Learning Objects and Repositories

Littlejohn, Allison and Cook, John (2010). Learning Objects and Repositories. Association for Learning Technology.

URL: http://wiki.alt.ac.uk/index.php/Learning_objects_a...


Learning Objects (LO) are, essentially, digital learning resources. Essential features of Learning Objects are that they should be reusable, accessible, interoperable, and durable (Rehak & Mason, 2003). Therefore, it is crucial that LOs are stored in a way that makes them easy to share, source, and adapt for a variety of purposes. These learning objects can be integrated within a learning design. The term Learning Design is frequently used to in two ways. Firstly, Learning Design is an advanced capabilities or set of specifications to describe teaching practice. When used in this context, the term is often capitalised. Secondly learning design (usually in lower case) is the design and orchestration of a number of different learning activities and resources (LOs) that learners engage in and use to learn a concept (Littlejohn and Pegler, 2007). Research in learning objects and learning design has been driven by three major challenges within practice in further and higher education. Firstly, the call for personalised learning against the backdrop of the increasing size and diversity of the student body. Secondly, the tension between improving education quality and reducing costs. Thirdly, differences in traditional ideas of the purposes of education and what constitutes knowledge (DfES, 2001; Council for Industry and Higher Education, 2002). Solutions to these challenges have sought in the development of use of sustainable and scaleable approaches to course design based around the sharing and reuse of teaching ideas, activities and resources (Falconer and Littlejohn, 2007). Governments around the world are encouraging the development of nationally coordinated open learning resource banks (for example DIUS, 2008). Researchers has been tackling these issues by investigating the ways in which digital learning resources might be developed, shared and reused by teachers and learners around the world so as to benefit from economies of scale. A central idea is that reusable resources (or 'Learning Objects' - LO) produced by publishers, teachers, support staff and students themselves, would be stored in Learning Object Repositories (LORs), where they could be easily accessed, recombined and reused within online courses. Ideally these resources would be designed so that they could be adapted to fit different educational models, subject disciplines and levels of study.

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