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Learning Objects


Learning objects (or RLO - reusable learning object) have been the hype of the elearning industry since 2001. They have been hailed as the future reality of learning...and as idealistic, but unattainable view for education. Separating the hype from reality is still an ongoing activity. Most likely, learning objects will fall somewhere in the middle of all the speculation - between the "next best thing" and "impractical".

In many ways, learning objects trace their origin to the concept of Object Oriented Programming (OOP) - a programming term referring to the creation of segments of code that can be incorporated and reused in different areas. The view is that if learning is designed properly, each object will be a self-contained "piece" of learning. While opinions differ on the exact size of a learning object, the following definition makes the most sense to me: A learning object is a single learning objective with supporting content, interaction, and evaluation.

Learning objects have much potential in making online learning development affordable. For learning objects to be truly effective, pools of RLOs of sufficient size (and quality) are needed (i.e. institutional, national, and international).


Learning Objects
This article focuses on the organization of learning objects using a learning content management system. The visuals are very effective in explaining how objects are managed and used...and he gets away with using jelly beans to do this - that alone is worth the visit to the site.

"Learning objects are the core concept in an approach to learning content in which content is broken down into "bite size" chunks. These chunks can be reused, independently created and maintained, and pulled apart and stuck together like so many legos."

CETIS is mainly concerned with elearning standards...which is a critical resource for learning object developers. Broad and detailed resources are available here.

"This standard will specify the syntax and semantics of Learning Object Metadata, defined as the attributes required to fully/adequately describe a Learning Object." Like it says...this site focuses on metadata for learning objects.

Stephen's Web
Stephen Downes has contributed significantly to the subject of learning objects (dare I say guru??). Search his site for learning objects...an incredible amount of information. See in particular: Learning Objects.

Specifications and Standards For Learning Materials
"The Internet has been good for education: over the last decade, the trickle of content has become a flood, and educators have been quick to integrate the largesse into courses and classroom practices; distance education has mushroomed, and sophisticated systems for the delivery of elearning are in place. However, the problem of interoperability remains - writing Web-based courses is expensive, and educators need to be able to share resources if courses are to be cost-effective."

Learning Object Resources
An excellent listing of learning object resources. Part of the Learnativity site.

This article provides a clear overview of learning objects and the role of a learning content management system (LCMS). The graphics are very helpful in visualizing the process of creation to reuse.

Learning Objects Metadata
"The educational sector can profit in particular from the benefits IT adds to the ways of learning. The core techniques exists, still the integration into the curricula and the integration of learning environments and traditional knowledge management systems and libraries cannot keep up with the pace of technology development."

Learning Objects - U of Wisconsin
Good definitions of learning objects, extensive listing of repositories, and an excellent bibliography.

Examples of Learning Objects
Lists major repositories. Part of Learning Objects Research site.

Samples - Learning Objects
More examples of learning objects - a commercial site.

Objects of Interest
Article by Clive Shepherd describing learning objects.

Re-using Learning Objects
"A major issue when utilising multimedia learning materials is the extremely high cost of development. For those paying the bills and those at the sharp end of teaching, many benefits are to be had if such material can be re-used and shared by others."

"Many people are interested in reusability and learning objects because they offer a solution to the teacher bandwidth problem. "Teacher bandwidth" is a term describing the number of students a teacher can service (think about the amount of data that can travel across a phone line). In this sense teachers can be seen as bottlenecks that limit the number of students who can gain access to educational opportunity. Or the number of potential customers who can be paying for your instruction at any given time. Pick your own paradigm."

" The CanCore Application Profile will allow educators, researchers and students in Canada and around the world to more easily search and locate material from any online repository of educational objects. These educational or learning objects can be as simple as individual web pages, video clips, or interactive presentations, or as comprehensive as full lessons, courses or training programs."

Learning Object Repositories

"Alexandria is Canada's first national repository for educational objects. It is the actualization of a vision to make digital educational materials readily available to students, researchers and educators across the country and beyond."

"Lydia Inc. is a privately held, technology-driven service company providing worldwide access to eLearning resources. We're well on the way to becoming the major provider of networked content management repository solutions to the eLearning industry, and we are the only open marketplace for accumulating and distributing learning content contributed by an growing global community of learning developers."

Propably the best-known (first?) learning object repository. Excellent site.

Good example of a repository that has value to educators and industry.

This site (or at minimum the concept) has much potential.
"The Portal for Online Objects in Learning (POOL) Project is a consortium of several educational, private and public, sector organizations to develop an infrastructure for learning object repositories. We address the issues of building such architectures including the metadata, software and hardware considerations and bootstrapping the system with initial content. We also make our tools available for download, to help set up similar infrastructures elsewhere and to connect them to POOL. The main advantage of our solution is that it can potentially embrace all nature of individuals and organizations involved in the learning object economy."

"The general vision of the eduSource project is focused on the creation of a network of linked and interoperable learning object repositories across Canada. The initial part of this project will be an inventory of ongoing development of the tools, systems, protocols and practices. Consequent to this initial exercise the project will look at defining the components of interoperable framework, the web services that will tie them all together and the protocols necessary to allow other institutions to enter into that framework."



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