Learning Objects: definitions and characteristics
What exactly is an LO ? Have we ever produced them?
A universally accepted definition of LOs does not exist, but then neither does a definition of lesson exist.
There are several alternative terms about, and interpretations of, the nature and size of a LO, in conjunction with other concepts such as 'learning objectives', 'evaluation', etc.
Any teaching material developed by teachers -- particularly that which is increasingly more often in digital format -- can, to a certain extent, be considered to be learning objects.
When discussing students and university faculties, Wiley wrote:
"Students have all kinds of educational material (learning objects) lying around their hard drives: essays, term papers, other types of homework, notes taken during lectures, etc. ... the same is true for faculty. Faculty have all kinds of material lying around their hard drives as well: syllabi, lecture notes, research instruments, data sets, articles in progress, articles never published, etc."
The same is also true for all teachers whether at the university level or not. By checking through the teaching material that we have on our hard drive, we can see that much of this material has already some of the typical characteristics of LOs and that, with some effort, such material can be changed so that it can become a proper LO.
LOs are challenging. Are we going to accept the challenge?
The debate on the use of LOs has recently been enriched by new proposals that free LOs from merely expository educational models. This advances the possibility of using LOs in a constructive approach.
As far as technical aspects are concerned the use of standards is spreading and this guarantees a good level of interoperability and the completion of metadata as well.
The architecture of a system of LOs is revealed then as open and full of potential