Learning object

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A learning object is a resource, usually digital and web-based, that can be used and re-used to support learning.

Learning objects offer a new conceptualization of the learning process: rather than the traditional "several hour chunk", they provide smaller, self-contained, re-usable units of learning.[1]

They will typically have a number of different components, that range from descriptive data to information about rights and educational level. At their core, however, will be instructional content, and probably assessment tools. A key issue is the use of metadata.

Learning object design raises issues of portability, and of the object's relation to a broader learning management system.


[edit] Definitions

There are various definitions of the term. As David Wiley observes, "the proliferation of definitions for the term 'learning object' makes communication confusing and difficult".[2]

Most generally, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) defines a learning object as "any entity, digital or non-digital, that may be used for learning, education or training".[3] More specifically, and pointing out the extreme breadth of the IEEE's definition, Wiley describes a learning object as "any digital resource that can be reused to support learning".[4] (Emphasis added.)

Chiappe defined Learning Objects as: "A digital self-contained and reusable entity, with a clear educational purpose, with at least three internal and editable components: content, learning activities and elements of context. The learning objects must have an external structure of information to facilitate their identification, storage and retrieval: the metadata. " (Chiappe, Segovia, & Rincon, 2007).[5]

The following definitions focus on the relation between learning object and digital media. RLO-CETL, a British inter-university Learning Objects Center, defines "reusable learning objects" as "web-based interactive chunks of e-learning designed to explain a stand-alone learning objective".[6] Daniel Rehak and Robin Mason define it as "a digitized entity which can be used, reused or referenced during technology supported learning".[7]

Adapting a definition from the Wisconsin Online Resource Center, Robert J. Beck suggests that learning objects have the following key characteristics:

  • Learning objects are a new way of thinking about learning content. Traditionally, content comes in a several hour chunk. Learning objects are much smaller units of learning, typically ranging from 2 minutes to 15 minutes.
  • Are self-contained – each learning object can be taken independently
  • Are reusable – a single learning object may be used in multiple contexts for multiple purposes
  • Can be aggregated – learning objects can be grouped into larger collections of content, including traditional course structures
  • Are tagged with metadata – every learning object has descriptive information allowing it to be easily found by a search[1]

[edit] Components

The following is a list of some of the types of information that may be included in a learning object and its metadata:

  • General Course Descriptive Data, including: course identifiers, language of content (English, Spanish, etc.), subject area (Maths, Reading, etc.), descriptive text, descriptive keywords
  • Life Cycle, including: version, status
  • Instructional Content, including: text, web pages, images, sound, video
  • Glossary of Terms, including: terms, definition, acronyms
  • Quizzes and Assessments, including: questions, answers
  • Rights, including: cost, copyrights, restrictions on Use
  • Relationships to Other Courses, including prerequisite courses
  • Educational Level, including: grade level, age range, typical learning time, and difficulty. [IEEE 1484.12.1:2002]

[edit] Metadata

One of the key issues in using learning objects is their identification by search engines.[citation needed] This is usually facilitated by assigning descriptive learning object metadata. Just as a book in a library has a record in the card catalog, learning objects must also be tagged with metadata.

[edit] Mutability

A mutated learning object is, according to Michael Shaw, a learning object that has been "re-purposed and/or re-engineered, changed or simply re-used in some way different from its original intended design". Shaw also introduces the term "contextual learning object", to describe a learning object that has been "designed to have specific meaning and purpose to an intended learner".[8]

[edit] Portability

Before any institution invests a great deal of time and energy into building high-quality e-learning content (which can cost over $10,000 per classroom hour),[citation needed] it needs to consider how this content can be easily loaded into a Learning Management System. It is possible for example, to package learning objects with SCORM specification and load it at Moodle Learning Management System.

If all of the properties of a course can be precisely defined in a common format, the content can be serialized into a standard format such as XML and loaded into other systems. When you consider that some e-learning courses need to include video, mathematical equations using MathML, chemistry equations using CML and other complex structures the issues become very complex, especially if the systems needs to understand and validate each structure and then place it correctly in a database.[citation needed]

[edit] Learning object projects

Some examples of learning object projects include:

  • AGORA, a publicly accessible online learning environment at the Virtual Museum of Canada. Content is created and produced by Canadian museum educators.[9]
  • eduSource, a Canada-wide project to create the infrastructure for a network of inter-operable learning object repositories. The eduSource project is based on national and international standards; it is bilingual (French and English) and designed to be fully accessible.[10]
  • MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching), a free and open resource designed primarily for faculty and students of higher education.
  • IQity Reactor is a learning object repository that allows educators to create and share custom curriculum, organized by state educational standards. Reactor is integrated with a learning management system.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

[edit] References

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