repositories, can substitute for formal metadata; and multiple storage locations, connected in users' eyes via search engines and bookmark repositories, replace dedicated repositories. Understanding the lessons of this process should prove very valuable in designing future uses of technology in education. - rubenrp rubenrp Oct 3, 2010 Agree - bdieu bdieu Oct 5, 2010
  • another response here

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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