Introduction to Learning Objects

General LO information edit

There are varying definitions about what a Learning Object is. Rehak & Mason [1] define a learning object as: "a digitized entity which can be used, reused or referenced during technology supported learning" (p. 21). This is in contrast to a (they say) different common definition: "A small chunk of learning which serves a learning objective". (ibid)

However, there is general consensus that a learning object should be:

  • reusable - can be modified and versioned for different courses
  • accessible - indexed and retrieved using metadata
  • interoperable / portable - operate across different hard/software
  • durable - remain intact across upgrades of hard/software

(Rehak & Mason)

Having a fully reusable set of Learning Objects (LOs) requires:

  • LOs themselves
  • their descriptions expressed in metadata
  • the purpose or goal of the LO in a particular learning ccontext
  • the overall learning context, including the learning approach, the learner audience, the learning objectives, and relationships to other LOs that make up the learning experience
  • the behaviour, descriptions of constraints and rules on the use and sequencing of the LOs within the overall learning experience
  • the delivery context (environment)

(Rehak & Mason)

Other definitions are :

  • "Any entity, digital or non-digital, that may be used for learning, education or training" [2]
  • "Any digital resource that can be reused to support learning" [3]
  • "Web-based interactive chunks of e-learning designed to explain a stand-alone learning objective" [4]

The Contradiction: note that Wiley and Rehak&Mason define LO as digital (and CETL says they are web-based and interactive), but the LOM standard states they may be non-digital...


  1. Learning management system
  2. Use and Abuse of Reusable Learning Objects (Pithamber R. Polsani - Learning Technology Center, University of Arizona)
  3. ...


  1. Content Commons (Connexions) - an repository of Learning Objects (Their circle of fifths learning object is cool, I think)
  2. ...

Metadata edit

An schematic representation of the hierarchy of elements in the LOM data model.

Creating cute, interesting learning objects is probably going to become (if it hasn't already) a trendy educational craft for institutions in the coming years. LOs may even become a type of currency in an educational capital exchange system, if some folks have a say.

The nuts and bolts of how to store and retrieve them, advertise their existence, classify, homogenize and standardize them is a job terse enough for OOPies and quirky enough for Kurzweiliophiles.

The IEEE has come up with an open standard:

  • IEEE 1484.12.1 – 2002 Standard for Learning Object Metadata

(See Learning object and Learning object metadata)

Here's the simplified outline for a "standard" LOM model:

   * 1 General
         o 1.1 Identifier
               + 1.1.1 Catalog
               + 1.1.2 Entry
         o 1.2 Title
         o 1.3 Language
         o 1.4 Description
         o 1.5 Keyword
         o 1.6 Coverage
         o 1.7 Structure
         o 1.8 Aggregation Level
   * 2 Life Cycle
         o 2.1 Version
         o 2.2 Status
         o 2.3 Contribute
               + 2.3.1 Role
               + 2.3.2 Entity
               + 2.3.3 Date
   * 3 Meta-Metadata
         o 3.1 Identifier
               + 3.1.1 Catalog
               + 3.1.2 Entry
         o 3.2 Contribute
               + 3.2.1 Role
               + 3.2.2 Entity
               + 3.2.3 Date
         o 3.3 Metadata Schema
         o 3.4 Language
   * 4 Technical
         o 4.1 Format
         o 4.2 Size
         o 4.3 Location
         o 4.4 Requirement
               + 4.4.1 OrComposite
                     # Type
                     # Name
                     # Minimum Version
                     # Maximum Version
         o 4.5 Installation Remarks
         o 4.6 Other Platform Requirements
         o 4.7 Duration
   * 5 Educational
         o 5.1 Interactivity Type
         o 5.2 Learning Resource Type
         o 5.3 Interactivity Level
         o 5.4 Semantic Density
         o 5.5 Intended End User Role
         o 5.6 Context
         o 5.7 Typical Age Range
         o 5.8 Difficulty
         o 5.9 Typical Learning Time
         o 5.10 Description
         o 5.11 Language
   * 6 Rights
         o 6.1 Cost
         o 6.2 Copyright and Other Restrictions
         o 6.3 Description
   * 7 Relation
         o 7.1 Kind
         o 7.2 Resource
               + 7.2.1 Identifier
                     # Catalog
                     # Entry
               + 7.2.2 Description
   * 8 Annotation
         o 8.1 Entity
         o 8.2 Date
         o 8.3 Description
   * 9 Classification
         o 9.1 Purpose
         o 9.2 Taxon Path
               + 9.2.1 Source
               + 9.2.2 Taxon
                     # Id
                     # Entry
         o 9.3 Description
         o 9.4 Keyword

Simple enough, eh? See m:Learning Object Metadata for the Topic:MediaWiki Learning Object integration project. If there is enough interest, we will look into incorporating Learning Object Metadata into the MediaWiki engine. See also MediaWiki Project.

Human Touch edit

Section 5 - the Educational part of the specification is perhaps the most interesting in terms of w:Human-machine interface and the socio-technical usage of such a specification or model. We'll see if we can make some sense:

  1. 5.1 Interactivity Type
  2. 5.2 Learning Resource Type
  3. 5.3 Interactivity Level
  4. 5.4 Semantic Density
  5. 5.5 Intended End User Role
  6. 5.6 Context
  7. 5.7 Typical Age Range
  8. 5.8 Difficulty
  9. 5.9 Typical Learning Time
  10. 5.10 Description
  11. 5.11 Language


  1. m:Talk:Learning object metadata - Conversation between me and JWSurf about the possibility of using LOM in a Wiki environment

Explore: Do some searches for "Learning Object" adding the terms above to your search. Let's see what you find:

  1. ...

Object Orientation edit

Object-Oriented Programming as developed by Booch, Rambaugh, and Jacobsen is terse and complex, but the UML is a way to visualize these complexities. Here are some ideas that may help to create programmable learning objects in UML terms here at Wikiversity:

  1. Entity relationships – institution/faculty/student_body -> curriculum
  2. Model and schema – learning community / collaborative learning -> curriculum
  3. Role, identity, activity – teacher/learner dialog
  4. Metaobject facility – Wikiversity
  5. ...

Object-Oriented Programming of learning objects can be done at a higher level of abstraction using a UML model to define learning objects and their interfaces. For example, learning objects intended for sharing knowledge in the subject of Geography most certainly would include maps. A UML model of a class in Cartography could use a shared map at Google maps. The map itself would become what is called a metaobject with a set of points of interest each being a learning object containing data and geographic information about that point. As the shared map is explored by a learning community, its value as a learning object increases as participant content is added. This pattern of usage will quickly fill in the LOM (learning object metadata) form as the "metamap" grows into a full-fledged learning object that becomes reusable, accessible, interoperable, portable and durable. Even though Google hosts the map itself, the descriptions, photos, articles, factoids and other entries reside in a completely abstracted model that is reconstructed and adapted fluently at a very low cost each time it is used.

Research edit

Think with me. Are Wikiversity:Templates Learning Objects in themselves? Talk with me.

See also edit

References edit

  1. Rehak, D. R., Mason, R. Keeping the learning in learning objects, in Littlejohn, A. (Ed.) Reusing online resources: a sustainable approach to e-Learning. Kogan Page, London, 2003. (pp.22-30)
  2. "Learning Technology Standards Committee. IEEE Standard for Learning Object Metadata. IEEE Standard 1484.12.1, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, New York, 2002. (draft)
  3. "D. A. Wiley, ed., Connecting learning objects to instructional design theory: A definition, a metaphor, and a taxonomy",, 2000. URL last accessed on 2007-03.
  4. "FAQs", CETL Reusable Learning Objects, URL last accessed on 2006-06-27.
  Subject classification: this is an education resource.